Star Wars Rebels is one of those magical television series that just hooks you in with every new scene, every new plot twist and script nuance. But, nevertheless, the experience of going into the 45 minute-long premiere episode, Spark of Rebellion, can be shaky; you can feel afraid that it might not end up being very entertaining because you a) know the plot already, b) have seen so many previews and sneak peeks that you feel as if you’ve seen the whole movie, and/or c) have read reviews and heard so many people gush about it that you don’t even know what to think anymore. Is it going to be a grandiose adventure that just sparks your soul with its awesomeness? Or is it going to be a crushing disappointment? It might turn out to be one of those things that everybody else loves but that you can’t seem to get into, probably because you don’t know what you personally are expecting from it. You know from pretty much everyone else that it’s supposed to be great, but what is everyone’s definition of “greatness?” What is your definition of that word?
I’ll be perfectly honest: I don’t think that I was WOWED by Spark of Rebellion. I think that this is simply due to over-exposure to footage and plot synopses. Also, for some people, there’s something about going into a film or a television series, or anything, really, and having expectations. If your expectations are based on the enthusiasm (or lack of enthusiasm) of your friends and/or critics, a problem arises because you begin to have a predisposed inclination towards that which you yourself haven’t even experienced yet. To give an example: everyone I knew on Twitter who had seen the LEGO Movie LOVED IT. Even critics LOVED IT. So I went into the movie theater expecting to…I guess, love it. But I didn’t. Thinking back on it now, I realize, of course, that it was quite a brilliant film. But at the time that I first viewed it, I just wasn’t that impressed. And I think at the heart of my ill opinion was the fact that I had allowed my expectations to exceed my ability to enjoy the film for what it was, not for what I had heard it was. I was expecting something from this film, but I didn’t know what. Now I know that what I was expecting was “greatness,” but again, I had no clear definition of what that was. I just wanted to be WOWED, and I wasn’t.
Spark of Rebellion wasn’t the exact same experience. I don’t really know what I was expecting, other than that it should feel like “Star Wars.” I did reach a moment shortly after the first seven minutes of the film (which I had already seen two or three times, thanks to an extended preview released by Disney a while back) at which I thought I was going to be bored with the rest of the episode. Nevertheless, I kept watching, and what surprised me was how easily I was able to do that. It was a fun setting, with fun characters and believable villains. The voice acting and musical soundtrack were top-notch. And we got to see (spoiler alert!) a Jedi reveal his identity during a time when being a Jedi is practically a death sentence. All of these things together made an enjoyable first episode.
I believe what I liked so well about “Droids In Distress” was that I knew absolutely NOTHING about its plot, other than the short synopsis iTunes gave me. Everything that was going on was almost entirely new to me. Yes, I had seen some of the footage in trailers for the series, and I knew from the Star Wars Rebels Visual Guide by Adam Bray that (SPOILERS) C-3PO and R2-D2 would be making an appearance. But I didn’t know in what context these droids would appear, nor could I have guessed that another Star Wars saga alum would make a cameo appearance at the end of the episode. I went in without knowing everything about it, and I feel like I enjoyed “Droids In Distress” much more than Spark of Rebellion, despite being about half as long at 22 minutes. Maybe I wasn’t uppercase-WOWED, just lowercase-wowed, especially with the last five minutes or so of the episode (there’s still time for the former, though). All of the things that were good about Spark of Rebellion were made fresh and vibrant by their exposure in a brand new episode that hadn’t received as much media coverage as the premiere episode.
So, to recap: why did I like the second episode of the season better than the premiere? Because I had not been overly exposed to it. I didn’t feel like I knew the story before I sat down to watch it. And maybe my expectations were lower, or maybe I just didn’t have any expectations at all. But through this whole experience of watching Spark of Rebellion and then “Droids In Distress,” I have learned what I believe to be three very important lessons: before watching a movie or television show for the first time, keep an open mind (no matter what reviewers say), stay away from spoilers (mainly all those extended previews and clips), and don’t expect too much (and by the way, all three of the aforementioned could DEFINITELY apply to those who plan on watching Star Wars VII, as well; depending, of course, on whether or not you’re a spoiler fan. If you’re a spoiler fan, you can still follow the first and third points).
And if you watch Spark of Rebellion and aren’t that impressed with it, stick around. I can almost guarantee that your interest will be “re-sparked” by “Droids In Distress.”
Does Star Wars Rebels, as a whole series so far, measure up to my definition of greatness? Yes, yes it does; it has wowed me, which is what I think greatness does for a person. And I think it will wow everyone else, as well, if everyone will but give it a chance to.