Apr 30, 2018

[TV] Star Wars: Rebels - Season 4 Review

As is often the case with shows that I love, I had somehow missed out on writing a proper review for the final season of Star Wars: Rebels because needless to say it was amazing. And it always begs the question of whether or not one should review just the season or the season in the context of an effort to wrap up the season and come up with a decent ending to things.

If anything this show remains a testament to the vision of producer Dave Filoni and his obvious love for the Star Wars franchise that is very much evident in every show he creates. He has a particular way about crafting a story that nicely marries old references without making it feel like you know nothing. He nicely balances the Legends side of the fandom alongside the newer fans learning about Star Wars for the first time through animated features like this.

I wasn't overly keen on the show when it began but by this final season I totally didn't want things to end. But at least it's a show that got a proper ending unlike Star Wars: The Clone Wars before it.

Synopsis: Star Wars: Rebels is an animated television series created by Simon Kinberg, Dave Filoni, and Carrie Beck for the Disney Channel and Disney XD. This show was the first television venture after Disney acquired the Star Wars franchise and ran for 75 episodes across four seasons.

The first half of this season felt like an effort to revisit old friends, in a manner of speaking. Thus the initial arcs involving a weapon that can defeat Mandalorians followed by the reappearance of Saw Guerrera (Forest Whitaker) and even a return to Lothal to investigate the status of the TIE Defender program. But you can really feel how the Rebel Alliance is a lot more organized but still growing in strength and uncertain whether or not they're ready to take on the Empire more directly.

But the second half brings things into focus with the original goal of the series - to tell the story of Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) and find a way to liberate his home planet of Lothal from the grip of the Empire. This is also about Ezra's journey as a Jedi as accompanied by is teacher Kannan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze, Jr.). And things get pretty intense towards the end of things.

What I Liked: The final season didn't just hit you, but it hit hard as Filoni pulled out all the stops in terms of how he wanted to end this. We got to revisit a lot of popular characters from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and we got giant wolves on Lothal that also played a key role in things. We had Kanan reaching a new level of understanding in his role in this and managing to find a way to teach Ezra about this as well.

And we got things we never would have expected including the World Between Worlds totally turning things around and bringing back Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) in a manner that I never could have foreseen. And in the end it was beautiful and amazing and the right way to address things. Bringing the show back to Lothal was ultimately about bringing things back to Ezra and completing his arc. It's not quite a traditional Hero's Journey, but it's a fulfilling journey to something else entirely.

What Could Have Been Better: I think a lot of us sort of expected that Rebels would end either with a lot of death or somehow connecting events to the state of the Rebel Alliance at the start of A New Hope. Given the addition of Rogue One to the franchise, it then felt like that was the new end point for the series. But we were wrong on those counts and Filoni found a way to skip past all of that and ended things with a weird epilogue well after the events of The Return of the Jedi. While this isn't quite a truly "bad" thing, it would have been nice to really wrap up the formation of the Rebel Alliance through this show.

And there was a dark moment for Sabine (Tiya Sircar) and Zeb (Steven Blum) that sort of made sense but still felt like a dramatic shift for the characters. It may have been a moment that lasted about an episode but it still felt rather jarring for me. I understand the depth of their emotions but not sure if that was really how things would have manifested. But again this is another minor point.

TL;DR: Star Wars: Rebels on the whole is a great television experience and a unique story that fits well in the Star Wars Universe. More than a bridge between the movies, in many ways Rebels acted as a link betwen the Legends side of the old Expanded Universe and the new Canon that is defining the franchise's future. Thus the final season gets an awesome 5 unexpected Legends references crammed into the show out of a possible 5.


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