In no particular order and in rapid fire, these are my favorite episodes of Rebels.
The Honorable Ones was a game changer for me in many ways. We got to see the shift in Kallus to start his journey from villain to hero. It’s the best Zeb episode showing his softer side. We also got to see a rebel and an Imperial debate ideals. It’s two of my favorite characters facing off not with their fists but with their words, which was a far more powerful weapon that day.
Fighter Flight is just fun. It’s a fun episode. In a show there the word “Wars” is in the title, I sometimes really like to have smaller adventures that aren’t huge plot game changers. It doesn’t have to be doom and gloom all the time. It’s character driven by Zeb and Ezra, and we get to see the beginning of their relationship.
Rise of the Old Masters came at the perfect time in season one. Just when you thought this would be a lighthearted adventure of the week show, they slam down one of the darkest episodes of the series. It’s still unnerving to see Luminara’s corpse. We get the first introduction to the Grand Inquisitor. Kanan is almost manic in his own self-doubts. It’s all done so well.
Through Imperial Eyes is a favorite because we get a rare glimpse of the lower levels of the Empire. Kallus is constantly on the verge of getting caught. We got to see the return of Yularen which was heartbreaking for me. I definitely screamed, “Did you forget your Jedi friends, Old Man!” Thrawn is on point doing Thrawn things. And my goodness, those arms of his in that sparring scene… that was catnip for me.
Hera’s Heroes is probably my favorite Hera episode. She’s sly and brave in the face of Thrawn and the Empire taking her home. It’s a rare team up of her and Ezra together, making for a unique chemistry we normally don’t get in the show. Again, Thrawn is deadly doing his Thrawn thing. It’s really awesome all around.
Trials of the Darksaber is easily the best Sabine episode of the series. As I mentioned above, it’s difficult to watch this normally strong and confident woman break down as she faces her mistakes. The entire episode is beautiful watching her pick herself back up. She’s ready to face her past to be a stronger woman in the future. So inspirational.
A World Between Worlds, oh man, where do I even begin? Another huge game changing episode that not only brought Ahsoka back into the mix, but also introduced time travel (to quickly close it again). It’s visually gorgeous. It sounds amazing as you hear voices from all over the franchise speak up. It firmly stated that all Star Wars is connected. It’s all important. It’s all here to stay. Another episode I could probably write for pages about, but I would rather direct you to Star Wars Explained, because they do a much better job breaking it all down.
Family Reunion–And Farewell breaks my heart and makes me soar. It’s a marvelous finale on so many levels. Ezra has his huge hero moment defeating Thrawn in the most unexpected way. Gregor’s death hits me right in the clone feelings. The epilogue from Kallus and Zeb leaving together in the sunset, to Hera being a mom, to Sabine and Ahsoka starting their next journey is so perfect. Though, I will say that I both love and hate the space whales at the exact same time. They are the most brilliant plan, because Thrawn would never expect them, but I hate them, because Thrawn was beaten by space whales. It’s amazing and dumb, and I love/hate it so much.
Twilight of the Apprentice is hands down the best episode of the entire series. It was the first time I ever cried watching something Star Wars. I still get chills when Vader, with Anakin’s eye, looking down at Ahsoka, and you hear Matt Lanter’s voice say, “Then you will die!” It was almost a decade of waiting to see what their showdown would finally be. It also brought Maul back into the series, which I never saw coming. It was powerful, amazing, beautiful, and had some of the best music in the series. Plus it had one of my favorite pieces of Star Wars music ever created with “It’s Over Now.”
Side note: “Journey into the Star Cluster” is my other favorite piece of Star Wars music, also from Rebels.
Books and Comics
Rebels was more than just the television show as it spilled over into other forms of media too. As I mentioned earlier, Charles Soule took on some Rebels content by giving us more background on the Inquisitors and Mr. Grande. The Grand Inquisitor’s showdown with Jocasta Nu in the Jedi Temple library is still one of my favorite moments for him, and it’s not even in the show.
But there are three things I must talk about, because they are just as important to the Rebels universe. That is Kanan: the Last Padawan, A New Dawn, and 2017’s Thrawn.
I really need to reread Kanan: the Last Padawan, because it’s been a few years. But it was my favorite of the new Marvel Star Wars comics until Charles Soule dropped his Vader run. If it hasn’t been obvious in this blog, I’m a slut for anything Clone Wars, so that era of Kanan’s life was amazing. It was fun to get to know the clones in his platoon only to have them break my heart at Order 66. Kanan’s relationship with Depa Billaba is so refreshing and fun, such a good mix of her letting him explore while keeping him just enough in check. You can see where Kanan pulled his own teachings to Ezra from. The comic was also careful to match up with the television series. I remembering picking up an issue where Kanan’s life was saved by Fenn Rau and his crew. And then that night when the new episode aired, they talked about that very battle. I screamed, “I just read that!” It was a great moment of synergy among the entire story group to make sure those kind of things were in line. If you haven’t checked it out, you should. It’s a great read.
I actually just read A New Dawn for the first time quite recently in the last four months. I listened to the audiobook at work, and I must say that Marc Thompson does an excellent Kanan. It was a great read watching Hera and Kanan meet and the beginning of what would be their love story. But it was the side cast for me that really carried the story. I knew Hera and Kanan would make it together, so I was very much engaged in everyone else. It’s the introduction of Rae Sloane, who would go on to help create the First Order. Zaluna is an inspiration as she steps out of her comfort zone to fight. Skelly is a damn hero. Count Vidian, who I call Business Vader, is probably one of the scariest villains in the series. I would love to see more of him, because he is terrifying. Over all, it was a great prelude to the television series even if I read it well after I finished Rebels.
Here’s probably the other most controversial thing I will say in this post:
Sorry A New Dawn, but 2017’s Thrawn is the best Rebels prequel book, and it’s essential if you want background to the series. My friend Jon pointed out to me on Twitter that A New Dawn is written to be a prelude. Thrawn is a prequel and does a great job filling in those early season gaps. We’re introduced to the amazing Eli Vanto and Karyn Faro, who really shines in Thrawn: Alliances. Not every person can stand face to face with Vader and deny him. She stands up to him and his men like a champ. But back to Thrawn, we also get answers to a lot of early criticisms of the show. It explains why Lothal has pretty lackluster stormtroopers and Imperials in season one. It tells us where Governor Pryce and Thrawn were during the earlier seasons. It adds huge bombshells that completely change Thrawn’s character. You know when he first walks in with Pryce in season three, and they mention the Battle of Batonn? That’s not a black and white battle that gave Thrawn his Grand Admiral status. There’s a lot more to that scene. But it also gives us Arihnda Pryce’s story. Some of our heroes like Ryder Azadi aren’t great people as he was the one that put her on the path to become a villain by doing something SUPER shady to her family. The entire thing is an amazing read. I would also suggest the audiobook for this too, because Eli Vanto is a funky little Space Cowboy with a great accent.
I also want to note that while I do think the comic adaptation of Thrawn is really great, because Eli makes the best faces, it leaves out HUGE things in the story. It doesn’t even talk about that MASSIVE bombshell that changes Thrawn’s character. I would say read the novel first and then go back and read the comic.
Part of the reason I love Rebels also came from the meta side of things, because fandom is awesome. It really added a lot of my love to the show.
Where were you when “Zero Hour” dropped and we saw the rise of #HotKallus? I screamed at that lock of hair, because it was beautiful. It was his Frozen’s Elsa ripping down her hair “Let It Go” moment that broke the internet. I still laugh when Dave Filoni said in a panel “That was a very expensive lock of hair to animate!” It was the last break of Kallus’ Imperial ways, and the start of his new journey.
This is one of my favorite pieces of Star Wars trivia:
I always wanted to see what this scene looked like. I don’t think it was ever officially released (unless it’s on the Blu-Ray. I don’t own those). Luckily, some fans stepped up in a big way and made their own versions of this scene. Needless to say, it’s freaking amazing.
And my other favorite fandom moment was in the final Rebels Recon when after years of speculation and Filoni being the lovely troll he is, it was revealed that Dave Filoni voiced Chopper the entire time.
Well Chopper, who had his own segment in Rebels Recon, had an existential crisis as he fought the notion that he wasn’t his own droid. He was only calmed when Pablo Hidalgo said he would always be Chopper. But the segment is hilarious, and it still makes me laugh to this day.
I can’t talk about Rebels without discussing Rebels Recon. I miss it still to this day. Sure, Resistance has a similar segment they release each week, but it’s not Rebels Recon. I loved getting to know the cast and crew. It was great hearing their process and seeing artwork that inspired episodes. The Chopper Cam segments got better and better, especially the season Chopper thought he was a huge movie star after being in Rogue One. What started as a simple Q&A segment with Andi Gutierrez and Pablo Hidalgo became more and more elaborate each week as she hunted him down.
I mean we got Rain Window Hidalgo, which is just so funny.
But Rebels Recon felt so personal. It was a love letter to the fans, showing that the creators loved the show just as much as we did. It was so much fun every single week, and I would sometimes stay up late to watch it (since I live on the east coast, and they would wait until the west coast broadcast would air before putting these up). I loved getting to know the cast, Andi, seeing the Lucasfilms office (I WANT THEIR WALLPAPER), and it was a window into the show I loved so much.
Please bring back a Rebels Recon show for Resistance.