Rebels Remembered: Looking Back on Star Wars: Rebels

On March 5th, 2018, Star Wars: Rebels came to an end. I’ve talked a lot on this blog of my love of the Filoniverse (Clone Wars, Rebels, and Resistance), because they are the reason I fell in love with Star Wars in the first place. Rebels is one of my favorite pieces of Star Wars media. While I miss it and still thoroughly believed it needed one more season, I still love it to this day. I have been renewing my love for the show since my podcast just started covering it.

I also get to see the show from a new light with one of my best friends, Maegan. Her and her husband are watching the show for the first time. Her texts full of surprise and excitement make me smile. It shows that Rebels still has a place for new audiences to discover it’s wonder even a year later.

My buddy Johnamarie from The Wookiee Gunner made a proposal, and I couldn’t pass it up:

I love this idea. What better way to support this series that I love by celebrating it. So, here’s some of my favorite moments, characters, episodes, and everything else in between about my love of Rebels.

Characters

If I’m being honest, I really hated Ezra in the beginning. I made the mistake of comparing him to Ahsoka from Clone Wars. In fact, I compared the entire show to its predecessor. I realized this this was unfair, because they’re two series doing two different things. Once I started watching Ezra as his own character (with a little help from Johnamarie in her podcast, Geeky Bubbles), I really grew to love him. His journey from the closed off street rat trying to survive to stepping up as a leader of the Rebellion was remarkable to watch. Ezra’s sacrifice in the final episode is night and day compared to his first appearance. He’s one of the most enjoyable characters with the biggest growth in the Filoniverse.

Ugh, I’m just so proud of my Blueberry!

I’m just going to say it now: Kanan Jarrus is my favorite Jedi. I feel like he gets being a Jedi right. Before Kanan with all the thousands of Jedi bogged down with what I like to call in my podcast “Jedi bullshit,” they ended up destroying themselves. Palpatine just hurried it along. The Jedi were so focused on rules and their dogmatic ways that they lost sight of the Force. This is where I think Kanan gets it right. He was a padawan when Order 66 happened. He had just enough training to know the basics. After that, he had to figure out everything else on his own. He embraced his attachments with people like Hera and his crew. Kanan does something so mind blowing in the series too:

He hugs Ezra.

This might seem silly, but this is HUGE. And it’s not just one time. I can think of three times off the top of my head where he hugged Ezra (and Sabine too). Kanan never hesitates, and just goes in for hugs like the Space Dad he is! I can’t think of any other time with the previous Jedi where they hug their padawans or each other. Think how much better Anakin would have been if someone comforted him! Unlike the previous Jedi telling Anakin to swallow his feelings and emotions (which isn’t healthy), Kanan helps Ezra process his feelings and emotions, he allowed his padawan to feel, and he supports it. Kanan has an incredibly healthy relationship with the people around him. He grows himself, and doesn’t let the Jedi bullshit rules of the old ways stop him from being a Jedi Knight. His character seems to inspire a trend in all the new Jedi that chronologically come after him. Luke is similar to Kanan by choosing to save his friends over his training against Yoda’s wishes. Rey openly feels and lets those emotions guide her. And of course Ezra follows Kanan’s example in all of this. I feel like all of these new Jedi get it. You can’t swallow down anger and pain. They use it to help them grow into better Light Side users, and Kanan is the best example.

Plus, Kanan is suave, funny, smart, and I just freaking love him.

What can I even begin to say about Space Mom, General, Rebel Leader, and Badass Hera Syndulla? What an amazing inspirational character. First, I’ve always been a sucker for Twi’leks. They’re probably my favorite aliens in the series. I just love everything about them, so that was an early tally mark in Hera’s favor. But as we got to know her, we got to see what a truly amazing woman she is. Twi’leks are often portrayed enslaved or used in trafficking (think prostitution), and here we have Hera, a Twi’lek woman, being the first person ever to fly a B-Wing. She’s the reason the Rebellion gets the B-Wings. She rises through the ranks to become a leader heading up several missions. Did anyone else squeal in delight hearing her name in Rogue One? Because I definitely startled everyone around me in the theater when I screamed at that part. But more than anything, she is the best mother in Star Wars, and she’s not even the crew’s biological mom. She nurtures everyone on the Ghost, even the adults like Zeb and Kanan. She helps Ezra and Sabine realize their full potentials, and more importantly, she trusts their skills. She knows when to let go and let them find their own paths. And she’s always there when they need help and advice. Hera is simply one of the best women ever to grace the Star Wars universe and deserves a seat of honor next to Leia and Ahsoka.

Also, Kanan and Hera are Space Married. I find it hard to believe they never confessed their love to each other before season four. I say they were Space Married the entire time. I could write paragraphs about how refreshing, healthy, and amazing their relationship is, but this post summarized it much better.

Look at them! I love them.

It’s hard for me to write anything critical about Sabine, because she was always an awesome character from episode one. It’s refreshing to have a weapons expert being a young woman. And she’s incredibly smart too! Sabine knows like seven languages or something. I barely grasp English on a good day! What I also love about Sabine is that she’s an artist. I’ve been saying a lot in my podcast how I wish there were more artists in Star Wars using their craft to speak up against the Empire. I want more artists like Cinna from The Hunger Games hiding propaganda in their work. While I do wish we got to see more of that side of Sabine, what we do get is awesome as she often pushes inspiration onto the other characters through her work. I think where Sabine really shines the most is when we see her not at her best. Starting off so strong, it was hard watching her break down in “Trial of the Darksaber” as she faces her mistakes. Seeing her come to terms with her family and fighting to reunite them is beautiful. She’s such a complete character both when she’s strong and breaking down into tears. Crying doesn’t make her weaker. It makes her better woman as she faces her mistakes. Sabine is such an inspiration to young girls everywhere, and another icon that we should love for many years to come.

Dear Star Wars God George Lucas, Patron Saints of Filoni and Hidalgo, and Angel Guide Andi Gutierrez:

Give us Sabine and Ahsoka’s journey.

Zeb was probably my initial favorite character in season one, and still to this day holds a high position in my Rebels characters rank. Honestly if I have any criticisms, it’s how Zeb is used in the later seasons. Sure, we got amazing stories with Ezra and Sabine, but Zeb really got left behind come season three and four. I was really looking forward to seeing his friendship with Kallus (who I’ll get to in a minute), because they had quite the journey going from mortal enemies to respect to POSSIBLY HUSBANDS LITERALLY RIDING OFF INTO THE SUNSET (I am a die hard Kallus/Zeb shipper if it’s not obvious). I wanted more Zeb stories in the second half of the show, more episodes like “The Honorable Ones,” and we just didn’t get it.

A lot of why I loved Zeb was his subtleties that I’m noticing as I’m rewatching the series for my podcast. On the surface, he’s the muscle, a brawler, and just a rough around the edges dude. He’s a soldier and hides a lot of his deeper emotions. But you see those cracks very early on when he finds the disruptor rifles that massacred his people. He looks at them in horror. His pain turns to anger when facing Kallus, who had a hand in killing the Lasat people. Zeb struggles to talk to Kanan about that time in his life. There’s a lot going on with Zeb beneath the surface. I noticed his ears say a lot about his true intentions. Zeb will say one thing, but his ears moving gives away his emotions. And there are so many emotions. He’s honorable, only wanting to take on Kallus in a fair fight. He’s loving towards the crew even when he’s picking on them. He guides Ezra and Sabine in his own gruff uncle like way. He’s a protector and would do anything for his family. Zeb is an amazing character, and he deserves all the love.

Oh Chopper… Our precious psycho murder droid. How I love you.

I think my favorite thing about Chopper is that he doesn’t really have a huge character arc like the rest of the main cast. He starts as a jerk and ends as a jerk. Normally, I might be a bit more critical if it was another character, but it works here. Chopper is a droid. He doesn’t need to have this big changing character arc.

That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t get those emotional moments though. When they aired “Jedi Night,” I had a feeling that Kanan was going to die. There was just so much foreshadowing leading up to it. I just didn’t know how they were going to do it. So, I was a bit more prepared for it. And then we got the follow up episode “Dume.” Seeing Hera’s grief was already breaking my heart. But it was when Chopper, our little comedy relief murder bot, rolls up to her and holds her hand, I just broke. It was the signal that this episode would not be for laughs. Chopper felt the loss of a main character, and it was very real in that one quiet little moment.

What they did well was how they used Chopper. They always had a great balance of comedy and serious moments with him. It’s powerful when he lingers at an old Y-Wing, a memory of his Clone Wars days, because it’s so different from his normal behavior. They wrote this droid so well, and he is one of my top favorite droids.

I’m a firm believer that you need a well written villain just as much as a good hero. And that was Agent Kallus who I adored from the get go. He proved right away that he was smart and constantly on the rebels’ heels. I honestly believe if they didn’t have Kanan, Kallus would have more than likely caught our rebels at some point. He was an amazing fighter, holding his own against Zeb which isn’t easy. The Lasat warrior is a huge muscle man, and Kallus almost killed him episode two. When teamed up with the Grand Inquisitor (who I’ll talk about in a minute), they were a deadly duo.

But then something amazing happened. We got the episode “The Honorable Ones,” and we got to see a shift in Kallus. We got to see his cracks and something more beneath the soldier. We saw him start doubting what he was doing when he witnessed the rebels fight hard to find Zeb, but the Imperials he worked with for years didn’t even acknowledge his return. Something that Rebels does so well is show us the lower level Imperials. We’re used to seeing the higher-ups like the Tarkins, Yularens, and Vaders. But we don’t get to see the lower level ranked men and women working in the Empire until Rebels. When we got “Through Imperial Eyes,” easily one of the best episodes of the series, we got to see their constant bickering and trying to sabotage their way to the top. And Kallus was the vessel from which we got to see so much of this side of the Empire.

And then he defected and joined Ahsoka and Cassian Andor as a Fulcrum agent. One of my biggest gripes of the series was probably because of my own expectations. I thought that Kallus would be running with the crew full time. I wanted him to have heart-to-hearts with the Ghost crew to come to terms, because he spent the first part of the show trying to murder them. I wanted to see people on Yavin not trusting him because of his past and him gaining their belief. At the very least, I wanted him to have one conversation with Zeb about becoming a rebel. My friend pointed out that Kallus had more scenes with Rex than Zeb, who brought him to the good guys in the first place. I love Kallus’ entire journey, but I was wanting more once he reached his destination.

Also, David Oyelowo is AMAZING voicing Kallus. I tweeted a few years ago something like his voice is like liquid velvet.

And Kallus’ mutton chops are glorious.

I’ve had quite the trip with Thrawn over the last couple years.

When they announced that Grand Admiral Thrawn was coming in season three, I wasn’t as excited about it as a lot of other fans. I only recently started diving into the Extended Universe within the last year or so. I was familiar with Thrawn from hearsay through the fandom. But Rebels was my first true introduction to the character.

And I fell in love with him. He’s now my Blue Husbando, and I’ve been writing a fanfiction with him for over a year now.

I think a lot of my love for Thrawn comes from my love of Sherlock Holmes. He’s a very Sherlockian character type complete with his Watsons Eli Vanto, Karyn Faro, and the original Watson, Gilad Pellaeon. In April, I’m speaking on the “Thrawn – The Sherlock Holmes of Star Wars (And His Watson’s)” panel at 221B Con. I fell in love with the character because of how smart he was. I absolutely believe Timothy Zahn, Thrawn’s creator, when he said at Dragon Con 2018 that if there was no Bendu in “Zero Hour,” Thrawn would have won and there would be no season four. He was a threat unlike anything I had seen in Star Wars. His love of art was fascinating, and how he could read entire societies and people from a single painting was something I never thought of before as a military tactic. Never really experiencing Thrawn in any media, I had no idea what to ever expect from him. I was on the edge of my seat every time he was on screen.

Then, I started diving into the character. The 2017 novel Thrawn was a game changer for me as I got to read about the Chiss’ rise in the ranks. I saw him figure out the politics of the Empire, winning and losing some of those battles. Without spoilers though, that novel dropped a huge bombshell that made me rethink everything about Thrawn in Rebels. To the point where I now wonder if he was ever a villain.

We’re going to have to wait and see, though. Thrawn: Alliances didn’t add too much, but I’m very excited for Thrawn: Treason this summer. I can’t wait to see Thrawn put up with bitchy-ass Krennic for an entire novel.

I’ve enjoyed diving into the Thrawn fandom. I’m currently reading through the original Thrawn Trilogy and have my eyes set on Outbound Flight so I can have feelings about Thrass, Thrawn’s brother. This will have to hold me over until we find out what happened to him and Ezra. I’ve stated in another blog that I hope they pop up in Resistance at some point.

Rebels introduced me to my Blue Husbando. I’ve happily taken the leap into the Thrawn fandom and can’t wait for more.

Side note before we move on and because I’ve been reading the original Thrawn Trilogy:

I wish Rebels brought in Rukh much sooner. The Noghri are fascinating characters, and I would have loved to explored him more in the show.

A lot of my feelings for the Grand Inquisitor (or Mr. Grande as I call him in my podcast) come from not just Rebels but other sources too. I really love him in Charles Soule’s comic run of Darth Vader. Actually, all the Inquisitors interest me because of this comic. On one hand, I want to know so much more about them. I would love a novel where each Inquisitor had a section where it detailed their lives in the Jedi Order and their fall to the Dark Side. But on the other hand, I like that they’re so mysterious, and that we may never know everything about them.

I also have a soft spot for Mr. Grande since my friend and I have a role play game where he’s a prominent character (because fandom is awesome. We gave him “Alexei” as his real name based on the poem “The Grand Inquisitor” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in case you were wondering). We’ve really dissected his psyche and what makes him tick. I’ve really fallen in love with this Pau’an (which is saying something. He looks great in animation. The rest of the Pau’ans look like Nosferatu monsters).

But actually looking at the character as presented in the show, the Grand Inquisitor is a great early threat before they start bringing in the big guns like Tarkin and Vader. As I’ve been rewatching, I’ve noticed how smart he is. In the episode “Gathering Forces,” he sticks a tracker on the Ghost. If Tseebo hadn’t been on the ship, our heroes probably wouldn’t have found it as fast as they did since Chopper was out of commission at the time. He probably would have caught them and taken back Tseebo. He’s the only villain I can think of off the top of my head smart enough to track the Ghost. He’s also always so calm and poised. He never loses his focus and fully believes in his work. He’s fascinating to watch, and I wish we had more of him. I hate he died in season one. I wanted to learn more about him. In fact, I wish the Inquisitors lasted past season two. After reading Thrawn: Alliances and watching Thrawn interact with Vader and the Force, I would have loved to see the Grand Admiral have to work with the Inquisitors.

Also the reveal that the Grand Inquisitor was a Jedi Temple Guard was a wonderful surprise.

Maul is another character that I have a bit of a complicated history with. For the longest time, I thought he was one of the most overrated characters in Star Wars. When they brought him into Clone Wars, I definitely rolled my eyes at the spider legs. I really didn’t care about him, but I did love the stories that came out around him with Mandalore and Duchess Satine.

And then, he showed up in Rebels. It was this show that made me fall in love with Maul. It’s because I felt like I was truly seeing him, who he was as a character, for the first time. It was his line of “Not Darth, just Maul” that made me go, “Oh. This is new.” His story was so sad, so filled with tunnel vision to get back some shred of a life that had been completely taken away from him. Maul is such a tragic figure (though it doesn’t take away all the evil things he’s done which are not cool). I really felt for him, and his showdown with Obi-Wan was so perfect. When Kenobi held him, this man who brought him so much pain, and comforted Maul in death, it was one of the most beautiful moments in the entire series.

When we covered Clone Wars in my podcast and got to the Maul story arcs, Rebels helped me truly appreciate the character and I could see the groundwork they laid back then. I loved those episodes even more thanks to Rebels.

I will also forever and always say that Sam Witwer is the true Darth Maul. I know Ray Park played him, but Sam Witwer has played him longer. It was why in Solo it was so perfect the two actors came together for that moment.

Honestly, I could probably write a novel about my personal journey with Ahsoka Tano from the first moment I saw her in the Clone Wars movie to her pretty much becoming Gandalf the White in the Rebels finale. She’s my favorite Star Wars character of all time, and I proudly wear a Fulcrum tattoo for her.

It was actually Ahsoka that made me watch Rebels in the first place. Yes, I admit that I was one of those fans that didn’t give Rebels a chance in the beginning. I was still salty over Clone Wars cancellation and not ready for a new show. I didn’t watch all of season one of Rebels. Then one night, I saw Ahsoka posts exploding over my Twitter feed. I was confused, because I had no idea why my queen was suddenly trending. Looking into it, I saw that Ahsoka had returned and she was an adult.

That’s the most important part of Ahsoka to me. I got to grow up with her. In probably the most controversial thing I’ll ever say on this blog, I admit that the Original Trilogy was not my first love of Star Wars. My mom showed it to me when I was a kid and I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I had trouble connecting with the characters. I could tell Leia was amazing, but she was too cool for me to see myself in her story. I didn’t think I was that awesome.

But when I was in college, Clone Wars came out and I was introduced to Ahsoka. I immediately understood and could see myself in her story. She was a student like me. She was making mistakes like I was. Like me, she didn’t always know her path. Her story was my story, and I immediately fell in love with her. When she left the Jedi Order, I never expected to ever see her again.

Then, she showed up in Rebels. She was an adult like me with more experience than those earlier years. I could still see my story with her. I felt that connection rekindled. I cried watching her face Vader, a story almost a decade in the making. I wondered for many late nights if she #AhsokaLives or if she was truly gone again. And then, Ezra saved her in the World Between Worlds, and I screamed in that moment. I shook knowing she was out there again. It wasn’t the maybe or maybe not feeling I felt when she left the Jedi Order. I knew she was out there.

And I sobbed again seeing her in the finale. Knowing her story, everything she had lived through, everything she had seen (detailed in this post), and Ahsoka still survived. She’s not perfect. She’s flawed as hell. But she never gave up. She never stopped fighting to help people in need. She is an inspiration for me now and forever.

Ahsoka Tano will always be my Star Wars queen.

And lastly for the characters, the man who is my other Star Wars tattoo:

Captain Rex.

But let me start this with a story first. I’ve worked in a comic book store for many years. And during that time, I lost track of how many Star Wars fans I debated with about how important Clone Wars was to the bigger story. They had the argument that if it wasn’t an official movie, it wasn’t real Star Wars. Well as I just stated, Clone Wars is incredibly important to me. It was exhausting to constantly defend it. I did catch a break when they announced Saw Gererra was going to be in Rogue One and, as I wrote in another piece nearly three years ago, I cried over this. But before this reveal, I witnessed one of the best videos that is still saved in my Youtube account to this day whenever I need to smile:

It was the fan reaction to the season two trailer at Celebration 2015. It was at the 1:40 mark when the video went quiet. And I heard it, that iconic voice by Dee Bradley Baker saying, “My name is Rex.”

And the crowd went wild. And then I started sobbing.

I often felt like I was the only person I knew who loved Clone Wars even though I was doing a podcast covering every episode of the series. But hearing that crowd, hearing their love for one of my favorite Star Wars characters, screaming as Ezra gazed up at Rex with the same wonder that I felt, I just lost my freaking mind.

I loved Rex, like Ahsoka, since the first moment I saw him in the Clone Wars movie. Giving personality and individuality to the clones is one of the best parts of the series. It added, for me, so much more emotion during Episode III when Order 66 happened. Because I could name many of those clones. I knew them. I knew their stories, what good men they were, and how they were killing their Jedi friends against their wills.

And knowing Rex, the best of them, survived that and made it to Endor as a true hero fighting in a battle that he chose, man… that’s an incredibly powerful story.

The only other thing I love to imagine about Rex that I might one day write in a fanfiction is him after the battle of Endor. He hears of a guy with the last name “Skywalker” and finds him and his sister. And Rex meets Luke and Leia, and he tells them stories of Anakin when he was still a hero and of Padme, who was so much like her daughter.

Click on the next page to see my favorite episodes, books, comics, fandom moments, and more!

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