But season 3 of Star Wars Rebels promised a lot of big things to get folks excited. And this applied to both younger fans and older ones with memories of the larger Star Wars Expanded Universe, now known as Star Wars Legends.
The biggest piece of news that really made this season so exciting was the reintroduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn into the current Star Wars canon. He was definitely a fan favorite from the older books and to have him in the new canon was a great reassurance that Rebels was truly proving to be a great venue for "saving" elements from the old canon and bringing them into the present for all the newer Disney-provided fans.
It's a good time for the Star Wars fandom.
Synopsis: Star Wars Rebels is a CGI animated science fiction adventure series created by Simon Kinberg, Dave Filoni and Carrie Beck. The third season ran for 22 episodes and a fourth season has already been confirmed.
The season begins with the two-part episode Steps Into Shadow, which gets us up to speed on the crew, the rebels and the Empire as well. Ezra (Taylor Gray) now has some new Force abilities after secretly exploring the Sith Holocron still in his possession. Kanan (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) isn't having an easy time of getting used to his blindness. And the Rebels as a whole are trying to get better organized and mount a serious strike against the Empire.
But the Empire isn't sitting idly as the Rebels advance their plans. Governor Pryce (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) manages to get the Seventh Fleet moved to her command to deal with the Rebels. And the fleet is led by brilliant military tactician Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen). And given his reputation for using more creative tactics in dealing with his enemies, it seems the Rebels are up against a serious threat indeed.
What I Liked: The show is going in a really interesting direction with how the stories are leading us closer and closer the formation of the actual Rebellion that we saw in Star Wars: A New Hope. A lot of the bigger pieces come into play in this season given various Rebel groups starting to come together. And at the same time we also get to see notable figures from the Rebellion finally join the show like the ever noble Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly).
And it feels like pretty much the entire Rebels crew get some great steps forward in terms of their character development. And the supporting cast just keeps getting more and more awesome all around. Plus you can feel how confident the writing team is given some of the stories they explored including an awesome throwback to Star Wars: The Clone Wars in "The Last Battle". So much fun all around and an amazing battle in the finale as well!
What Could Have Been Better: As much as I was SUPER EXCITED to have Grand Admiral Thrawn back in the official Star Wars canon, his depiction on the show has been a bit of a mixed bag. His old Legends character was known for using the art and culture of his rivals to better understand them and use this knowledge to map out brilliant tactics that preyed on their psychological weaknesses. Here he just had a few moments of relative brilliance, but it was more general military brilliance and not something that felt like revelations only he could have come up with.
It also felt like a lot of the big plot elements left over from the last season and teased in the pre-season videos didn't all get as explored as they could have been. The best example of this would be Ezra and his temptations of going to the Dark Side of the Force. It was a bit think hinted at and it sort of played a role when Ezra was being a dick in the first few episodes. But then it was sort of nothing after and the bigger story just took over. So that felt a little sloppy.
TL;DR: Star Wars Rebels is still an amazing show and a celebration of the past of the Star Wars franchise and a bold path forward. We don't have too much story left before the rest of the established canon squeezes the show in but I think we're going to continue enjoying the ride for as far as it will go. And thus the season gets 4 surprise Star Destroyers out of a possible 5.