Sunday, January 31, 2016

Guys, 'Star Wars Rebels' Is Finally Becoming Relevant

Star Wars Rebels, the Disney XD cartoon centered on a dysfunctional and diverse group that plays a major role in the formation of the Rebel Alliance, has always been considered by many to be the immature, Disney-fied younger brother of The Clone Wars. And though Rebels hasn't yet reached its predecessor's heights in terms of storytelling and fan base, the series has finally started to become relevant in its second season.
For the record, the show has never been bad. It's always had strong characters and an intriguing story, along with the high-quality animation and lighthearted moments that made The Clone Wars truly great. The first half of Season 2 sported some serious Clone Wars connections, but the recently released mid-season trailer has some jaw-dropping scenes that prove Rebels is relevant enough to interest any Star Wars enthusiast, even those who only became fans after watching The Force Awakens

Ahsoka Tano 

When audiences first met this feisty Togruta padawan in the 2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie, they weren't too impressed. She was kinda annoying, and the idea of Anakin having a padawan seemed like a forced plot device. 
But over the course of the series, audiences grew to love Ahsoka and all of her wit, courage, and it was pretty heartbreaking to watch her leave the Jedi Order in the Season 5 finale, after the Council refused to believe that she had been framed for a heinous crime. Yeah, we all knew that she had to go sometime (since she obviously wasn't in Revenge of the Sith), but that didn't slow our tears as she slowly walked down those Temple steps, leaving behind her life as a Jedi. 
Anyway, to no one's surprise, the Season 1 finale of Rebels revealed that Fulcrum, a mysterious informant of the rebel team, was actually an adult Ahsoka. In the Season 2 premiere, "The Siege of Lothal", we got one of the most powerful moments of the series as Ahsoka reached out with the Force to Darth Vader, realized that he was actually her beloved ex-master, and promptly fainted in shock. 
It's great to see this fan-favorite character back in action (like when she dueled two Inquisitors in "The Future of the Force"), but her interactions with Vader will prove to create the most intriguing storylines. The mid-season trailer showed the two engaging in a super-emotional Force conference, with Vader asking Ahsoka in Anakin's (Matt Lanter's) voice, "Why did you leave?" Their bond was one of the best things about The Clone Wars, so this is exactly the kind of closure that they – as well as the fans – needed. 
And then, of course, we saw a glimpse of the inevitable duel that we all knew was coming: Vader vs Ahsoka, Dark vs Light, Master vs Apprentice. She may have improved her already-impressive skills in the years since she left the Jedi Order, but Ahsoka stands no chance of winning. Let's just hope that she can retreat or escape before she gets killed. 
Rex and the Clones 

One of the other best things to come out of The Clone Wars? The series brilliantly humanized clone troopers, giving them unique personalities instead of the identical drones that we saw in the Prequels. Captain Rex was the standout, serving under Anakin and Ahsoka with infinite loyalty and courage. In the Rebels episode "The Lost Commanders", Ahsoka sent the team to find Rex and recruit him to their cause, along with a handful of other familiar clone faces.
At the end of the episode, we got to see a truly heartwarming reunion of these old friends. Both had aged significantly, and they were fighting against a much different enemy, but once again Ahsoka and Rex were allies. 
Darth Maul

Yet another of the best things to come out of The Clone Wars? The return of Darth Maul, the villain of The Phantom Menace who infamously met his end too soon. With his bigger, even scarier brother Savage Opress, Maul went to great lengths to get revenge on Obi-Wan Kenobi. In a way, he succeeded by murdering Obi-Wan's love, Satine Kryze, in front of him. But Maul's actions caught the attention of Lord Sidious himself, and last we saw him (in TCW episode "The Lawless"), he was being mercilessly tortured by his former master.
The Son of Dathomir comic continued his story arc, ending in a showdown between Sidious and Mother Talzin, Maul's witchy mother. Talzin lost, and Maul escaped with help from his Mandalorian super commandos, with his fate left uncertain. Rebels' mid-season trailer showed a hooded figure asking aspiring Jedi Ezra to call him "Old Master", and the familiar voice and dimly visible face tattoos made it pretty clear that Maul has returned once again. 
Aside from what this means for Ezra, it's awesome that Rebels is bringing Maul back, and continuing to give this shamefully underused character the screentime that he's always deserved. 

The Ancient Sith

Of the many environments seen in the mid-season trailer, the most mysterious was a pyramid-like structure seemingly below the surface of a planet, with unknown symbols inscribed inside and around it. This is almost certainly a Sith Temple, and the smaller pyramid-like object briefly seen held by Ezra is a Sith holocron (opposed to the cubic Jedi holocrons). 
Both of these suggest that Rebels will explore the ancient history of the Sith, which has only been briefly glimpsed before in the Star Wars canon, in the series finale of The Clone Wars. Unless a film (or a trilogy) is made in the Old Republic era (which is quite possible), chances are that the cinematic installments will stick to the time period that we're already familiar with, and Rebels may be our only opportunity to see the origins of the galaxy's greatest evil. 

The Crossguard Lightsaber

Perhaps the most shocking moment of the trailer was when we saw Ezra igniting a green crossguard lightsaber, much like the one wielded by Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, only with a more stable blade. We know that Kylo's homemade lightsaber is based on an ancient design, so it would make sense that Ezra would find one of these lying around in the Sith temple, but it's unclear why the lightsaber is green instead of the traditional red. 
Whether or not we get the full scoop about the origins of the design, this indicates a huge connection between Rebels and the new Sequel Trilogy. Do you think Rebels is worth watching for any Star Wars fan? Tell me in the comments, and may the Force be with you all. 

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