Dec 14, 2016

[TV] Star Wars Rebels: Season 2

The first season of Star Wars Rebels was pretty interesting and not quite as kiddie as I had feared given the whole Disney acquisition of the Star Wars franchise. But then it turned out that I was going to fall in love with the show and the big reveal at the end just clinched things and also somehow validated my dedication to the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series while it was on the air.

The second season of Star Wars Rebels totally takes things up a few notches and reveals a larger tapestry of stories that had begin in the first season but now makes more sense in the second. As much as we've bee following a particular rebel cell all this time, this season shows how all these different cells we're trying to find a way to coordinate and come together as a better organized resistance movement.

But as much as their mission gains greater focus, the threats set against them also increase in a number of different ways. And that's where a lot of the fun is.

Synopsis: Star Wars Rebels is a CGI-animated series created by Simon Kinberg, Dave Filoni, and Carrie Beck for Disney XD. This second season and the third one after it run for 22 episodes each.

The second season begins with the Empire intensifying efforts to find the rebels, thus putting the planet of Lothal under stronger Imperial oversight. The crew of the Ghost was slowly getting more involved with the larger rebel movement but also seem hesitant to get into larger scale battles. But the situation on  Lothal gets more and more complicated and the conflict brings Darth Vader into the mix.

The knowledge that Kanan (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) is more or less a Jedi who is training Ezra as a padawan and that Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) is still alive prompts the Empire to dispatch more Inquisitors to track them down. But the season also involves old friends from the Clone Wars joining the fight against the Empire as well as old foes deciding to side with our rebel friends, even if only for a while.

What I Liked: This season had a lot of great nods to fans of the Clone Wars cartoons. Ahsoka still being alive was already a killer reveal at the end of season 1 but this second season just keeps things coming. It doesn't necessarily mean the rebels are empowered with the old "grand army of the Republic" as that's the of the Empire's military forces now. But it's nice to see familiar faces all the same.

But beyond characters from the cartoons or even the movies, the series gets even better with its core narrative and the relationships they have with one another and of course their friends and family on their respective homeworlds. And I'll admit that Ezra (Taylor Gray)) is not quite as annoying in this season as in the last as he tries to learn the ways of the Force in order to become a Jedi.

What Could Have Been Better: It goes without saying that I'm not too big a fan of clearly comedic characters like Hondo (Jim Cummings) and they have an odd habit of continually coming back into the mix of things. They felt like weird side diversions that got blown up into full characters but I don't fully understand why.

The season also has a heck of a lot of Ezra stories, which are a mixed bag. His growth as a potential Padawan was cool but some story points that involved repeatedly returning to Lothal I could have done without. I know our rebels needed a home base of sorts but as the story scale gets bigger, you really wish they'd outgrow Lothal sooner rather than later.

TL;DR: The second season of Star Wars Rebels is a great progression of the series and it gets to a similar level of storytelling as what we had in the later years of the Clone Wars but at times better since we remain focused on a core group of characters. And the season finale is practically mind-blowing and we're all the better for having experienced it in our lives. Thus the second season gets a rich 4.5 efforts by the rebels to grow their forces through daring plans out of a possible 5.

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