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Star Wars Rebels: Season One

“I've been alone before. Survived. I can survive this.”

Set five years before A New Hope, this series chronicles a group of rag-tag heroes fighting against the Empire. The crew includes a street rat teenager who might become a Jedi, a teenage Mandalorian with a penchant for graffiti and explosions, a curmudgeonly droid who likes to cause trouble, an gruff alien who may be the last of species, a Twi'lek captain who is a great pilot and a human rogue who harbors a big secret.

(This review covers the entire season and includes spoilers!)

When this series first released, I attempted to catch it. But after watching the first couple of episodes, I decided it was too kiddie and dropped it. Then I started to hear things, rumors about major legacy characters showing up and important events taking place – but mostly after the first season. So with the upcoming Ahsoka series coming in a few months I decided to finally tackle Rebels, hoping season one wouldn’t be too much of a chore to sit through.

While this series does have a slightly more kid-friendly aesthetic, that aesthetic is balanced with mature and often outright dark themes and some fairly heavy actions performed by the main enemies. That isn’t to say the series ever shows things like beheadings or blood, but they do happen off screen quite a bit. There was some fairly heavy torture shown on screen for almost two full episodes. Suffice it to say, this is not G rated. It's more like a soft PG-13.

Let me get my biggest critique out of the way; the animation. While the backgrounds feel like Star Wars come to life, the human characters are, to put it generously, not great. Mainly, it's how they animate hair, making it look like blocky wigs (Ezra being the worst offender). The aliens and droids all look good though, and so do the ships. The combat and action scenes are all fairly fluid and decently choreographed and the final lightsaber battle of the season was really well done.

I liked how the action was centered on basically one planet (Lothal) with our group trying to fight against an established Empire. This is realized with recurring background characters both on Lothal and with the local Imperials in charge. The biggest initial threat is Kallus, who is in charge of the local military. He is joined eventually by the Inquisitor, a Jedi-hunter who wields a spinning lightsaber. They aren’t given much depth, depicted as just evil for the most part, but they are appropriately menacing. More importantly, time is spent building up connections between our protagonists and antagonists, always a good storytelling tool.

Of course, the main reason why the show works is the characters. My least favorite of our heroes is probably Zeb, who starts off a bit one-note, but there are some really interesting hints to his backstory. Plus the idea that he is the last of his kind is powerful in and of itself, with Kallus directly involved in the massacre that destroyed his people. I hope we get more of that story as the show progresses, but I was happy with the development of him so far in season one.

Sabine might be second to the bottom right now, but only because we know almost nothing about her. I love her look, her attitude and her art. Especially the tie-dyed Tie-fighter at the end of season, which was just a wonderful running gag. She is also one of the most reliable and important characters on the team, frequently providing much needed cover or tactical support. Her expertise with systems and explosives have gotten them out of a lot of close calls. It overall makes her a likable character, but one I haven’t grown super attached to. Yet.

Hera and Kanan are kind of equals in my book, both as solid heroic leaders and mentors. They consistently grew stronger as the series progressed, and their relationships with the rest of the crew anchored the story really well. I particularly like Hera scenes with Ezra or Sabine, because they feel emotional and familial. They also are really strong when it comes to morality; even the Empire notes that this group doesn’t kill when possible, although with Sabine going all explosives crazy, I wonder how that’s possible.

I think I may like Chopper above most of the human characters, although that may just be my preference for droids lately. He has such a unique droid personality, and his antics usually have a double-edge to them. He’s heroic and resourceful, but curmudgeonly and occasionally petty. If that doesn’t speak volumes about droid sentience… okay, I know I bring that up in every review, so I’ll drop that for now.

That brings me to Ezra, who is basically the protagonist and the character we learn the most about. While he isn’t my favorite (actually he is between Zeb and Sabine in my rankings), he does have a really lovely character arc. His arc is less about being good, because he is shown to care about others pretty early on, and more about learning to accept and depend on others. His outbursts were annoying on occasion, but I loved how he eventually connected to each member of the crew and was willing to sacrifice himself for them on a few occasions.

I would also be remiss not to mention how tight the writing is on this show. Not only is the dialogue fun and usually more than just perfunctory; the plot is reinforced with continuing threads and characters, like Fulcrum being Hera’s contact throughout the season, finally revealed to be Ahsoka. If an episode feels like filler, it usually has a character beat that’s important. Or if it is an arc heavy episode, there are usually pretty serious consequences for the team. This is bolstered by the music which utilizes themes written for the original trilogy but re-orchestrated and expanded by Kevin Kiner, who also conducted the music for Star Wars: Clone Wars.

Standout Episodes:

"Rise of the Old Masters:" A tense episode that first introduced the Inquisitor (Jason Isaacs, Harry Potter, Star Trek: Discovery) to the series. We have a small lightsaber battle, and some danger to our protagonists. The introduction of the Inquisitor is a landmark change, introducing a viable enemy to our new Jedi heroes.

"Out of the Darkness:" A stand alone that features Hera and Sabine working together. It wasn’t particularly great but I loved the pairing and how they managed to survive with ingenuity and trust. I will point out that Sabine is a bit annoying in this episode, poking at Hera for the truth about her connections to the greater rebellion. It’s the only time in the first season I disliked Sabine.

"Empire Day/Gathering Forces:" The first two part episode, which features Ezra’s backstory heavily. It is also the first time the crew feels like they are coming together. They also steal a Tie-fighter which comes into play later on. Additionally, the second part ramps up the tension quite a bit with the crew barely managing to escape with Tseebo. This also shows some nice continuity by going back to the planet featured in "Out of the Darkness," using the alien monsters there as tools against the Inquisitor. Ezra’s powers are also featured, growing to scary proportions as he takes over a massive version of the aliens to attack the Inquisitor.

"Path of the Jedi:" This one breaks format somewhat and is a stand-alone adventure with Kanan and Ezra journeying to a hidden Jedi Temple on Lothal. Here we get Ezra’s first trial and it is harrowing, from watching Kanan die (not for real) and facing off against the Inquisitor and all his new friends rejecting him, he ends up facing his fears and comes out stronger. This also features a voice only cameo from Yoda (Frank Oz returns to the role).

"Fire Across the Galaxy:" This finale is huge. The stakes are upped, the tension is increased, and our heroes face some pretty heavy obstacles. Mainly featuring the rescue of Kanan from Grand Moff Tarkin and the Inquisitor, the entire episode has some rather amazing visuals and some grand heroics. The centerpiece is an Episode One style lightsaber duel with Ezra, the Inquisitor, and Kanan fighting for their lives. This is capped with the introduction of the greater Rebel fleet, the revelation that Ahsoka is the contact Fulcrum and Darth Vader himself comes to Lothal to stomp out our heroes once and for all.

My least favorite episode was "Idiot’s Array." Not necessarily because it was a bad episode. It was because of the legacy cameo, Lando Calrissian. While his voice work was good (voiced by Billy D. himself) and the animation looked like him for the most part (he seemed a bit hunched, but that’s a quibble), his dialogue was just awful, or rather he was so aggressively charming that it came across as slimy. It wasn't just his constant flirting; nothing about the character felt right. Plus watching him hit on Sabine made my teeth grind. They haven’t said exactly how old she is, although it is recorded as 21 BBY which means she is about sixteen in this season (a year older than Ezra).


There are a ton of Easter eggs in this show, but I’ll keep this somewhat brief.

Brent Spiner (Data, Star Trek: TNG) has a small but memorable role as initially a voice of the resistance, that Hera and Ezra are drawn to. He is eventually introduced as a physical character and turned out to not quite be what he seems.

Cameos from legacy characters include: R2D2, C3PO, Lando Calrissian, Bail Organa (Leia’s adoptive father), Ahsoka, Grand Moff Tarkin, Yoda and of course Darth Vader. Many of them with the original voice actors (Bail Organa and Tarkin being the exceptions).

Mustafar is the planet where Obi-Wan and Anakin had their infamous duel. It is also where it is established Darth Vader has his private base.

Many of the original designs for this show were inspired by the work Ralph McQuarrie did for the original trilogy, including modeling the lightsabers on the famous art depicting Luke versus Vader.

This series marks the first appearance by the Inquisitors, namely the Grand Inquisitor who appears to have died in the final episode of the season. They are featured in later content including Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Jedi Fallen Order video games.


Ezra: “Kanan, I can't! I'm afraid.”
Kanan: “Heh. I got news for you, kid. Everyone's afraid. But admitting it, as you just did, makes you braver than most.”

Kanan: “That was a mistake.”
Inquisitor: “Why? Because you have no one left to die for you?”
Kanan: “No... because I have nothing left to fear!”

Kanan: “It's taking too long...”
Yoda: “Patience! Remember you not nothing of your training?”
Kanan: “Master Yoda? I'm losing it...”
Yoda: “Losing it? Lost, yes, but what lost? The question, that is!”
Kanan: “How can this be?”
Yoda: “Be not concerned with how. Know I am here, because you are here.”
Kanan: “Thank you, Master Yoda.”
Yoda: “Thank you? Nothing have I done!”

Yoda: “Then why seek you revenge?”
Ezra: “I don't.”
Yoda: “Hmm. Inside you, much anger. Much fear.”
Ezra: “I just want to protect myself and my friends!”
Yoda: “And this is why you must be Jedi?”
Ezra: “Yes. And not just them – everyone. I'll protect everyone! Before I met Kanan, I only ever thought of myself. But Kanan and the rest, they don’t think like that. They help people, they give everything away, and I see it. I see how it makes people feel.”
Yoda: “Feel! Yes! How?”
Ezra: “Alive. They feel alive, like I do now.”

This wasn't without flaws, but a solid first season for a series I never thought would be good. 3 out of 4 Missions gone horribly wrong

Samantha M. Quinn spends most of her time in front of a computer typing away at one thing or another; when she has free time, she enjoys pretty much anything science fiction or fantasy-related.


  1. Need to rewatch Rebels too as it's the 1st Star Wars animated show I followed as it was released, but currently I'm at the end of Clone Wars season 4 which I haven't actually seen before. Let's hope I'll maki it before Ahsoka drops.

  2. I'm watching Rebels for the same reason, and it's a lot better than I thought it would be. As Samantha said, the animation of the "human" characters leaves a lot to be desired, but the writing is surprisingly good and the whole thing feels like Star Wars.

    Thanks so much for reviewing this show, Samantha.

  3. May the fourth be with you.

    I’m in the middle of the first season, and I agree, it feels like Star Wars. Love the score, it’s used to admirable advantage. Even makes me tear up in the heavier scenes.

    But, it’s still an animated series, not my favorite media. My main stumble is that everything seems so easy, especially the Jedi powers. But, I manage to keep watching because I like happy outcomes and for the magnitude of the problems and heroics, everyone should really be dead.

    I do like the characters, except maybe the robot, who I can’t quite figure out. And, I love the continuity with the Star Wars canon. Every cameo encounter makes me smile. Reason enough to keep watching!


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