Star Wars Rebels Season 1 Review: “A Good Start and A New Hope”

Star Wars Rebels Season 1 Review: “A Good Start and A New Hope”
Star Wars Rebels Season 1 Review: "A Good Start and A New Hope"
Star Wars has a huge legacy and within the past decade or so there have been tons of new entries into the universe adding to the canon and story. Within the animated television realm, Star Wars really established itself through Cartoon Network’s The Clone Wars series, which after six season had grown into a really fun show that brought more depth to important and familiar characters. As The Clone Wars story was starting to wind down, the franchise had been acquired by Disney and the company launched a newer animated series on the Disney Channel. Star Wars Rebels, which jumped in between episode’s 3 and 4, post Order-66 when the Jedi are in hiding and believed to be exterminated.
Star Wars Rebels immediately starts out very strong because of it’s setting and time period, offering a unique look into new characters during a mysterious time in Star Wars history. By setting things between episodes 3 and 4 it really shows how well Disney is at planning out expanded universes and ensuring that each property has a purpose. Star Wars Rebels introduces viewers to a time where the Sith controlled the balance of things and completely leaves things up in the air as to what is left during this time period. A really fun aspect about this placement in the timeline is that Star Wars Rebels has the ability to incorporate characters from the original trilogy as well as the prequels. While A New Hope begins a story arc about the revival of the Jedi, Rebels offers a universe where a small grouping of people are doing everything to keep the hope and inspiration that the Jedi provide alive, and those themes alone keep the show a huge amount of heart.
Taking place post Order-66, the Jedi are all a wildcard and based on general knowledge known from the movies, only a handful are still confirmed to be alive in this portion of time. Rebels introduces viewers to Kanan and Ezra, a Jedi and his Padawan, two complete unknowns when it comes to canon. Kanan might be the first official Jedi to pop up since the events that take place in Revenge of the Sith, and you can tell he is no master, but understands his duty to the Jedi. Kanan is a real highlight within this first season because the character is put into a very interesting position since he has discovered Ezra, his force sensitive Padawan. The show makes it clear that Kanan has never taken anyone under his wing, but throughout the season one of the best plots is the growth displayed by both he and Ezra as partners focused on something bigger than both of them. Freddy Prinz Jr. has a really solid voice for Kanan that makes the character truly feel like a leader, while also sounding very knowledgeable and full of wisdom by the season’s end. Star Wars Rebels really handles Kanan well and the growth that the character receives over the course of the first season takes him from being just a cool Jedi to a very wise teacher.
Ezra really comes off as a much more annoying character than anyone else, but a large part of the young hero’s journey is going to be having to grow up earlier than expected and learn to understand how valuable of an asset he is to the Jedi. Ezra has a plethora of great moments in Season 1 of Star Wars Rebels, but it seems the most important learning experience for him throughout the season is what it means to be a Jedi and have the opportunity to be trained in the ways of the force. The show progresses the character nicely and his annoyance definitely subdues more and more as things carry on, but I think what makes Ezra so unique is the position Rebels sets him up in. Ezra enters into this new world at an influential teenage age, being guided by someone who has no real experience in teaching. Season 1 of Rebels has multiple scenes where Ezra seems to be advancing with his force powers but shows clear outbursts of emotion that cloud his judgement. As seen in the prequel Star Wars films, Anakin was always a character whose emotion clouded his judgement and eventually caused him to fully turn towards the dark side. Things are very early on in Ezra’s story, but he is a very compelling character by the end of Season 1 because of these emotional traits he is revealing more and more, so it will be very interesting to watch whether or not the character can control them as he ages.
One thing that is super unique about Rebels is that the villain for Season one is The Inquisitor, or I guess, an Inquisitor(?) because it seems like there are multiple although it’s unclear currently. The character is not bonded to the Sith but he has a cool light saber and gets really creative with the use of it. The season ends putting The Inquisitor into what seems like a favorable position by capturing Kanan until the Rebels are able to mess up the plan and break him out. It was a shocking choice to have the villain commit suicide, especially for a family and kids show, but that’s what makes Rebels so immediately great after it’s first season; having no fear to push the bar further. Jason Isaacs was a great voice for the role and does a great job of keeping things dark, and it’s sad to see him depart from the show after being such a neat villain to feature.
The other supporting characters in Rebels are great compliments to the show. Zeb is fun, especially when he gets into the action and it was nice that the season incorporated his backstory woven throughout a couple of episodes. The show makes sure it pays attention to everyone, and while characters like Hera and Zeb might not do a whole lot during this first season, they are still important and set up where viewers will care about them and recognize the value they bring to the Rebel team. Sabine has been given a little more to do this season and is involved with the action a lot of the time, but all of these characters have a lot more going on that has only been hinted at in Season one. Just Sabine’s Mandalorian armor makes her extremely interesting with a backstory that seems like a lot of fun. Hopefully Rebels takes complete advantage of what they have established so far and continues to add depth and story to all of the crew members.
Star Wars Rebels season one is a really strong start to the show with lot of promising story to explore. The show already has more action and suspense than any other Star Wars animated show that has been released before. Rebels clearly aims itself at kids but is something that adults can enjoy as well because it has a more mature tone than other cartoons. The characters have been handled well over the first season and there are tons of great concepts and stories developed that mirror events previously touched upon in the Star Wars Universe, but are planned out and executed better on Rebels. The first season does a phenomenal job of introducing viewers to this new band of characters, but completely steps it’s game up by revealing Ahsoka and Vader in the finale, connecting it to previous events and setting high emotional stakes for the future in season 2. r

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