I’ve been rewatching the animated series Rebels, and I’ve just finished Season Two. Not only is it longer (22 episodes rather than 15), but it was so much more emotionally satisfying. Several familiar characters make an appearance (or reappearance), and the finale was amazing. But we’ll get to that.
So much more happens in this season, and this post could be unbearably long if I mention everything, so I’ll try to point out the most important events and highlights.
So now the Ghost crew are a part of Phoenix Squadron, led by Commander Sato, along with Ahsoka. Hera and the rest of the crew are all gung-ho about it, but Kanan isn’t so sure–he’s reluctant to join the nascent Rebellion, remembering the Clone Wars and what happened to the Jedi because of it.
They receive a transmission from Minister Tua on Lothal–she wants to defect and she needs their help. She’ll give them important intel in exchange. But before they can retrieve her, she’s killed, engineered by Vader in a plot to draw the Rebels out. Kanan and Ezra end up fighting Vader, and it’s clear to them they are way out of their league–he’s more powerful than anyone they’d ever encountered. They hightail it out of there, but they’re stuck on Lothal. Lando makes another appearance here, as he owes them a favor, and he gets them off the planet.
They escape, but Vader tracks them to the fleet. Ahsoka, on board the Ghost, feels his presence, and he feels hers; he murmurs, “The apprentice lives,” in apparent surprise. Ahsoka is shocked and passes out; later she tells Kanan and Ezra that she doesn’t know who he is, but I don’t particularly believe her. She suspects Anakin, I think, but says nothing to the others.
The Imperials burn Tarkintown on Lothal in retaliation, and the Rebels decide not to go back there; they don’t want to endanger anyone else. Ahsoka asks the Ghost crew to find an old friend of hers, believing that he can help them find a new base. The friend turns out to be none other than Captain Rex, along with two other clones: Gregor and Wolf. They’re in “retirement” on some desert planet, clomping around on some old Republic walker that has seen better days.
Kanan absolutely does not trust them, and understandably so. He’d seen clones turn on the Jedi and kill his own master, Depa Billaba. Rex states that he didn’t betray his Jedi, and explains that he and the others removed the chips in their heads that commanded the clones to kill their former generals, but Kanan’s prejudice runs deep. The others seem to like the clones, though. They need to fight some Imperials off, and the clones go back with them to the fleet. The reunion between Rex and Ahsoka is wonderful to see; and although it takes Kanan a while to come around, I love that Rex becomes an honorary member of the Ghost crew.
Unfortunately, Vader has sent out more Inquisitors, and they encounter two of them–Seventh Sister and Fifth Brother–on an old Republic medical frigate they’ve gone to in order to get medical supplies. They escape, but encounter them again when they discover they’re after Force-sensitive babies. They manage to rescue the kids, and we get to see a fabulous display of Ahsoka’s skills as she duels them both before escaping.
Ezra starts to feel a bit overwhelmed with his Jedi training with Kanan, on top of soldier training with Rex (and the chores Hera gives him on the Ghost), and while trying to escape his responsibilities he encounters Hondo Ohnaka. Since the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire, Hondo has come down a few notches in life–no longer the leader of a formidable pirate gang; he scrapes by in whatever way he can, smuggling and making deals with other pirates. He’s as funny and selfish as he was in Clone Wars, and he’s so fun to watch. He takes a shine to Ezra, who he considers to be his young protege in the art of the con.
Meanwhile, Hera brings an experimental B-Wing into the fleet, to be perfected and mass produced, and she becomes Phoenix Squadron Leader. Kanan and Rex go on a mission together to save Ezra and Commander Sato from the Imperials, and start to bond a little bit; Kanan even calls Rex his “friend.” Sabine has an adventure with an old friend, who’s now an enemy, and then becomes her friend again. I can’t remember her name, but she has gorgeous lavender eyes.
Ezra has Force visions about his parents, and is convinced they need to go back to Lothal. They encounter Ryder Azadi, the former Governor of Lothal, imprisoned by the Imperials–along with Ezra’s parents. He tells Ezra his parents heard the message of hope he sent out in Season One, and was inspired to help the other prisoners escape. But they themselves didn’t make it. It’s assumed they are dead, and Ezra deals with his grief.
Princess Leia shows up on Lothal as an ambassador from Alderaan, bringing three ships full of medical supplies and relief aid. Of course, she expects the Rebels to “steal” her ships, and in this way she helps the Rebellion in the best way she can. She’s about Ezra’s age here, and they have an adventure in getting the ships off Lothal for the Rebellion, without making Leia look guilty. She’s pretty good at making the Imperials look like fools.
In trying to find new, safer hyperspace routes, they encounter a group of Mandalorians on Concordia Dawn called The Protectors that work for the Empire. They take its leader, Fen Rau, prisoner, and get use of the hyperspace route. Zeb finds out he’s not the last of his people, and they help two survivors find a safe haven beyond the Outer Rim. They go on a mission with Hera’s father, the famed Twi’lek freedom fighter Cham Syndulla. Father and daughter have a strained relationship, but they resolve their differences and get a new ship for the fleet to boot. On a mission to get fuel for the Ghost, they encounter space whales called Pergil, and Ezra makes a Force connection with them (they’ll become an important plot point in a future season). Imperial Agent Kallus and Zeb are stranded on a frozen moon, and have to work together to escape with their lives (the experience leaves an impression on Kallus that bears fruit later).
Those pesky Inquisitors keep finding them, so Kanan, Ezra and Ahsoka go to the Jedi Temple on Lothal to find answers on how to deal with them. Kanan ends up fighting a Jedi Temple Guard, who turns out to be the Grand Inquisitor from Season One. Turns out, he’d been a Guard before Order 66, but became an Inquisitor afterward. He symbolically “knights” Kanan after Kanan admits to his fear that he can’t protect Ezra forever; he can only do his best. Ezra finds himself with Master Yoda, and talks with him about the war; only after Ezra insists that they must fight the Empire does Yoda tell him to go to Malachor. Ahsoka hears Anakin’s voice: “Why did you leave me? Do you know what I’ve become?” Her suspicions and fears about who Vader is, and her guilt over her potential part in it, hits home.
Chopper finds a new friend in AP5, and old Republic droid who now does inventory work for the Empire. They help each other on an adventure, and AP5 suggests a new planet for the Rebel base. It seems perfect at first, but then they discover it’s inhabited by–what else?–giant spiders. But they find a way to keep them away from the base itself.
The last two episodes of the season, “Twilight of the Apprentice” Parts 1 & 2, are the best episodes of the season, and possibly one of the best arcs in the entire show. Following Yoda’s advice, Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka go to Malachor, a “forbidden” planet to the Jedi. It contains a Sith Temple, and here they end up meeting Maul, who’s been slinking around there for years, apparently. They encounter three Inquisitors as well–Seventh Sister and Fifth brother, and one other–and they’ve gone there to find “the Shadow,” or Maul.
Basically, Ezra gets separated from Kanan and Ahsoka, and meets Maul, who wants to use Ezra to get to the Sith holocron inside (as well as turn him to the dark side and have him become his apprentice). Ezra, innocent child, believes that Maul wants to help them, and once they get the holocron, he uses it to activate the Temple–he thinks he’ll get the knowledge they seek, but it really turns into a battle station. Ezra realizes this too late, and in the meantime, Maul has blinded Kanan in battle. They’ve managed to kill the Inquisitors and fend off Maul, but Vader shows up for the holocron, and they’re in real trouble. Kanan and Ezra together retrieve the holocron while Ahsoka battles Vader, and it’s this riveting and heartbreaking encounter that makes this episode epic.
During the course of the duel, Ahsoka realizes that Vader is, in fact, Anakin. As the Temple starts to crumble around them, she tells him, “I won’t leave you. Not this time.” Ezra calls her name, but she closes the temple door on him, and they have no choice but to escape without her. We see an enigmatic scene of Vader leaving the Temple, and Ahsoka going into it. It’s a bit vague as to what actually happened, but it becomes more clear in a future season.
So I’ve already written WAY too much, but suffice it to say this was a great season, with an amazing season-ender.
Now that Season 2 of The Mandalorian is over, I decided to rewatch Rebels. I’ve just finished Season 1, and thought I’d just do a basic recap rather than an episode-by-episode review (there are 15 episodes in the season).
Rebels takes place in the few years leading up to A New Hope, when the Empire is in full control but some pockets of rebellion have flared up in response to their heavy-handed rule. Most of the main action takes place on or near the planet Lothal, an Outer Rim world run by the Imperials.
Obviously as Season 1 starts, we meet the Ghost crew: Hera Syndulla, the Twi’lek pilot, daughter of Cham Syndulla, who was a freedom fighter on Ryloth during the Clone Wars; Kanan Jarrus, the human male we quickly learn is a Jedi who somehow escaped Order 66; Zeb, the fierce Lassat who is often the muscle of the group, and who is the last of his kind thanks to the Imperials; and Sabine Wren, a young artistically-inclined Mandalorian woman who formerly attended the Imperial Academy on Mandalore but left when she became disillusioned with the Empire; and Chopper, their feisty, mischievous, and sometimes rude droid who sounds like the adults on the Peanuts specials. Their main mission is simply to make trouble for the Imperials and to help those who may need it; at this point, they are unaware of any other rebel cells at work. There is, however, a contact that Hera gets information from, a mysterious figure called “Fulcrum.”
They quickly pick up a sixth member in Ezra Bridger, a teenager who grew up on the streets of Lothal. Ezra interrupts one of their theft missions, and Hera and Kanan recognize that he’s special–and a bit annoying–and ask him to join the crew. He’s not sure at first, used to being on his own, looking out only for himself, but when Kanan realizes he has Force powers–powers that he unknowingly used to survive on the streets–he agrees. Kanan, who never even got to finish his own training before Order 66 killed his Master, Depa Billaba, agrees to train him in the ways of the Jedi. We even get to see a hologram of Obi-Wan Kenobi sending out his message of hope to any surviving Jedi, from a holocron that Kanan has in his possession.
We also meet the Imperials and Ministers of Lothal, but the main antagonists are Agent Kallus, member of the ISB (Imperial Security Bureau)–he kind of reminds me of a blond Wolverine–and the Grand Inquisitor, who shows up after Kallus reports a Jedi in the rebel faction. I have to say this guy looks really cool: bald, burning Sith eyes, sharp teeth, and a wicked double-bladed lightsaber that spins on an axis. When Kallus and the Grand Inquisitor fail to capture the Rebels or the Jedi, they bring in the big guns: Grand Moff Tarkin shows up to lay down the law and demand results.
One of the main story threads of Season 1 is the question of Ezra’s parents: who are they, and what happened to them? And will Ezra ever see them again? We find out they were ordinary citizens who spoke out against the Empire, and as a result, they were arrested and taken away. Ezra was only seven years old at the time. He’s fifteen now (born on Empire Day), and he has no idea if they are dead or alive; although on one of their missions, they encounter an old friend of his parents, a Rodian named Tseebo, who tells him his parents are alive, but that remains to be seen.
In one of my favorite episodes, Kanan and Ezra visit a Jedi Temple located on Lothal. Kanan wishes Ezra to be tested to see if he’s ready to become a Jedi. In the Temple, Ezra must face his fears: his fear of Kanan being killed by the Inquisitor, fear that his new friends ridicule him behind his back, fear that he’s just not ready to become focused and disciplined enough to learn and will fail Kanan. He ends up hearing the voice of Yoda, who gives him a few words of wisdom before a kyber crystal falls into his hand. Kanan himself hears Yoda, and must face his own fears: the fear of not being able to train Ezra, of failing him. The fact that he couldn’t complete his own training, that he was never Knighted as a Jedi and is perhaps incapable of training Ezra, weighs heavily on him.
Ezra makes his own lightsaber from the kyber crystal, and it’s quite a unique one: it’s part blaster, part lightsaber. Clunky, but useful.
There are a few appearances of familiar characters: the crew meets R2D2 and C3PO early on, who are working for Bail Organa. Kanan briefly meets Bail when he returns the droids, but he doesn’t know who he is. Bail is keeping an eye on this particular rebel cell, to see what they do and how they may play a part in the Rebellion he’s trying to build.
They also meet Lando Calrissian and become involved in one of his schemes, which seems sort of out of the blue, but it pays off in Season 2.
As the season starts to head toward its conclusion, we meet Senator Trayven of Lothal, who Ezra in particular greatly admires. He seems to be sending out messages of hope for those who hate the Empire, but when they meet with him it turns out to be a trap. They escape, but are disappointed and Ezra is heartbroken. They decide to commandeer the Imperial communications tower to send out their own message of hope.
However, during the mission, Kanan is captured by the Inquisitor. He sacrifices himself so the others can escape. They want to go after him, but Hera receives a message from Fulcrum, who tells her not to risk it, and that they must focus on the bigger picture. They decide to go after him anyway, of course.
He’s being held on a Star Destroyer in orbit around Mustafar, and they hatch a plan to retrieve him. Kanan and Ezra end up facing the Grand Inquisitor in a lightsaber duel; in the end, the Inquisitor dies–hanging from a ledge, he lets himself fall into a fireball below as Kanan looks on.
The crew is rescued from a TIE fighter assault by Bail Organa and his fleet of ships, and Fulcrum shows up as well–revealing herself to be Ahsoka Tano.
Back on Lothal, an Imperial shuttle arrives in Capital City, and Agent Kallus greets Darth Vader, who has arrived to clean up the mess and try to capture the Rebels that have been evading capture.
And that’s Season One, which I seemed to enjoy more the second time around, probably because I already know and love these people, whereas at first I wasn’t sure. I’m looking forward to getting into Season Two, which gets even better.
If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now: I’m a big fan of the Jedi. I have no ill will towards Sith fans, or those who claim to prefer the Dark Side. I guess. I suppose I just don’t understand them–I’m light side all the way. I’ll always root for them in a fight and consider them heroes, to be admired and emulated.
Anyway, I thought I’d list my top 5 favorite Jedi. Probably no surprises here, since I’m not familiar with a lot of the Legends Jedi (which I hope to eventually remedy). I had a lot to say here, so it’s kind of long. Sorry. But here they are:
Obi-Wan Kenobi. Duh. I think he’s universally considered the greatest Jedi ever, with few exceptions. And he’s certainly my personal favorite. Obi-Wan’s skills, commitment and discipline, kindness and compassion, as well as his witty repartee all commend him as the best. But here’s the kicker: despite a lifetime of grief and loss, he never gives in to the Dark Side. Qui Gon Jinn, Satine Kryze, Anakin Skywalker (and Padme, to some extent); not to mention the entire Jedi Order and a way of life he’s always known: all huge personal losses, and grief and sorrow and yes, anger and hatred, flows through him. Yet, he stands firm. Anakin falls because of his mere fear of losing Padme; Obi-Wan endures unimaginable losses, and remains committed to the light. His life arc is interesting, as well: he starts out as a rather arrogant young Jedi, calling both Jar Jar and young Anakin “pathetic life forms;” he goes on to become an amazing war hero during the Clone Wars; and in his later years, he becomes the hermit in the desert who treats his fallen enemy (and the one who killed two of his loved ones) with compassion. No matter his circumstances, he trusts in the Force completely. Despite all this, he isn’t perfect: he’s a bit uptight in the emotions department (which, in the end, served him well); he follows the Jedi Code almost to a fault; and he lost his Padawan to the Dark Side. Did he fail Anakin? Yes. And also no. That’s a debate for a whole other blog post, though. Despite his flaws, Obi-Wan is a class act who sets the bar amazingly high.
Luke Skywalker. Ah, Luke. The first Jedi that we really come to know in this whole Star Wars thing. When I was a kid, I thought Luke was cool and all, but Han Solo was my guy. I still love Han, of course, but I’ve really come to appreciate Luke’s character and his arc in the films. I love his innocence in A New Hope, and his growing Force powers in The Empire Strikes Back. But it’s in Return of the Jedi that Luke really shines. His rescue of Han from Jabba and his realization that Leia is his sister are both satisfying, showcasing his newfound confidence and maturity. But of course it’s his confrontation with his father, Darth Vader, that defines Luke’s character. He is tempted by the Dark Side, yes. Terribly. The Emperor’s threat against his friends, and in particular, Vader’s threat against his sister, drives him to the brink of the Dark. But he ultimately achieves what his father never could: to trust in the Force, and in himself. When he throws away his lightsaber and declares to Sidious, “Never. I’ll never join the Dark Side. You’ve failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me,” Luke is willing to throw everything–the Rebellion, his friends, his very life–away to do what is right. That kind of selflessness and devotion to the Light is what defines a Jedi, and Luke passed with flying colors. He plumbed the depths of his own darkness, and rose above it. Daddy Vader was impressed; he finally realized that his son had surpassed him. Luke’s love for his father reminded him that he could be more than the ruined, hateful thing he’d become. Luke reminded him that Anakin was still in there somewhere–something that Padme had believed–and it was Anakin who threw the Emperor down the shaft, saving his son. They saved each other. The whole thing is so powerful and poetic, I just love it. And I haven’t even gotten to Sequel Trilogy Luke, but that’s going to be a whole ‘nother blog post. This one’s long enough!
Qui Gon Jinn. I think Qui Gon was one of the best parts of The Phantom Menace. Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Master, he’s considered a bit of a rebel within the Jedi Order. He often disagrees with the Council, which tends to irritate his more strait-laced young Padawan. But Qui Gon’s contention with the Council doesn’t originate in rebelliousness for its own sake; he simply looks at the Force and the role of the Jedi differently. He tends to put more importance on the living Force, rather than the cosmic Force. All that means is that he thinks a Jedi should focus on the present, and on the Force present in the beings around them. That’s why he takes such an interest in Jar Jar, and later Anakin; he feels they both have a part to play in what they’re trying to accomplish, while Obi-Wan would just as soon leave them both behind on their respective worlds. And of course, Anakin turns out to be the Chosen One. Qui Gon also has an interest in the Jedi Prophecies (of which the prophecy of the Chosen One is a part); not so much to be able to divine the future (which is a form of control), but of what insights they can offer. (There is much more about Qui Gon’s interest in the Jedi Prophecies, as well as his relationship with Obi-Wan, in the book Master and Apprentice, which I highly recommend). The Jedi Council at this point has lost its way, as we come to see more clearly later in the prequel trilogy; but Qui Gon is not one of them. His insight, compassion, and wisdom make him one of my favorite Jedi, and he was taken away from us too soon.
Kanan Jarrus. I wasn’t totally sold on the idea of Rebels at first, but once I got through the first season, I was firmly on board. One of the reasons for this was Kanan Jarrus. He’s a fascinating look at what might happen to a Jedi Padawan who survives Order 66. When their entire world fell, they had to find answers to questions like: where do I go? What do I do in this new world of the Empire? How do I stay hidden? How can I answer the terrible betrayal of Order 66? And should I? At first, Kanan was content to forget his old life, to try to stay under the radar, and move on. He tried to convince himself that it didn’t matter, what’s done is done, and he couldn’t care less about what happens in the universe. He works, he drinks and carouses, he hides his Force powers. He has a rather cocky attitude. (The book A New Dawn examines Kanan’s life before he meets Hera and the Ghost crew more thoroughly). But deep inside, Caleb Dume (his given name, associated with his Jedi years) still lives. He tends to pop out in a crisis, helping others and doing the right thing. Very Jedi-like things. There’s something inside Kanan that won’t die and needs expression, try as he might to suppress it. Once he meets Hera and becomes a part of the Ghost crew, he has the chance to utilize that aspect of himself. And once he meets Ezra and begins to train him in the Jedi ways, he finally starts to remember. And not just remember the Jedi ways, but to once again embody them. He becomes more fully himself again, what he was meant to be. By teaching Ezra, he relearns what it is to be a Jedi. When he is blinded, he becomes even more attuned to the Force; he truly comes into his power. I absolutely love Kanan’s arc in the show–when he first meets Hera, it’s she that must show him how to live a meaningful life; but later it’s Kanan who asks Hera what she truly wants out of life when all the fighting is over. He reminds her not to forget about love. And when the time comes (as it inevitably does) for him to sacrifice himself for the cause and those he loves–when his “moment” comes–he faces it with a quiet, stoic bravery that left me in tears. The fact that he seems to resurface in the Lothwolf as an embodiment of the living Force is just, well, awesome. The spirit of Caleb Dume lives.
Ahsoka Tano. I wrote quite a bit about Ahsoka Tano in one of my Women of Star Wars posts here. Some may say that Ahsoka shouldn’t be on this list, as she says herself to Vader in Rebels, “I am no Jedi.” But, I’m sorry Ahsoka, I beg to differ. You are a Jedi, whether you call yourself one or not. Ahsoka trained in the Jedi Temple from a young age and served as a Padawan to Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars. Even though she left the Temple, leaving behind the Jedi and her life there, one cannot simply erase all that. If we can call Luke Skywalker a Jedi, who received some quick training from Yoda as a fully grown man, or even Ezra from Kanan’s teachings, or Rey from Luke’s advice (not even training, in my book)–if they can be called Jedi, then Ahsoka is clearly one. So she makes the cut. Anyway, once Ahsoka moved beyond her snippy, new-Padawan-know-it-all phase, I liked her. She complemented Anakin like no other Padawan possibly could. And she brought out the best in Anakin. I probably loved her even more in Rebels. When she faced Darth Vader and realized he was her former master, she refused to leave him, as she did in Clone Wars, come what may. From what I understand, she’s supposed to make an appearance in The Mandalorian, and I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do. By the way, I love that Ahsoka uses two lightsabers. If I could be a Jedi, I’d be her: I like how this girl moves.
Yoda. Who doesn’t love Yoda? Old and wise beyond our imagining. A master for a reason. Cute and ugly at the same time. And fun to watch with a lightsaber.
Rey. You may not agree with me, but I liked Rey. A lot. She’s sweet, loyal, strong, not afraid to cry, and defeats her evil grandpa. You go, girl. She’s also the subject of one of my Women of Star Wars posts, here.
Jedi Council Members. Plo Kloon, Kit Fisto, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Shakti, and all those other cool Jedi Masters on the Council. (Except Mace Windu. I don’t like that guy.)
You might be wondering, Where’s Anakin? Here’s the thing: Yes, he was a powerful Jedi. Probably the most powerful ever. The Chosen One. Clone Wars hero. But he fell to the Dark Side. What made the above list of Jedi great–characteristics like patience, commitment, faith, and selflessness–are traits that Anakin lacked. So I can’t include him on my list. It’s the same reason I haven’t included Quinlan Voss. In Dark Disciple, he also fell to the Dark Side. I understand the reasons they were vulnerable and fell, and they have my compassion. But I can’t admire them.
Anyway, that’s my list and my why’s. Sorry so long, but I didn’t really want to break it up into parts.
Who’s your favorite Jedi, and why? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!