Thursday, November 06, 2014

Star Wars Rebels

Back in April, I talked a bit about the end of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a TV series I loved and that really ended up being one of my favorite parts of Star Wars. I thought the series ended in a good place--despite some lingering threads--but I really didn't want to say goodbye to it. I wasn't ready for a new show, even if most of the same people were working on it, because I didn't want to leave the Prequel Era behind. Clone Wars had so deepened and fleshed out the world of the Jedi Council and made some of the characters so fascinating, and had explored so much about the nature of the Force, that I wasn't so interested in, well... a lighter show from the new Disney-owned Lucasfilm.

Five episodes in, I'm completely hooked.

See? That's why I don't bother to complain about so many things sight unseen, the way I used to, because then you look like an ass when you end up digging it. Make a note, internet.

This show takes place during the roughly 20-year (I think?) gap between Revenge of the Sith and the first Star Wars. It did start off as a lighter, funnier, breezier show, but I can see now that all of that was just to introduce the characters and set up the world of the show. Things are already starting to get a little deeper, and the connections to the rest of Star Wars are becoming more obvious without having to force aspects of continuity onto the show. An appearance by C-3P0 and R2-D2 played a little more like a fun throwaway (it feels weird to have a major SW story without Artoo, my favorite character in all of Star Wars) to tie things in, but, to my surprise, we're already talking about the Jedi.

The main character, Ezra Bridger, is a street kid who is Force-sensitive. He falls in with a crew of smugglers led by Kanan Jarrus, a Padawan who survived the implementation of Order 66 and has taken it upon himself to train Ezra as a Jedi.

A couple of weeks ago, ABC re-aired the hour-long premiere episode with an opening scene featuring Darth Vader, voiced by James Earl Jones, ordering a downright scary character to hunt down "the children of the Force."

This is the Inquisitor, a Pau'an Jedi hunter, who is tasked by Vader with hunting down and killing Force-sensitive kids before they can become Jedi. This answers a lot of questions I had about how Vader and the Emperor stopped new Jedi from emerging after Order 66.

This was followed a day later by the episode "Rise of the Old Masters," in which the Inquisitor laid a trap for Kanan and Ezra by making them think Master Luminara Unduli had survived the destruction of the Jedi Order. When it was revealed she hadn't, my heart sank; she wasn't even one of my favorite characters on Clone Wars, but it really hit me just how much I was attached to that era of Star Wars. Tying the two shows together like that deepened this whole enterprise for me. I may be more excited about Rebels then I am about Episode VII, but this show really eased me into the idea that I might like non-George Lucas incarnations of Star Wars. (No, I'm not an Expanded Universe, fan. Just not my Star Wars.)

So now you can see this larger framework going up, and I'm really enjoying that. Just the fleeting appearances of both Darth Vader (Original Trilogy era) and Luminara (Prequel Trilogy Era) combined somehow made this series more than just the fun throwaway I expected. It really is bridging the gap and contextualizing Luke Skywalker's story as part of a historical struggle. As I've said before, I don't see the projected three trilogies as rise of the Empire/fall of the Empire/??? I see it as Corruption of the Republic/Restoration of the Republic/Redemption of the Republic, and this show is starting to feel like an important bridge in that sequence.

And, you know, it also makes me excited wondering if other characters will show up. Does this mean Ahsoka Tano could potentially come into it? And do I want her to? Because she's one of my favorite characters in all of this, but her exit was kind of perfect...

I love the new Star Wars.


Semaj said...

Great review. I think you're right I think it is 20 years. now, whats the time gap between A new hope and empire? Three years? I was never sure about that. I'd like to see a new series of books in the new canon cover that time gap.

I will be checking out Rebels soon, just have to have the time. I got so many shows on my plate right now.

BTW,I am listening to the End Titles track of Episode 1 as I write this.

SamuraiFrog said...

I always felt like the gap between Episodes IV and V was probably in real time, between one movie and the next, but that's probably because I read all the Marvel Comics when I was a kid.