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SWNN’S Star Wars: Rebels – Midseason Review/Preview

Rebels 08Now that we’ve all had a few days to watch, re-watch and likely repeat watching the trailer for the 2nd half of Rebels season 2, it seemed like a good time to take stock of what has happened so far, as well as look forward. Before season 2 kicked off, we listed 5 things to look out for in the coming adventures of the Ghost’s crew. Most of them have yet to come to fruition or haven’t been fully realized up to this point. However, we have gotten some signs and portents that these things are on the horizon. More after the jump … 

 

 

Let’s start by taking a look back at what’s happened so far this season. The main device driving the plot forward has been the rebels’ need to find a new base of operations, especially considering that Lothal has become an Imperial hot-spot. The reasons for this are both clear and still mysterious. The rebels usage of the Imperial communications network, as well as two Force-users, naturally called for a ramp up in Imperial presence. We know that Lothal is a also a key industrial planet for the Empire in the Outer Rim. However, via the late Minister Tua, we also learned that Emperor Palpatine has another specific interest in Lothal that is known to only a few. Tua was killed before she was able to expand on this idea.

Our band of rebels have become much more than just a small cell of insurgents since being driven from Lothal. They have now taken on greater responsibility with the rebel cell known as Phoenix. Hera has become the commander of Phoenix Squadron and they are part of a small fleet led by Commander Jun Sato. The crew has even expanded, welcoming an old friend of Ahsoka’s, Captain Rex.

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The other main plot thread has been Ahsoka’s investigation into the Sith Lord (Darth Vader) that the freedom fighters encountered on Lothal. It seems that either she knows the true identity of the dark-sider or is holding out until she’s 100 % sure. Along the way, the crew has picked up two Force-sensitive children, who were being hunted down by the Inquisitors, continuing a dark objective of Palpatine’s dating back to The Clone Wars series and reintroduced in Vader’s mission statement to the original Inquisitor in the series premiere film. They have taken on the task of protecting these children of the Force. It will be really interesting to see how this all plays out, as we are increasingly being introduced to more and more Force users in a galaxy that we originally thought had very few during this time period.

The rebels found a temporary home on Garel, only to be driven away by an Imperial invasion fleet. They have still yet to find a more permanently viable option for a place to call home. Ezra has also learned that his parents passed away trying to spread a message of hope against the Empire’s oppression, while freeing many of the oppressed from the Imperial prison on Lothal.

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We’ve learned a bit more about both Hera and Sabine’s backstory. We discovered that Hera used to dream of flying since the days she would look up at the sky while on Ryloth, during it’s occupation. This little is morsel is fleshed out as we are introduced to a prototype of the B-Wing starfighter.

Sabine used to be a bounty hunter and nearly joined the Black Sun, before deciding against this life. Her best friend was a bounty hunting partner, named Ketsu Onyo. Despite their friendship being broken through betrayal, they run into each other and are initially forced to work together unwillingly against the Imperials. However, there is a glimmer of hope that their friendship may once again be renewed, as well as the introduction of a potential anti-hero ally for the burgeoning Rebel Alliance.

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One other cool little nugget was the introduction of interdictors. We see the Imperials using gravity wells to actually pull ships out of hyperspace.

The second season has been enjoyable so far and still has that “Star Wars” feeling. The most exciting moment for me personally was getting to see Ahsoka in action with those nifty samurai-style white lightsabers. She has always been an exceptional fighter, yet here we see a much more refined and controlled version.

The first half has done a good job of establishing clear themes for the season, namely the search for a new rebel base and the investigation into the Sith Lord. The mysticism of the Force also has seemed to be a central point of focus. I really like how this show and the The Clone Wars, in addition to The Force Awakens, have dealt with this thematic aspectRe-mystifying one of Star Wars’ central components seems to be a task of great importance for the Lucasfilm Story Group.

Despite good setup and a tendency for shows to hold off on the payoff of main plot threads until the back end of a given season, I do feel that the story has drifted off course at times, though only slightly. With more episodes on the slate than the previous year, we were bound to get some fluffier installments. Still, I feel that even though there’s been some movement on the agents of the Darkside front, the search for a rebel base has been a bit underwhelming.

To start the season, Rex gave the crew a list of potential planets to set up shop on in the outer rim, yet we haven’t seen much more on this endeavor. I feel that in some of the episodes where our crew has gone on one-off adventures, there could have been a plot point involving the search. It would have been nice to see an episode or two where the rebels scout out a potential base-planet, only to discover something dangerous or disastrous that leads them to cross this one off the list.

While the second season has featured some fun adventures, many have lamented the slow burn to the overarching story. However, the new trailer has sparked the idea that this season will fall in line with the intense pickup of movement in the story that played out in the first season. Let’s revisit the 5 things we looked forward to possibly seeing in season 2 and what’s actually occurred vs. what’s potentially still to come.

 

1. Ahsoka / Vader Showdown – 

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We’ve really only had the groundwork laid down for this one. In the premiere, Ahsoka and the two quasi-Jedi were able to pool their connection in the Force to get a stronger read on Vader. It appeared that Snips was most likely aware of just who they were sensing, yet she’s remained relatively silent on this matter up to this point. We learned that the Inquisitors were pleasantly surprised to come across Ahsoka (the White), stating that their master would be very pleased with her capture.

Dave Filoni has mentioned that Sidious and Vader believe Ahsoka to be a key in locating other existing Jedi. Filoni had already hinted after Ahsoka owned both the new Inquisitors in a lightsaber duel that there were more important sword fights to come (notice the plural used there). We finally got the first glimpse at what will surely be an epic and emotional showdown in the new trailer. Another interesting thing of note is that Ahsoka will hear Anakin Skywalker’s voice (reprised by The Clone War‘s Matt Lanter) in her mind. This will surely make things all the more emotional and tragic. The big question now is how long we’ll have to wait to see their blades cross for the first time.

 

2. The Darkside of the Force – 

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It’s been said that we will learn a lot more about the Inquisitorius’s origins and structure, in addition to more detailed information on the now deceased, Grand Inquisitor. So far, we’ve only learned that they work under some kind of ranking structure, ala the Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister. In the trailer we see Vader interacting with the group, as well as the introduction of yet another inquisitor. More and more will likely be revealed as the season moves along.

Darth Maul was featured in the midseason trailer. This little bit is incredibly intriguing. Maul’s fate was left open at the end of the Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir comic mini-series. Based on the events of this story and The Clone Wars, it’s safe to bet that Maul isn’t an Inquisitor. Palpatine did mention in TCW that he had plans for Maul. The so-called plans turned out to be using Maul as a fish hook in a death trap set for Mother Talzin. It would be hard to imagine the former Sith Lord’s plans coinciding with Palpatine’s, considering Sheev not only massacred his people on Dathomir, but also his mother. What is the troubled Zabrak up to?

We’d also already seen a few warning signs in both season one and the first half of season two that Ezra is vulnerable to the darkside. One moment in particular was Ezra unwisely attempting to take on both inquisitors, despite Kanan’s protest to hold back (see Obi-Wan unsuccessfully advising Anakin to be patient before their duel with Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones). In the trailer, we see not only Ezra interacting with Darth Maul and messing with what appears to be a Sith artifact, but also a mysterious voice stating that the darkside is calling to him (almost certainly referring to Ezra). Yoda is also seen in discussion with Ezra, talking about the importance of how the Jedi win. How far will Ezra walk down the dark path both this season and beyond?

 

3. The Formation of the Rebel Alliance – 

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As mentioned above, one of the key macguffins this season has been the search for a rebel base. Truthfully, this quest has continually been set on the back-burner as other missions and Imperial setbacks get in the way. We’ve seen our crew transform from a pesky little group of insurgents to an important part of a rebel cell. We know that both Ahsoka and Bail Organa seem to be key in coordinating the movements of different cells. However, we’ve yet to see any other groups in particular. Will that be coming this season or will we have to wait to see more cells in action come season three?

 

4. What Other Familiar Faces Will Pop up? – 

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So far, we’ve seen Lando and Ahsoka once again, as well as a brief cameo by R2-D2. Rex, Wolff and Gregor have appeared, with everyone’s favorite clone captain becoming a permanent fixture on the crew. There was the potential for Admiral Ackbar to appear, as in the Legends continuity he played a key role in designing the B-Wing. However, in the new canon we got another Mon Calamari carrying this out, Quarrie. Hondo Ohnaka also appears, going on a sidequest with Ezra. The trailer has already shown that we’re going to get Leia, Cham Sydulla, Maul, Jedi Temple guards, Mandalorians and more Yoda. The first time we got a disembodied voice and light ball cloud Yoda, this time we actually get an animated one, albeit it still seems like an ethereal connection. Who else might show up and what role will they play?

 

5. Planets not Named Lothal – 

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This season has definitely followed through on this idea. We’ve had a bit of action on Lothal, but for the most part the adventures have played out across various locations, including Garel (which is probably the most dense and detailed planet-location we’ve seen so far on the show. I don’t think anybody had any problems with some stories being told on Lothal, just that fans wanted a bit more diversity in this department. With budget in mind, the production team has diversified in this area and done what they’ve been able to.

 

Star Wars: Rebels returns tomorrow on Disney XD.

The second half of the season promises to be even more exciting than the way the first season finished. What are you most looking forward to? How did you like the first half of the season in general? Have your expectations for the second half been ramped up? Sound of in the comments below and stay tuned to SWNN for more Rebels coverage.

 

 

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