⭐⭐⭐⭐ based on 5 reviews.

tl;dr: A decent dive into the start of the Rebellion, which matures nicely throughout the seasons and crafts some genuinely interesting, nuanced characters by the end.


Star Wars

Season One

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

The opening act for Rebels is a little clunky, but it finds its feet remarkably quickly and, once the core cast have all been introduced, the show evolves into something genuinely enjoyable. I'm not completely sold on the animation style (I wish we'd gotten more of the Clone Wars style, to be honest), but they quit it with the weird zoom cuts and overly elongated mouths early enough that I've largely gotten used to it at this point. And, of course, the plot is distinctly child-focused, which is fine but don't go expecting any real depth or nuance to proceedings. But, still, the characters are interesting and it's fun to explore the Outer Rim at the start of the Empire.

The inclusion of both a Jedi that escaped Order 66 and a young force-sensitive makes for some interesting dissection of the Jedi Order, and I've been interested to see how Kanan is applying his teachings. He certainly seems to care a lot less about the whole "purge yourself of attachment" which feels right for a post-Jedi world. At the same time, though, Ezra is remarkably powerful incredibly quickly. I don't think they've quite hit Dragonball levels of overachieving, and they do show him mess up from time to time, but for someone with less than a year's training, he is probably a bit too capable.

I also hope that Zeb gets a bit more back story and maturity. He's hinted at being some fancy senior military leader, but he acts like a child. Plus, the whole "Empire committed a genocide against my people" bit is an area with a lot of complexity to explore. I wouldn't have expected that in season one, but I hope they bring it up at some point.

As for the rest of the crew, they're a good balance of wisdom and comic relief. I'm not sure Sabine has really found her footing yet, but I think Hera is one of the best "new" Star Wars characters in a while, and Chopper fills the sarcastic droid role well. The villains are interesting enough, too, with the comically named Agent Kallus doing a good-enough Prince Charming impression to feel like a threat, along with the Grand Inquisitor fleshing out how the Sith are expanding their dominance (although I'm not entirely clear on how this fits with the whole "only two" lore, which I guess has been confusing for a while).

Though, speaking of confusing lore, Rebels squarely falls into the trap created by the whole Vader/Luke father/son dynamic: the Star Wars timeline just doesn't work, does it. Luke is around 18 at the start of New Hope and even a conservative estimate of timescales means that he can't be more than 30 by Return of the Jedi (and I'd argue is likely much younger). So this grand Empire lasts less than a few decades! What's more, by the time of Rebels barely a decade or so can have passed, but the Jedi are considered an ancient and forgotten religion, the Empire has raised generations of a new army (having sunset the Clone Trooper programme with Order 66, apparently), and seemingly conquered the Galaxy pretty much immediately. They've had the time to destroy Mandalore and commit at least one genocide, but even that feels rapid given the short timespan. It just... doesn't make a huge amount of sense? For all their flaws, I think the prequels did a good job explaining why the Senate transitions to backing the Empire, and I see that the whole Clone Wars cover story was designed to put Palpatine in a position to quash rebellion before the takeover even happened, but I'd still expect a bit more resistance and a bit less immediate brainwashing. I guess our own history shows that these things can be very fast, though, so maybe that's the point. Still, it all feels a bit compressed at times.

Overall, though, the show is mindless but enjoyable fun with some occasionally excellent moments of world-building. I've enjoyed the tight connections with Clone Wars and imagine that we'll only get more and more cameos as the show progresses (though hopefully not too many). Basically, I'm having fun and happy to watch more.

Season Two

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

The show is definitely maturing. After all, Ezra has cut his hair now! (I'm sure this had nothing to do with the animation budget 😉) Joking aside, season two is a good maturation of the storyline. Each character gets some nice, more personal moments, and now that we've joined the Rebellion "proper" the scope has grown significantly too, with some fun world-building around the Outer Rim, mining guild, and a great episode on space whales 😀 The show's increasingly happy to veer into the darker sides of war too, making the overall stakes clear around just how totalitarian and fascist the Empire truly is. This is done at both a macro and a micro level: aspects like the genocide of Genosha are hinted at, whilst we see first-hand the way the Empire treats ordinary citizens as both dispensible and a burden.

I'm particularly enjoying the way the show continues various plot threads from Clone Wars, specifically those revolving around Ahsoka and Darth Maul. The occasional droids are fun, but Clone Wars left the fates of these two characters up in the air, so the plot around the Sith holocron, the reintroduction of Maul, and the ultimate showdown between Ahsoka and Vader, it all works really well to tie off those plot threads. Given that I know from the Mandalorian (and the original trilogy) that both Ahsoka and Vader make it out of the Sith temple alive, I wonder if we'll see either for a while on the show? It would be a useful way to let Vader take a backseat for a couple of years, if he is recovering from the fight. Either way, it's one hell of an ending, both for Ahsoka and Anakin's story, and for the season as a whole.

Elsewhere, I really enjoyed the introduction of AP-5, a sassy C-3PO for Chopper to buddy up with, but also a fun examination of the whole droid-slave issue without too much depth (this is a kids' show after all). We also get a bit more back story on the Mandalorians and some additional info about Zeb, which I'd hoped for. I thought the episode with the discovery of the Lasat home world was fun, but possibly a little rushed. On the other hand, his time with Kallus on the ice moon was one of the better character-specific episodes to date, and I've really enjoyed how it has evolved both characters; Kallus, in particular, is taking an unusually nuanced route for a Star Wars villain. I'm also less interested in young Leia. I guess she had to appear at some point, but she does feel a little too mature given the timeline (that issue again).

Overall, then, I think the show is beginning to hit a stride. It's still a bit fluffy around the edges, but the increased interconnectedness with the Clone Wars and the original trilogy is being done very well, giving it a much greater purpose than season one managed, whilst the core cast continues to be built out in interesting ways.

Season Three

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

Ah, we're at the more interesting world-building stage of Rebels, excellent! Season three opens with some really interesting ideas and excellent character development for the two Jedi on the team, as Kanan struggles with the loss of his eyes and rediscovering where he fits. I particularly enjoyed the Bendu as a character, and thought the Maul/Bendu/Force arc overall was just great. I did expect Kanan to slide ever closer to being a Grey Jedi and even half presumed that we would see him formally denouncing the Jedi and trying to find a path with greater balance, which would explain why Ezra and him aren't around in the OG trilogy, but I didn't hate the direction the show took us in instead.

I also hadn't expected Maul to die, but it makes a lot of sense that Obi-Wan would be the character that finally ends that plot thread. It felt a little tacked on as an episode, but overall I think it did the character justice, even if it leaves me with a lot of questions about the Black Sun clan and a slight feeling that they missed a trick or two with that idea, particularly given the introduction of Sabine's friend in the previous season.

Elsewhere, Rebels continues to be a clever sequel to The Clone Wars, and I thought the episode where we had Droids versus Stormtroopers versus Rebels was really fun and just a nice bit of lore, as was the episode around Maul's homeworld and what became of the Witches. I was less thrilled with Sol's return on Geonosis, but it felt like a coherent transition for his character between the original series and what we see in Rogue One, so it's fair enough. Also, what the hell has happened to the B-Wing? We get this entire episode about a new craft that will turn the tide, we see it do just that in one battle, and then it's never seen again outside of one of the original movies? What happened here 😂

The season definitely picks up the pace in the latter half though, not just concluding Maul's story, but also giving us the Dark Sabre, Sabine's return to Mandalore, the brilliant reveal and ongoing development of Kallus, who has become a fascinating character, and a slightly harrowing conclusion that finally shows us how strong of a tactician Thrawn can be. There are some slightly less interesting episodes scattered throughout, and they do end up using the Bendu as a bit of a deus ex machine, which is a shame, but overall it ends on a really solid note and sets us up for a much darker and more mature final season.

Season Four

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

Much like The Clone Wars, you can tell this final season had a huge amount of effort and thought put into it. Not only are the visuals and overall effects significantly improved, but the plot just has so much more purpose to it. So many plot threads suddenly all come weaving back together, but they do so in a way that feels organic and intentional. That said, season four is really two mini-seasons; the first half is focused on resolving some of the big world-building stuff. We get an excellent arc on Mandalore, followed by some more Sol and questioning the Rebellion (as well as plenty of hints about the Death Star), both of which basically help tie off most of the remaining wider character stories. That gives us a (longer) second act to the season, which sees our heroes go full circle, back to Lothal to engage in guerilla warfare on a much smaller scale, but with massive ramifications.

In particular, I thought they did a great job of closing off some of the more difficult arcs to pair with the original films. After all, if we have these heroes of the Rebellion, where are they? Why doesn't Hera train Luke, or Mothma mention that there are other Jedi fighting with him elsewhere? What happened with Ahsoka and how is she still around in the Mandalorian? And on the other side, how does the Empire fall with minds like Thrawn around, or TIE fighters that are so much more advanced? Luckily, the season answers just about all of these questions, and does so meaningfully and extremely well.

The result is a hugely entertaining finish to a series that has really matured into both its own sense of self and the wider Star Wars universe. I thought the final episode was a nice touch, filling in lots of the blanks, but I'm also extremely intrigued by where Ezra and Ahsoka's arcs are heading (and I hear a Disney+ show is already in the works to dive into that very question) and simultaneously hope we get to see Hera a little more. They treated Kanan's death well, and I also really enjoyed the return of the all the rogues' gallery as unlikely accomplices; it makes the Rebellion feel more like the version I grew up with, which gladly accepted in a smuggler, war refugee (Chewbacca), and nobody from Tatooine and treated them all equally. Was it a little corny? Sure, but it gives Ezra a really nice ending. Ditto, I thoroughly enjoyed the evolution of the Loth Cat/Wolf stuff, alongside the greater mystery of the Jedi Temple on Lothal, and felt like this all worked really well. Was it fully necessary to have Ezra discover time travel and save Ahsoka that way? No, but his decision to leave the past unchanged when it comes to Kanan only really works with someone like Ahsoka there to point out that saving him would doom Lothal, and presented Ezra with the moment he needed to from Padawan to Knight, setting him up for his role in the final battle nicely. Plus, the whole space-whale armada was great; the perfect callback and twist. Loved it!

The result is a final season that is still a little childish and uneven at times, but overall gives each character a just finale, wraps up the plots neatly, and is enthralling to watch. The story twists and turns and still delivers well on pacing and character moments, and whilst I'd have liked to see a bit more from Kallus and some of the others, the final act gives weight to every decision any of the cast have made. Solid, entertaining, storytelling and a fine example of how to make the Star Wars universe really shine.


Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

Fun enough and give a little more context into the various characters and where they fit in, but far from necessary viewing. I thought Ezra's was probably the most interesting from a character perspective (although Chopper had the best moments) and I wish we'd seen more of Sabine's paint weapons in the final series. Oh, and the animation is a bit hyper-exaggerated; Hera in particular looks like she's gurning for half the episode! But as a fun aside, they're not half bad.

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