Halfway There: The Mid-Season Revisit


With “Gathering Forces” ended, we are at the halfway point in the season for Rebels and will be taking a break from our regular articles for the next few weeks as the show takes a holiday hiatus. In the meantime, let’s look back at what the show has done in its short time on the air to this point, what worked well and what can be improved.

Rebels has done a number of things well in its first half, but the one that stands out is characterization and character development. Ezra began the show as a loner, only out for himself, and has turned into an enthusiastic and altruistic Jedi apprentice, albeit one with secrets still coming to light, just taking his first steps into a larger world and dealing with the temptations of the dark side and the ramifications of his own bitterness and anger. Kanan started as much more “cowboy” and little “Jedi”, a practical and cynical man focused on damaging the Empire however possible, and through teaching Ezra has begun to rediscover a more mature, spiritual side buried in the years he spent living on the run. Sabine’s surface persona as a bubbly, art-obsessed teenager hides a deeper intelligence and pain, a multilingual Imperial Academy student who left the Empire to live as a rebel for reasons we have yet to see. Zeb is gruff and unfriendly, driven by his peoples’ deaths at the hands of the Empire, but also warms to his comrades and treats Ezra like a little brother or nephew. Hera is the one holding the group together, but even she has things she does not tell everyone, including the identity of their supplier and contact Fulcrum. And these examples only cover the main cast. Read More

Ezra’s Parents: On Destiny Versus Duty


Mike: Last week Ben talked about Rebels‘ efforts to begin laying the groundwork for its “big picture” story. In addition to Fulcrum, though, another character with a lot of potential to expand the show’s horizons is Brent Spiner’s Gall Trayvis—an Imperial Senator who appears to be actively undermining the Empire’s authority via rogue HoloNet transmissions. Like Fulcrum, though, his efforts haven’t been entirely helpful to our heroes, and his true motives remain unclear.

Another element “Out of Darkness” and “Empire Day” have in common is the delicate peeling back of the curtain obscuring the main characters’ backstories; Sabine’s in the former and now Ezra’s in the latter. The latest episode “reveals” Ezra’s parents for the first time, by name, voice, and deed if not by sight. For those of us who were lucky enough to see “Empire Day” online, the past week has produced lots of speculation regarding the identities and fates of Ephraim and Mira Bridger; some suspect that Ephraim might be a rogue clonetrooper, while the timing of Ezra’s birth and his high Force-sensitivity also leave room (though not much) for him to be the child of a Jedi. Read More

Planning Ahead: The Mystery of the Big Picture


Sometimes it’s better to propose questions than to provide answers. When an episodic television series starts, the creative minds behind it are foremost concerned with establishing the setting and characters, familiarizing the audience with the cast and locations in order to use that established status quo as setup for changes and developments as the show goes on. People are introduced with little backstory, leaving their pasts a mystery, and events are referred to without being elaborated upon at first, all of it being fodder for future stories.

The issue with this is that sometimes plots and ideas can be brought up and not referred to again, especially if the show has numerous characters and ideas moving in all directions. One has only to bring up Firefly or Star Trek: Enterprise or one of numerous other examples to instantly make science fiction fans fume at the potential that was wasted with plots and ideas that went nowhere, either because the show was canceled before its time, or because the showrunners did not handle their own creations well. Read More

Ends and Means: Questionable Actions for the Greater Good


Ben: Noble intentions are traditionally what differentiate the “good guys” from the “bad”. The heroes of a story are altruistic, working for the good of others, while the villains are selfish, working only for themselves. Protagonists look out for their friends, families, comrades in arms. Antagonists carve a swath through whoever stands in the way of their goals.

But this sort of binary story structure is often deconstructed with a simple scenario: a hero is placed in a position where, to do the greatest good for the largest number of people, they must do something they would not normally do. Something morally questionable, or even outright against their morals or beliefs, but something that would protect others, stop conflicts, save lives, the examples go on and on. The drama lies in how the hero deals with this sort of problem, either taking the moral high ground and living with the ultimate outcome, or doing what they deem necessary and having to live with their conscience. Read More

Evidence of Absence: Jedi in the Dark Times


“Maybe it’s a good thing the old religion died.”

Ben: What sort of galaxy would there be without the Jedi? Without its foremost peacekeepers, its moral compass? What if the guardians of justice for generations simply vanished overnight? What if the ones to replace them sought to sow fear where the Jedi had sown hope, to control and dictate where the Jedi had let the Force and life take its course?

When the Emperor ordered the Jedi exterminated, he instantly turned the galaxy-wide war against the Separatists into a sideshow and brought the entire Republic under his personal dominion, to be shaped as he saw fit. Everything changed. The galaxy became a darker, more materialistic place. The Force became a forgotten term for an outdated and mocked religion. The Jedi were whispered about in the dark for a time, then slowly forgotten. What few Jedi survived the purge live a lie, hiding in such deep, dark places from which they might never emerge. An entire generation of beings emerged who were raised in a galaxy without its brightest light. Read More