Tonight after four years, Star Wars Rebels will end its run of dramatic small-screen storytelling. A culmination of work by a small band of creative professionals, who endured limited budgets and the confines of a cable channel not readily available to the masses. With money and viewer availability fighting against them, The team behind Star Wars Rebels contributed to the lexicon of Star Wars grandly. Many of the stories enriched the lore, taught our children valuable lessons and showcased the talent of the professional creators at Lucasfilm.
Where “The Clone Wars” was the executed dream of a blank check happy billionaire, Star Wars Rebels is confined to a corporate budgeted sandbox. Even so, this small band of Rebels made story castles that sparkled in the Sun.
As with any long-term projects, there are moments where the work seems to go flat and points where it soars beyond your expectations. There are also multitudes of lessons learned, new ideas that spawn creative firsts, and moments where professionals showcased some real fireworks. In the four years of Star Wars Rebels, there were moments where the series found the secret sauce that is Star Wars.
We have witnessed the significant narrative moments from Kanan’s emotional milestone in the season one finale against the Grand Inquisitor to the heart-wrenching confrontation between Ahsoka and Darth Vader. There are compelling, poignant moments, like Kallus realization of his choices in his quarters, to Sabine’s forgiveness of herself and her journey of purpose.
There were the fantastic examples of story execution in the series. Some of those moments mirrored later on the big screen. Whether it’s Kanan floating in space, Hera knocking TIE fighters in a barrel roll or Kanan conferring with Yoda- the team at Star Wars Rebels, did it better. We do not know if these scenes were deliberate trial runs or healthy in-house competition, but in all cases, the Rebel team at Lucasfilm executed it best.
There were sad moments carefully calibrated for a Y-7 rated show on Disney XD. With plenty of young viewers, the creators at Lucasfilm struck a balance of delivering content for children, which adults could enjoy. The show has found a significant divide amongst the fanbase, many of whom craved a more adult level of risk, not realizing that isn’t the platform for it. The arguments were loud and hotly debated throughout the four years of the show’s run. But those sad moments were there at just the right times, adding just the right kid weight for the story. The recent loss of Kanan to the quiet death in the desert of Maul, we experienced the sick-at-heart moments that make up the reality of war.
There are also lessons learned on this project, many of those kept behind closed doors at Lucasfilm. Undoubtedly, some of them included being on Disney XD, instead of a platform with mass availability like Netflix and larger budgets.
We have seen more essential episodes delivered in a one hour format, instead of a half hour, which provided a better viewing experience.
There was placing the focus back on the crew of Ghost, instead of the galaxy of characters that populated the space in season two. After so many episodes, the best seem to take place back on the small planet of Lothal. Ultimately wanting to come back so we could focus on our little band of Rebels and their plight against the “small Empire.” Our Rebels, stealing food to feed the hungry and outsmarting the hat lady.
The series also provided for some of the best characters in the saga. Because of Star Wars Rebels, we witnessed the most in-depth and complete journey of a Jedi in Kanan Jarrus. No other character outside Anakin and Luke Skywalker have we had such a comprehensive encapsulated look at life from Order 66 to the cusp of a New Hope. Star Wars Rebels in conjunction with the comics, delivered one of the greatest Jedi all time. No so small feat, built on the incredible performance of Freddie Prinze Jr. and the storytellers at Lucasfilm.
Hera is another leader who found her importance in the saga climbing near the level of General Leia Organa. Her commitment to the Ghost crew and the plight of the Rebellion has been steadfast, courageous and inspiring. Her achievement as a pilot outshines the likes of Wedge Antilles and even Han Solo. She is the foundation of Rebels and in most respects the Rebellion itself.
Star Wars Rebels is an achievement, not because of profit and loss, viewership numbers or penetration into new demographics, but because it allowed me to share in its stories with my toddlers on the couch once a week. The three of us making our moments together, laughing and loving Star Wars along the way. We could discuss endlessly, the moving moments, bouts of incredible visuals and the beautiful score that accompanied these stories. In the end, for me it was about sharing Star Wars with my kids, and for that, it was a grand success.
We wish the very best to Dave Filoni and the crew of Star Wars Rebels. You are all grand storytellers, sparkling the sky of our Galaxy far, far away.