I have been anticipating the launch of Disney’s new Star Wars animated series, not because I’m a huge fan of nearly everything Star Wars (which I am), but because I was curious as to whether anything had been learned from the highs and lows of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. It seems almost surreal that we Star Wars fanatics are getting such a royal treatment of shows, movies, and content these days. Although I was excited to dig into this pilot episode, I went in with no expectations.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead!
The show begins on the Outer Rim world of Lothal, where an orphaned teenage boy named Ezra Bridger steals to survive on the farming backwater. Ezra makes his way into Capital City via speeder bike and causes a bit of havoc for some Imperials by stealing a comlink and calling in a falsified emergency in the central square. By doing this, Ezra saves a merchant from the detention block as the Imperials rush away, and takes several fruits as payment. After climbing up to the rooftops, Ezra unwittingly uses the Force and senses the presence of Kanan Jarrus.
As he’s spying on the Imperials in the city center, he witnesses Jarrus, Mandalorian Sabine Wren, and Lasat Zeb Orrelios, all of whom are rebels against the Empire, attack a group of Imperials and steal their supply crates. As the action unfolds, Ezra jumps at an opportunity to steal a crate and speeder bike, with Kanan and Zeb giving chase on speeders. After dealing with speeder-mounted Stormtroopers, Kanan finally stops Ezra, only to have his speeder destroyed by a TIE fighter and Ezra take off again. Just as more TIE fighters close in and are about to blast Ezra to bits, the rebels’ ship, Ghost, appears, piloted by Twi’lek Hera Syndulla. Ezra jumps aboard the ship and it makes its way into space, taking out TIE fighters before jumping into hyperspace.
As Imperial Security Bureau Agent Kallus rifles through the crime scene, Ghost returns to Lothal under the disguise of a scrambled signal. The rebels drop the stolen Imperial supplies at Tarkintown, the home of Lothal refugees who were forced from their properties and livelihoods by the Empire’s grab at land for the resources to build TIE fighters and the factories they are manufactured in. Within moments, the careless Ezra begins to understand the true purpose of the rebels’ actions earlier that day.
Again, Ezra unknowingly uses the Force to find Kanan’s hidden lightsaber and a holocron, the latter of which he steals. Astromech droid Chopper alerts the ship’s crew to the break-in, causing Kanan to demand his lightsaber back. The rebels meet to discuss a rescue mission aimed at retrieving Wookiee slaves.
The rebels jump to the slave ship’s coordinates and board the vessel with what is essentially zero resistance. As some of the rebels make their way to the brig, Agent Kallus’ Star Destroyer arrives – the trap is sprung. Ezra rushes onto the Imperial slave ship to warn the others that there are no Wookies, only Stormtroopers, who pour into the slave ship after it and the docked Ghost are taken aboard the Star Destroyer. Ezra is left behind as the Ghost makes a break for it. After he is taken captive, he uses the Force to calm himself and open the stolen holocron, which had been hidden in his waistband. This reveals a message of caution from Obi-Wan Kenobi, recorded some fourteen years before, as the Galactic Empire rose to power in the wake of Order 66 and the collapse of the Galactic Republic.
Ezra tricks his Stormtrooper guards and escapes his cell. The rebels return to the Star Destroyer to rescue Ezra, who overhears over Imperial coms that the Wookies are bound for the spice mines of Kessel, a death sentence for the forest-dwelling aliens. The rebels jump to action, swooping down to Kessel to rescue a number of Wookie prisoners. As Ezra struggles to save one of the younglings, Kanan reveals himself to be trained in the ways of the Jedi by using his lightsaber to hold off the Imperials as they try to squash the rescue operation.
After an attempt to end Ezra’s life that is squashed by Kanan, Agent Kallus informs an Imperial Inquisitor that he has found both a Jedi and an apprentice. The Inquisitor relishes the idea of hunting down the two as Ezra decides to join the crew of the Ghost permanently and train in the ways of the Force under the guidance of Kanan. It would seem that Ezra finally has a family again.
I was truly surprised by this first episode of Star Wars Rebels. I was fearful that it would be more childish or cheesy than Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which I also enjoyed. However, Star Wars Rebels turned out to be witty, action-packed, and a wholly different journey than the previous animated show offered. Although technically created for children, people of all ages with a love for Star Wars will love this show and its passionate characters. At the end of the hour-long pilot episode, you’ll wish that every episode was an hour long.
We will see how this show continues to pan out over the course of the season, and the series, but I already suspect that the kind of thrilling action, lovable character, and engaging story line will be a welcome and celebrated celebrated change for years to come.[mks_button size=”small” title=”Images courtesy of Wookiepedia” style=”rounded” url=”http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page” target=”_blank” bg_color=”#dd3333" txt_color=”#FFFFFF” icon=”fa-sign-out” icon_type=”fa”]