One of the things that I enjoy most about “Star Wars” is seeing how all of its multiple pieces connect together through books, shows, comics and films. Much of this is thanks to one unified story group at Lucasfilm who comb through whatever media is being released, and make sure none of it contradicts anything that has come prior. The following episodes of “Star Wars Rebels” provide more insight on characters we see on the big screen, and how certain events eventually came about.
“Shroud of Darkness”
A great episode to build up to an epic finale, “Shroud of Darkness” takes Ezra, Kanan and Ahsoka each on their own trial in the hidden Jedi Temple on Lothal. Ezra meets Yoda once again, this time for a lesson on the need to fight, a lesson which the Jedi Order ultimately failed. It was great to hear Frank Oz reprise his role as the wise master, and it ties nicely into his lesson on failure to Luke in “The Last Jedi.” Kanan is met with a Jedi Temple guard, where he learns to accept his fate and that he can only do so much in preparing Ezra, to which he is rewarded with finally being named a Jedi Knight. Ahsoka comes to face the fact that her former master had indeed become Darth Vader, and she would eventually need to face him herself. The guard reveals himself as the Grand Inquisitor to Kanan, confirming the origin of the season one villain also. Ahsoka gets a glimpse at Yoda as the Temple begins to collapse, a symbol to her that she is on the right path and is not truly alone in her task.
“Twilight of the Apprentice”
Probably my favorite episode of the series, this finale delivers on an encounter which was eight seasons in the making from both “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.” The episode takes place on the planet Malachor, home to an Ancient Sith Temple where a battle took place many years prior. Not only do we get the epic duel between Ahsoka and Vader, but we also see Maul introduced, who has his eyes on a weapon found within the temple and taking Ezra on as his own apprentice. The way he reveals himself to Ezra as the Old Master mirrors that of Luke meeting Yoda in “The Empire Strikes Back;” and Sam Witwer plays the role great in making someone like Maul, who looks like the devil himself, someone who is sincere in his intentions and is now a shell of his former self. Kanan also takes a big step in his growth as a master when he is blinded by Maul, and has a awesome moment right after of relying on his senses and the Force to beat Maul. We also have the final encounter between master and apprentice, where Ahsoka realizes she can’t bring her master back to the light and faces off with him. There is a moment towards the end where Vader’s mask is sliced in the fight, where he calls out to Ahsoka and his voice is blended between James Earl Jones and Matt Lanter, a chilling effect which gives Ahsoka a moment of finality in hearing her master’s voice crossed with the now evil Sith. In an emotional moment, Ahsoka says she won’t leave him this time, a callback to how she left him and the Jedi Order on the stairs of the Jedi Temple in the season five finale of “The Clone Wars.” This episode is a pivotal shift for Ezra and Kanan, both of whom face some struggles of their own in the following season as master and apprentice.
“The Last Battle”
An episode which serves as a tribute to “The Clone Wars” series, “The Last Battle” sees Clone War veteran Rex come to terms with the results of the war. Ezra, Kanan, and Rex come across a squad of Separatists battle droids, who’s Super Tactical Droid leader General Kalani who disregarded the galaxy-wide shutdown order at the end of the war. The tactician attempts to finish the war by using what remains of his troops against Rex in a final battle, only to be stopped when Imperial troops arrive. This introduction forces Rex to work with the battle droids, which is difficult for him at first as these droids were the ones who killed many of his fellow clones. Ezra forces Rex and Kalani to come to realize that neither of their sides actually won the war, unbeknownst to most of them that it was the Emperor orchestrating the war on both sides. It is a great moment seeing battle droids come face to face with storm troopers too, not only because of the droids’ comedic value, but simply seeing parts of these two armies from separate eras meet really helps to tie both the Prequel and Original Trilogies together. Rex struggles with a form of PTSD when he first encounters the droids, an interesting concept which has never really been touched upon by the franchise until now. The episode ends with a hybrid of the “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” logo as well both their songs, which was a highlight from the entire series for me.
“Ghosts of Geonosis”
Coming off the heels of “Rogue One,” “Ghosts of Geonosis” explores the character of Saw Gerrera further who was featured so prominently in the film. One of the coolest parts about Saw was the fact that he first appeared in the fifth season of “The Clone Wars,” and the Lucasfilm story group realized he would be perfect to bring in for a specific character role in “Rogue One” that they were looking to fill. Saw first started out as a young hot shot rebel looking to overthrow the Separatist occupation of his planet during the Clone War, and by the time we meet him in “Rogue One,” he has gone full-blown extremist, and become a man who has clearly lost his mind. This episode is a few years prior to that, and it serves as a good middle point to look at how he slowly becomes the extremist he will eventually become. Forest Whitaker reprising his role from the film was very appreciated, and he plays him great as the person Saw is at that point. The episode is centered around the mysterious disappearance of the entire Geonosian species, which we know is because the Empire was building the Death Star above the planet at the end of “Revenge of the Sith” and wanted to leave no witnesses when they left, something Saw is hot on the heels of. When interreogating the sole survivor of the race, Saw does not hold back when asking questions until the Ghost Crew intervene. This episode sets Saw on the path towards giving in to his extremist tendencies, something we see more of in season four.
“Trials of the Darksaber”
While this isn’t an episode that impacts the universe as a whole, it gives Sabine some much needed development and backstory to the Darksaber and Mandalorian culture. With training from Kanan, Sabine begins her path towards freeing her people from Imperial occupation and saving her family’s clan from Gar Saxon. We also learn that the Darksaber was created by the first Mandalorian Jedi, a powerful combination, who’s saber was passed on to Clan Vizla; this is who used the saber to rule Mandalore for Generations. One of the most powerful moments in the series comes at the climax as Kanan forces Sabine to bring out her inner demons from her past as they fight, using those emotions to focus and win the fight. The old-samurai film inspired music that plays alongside it matches the scene well, and shows off how great composer Kevin Kiner is at what he does.
This episode truly shows how the Rebellion began to take shape, with the Ghost Crew attempting to take leader Mon Mothma to a rendevous point so that the various rebel cells can unify for once. Genevieve O’Reilly reprises her role as Mon Mothma, first playing her in deleted scenes from “Revenge of the Sith,” and later being brought back in “Rogue One,” where she finally got a chance to shine as the rebellious senator. This episode not only sees some nice Y-Wing action, but also a beautiful shot of a nebula engulfing two Star Destroyers, a testament to how far the animation had come along. Mon Mothma makes the move to officially speak out against the Empire’s treacherous rule, finally cementing her as a wanted criminal and leader of the Rebellion. The episode ends with multiple Rebel cruisers coming together and hinting at what we eventually see in “Rogue One.”
A rematch nearly 20 years in the making, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul face off in the sand dunes of Tatooine where their struggle first began many years prior in “The Phantom Menace.” The two follow a tragic sort of path intertwined with one another, both suffering tragic loss at the hands of each other in”TPM,” Maul losing his place at Darth Sidious’ side and Obi-Wan losing his own master. Maul was responsible for the death of Qui-Gon Jinn, master to Kenobi, as well as Satine, the only woman Obi-Wan ever loved despite being forbidden to by the Jedi code. Both of their deaths come by a saber through the chest, and the symbolism between both dying in Kenobi’s arms as well as Maul at the end of this encounter is beautiful. Maul approaches the situation as though Kenobi was some old and beaten soul from a bygone era, an easy kill, but what he realizes quickly after three strikes and a saber down the chest is this is a Jedi Master on active duty. Maul has spent all these years believing it was Obi-Wan who robbed him of everything he was destined to gain, only for it to fully dawn on him it was Sidious responsible for his and everyone else’s misfortune, and Kenobi was the one guarding the only hope at stopping him. Maul finds solace for a brief moment in this hope of redemption (A.K.A. Luke Skywalker) and dies cradled in his old rivals hands. The foreshadowing from both Qui-Gon and Maul in regards to speaking about the chosen one as they die while held by Obi-Wan gives all the more importance to what the Skywalker’s stand for. Something that speaks to the character of Obi-Wan is the fact that he comforts Maul as he dies despite him being the one who robbed him of so much, and even gives him a traditional force user send-off through a funeral pyre. Even the episodes title hides a deeper meaning, besides the twin suns iconic to the planet, but it can also be taken as twin sons of the Force. The tragic tale both these characters carry with them through the saga is probably my favorite from any of the films or shows.
“In the Name of the Rebellion”
Another episode focused around the extremist Saw Gerrera, this episode finds the man even closer to where we find him in “Rogue One.” Another one of the series best moments comes in a confrontation between Mon Mothma and Saw Gerrera, both fighting for the same cause but the very different methods makes the cause much less black and white, and having both of their on-screen actors reprise their roles further helps solidify “Rebels” in the bigger picture. Saw takes Ezra and Sabine on a mission to stop a highly-secured object from reaching the Empire, discovering it to be a giant kyber crystal. The audience of course knows the use as a part of powering the Death Star, but this sets Saw further down the path towards discovering the massive weapon, where we end up finding him in “Rogue One.” One of the hostages on the cargo ship mentions the planet Jehda where the weapon is first tested in “Rogue One” and where we find Saw in the film, as well as a reference to Director Krennic, the leader behind the Death Star project.
“A World Between Worlds”
Probably the biggest episode in terms of connecting to the wider universe, this episode introduces us to a sort of astral plane where time is non-existent through the Force. Ezra comes upon it through a portal on Lothal, one that has deep connections to the Mortis gods from “The Clone Wars.” Ezra is able to directly impact the fate of Ahsoka in a way by pulling her from her final encounter with Vader, setting her up to where we find her in the finale. In this place, voices can be heard from many key characters in all the films, which creator Dave Filoni said he was very conscious of when developing it. Palpatine is revealed to have been manipulating Ezra to open the door and get him access to such a tremendous power, but with the help of Ahsoka, the two are able to escape and close the portal.
This final episode gives closure to the Ghost Crew’s story, and explains where they were for the rest of the Galactic Civil War. Hera of course continues on to the end at Battle of Endor, where Rex is also present and pretty much confirms the fan theory that the old rebel with a white beard is him. One cool nod from “Rogue One” was of course hearing General Syndulla announced over the intercom, seeing Chopper roll by in one shot, as well as the Ghost flying around in the battle over Scarif, a perspective I hope we get a chance to see very soon. If Ezra and Thrawn were still around by the end of the show, many would be wondering why we wouldn’t see them in Episode’s IV, V, and VI and their hyperspace jump to some unknown area answers this (other than the obvious that the films came out years before the show). The finale did a great job at leaving the door open for future stories, but also showing what exactly the rebel cell’s final impact on the war was.