It has been over two years since Walt Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm created both renewed optimism and apprehension for the future of Star Wars. The new owners effectively launched a clean slate initiative by scrapping Lucasfilm’s then-upcoming projects such as Star Wars Detours and new video games. They simplified things by tossing the EU out of established canon, retaining only the 6 live-action films and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Despite its secured canon status, the latter was cancelled to make way for the new Star Wars: Rebels series. Naturally, this pissed off the show’s many fans who had grown to love the series as it vastly improved over the years. The poor promotional materials for Rebels didn’t help the situation either causing (adult) fans to fear the worst.
Thankfully, the debut season of Star Wars: Rebels turned the tide. Despite a slow start, including an average pilot, the show managed to win over Clone Wars fans and doubters alike. Every episode since Rise of the Old Masters has been within the range of decent to excellent. Even the quality of the animation has come a long way. Gorgeous visuals and space fights permeate the season finale. Truly, we have come a long way from Ezra’s off-putting worm hair in the pilot.
Fire Across the Galaxy begins with Zeb and Sabine stealing an Imperial transport ship to infiltrate the fleet hovering over Mustafar. It’s a pretty fun sequence that shows just how much the characters have grown in becoming more effective and cohesive as a team. Things proceeds with Hera explaining the plan and the stakes involved for Kanan’s rescue. The episode even gives us a reason to forgive (or tolerate) Fighter Flight for its existence as that plot thread becomes significant (sorta) due to it contributing a spare TIE fighter for the Ghost crew to use in its infiltration.
Afterwards, the scene shifts to the imprisoned Kanan being interrogated by the Inquisitor. This is where the meat of the story comes in. Even though a lot of significance has been given to Ezra’s sad childhood and his growth as a Jedi, Kanan’s journey and conflicts has always been more compelling. Here it is revealed that, during Order 66, Master Billaba laid down her life to protect then-padawan Kanan and told the latter to run. Fear took over the young Kanan and did as his master told him to. This last command has haunted him ever since. He sees it as his failure to live up to the ideals of the Jedi Order, which gives greater meaning to his reluctance to train Ezra. The Inquisitor even points out that his refusal to wield his saber openly in public is a sign of his shame.
Once the Ghost crew boards Tarkin’s Star Destroyer, Ezra rushes to rescue his imprisoned master. Ezra and Kanan make their way to a large room filled with reactors and narrow walkways. As they cross the walkway, they see the Inquisitor on the other side, having anticipated the rescue. What follows is a familiar scene for Star Wars fans, especially those who’ve seen Episode I and played the video games. A narrow walkway with a Jedi and Sith on opposite sides? Check. Lightsabers drawn and dramatic music starts playing? Check. This kind of thing is practically a cliche already but I have never not enjoyed one.
After some well-animated lightsaber choreography, the Inquisitor performs a saber throw knocking Ezra off the bridge and out cold. This creates a dramatic change in the battle. Thinking his padawan dead, Kanan no longer has any reason to be afraid and hold himself down. Utilizing duel wield sabers, he taps into the Force for strength defeating the Inquisitor, who falls to his death (unless he comes back Darth Maul style in the future). It’s a nice contrast to the midseason finale where Ezra was confronted with a reverse situation. Whereas Kanan Jarrus became stronger in the Light, Ezra tapped into his fear and anger wielding the Dark Side of the Force. This difference in response will definitely guide them in seasons to come.
Once Ezra wakes up, he and the rest of the crew escape Tarkin’s Star Destroyer. That ship goes down and the crew tries to dock in the transport ship stolen earlier, piloted by Chopper, while being pursued by more than a dozen TIE fighters. The show even manages to squeeze in an Episode IV reference when Ezra and Kanan do a Han Solo Death Star run maneuver, rescuing the others from Imperial target locks. However, Chopper and the ship are nowhere to be seen and the group loses all hope…almost.
Imagine my glee when Chopper brings in blockade runners for back-up. I nearly jumped out of my seat. Their presence pretty much confirms Bail Organa’s involvement with Fulcrum and the Ghost crew. With the rebel ships’ surprise attack, the crew is able to jump into hyperspace in the nick of time. By the time the crew boards the transport, fan theories all over the internet are confirmed. Senator Bail Organa appears in a hologram in front of our Lothal rebel cell revealing that he is (or at least one of) the leader of the collective Rebellion. The strategy of keeping various Rebel Alliance cells in the dark is sound considering that the fledgling Rebellion is still in its infancy. This also manages to tie-in that disappointing R2D2-C3PO episode. At least all the episodes contributed to the show’s continuity instead of being complete throwaways.
As for the identity of Fulcrum, that honor is given to none other than Ashoka Tano, Anakin’s former padawan in Clone Wars. This is a nice way of honoring that show’s fans and its contributions to Star Wars canon. It also confirms the hints given by the showrunners as to her possible return. I’m interested into what dynamic she can provide with Bail or the different members of the Ghost crew.
The season then concludes with Tarkin escaping this whole fiasco and retreating to Lothal where Agent Kallus reveals that dissent is growing louder. Tarkin isn’t worried in the slightest as he brought a much better solution to the rebels than the Inquisitor: Darth Vader himself.
Season 2 can’t come fast enough.
Episode grade: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Season grade: B+
1. I can’t wait for the inevitable awkward reunion between Anakin and Ashoka. Hopefully, they don’t recycle dialogue from The Empire Strikes Back. Maybe make it more like Obi-Wan’s reunion with Vader in A New Hope.
2. I hope they introduce more rebel leaders in Season 2! I want to see Mon Mothma and Ackbar! On that note, I wouldn’t mind Imperial Cadet Han Solo either.
3. It’s sad that the Inquisitor is dead. While the character wasn’t developed much, Jason Isaacs made up for it with his natural menacing voice. Why waste a good British actor if you’re not going to make the most of it? Same goes for Agent Kallus. An actor of David Oyelowo’s caliber is wasted with Kallus’ minimal presence. I hope they develop him thoroughly in Season 2.
4. Who could Sarah Michelle Gellar (Kanan Jarrus voice actor Freddie Prinze Jr.’s wife) be playing in Season 2? Mon Mothma? Ashoka Tano?
Screencaps are mine. Images courtesy of Disney XD and Lucasfilm