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Star Wars Rebels: Season Four

“As long as we're together, we've got a chance.”

In season four we build towards an epic conclusion, with deep character arcs, heroic sacrifices and even more force weirdness than the Bendu. This season focuses on the crew of the Ghost trying desperately to save Lothal once and for all.

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

Yet again season four feels a bit different from previous seasons, both in setting and tone. Each character gets a resolution, and some of it was uplifting and some was downright heart wrenching. The character arcs were a bit lighter this time, but since almost every thread was wrapped up, this was more about the family and interacting with each other.

Let's start with Hera. In probably her most emotional season we get to know more about her relationship with Kanan, which up until now has only really been off-screen. The way they kept almost kissing felt like a tease, and made me wonder if they were unrequited lovers. That was answered rather explicitly with her coda, which revealed that Hera had Kanan's child. This meant she was kidnapped and tortured while pregnant. That’s messed up and makes those torture scenes soooo much worse.

Zeb and Chopper had some fun stuff to do in this season, but were mostly supporting players in the greater stories for Sabine, Kanan, Hera and Ezra. And that’s fine. They have both been there as the droid and Chewy analogs (with admittedly wildly different personalities). They serve a purpose, but that purpose is somewhat basic. That being said, I did love the coda with Zeb bringing Kallus to his new homeworld. It was a lovely way to end their parallel character arcs.

Speaking of Kallus, he not only finished the season as a true hero, his journey towards redemption was complete and kind of wonderful. Going from an Imperial ISB agent, which is basically an SS officer, to betraying his Empire, joining a rebellion and then not dying heroically in a final battle is both unusual for this kind of story, but also makes it one of the best in the entire series. I’m very curious if we’ll ever see him again, because as far as characters go, he is one that I genuinely like.


Sabine got a big arc at the beginning of the season as a way of having her rejoin the crew of the Ghost. It finally answered the question hanging in the air about her past, and it was a doozy. Her creation, which she thought she destroyed, was a way to defeat Mandalorians with the press of a button. It showed both Sabine’s genius and capacity to make very bad choices, but at the same time her heart is always in the right place. This two parter also gave us a small emotional resolution with her family, and a guest appearance by Bo-Katan Kryze who was gifted the Dark Saber at the end of the two-parter.

Then there was Kanan Jarrus. Wow. Just wow. I never expected to actually care about Kanan, or cry over his death. I just hadn’t really connected to him as a character. Or at least that’s what I thought, especially coming into the show knowing he was going to die. But his final episode was wonderful, with real emotional stakes and a touching farewell. The moment where he saves Hera and his eyes heal in the final second of his life was both breathtaking and gut-wrenching. His legacy, of course, is his connections. Ezra, whom he trained to be a Jedi; Sabine, whom he helped guide to become her best self; and of course Hera, whom he loved and left with a piece of himself.


Speaking of Ezra, his arc this season was almost exclusively about finally growing up and becoming the Jedi he had been training to become. It was a somewhat mystical journey, traveling to the world in between, and he even managed to save Ahsoka from Darth Vader so that she could fight another day. His sacrifice at the end of the series was both wonderful and a true testament to his character growth from a spoiled kid to a Jedi Knight who saved the galaxy from a ruthless warlord.

Unfortunately the season did suffer a bit from a lack of a central villain. While Thrawn did appear a few times, most of the season relied on Rukh, Thrawn’s alien mercenary, and Governor Pryce. Neither carried the weight needed for the final season, but at least they both had very satisfying ends. Despite that flaw in the storytelling, I do think this was a strong season overall, and did some lovely world building and foundational work for future stories.

Standout Episodes:

"Jedi Knight:" From the first few minutes it was clear this was a different kind of episode. From the way the crew of the Ghost reconnect and have fun together for the first time in a long time, to the silly way Hera reacts to the drugs she was given to induce her to talk. But really, it was about Kanan, giving everyone he loves one final moment with him. It was very clear this was the end for him, and he knew it. He didn’t know exactly how, but it was one long goodbye and it was brilliantly done.


"Wolves and a Door:" This was an interesting entry, with Ezra trying desperately to find a way to connect to Kanan after his death, or maybe even find a way to bring him back. They set off to stop the Empire from unlocking the secrets of an ancient cave painting featuring the Mortis Gods. Ezra and Sabine show an incredible shorthand and almost sibling level ability to work with each other to keep the enemy occupied while they figured out the puzzle, which leads directly into the strangest and most universe bending episodes of the entire franchise.

"A World Between Worlds:" This potentially universe breaking episode introduces a brand new realm related to the Force dubbed The World Between Worlds. It exists outside of time and space, and is used primarily by the light side of the Force. The crux of the episode revolves around the Emperor wanting access to it, and Ezra’s attempt to save Kanan. Instead he ends up helping Ahsoka survive a brutal attack from Darth Vader. If the episode had failed, this would have been a terrible risk for the franchise. Instead, it was something interesting and new and exciting and is one of the best episodes of the series.


"A Fool's Hope:" Ezra does everything he can to give the liberation of Lothal a chance. He brings in friends from the entire series and manages to make a last stand against Governor Pryce and Rukh to gain an opportunity to infiltrate the Imperial stronghold on Lothal. It was a very tense episode with several turns and surprises. It was also lovely to see returning characters like Hondo, Vizago and Ketsu join in the fun.

"Family Reunion" and "Farewell:" This two part finale succeeds as an epic conclusion to the series and also sets up both the Original trilogy and more. The stakes are high, but focused on Lothal, a grand gamble to rid the world of the Empire once and for all. It is dramatic and tense, and the end is appropriately bittersweet. The coda is also something special, learning about Hera’s involvement in the rebellion battles of Endor and Yavin. Zeb takes Kallus to his homeworld to show that he wasn’t responsible for wiping out his people. And Sabine headed off on adventures with Ahsoka, leaving us with the image of a mural Sabine painted of the crew of the Ghost. A lovely physical representation of the love and family they built together. Her new goal, to find Ezra no matter the cost.

Bits:

New and returning legacy characters include: Bo-Katan Kryze, Mon Mothma, Grand Moff Tarkin, Saw Gerrera, Grand Admiral Thrawn and the Emperor.

Guest stars include Katee Sackhoff, Kevin McKidd, Clancy Brown, Tobias Menzies, Lars Mikkelsen, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Genevieve O'Reilly, Forest Whitaker, Warwick Davis, Seth Green, Sam Witwer, Gina Torres, Malcolm McDowell and Ian McDiarmid.

The Bendu’s warning to Thrawn came true after all, “I see your defeat, like many arms surrounding you in a cold embrace." What was taken as metaphor was literal as the arms of the Purgill wrapped around his ship and took him far, far away.

George Lucas created the Mortis Gods, which were introduced in the Clone Wars. The basic idea of force gods is a fascinating one, although it is implied that they were once force wielders who gained power akin to a god. The World Between Worlds was created for this show, as an extension of the groundwork created in the Clone Wars appearances by the Mortis Gods.


Quotes:

Kanan: “That was one of your better crashes.”
Hera: “Kanan Jarrus, you know I never crash. I have very…”
Kanan: “Very exciting landings. Thanks for reminding me.”

Governor Pryce: “You disgust me, traitor.”
Kallus: “The day I betrayed your Empire, Governor, was the day I finally stopped betraying myself.”

Gregor: “I don't know about this plan, Rex.”
Rex: “In my experience, when it comes to Jedi, the worse the plan, the better the result.”

Ezra: “If you're watching this recording, then I owe you an explanation. There were several paths in front of me. While this wasn't the one I wanted to take, it's what I had to do. That's something Kanan taught me. I'm going to miss you all. Zeb, you can have the top bunk back – for now. Hera, I uh, left the meloorun in your room. I know it's your favorite. Sabine, don't forget…”
Sabine: “Right. You're counting on…”
Ezra: “I'm counting on you.”
Sabine Wren: “For what?”
Ezra Bridger: “I couldn't have wished for a better family. I can't wait to come home.”

Hera: “Ezra! Get out of there right now! That's an order!”
Ezra: “Hera, I have to see this through to the end.”
Sabine: “Ezra, please get out of there!”
Ezra: “I can't do that... It's up to all of you now... And remember the Force will be with you – always.”

This was a very good finale, although it left things wide open as far as continuation. While the immediate story was closed in a satisfying way, I kept feeling like we were being teased at the end. The fate of Thrawn and Ezra, while necessary to account for their absence in the original trilogy, felt like the beginning of another story… I wonder where that will be resolved?

3.5 out of 4 Portals to Other Times and Places.

Images sourced from: Starwars.com.

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 comment:

  1. Samantha, congratulations on finishing Rebels! I'm really glad I watched it. It was so good that I swear at times I forgot it was animation.

    ReplyDelete

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