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The premiere of Star Wars Rebels season two was somewhat of a dream come true. I love the Star Wars prequels. Unfortunately, the Star Wars prequels couldn’t show everything and do everything. As a little boy, I used to dream of Jedi hiding in pubs, the wilderness, their ships, on the run as Darth Vader walked onto the scene and they were totally screwed by his awesome evil power. The Star Wars prequels weren’t designed to show us that. Apparently Star Wars Rebels is designed to show us that, at least to an extent.
There was a moment where I was going to take notes and make this a really in-depth review. But after a few moments, I could sense this was important and special. I put the notepad away and decided to savor it and I think I made the right choice. For this reason I’m just sharing my impressions.
For the first time since the Original Trilogy, we see Darth Vader in action sequences hunting the remaining Jedi. Even better is that the action sequences are very good and very fun. There’s a great moment where the heroes attempt to kill Darth Vader by throwing walkers onto him. He seems like he might be dead for a second but he was using the Force to hold them at bay. He then moves them over with ease and continues his pursuit. The imagery during these moments is poster-worthy.
The nice people at Lucasfilm Animation know the fanbase really well. They know that if Ezra Bridger outsmarts Darth Vader the fans are going to complain (General Grievous’ losses in The Clone Wars were and are a contentious issue to this day). But the way Kinberg, Filoni, and the crew worked in Darth Vader is classic, smart, and appropriate. There are tons of moments where Darth Vader could murder these two Jedi pipsqueaks with ease. But he’s tracking them. He’s using them to get to the fleet. Classic Vader stuff.
There is a moment I call the “Oh, damn!” moment. I’d stop reading now if you’re really trying to save it for yourself. Remember that moment in The Clone Wars when the Jedi team up and use their mind powers on Cad Bane? We have a moment like that between Kanan Jarrus, Ahsoka Tano, and Darth Vader. They want to know his identity (I suspect Ahsoka already knows). Aboard the Ghost Kanan and Ahsoka form their Force conduit and start to probe outward towards Darth Vader’s location. Darth Vader reverses it and figures out who they are and utters something like “So my apprentice lives!” This of course knocks Ahsoka on her butt. You don’t probe Darth Vader’s mind!
I finally saw Darth Vader hunting down Jedi like a Terminator, a lifelong Star Wars-on-screen desire completed. Then to make it even better, something us The Clone Wars fans have wondered about was also put into this sequence. Ahsoka had intimate contact with Darth Vader. It was just a tease of it but it happened and I loved it.
If I had to be critical of the premiere it would be that it nailed the Darth Vader moments, but it also did not really further the story of the Ghost’s crew. The consequences for trouble have doubled. The first Inquisitor was dispatched in Season 1 and now Darth Vader is there and they’re throwing out more Inquisitor types in Season 2. Amongst all this plot there wasn’t really any character development for the heroes yet. But like I said, that is if I had to be critical.
It was cool to see A-wings on screen again and the start of the Rebellion is neat to see. I personally wish those ships were saved for Return of the Jedi-era stories. Since they are effectively destroyed by the Empire, I think it works out okay for my preference though. I did like almost everything having to do with the Rebellion. It was also nice to see an Asian character in Star Wars leading the troops and he felt like a classic Star Wars leader.
To an extent, I loved seeing Lando again. I do kind of wish we had seen Hondo instead. There is a moment where the crew is like “not that guy again!” So I thought Hondo was going to come into play instead but they brought Lando back. I give the crew at Lucasfilm Animation a lot of credit for using these big characters with a lot of class though. I also feel they probably have a really grand entrance for Hondo so I’m cool with seeing Lando one more time even if it wasn’t significant.
With Lothal turning against the Rebels, Tarkintown being destroyed, and the Empire getting really pissed off at the Rebels, we’re moving into a dark time for the fledgling resistance. That is cool and the oppressive Empire is felt even more than it was in the lighthearted moments of Season 1.
The opening movie for Star Wars Rebels Season 2 isn’t quiet as good as “Spark of Rebellion” was in totality, tightness, and originality. It didn’t really work as well as the Season 1 ender either. What we got was a really great short film full of exposition that sets up on the stage for the future episodes. It does it perfectly and I think we are going to feel it was the right choice as Season 2 unfolds. This was Star Wars Rebels without the heart, instead focusing on the heartless Darth Vader.
But to be very clear, I loved it. It was great. I can’t wait to watch it again.
Soon we will have footage and photos from the Star Wars Rebels Season 2 red carpet!