A Family, A Rebellion, and a Deepening Universe: About “Star Wars Rebels”

A few years ago,I started making the effort to expand my dialogue about storytelling by going beyond the boundaries of books and out into the mediums of TV and film. I do so by doing these analysis pieces once a while about a TV show or film that has reached a significant time in its history (i.e. series premiere, series finale, film release, anniversary of a release, etc.). Previously, I took another look at the “Star Wars” franchise and how my love for it has deepened over the course of the past few years. Today, in honor the series finale earlier this week, I shall discuss my thoughts from, what has come to be, one of my all-time favorite stories from this same universe. Today, I discuss “Star Wars Rebels.”
When Disney first bought Lucasfilm back in 2012, I’ll admit to being just as hesitant as everyone else as to how they’ll go about continuing the stories set in the “Star Wars” universe. We were soon to experience this new reality two years later when, following the unexpected cancellation of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” a new animated series began called “Star Wars Rebels.”

Under the same creative team as its predecessor, “Star Wars Rebels” is set 14 years after the events in “Revenge of the Sith” and five years before the events of both “Rogue One” and “A New Hope.” It explores the beginning of the Rebel Alliance, by way of a small unit – or rather, family – of, well, rebels as they take a stand against the Empire. While the series lends its focus to several of these characters and then some, the main protagonist is teenage orphan Ezra Bridger; a selfish con artist who, by the end of the series, has evolved into a selfless Jedi knight, who wants nothing more than to rid his home planet of Lothal of the Empire’s occupation.

At first, I used to watch this show sporadically; reason being that I’ve never been that invested in exploring stories in the “Star Wars” universe beyond the feature films. However, it was during Season 3 when I really became invested in it and for nothing but positive reasons:

  • The characters are both likeable and relate-able, with each of them having their own reason for why they are defying the Empire. The relationship among all of them is most believable in knowing that their voice actors recorded in the same room together; one of whom actually made history as the first Asian American lead in “Star Wars.”
  • The universe has been expanded to include new worlds, new characters, and new creatures (my personal favorite being the Loth-Wolves).
  • Because this series is set so close to the original trilogy that there have been episodes where familiar faces have made appearances, but have never pulled focus away from the central characters.
  • The philosophy surrounding the Force is expanded and deepened. In fact, in several instances, “Star Wars Rebels” has even entered the gray area when exploring the Force; a feat that the film franchise has only recently touched on in “The Last Jedi.”
  • Above all else, there is just really great character development and storytelling to go around. While that’s not saying that every single episode is perfect, for the most part, they are worth looking forward to; especially the final ones.

When I wrote about “Star Wars” a few months ago, I talked about how my love for it has deepened as the themes continue to become so relevant in this current political climate. What I want to add now is that my love for “Star Wars Rebels” has been an additional contributor to that, and more so for the philosophical elements and deep subject matter.

I’ve heard the arguments from those who are more in favor of a revival of “The Clone Wars,” but as this video from Channel Frederator points out, “Star Wars Rebels” keeps you on your toes. While some may dismiss it because of its target audience and that it’s animation, I find those arguments ineffective. If a show can appeal to a large audience, then I believe that is something truly special. Also, since when was animation just for kids?

“Star Wars Rebels” is going to go down as one of my favorite TV shows just in general. I’ll never hold back on how wonderfully executed Disney’s first venture into the galaxy far, far away is.

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