As always I will preface this Star Wars piece with the declaration that I have still not forgiven, nor will I ever forgive, Disney for their unwarranted, unjust cancellation of my favorite television show Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I don’t care how cool Age of Ultron looks and I don’t care how Episode VII turns out! You can take my money Disney! You can even take my time, those precious seconds of which the symphony of my very life is composed! But you will never, ever have my respect! So good luck sleeping at night in your bed of ill-gotten billion dollar bills you sick sons of bitches!
So Star Wars: Rebels is pretty awesome.
The new animated series on Disney XD (here I spit on the ground in disdain) is something of a spiritual successor to Star Wars: Clone Wars (here I kiss my index finger and point to the sky) taking place at the tail end of the nineteen year period between Episodes III and IV. Where Clone Wars (here I send a canoe of DVDs and action figures down a suburban creek and shoot at it with flaming arrows) could take place anywhere in the galaxy and tell stories with any number of protagonists spanning the gambit from Jedis to clones to bounty hunters to assassins, Rebels is a far more insular show focusing squarely on the rebellious exploits of the crew of The Ghost, the youth in revolt against the monolithic, imperial occupation of the planet Lothal. But despite its relatively narrow scope, Rebels accomplishes a pretty daunting task, successfully serving as connective tissue between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy.
Sure Episode III and Episode IV both have lightsabers and Tatooine and a guy named Obi Wan Kenobi, but in a lot of ways the two movies feel entirely disjointed. But by the end of Star Wars Rebels’ first season on Disney XD (here I bury a decimated stuffed Mikey Mouse in an unmarked grave and use a bowl full of old Surge to coax a stray dog into peeing on it) I finally felt like the two movies definitively took place in the same universe.
Kanan Jarrus, the primary Jedi presence on the show, is more a nomadic, mysterious Ronin then one in a rave of thousands of Jedi raving about with their lethal glow sticks and getting clowned by battle droids in the arena on Geonosis. And yet when Kanan lights his saber he brings with it the acrobatics and excitement of the prequel trilogy’s over the top battles.
The crew of The Ghost almost feel like the cast of a sitcom. Much like Luke and the gang they gel together like family. But like the whacky Jedi council they’re far more diverse then the largely white male human rebel alliance of the original trilogy.
Rebels also showcases an important switch between the heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe. The bad guys are no longer operating in the shadows. They’ve won. Their propaganda liters the streets and the airwaves. They no longer feel like the knife sneaking between ribs in the dark. They’re an empire. A mountain-sized fist seen coming from a mile away, but too big to dodge. Like that aforementioned lightsaber rave. In Rebels the heroes are forced to operate more discretely, to plot and scheme in the shadows as the sith once did. It feels like the logical missing step between Order 66 and blowing up the Death Star (spoilers!).
By the season one finale of Rebels the prequels, the original trilogy and even Clone Wars (here I pour out a majority of a 40) had never felt more connected and singular. It helps Star Wars feel as if it is finally under one umbrella. One huge umbrella, but a single umbrella nonetheless. And that’s super exciting because I have well-attuned priorities as a human being.
Rebels feels like the inexplicable missing piece that finally solves the puzzle I always suspected wasn’t quite finished. At least until Episode VII comes out.