This week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels took the series to and important and unprecedented place. “Secret Cargo,” written by Matt Michnovetz and directed by Bosco Ng , featured Genevieve O’Reilly as a guest star and the appearance of A New Hope and Rogue One characters Jon “Dutch” Vander, (aka Gold Leader) and General Jan Dodonna.
Featuring film characters and having film actors do voice-over is hardly groundbreaking, but it is the story of this episode that has taken Star Wars Rebels into an area that is more significant to the film saga than anything they have done before. We see two of the most important speeches in the history of the Galactic Civil War in this week’s episode.
The first speech is Senator Mon Mothma’s public condemnation of Emperor Palpatine for the Ghorman Massacre that went out across the Holonet, a move that sets the events of the episode in motion.
“I name the Emperor himself for ordering the brutal attacks on the people of Ghorman. Their peaceful world is one of countless systems helpless against his oppressive rule. This massacre is proof that our self-appointed Emperor is little more than a lying executioner, imposing his tyranny under pretense of security. We cannot allow this evil to stand.”
The second speech (again broadcast) is a call to arms and an official declaration of not just rebellion but of an alliance to restore the Republic; this leads to a rendezvous of a large number of ships from various Rebel cells in space above Dantooine.
“This is Senator Mon Mothma, I have been called a traitor for speaking out against a corrupt Galactic Senate. A Senate manipulated by the sinister tactics of the Emperor. For too long I have watched the heavy hand of the Empire strangle our liberties, stifling our freedoms in the name of ensuring our safety. No longer!”
“Despite Imperial threats, despite the Emperor himself, I have no fear as I take new action. For I am not alone. Beginning today we stand together as allies. I hereby resign from the Senate to fight for you, not from the distant hall of politics but from the front lines. We will not rest until we bring an end to the Empire, until we restore our Republic! Are you with me?”
These are huge story points that Lucasfilm Animation was allowed to bring to life. Some of this may speak to the choice not to feature these in Rogue One once the choice was made the age of actors such as Jimmy Smits and Carrie Fisher (before her death) made doing this in a subsequent stand-alone film unlikely. But what this really shows is the trust that the team at Lucasfilm Animation–under Dave Filoni’s leadership–has earned within the halls of Lucasfilm and Disney. This portends great things for Star Wars animation going forward.
In the immediate future, things are setting up for season four of Star Wars Rebels to be heavily focused on the earliest days of the actual Rebellion and provide a strong conclusion to the series. I would expect two major story arcs featuring the incorporation of essential elements of the Rebellion: the first, the recruitment of the Mon Calamari into the Rebellion, seeing both Admirals Ackbar and Raddus; the second, the acquisition of the Incom T-65 X-wings.
Take a bow Rebels crew–you took a big swing and hit this one out of the park.