It All Started With a Spark
I remember everything we hoped it could be.
All the ideas of a small band of Rebels fighting for each other and everything they could possibly become. When the story started I was looking forward to this new tale, after being a fan of The Clone Wars and knowing just how powerful Star Wars episodic storytelling could be. A new batch of characters, exploring a galaxy under Imperial rule and watching our heroes unite to fight it.
The story would begin small, as most things do. With a spark. A few YouTube shorts. The Machine in the Ghost, Art Attack, Entanglement, and Property of Ezra Bridger. They serve as an introduction to the characters who will become family, the tone of the show, and even some of the musical language that the show would eventually build on!
I wanted to look back and share some of the things that made me fall in love with Star Wars Rebels. The beginning of the story that would forever become my favorite piece of Star Wars!
Spark of Rebellion
What can I say. I’ve already talked before about our experience with this show. We were lucky enough to watch it at the premiere at San Diego Comic Con 2014 on the big screen! The story and characters are all instantly endearing but it’s really Ezra’s introduction. That loveable lothrat meets the Ghost crew and a world beyond the streets of Capital City as we do. The young thief finds a purpose beyond simply surviving. That in itself is worth the price of admission but Rebels is so much more. Every one of the characters are shown for who they are. When the crew returns for Ezra and he realizes they will have his back no matter the risk, the message is strong. They inspire Ezra. And they inspire us.
Droids in Distress
A mission to steal Imperial munitions goes a bit south as Agent Kallus catches up with our crew. What some people see as guest star of the week is a brilliant connection that continues to pay off through the entire series. The T-7 Ion Disruptors give us that window into not only the monstrousness of the Empire, but everything that Zeb has lost. Kallus lives up to his name as he brags about the genocide of the Lasat. It’s the start here that makes the journey of Alexsandr Kallus and Garazeb Orrelios that much more deep and meaningful.
Also they are on a Star Tour. With Captain RX but not that Captain Rex.
The wild child learning to live with his newfound family isn’t as easy as it sounds. Zeb and Ezra have a bit of sibling rivalry as any parent will recognize. Hera sends them on a trip to secure supplies which blows up into Imperial entanglements that involve them stealing a TIE fighter among other misadventures. While the main takeaway is Zeb and Ezra doing a bit of bonding, that definitely isn’t all this episode is. We see Ezra through the eyes of some of the locals who know him a bit better. Ezra helps Sumar, a local farmer, who the Empire has taken hostage in order to secure their land. This is not only where Ezra first uses the Force to push a button he can’t reach, but where he lives up to the example the Ghost crew has set for him. This is where he willingly puts himself at risk to help someone else. Not to steal some blasters, not for a chance to grab some jogan fruit. To fight for those who cannot.
Zeb offers Ezra a TIE pilot helmet that Ezra already has. Ezra accepts it anyway.
Rise of the Old Masters
So we have our crew and our Ezra and we disrupt the Empire and profit how we can. Is there danger? Yes. But here’s where the stakes start to get real. The mission to Stygeon Prime introduces us to The Grand Inquisitor. When Kallus reports one of the rebel terrorists “made good use of a lightsaber” The Grand Inquisitor was sent to investigate. At the same time, finding order doesn’t come easy to Ezra… or Kanan. Their patience is tested by their inexperience and their past. Can Kanan, a boy who barely survived Order 66 by letting go of all of his Jedi ties for so long, find his way back? Can he train this boy in the ways he tried for so long to forget? And in picking up his lightsaber again, has Kanan put his family in even more danger?
And in learning from Ezra, Kanan finally understands what “There is no try” really means.
Ezra goes undercover as an Imperial Cadet (what a cool look) to get intel on a Kyber shipment. We meet a few other cadets: Zare Leonis and Jai Kell. At the time I was enjoying the Servants of the Empire series featuring Zare and his search for his sister. Jai ends up returning much later in the series. Watching Ezra figure out a way to help his newfound friends when he finds out about the Inquistor is cool. I also love that Ezra returns to the Ghost feeling more secure about his choice to join them.
Out of Darkness
Sabine has problems with not having the answers. While Hera runs things and gives out minimal info on her sources, Sabine finds it hard to trust. We learn that Sabine left the Empire because of the secrets they kept. She starts to wonder if she can stay with Hera without answers. They work together and trust each other with their lives but Sabine has to find out if that’s enough. The difference is Hera. She keeps secrets to protect not only her crew, but everyone else too. And Sabine is going to have to learn to trust her leader if she believes what she is fighting for.
Also returning to Fort Anaxes is pretty epic.
The anniversary of the Empire just happens to be Ezra’s birthday. Unfortunately it doesn’t bring the greatest memories. While Kanan wonders what it’s going to take to get the kid to open up, a mission to disrupt the Imperial Empire Day festivities is in the works. While they do blow up a bunch of stuff, the rebels end up on the run and Ezra leads them to a hideout. His old home. Where he lost his parents. Turns out the things that inspired Ezra to join the Ghost crew are things his parents did too. The Bridgers would broadcast transmissions speaking out against the Empire until they were taken. When Ezra finds Tseebo, an old family friend, he becomes even more upset. Ezra has to find out how to move forward from his troubled past and confront it.
With the Inquisitor tracking them, Kanan and Ezra must make a stand. They return to Fort Anaxes to lead the Imperials away from the rest of the crew to protect the Ghost. This involves some hyperspace shenanigans that look like the kind of stuff we hear about in The High Republic. Here Ezra has to open himself up to his fears and connect. He has to trust in his master, himself, and find his truth. Here is where he finds forgiveness. But he also loses a bit of himself. Opening himself up to his fears and almost losing Kanan also opens him up to the dark side. Ezra makes it through and he and Kanan escape, but the experience shows them both that they have to take their Jedi path seriously. The danger they face, not only from external forces, but within themselves, must be confronted.
Path of the Jedi
Kanan takes Ezra to a Jedi temple on Lothal. There they both face their fears. Ezra fears losing his new family and being alone again. Kanan is afraid to fail his padawan because he turned away from the Jedi path for so long. It’s Yoda and his questions that lead them to find their path forward. And Ezra’s kyber crystal.
Which leads to Ezra building his first saber.
Zeb and Kanan agree that betting Chopper on a sabacc game is a good idea. Unfortunately they lose to one Landonis Balthazar Calrissian… In bartering for the return of their crewmate they help Lando run a blockade to smuggle his puffer pig! Working his wily charms on the Ghost crew doesn’t get him as far as he thinks but provides some great comedic moments. The best of which is a solid body blow from Hera. After, of course, she’s already decked Azmorigan with a solid party tray! Ezra demonstrates the bonus features of his lightsaber and Chopper ends up stealing some fuel for the Ghost!
Solid episode and puffer pig shenanigans.
Vision of Hope
Ezra pins his hopes for Rebellion on Senator in Exile Gall Trayvis. Here is where Ezra learns Jedi visions can be gravely misinterpreted. The senator is basically a spy and almost gets our heroes caught. Chopper murders a droid and Hera drops Trayvis with a solid hook! WE also get a bit more info about the Bridger transmissions. Ezra learns that hope is important but be careful of those you trust.
Call to Action
Grand Moff Tarkin makes his series debut with all the ruthlessness he deserves. No one is safe, not even his fellow imperials. The Ghost crew heads on a mission to broadcast from an Imperial comm tower which goes a bit awry. Kanan holds off the Inquisitor while the rebels escape. Watching Kanan make that sacrifice is a powerful image. Ezra looking back to see Kanan shut the door on them. While the rebels are able to escape, Kanan is captured and their broadcast is cut short as Tarkin destroys his own comm tower.
But Ezra’s message gets out. His voice is heard. And across the galaxy people start to realize they are not alone.
Determined to rescue Kanan, Ezra enlists Sabine and Zeb’s help. Hera is told by Fulcrum that resources cannot be spared to risk Ezra, who’s words have given the people hope. The fear that Kanan will be tortured for answers hurts Hera the most as she knows he doesn’t know anything. Undercover chopper is basically the best Among Us player and blows a gang of stormtroopers out an airlock on his way out from capturing the intel on Kanan’s location! Watching the Ghost race across space and intercept Chopper is a whole other level of awesome.
And then Chopper tries to murder another astromech by pushing him off the Ghost.
Fire Across the Galaxy
Unable to let their friend go, the Crew heads to Mustafar to rescue Kanan. They piece together a plan, steal a ship and head out. Turns out Ezra and Zeb didn’t crash that stolen TIE way back when and Sabine painted it into a work of art… that they use to ion pulse the Star Destroyer!
Ezra and Kanan face off against the Grand Inquisitor as Kanan borrows Ezra’s blaster/saber and we get one of the most unique lightsaber fights ever! It just drives the point home that Ezra’s unique viewpoint is such a strength. In this time, the Jedi have to adapt. Even if it means being a little less civilized. Ezra jumps in to help but is struck down and Kanan thinks he’s lost him. But letting go of that fear allows Kanan to overcome his adversary! The Grand Inquisitor’s last words are meant to strike fear into Kanan. And their true meaning wouldn’t become known until years later in an issue of Star Wars (2020) when we see that even in death, The Inquisitor isn’t free.
The reactor destroyed, the Star Destroyer is being evacuated and the crew escapes aboard a couple of TIEs. Only to be hunted by the rest of the fleet. When all looks bleak and chopper is nowhere to be found, a fleet of ships comes to their rescue! Including the Ghost itself. Aboard the ship it’s revealed that Fulcrum and Bail Organa sent help. And Fulcrum is none other than Ahsoka Tano herself. The crew learns what Hera already knows. That the crew is one rebel cell among many across the galaxy, and Ezra’s message has united them and inspired them to fight back. While we know from Rogue One that they won’t have the unity for open warfare against the Empire for some time, this is where the cells begin to help each other.
Because that’s when they’re strongest. As one.
A New Day
In my humble opinion, this is one of the finest stories Star Wars has ever told. This is the beginning of our lessons from this lost boy. Ezra Bridger, who steps into a larger world, and does so braver than most. Every character is given depth and while we do have three more seasons to enjoy, the characters start in such a different place than they will go. We all know what comes next and if you’d like, take a look back at my thoughts from after the Season 2 finale way back then.
I plan on covering the entire run and EVERYTHING I love about Star Wars Rebels!