While I regrettably wasn’t able to catch the premiere of the next season of Star Wars Rebels at Celebration Anaheim, I can say that DorkSideOfTheForce.Com and TheForce.Net’s message boards managed to do that for me – and, to my gratitude, they have left an overview of the episode. As such, with their help, a clear picture of what the Season Premiere is going to be like can be painted.
Without getting into the spoilers, here’s what you should know about the episode and Season Two as a whole:
- The premiere is a one-hour event titled “The Siege Of Lothal”. For those of you who are getting Lothal cabin-fever, I can say that (without giving anything away) the episode ends on a note that suggests we won’t be seeing the planet for a while after this.
- The episode is one of the darkest stories that has been told so far.
- Guest stars galore – Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones return to the show as Lando Calrissian and Darth Vader respectively, while Sam Witwer makes his debut on the show as Emperor Palpatine (after having played the character in the Legends game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed).
- Kanan is ambivalent on if he wants to assist the organized group of Rebel Cells or if he wants to pursue his own missions with the Ghost crew. Hera, conversely, is firmly in favor Rebel Cells due to their rescue at the end of “Fire Across The Galaxy”. This is apparently an internal conflict that carries through for the season.
- Ezra begins to establish himself more as a leader for the team, as opposed to a follower.
- Ahsoka Tano is important to the story, but she is not thrust into the role of being the main character. The focus of the narrative is still on the crew of the Ghost.
- A group of pilots called Phoenix Squadron (which flies B-wings and A-wings, among other ships) is introduced as a Rebel Cell. A character named Commander Sato leads these soldiers.
- Darth Vader is very prominent in this episode, but the ending suggests that he will not be the primary threat that the Rebel Cells will have to deal with this season. He is much more threatening to the Ghost crew than Wilhuff Tarkin was – and by a significant margin. All of (or almost all of) the clips involving Darth Vader that were shown in the Season 2 Trailer are from this episode. In fact, most of the trailer features content from “The Siege Of Lothal”.
- “The Siege Of Lothal” will air in the Summer, while the show itself will resume in the Autumn. No official dates were mentioned.
- Season 2 will be 22 episodes long (“The Seige Of Lothal” will count as two episodes, based on how “Spark Of Rebellion” was counted as two episodes in Season 1). The information about when the show will go back on the air personally leads me to believe that Rebels will not have any extensive hiatuses once it starts back up again (in order to coincide with the release of The Force Awakens).
And from here on out, the SPOILERS for this episode are out in the open. Proceed with caution.
- The episode begins with Phoenix Squadron (led by Commander Sato and Ahsoka Tano) and the Ghost crew stealing cargo from Imperials in space. Following the mission, Kanan and Hera disagree with their involvement with the Rebel Cells.
- Maketh Tua contacts the Ghost crew with a plan to defect from the Empire (since Darth Vader apparently plans on forcing her to do things that she finds morally reprehensible against the people of Lothal). She mentions that the real reason that the Empire is on Lothal is not only due to a droid factory on the planet that needed to be utilized, but by the Emperor’s command for a reason we don’t learn about in the episode. Tua also notes that there are Rebel sympathizers in positions of power who can’t be touched by the Empire… Yet.
- Ezra convinces the Ghost crew that they should follow this lead, and the team goes on a solo mission to rescue her independently of Ahsoka, Sato, and the others. They learn that Agent Kallus is escorting Tua to a ship to see Wilhuff Tarkin off-planet on Darth Vader’s orders. Kanan steals Stormtrooper armor in order to infiltrate the Empire’s Lothal base.
- Just as the Ghost crew nearly contacts Tua on her ship, the ship explodes, revealing the presence of the Rebels in the base. Kallus sends his forces after the Ghost crew, who narrowly escape on a shuttle piloted by Chopper.
- Somewhere along the way, the shuttle is shot down (but nobody dies, of course). The crew runs from the wreckage and holes up at Ezra’s hideout, quickly learning that the Empire is officially blaming Tua’s death on the Rebel Cells, and that the Empire is coming to destroy their makeshift base (as Gall Trayvis was able to find out where it was). They escape, but their base is destroyed.
- The team then goes on to sneak into an Imperial depot to steal a transport and some shield generators. To their horror, they discover that Darth Vader is there.
- The duel between Ezra and Kanan and Darth Vader goes about as well as you would expect. Darth Vader effortlessly outclasses the both of them, scarring Kanan’s arm with his lightsaber and coming dangerously close to decapitating Ezra with his own weapon. Ezra’s neck is saved by him and Kanan using the Force to push Darth Vader away.
- Sabine comes to the rescue by knocking an AT-DP on Darth Vader, which he then lifts off of himself, relatively unharmed by the assault. The team escapes, but Sabine is injured by Darth Vader when he reflects a blaster bolt back at her as she covers their escape. She survives, but is shaken along with Ezra and Kanan.
- After they escape, the Ghost crew learns that Kallus has ordered that Tarkintown (the refugee city from “Spark Of Rebellion”) to be burned to the ground for housing the Rebels early on in the series. After discovering of this action much too late to do anything about it, the crew decides that starting an insurrection on Lothal is a lost cause for the time being, and that they need to get off of the planet.
- They then meet up with Lando Calrissian, who agrees to help them get off of the planet in exchange for the shield generators. He also leaves them with Imperial transponders that will confuse the Imperial blockade long enough to cover their escape.
- The crew take the Ghost back to Phoenix Squadron due to the abject failure of the mission. Ahsoka boards the ship once they meet back up. Unbeknownst to them is that Darth Vader planted a tracking device on the ship that allows his TIE Advanced to personally chase them through hyperspace.
- Darth Vader manages to inflict catastrophic damage to Phoenix Squadron on his own, calls support from some nearby Star Destroyers to finish the job. The Ghost crew attempt to cover for what’s left of Phoenix Squadron as Commander Sato plans a retreat.
- Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka make a connection through the Force to impede Darth Vader, and to find out who he is. It is at this point that Ahsoka learns that he was once Anakin Skywalker, causing her to panic, to scream out “No!”, and break the Force connection, which causes her to lose consciousness for the remainder of the battle.
- Darth Vader, conversely, learns who Ahsoka is, even saying “So, the apprentice lives!” in response to learning of her survival. (It should be noted that some have misheard the line as “Hello, Snips.” due to the applause that occurred in the audience when Ahsoka learned of the truth. This is not what he says, hilariously out-of-character though it would have been. He also does not say “My apprentice lives!” as some have reported for a reason that will be detailed below.) Darth Vader then makes it his mission to bring Ahsoka and the Ghost crew back alive for his own purposes.
- The Imperial reinforcements then shift all of their focus onto disabling the Ghost, which allows the remnants of Phoenix Squadron to escape. The Ghost narrowly escapes by pulling a maneuver that sends Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced into a spin while also narrowly squeezing through the Star Destroyers. Instead of capturing the Ghost with the tractor beams, the ship captures Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced instead!
- Because none of the Imperial ships were able to track the Hyperspace routes that the Rebel ships were using, the Ghost crew and the remnants of Phoenix Squadron live to fight another day. Ahsoka lies to Kanan and Ezra about Darth Vader’s true identity, claiming that she didn’t know who the pilot of the TIE Advanced was. Kanan still has doubts that he should assist the Rebel Cells, but everyone else overrides his opinion by pointing out how disastrous their solo mission went and how it endangered (and even killed) several of their allies.
- The episode ends with Darth Vader talking to Emperor Palpatine about Ahsoka’s survival, mentioning her as “Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice” (alluding to his belief that ‘Anakin’ is dead). Darth Vader plans to take Ahsoka in and use her as leverage to hunt down other Jedi, including Obi-Wan (although he does not explicitly plan on killing her). Palpatine instructs Darth Vader to focus on other pressing matters with the Empire, but he authorizes the use of more Inquisitors to hunt down the Ghost crew and Ahsoka.
As much as I would have loved to have seen the episode for myself, hearing about the show from people who were lucky enough to watch it is certainly the next-best thing. I look forward to catching it this summer with the one-hour movie premiere, continuing this fall with all-new episodes on Disney XD.