Somehow I've been a Star Wars fan for three-quarters of my life, yet I've never seen Star Wars Rebels or Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I avidly devour the movies and pored through Legends, at least until they dropped a moon on Chewbacca. (I'll never forget and I'll never forgive.) But the TV shows … I just never got around to it. I attribute it to the fact that it takes a planetary alignment of the sort that only happens once ever few centuries to get me to finish a TV show. Whatever the case, I never got around to it. But Shana agreed to my arm-twisting and watched several episodes of my beloved Avatar: The Last Airbender (AZULAAAAA!) for the first edition of Late to the Party, and turnabout is fair play, so Star Wars Rebels it was for me.
Season 1, Episode 15: "Fire Across the Galaxy"
I jumped right into things with the season one finale, in which young Ezra Bridger (per Shana: "A 14-year-old street rat who found himself with a new path to follow, but his goal never wavers: wipe out the Sith and save his home planet of Lothal.") steals onto a Star Destroyer with the rest of the crew of the Ghost to rescue Kanan ("a Jedi who's been living in hiding since the Emperor executed Order 66. Has taken on a padawan but he's still learning himself.")
First impression: The music on this show is a m a z i n g. It feels like Star Wars! Which I know is obvious, given that, y'know, it's a Star Wars show. But still. John Williams' score is a critical element of Star Wars, and Rebels replicates its style flawlessly.
Second impression: Holy crap, the Inquisitor has Reese's Cups for ears!
But on a more serious note: So far, I'm digging it. "Fire Across the Galaxy" successfully achieves the epic space opera quality of the Star Wars movies, minus the prequels, which I don't want to talk about. The score, the action setpieces, the climactic battle on a walkway above a giant chasm. (There sure are a lot of them in the galaxy far far away, huh?) The Star Wars atmosphere is here. My only issue is that I don't really have a sense of the characters yet, which is on me, because I'm jumping right into a season finale. So far, Ezra is "plucky and slightly annoying" and Kanan is "boring and kind of a drama queen." Shana assures me that Kanan will get better.
Season 1, Episode 21: Twilight of the Apprentice: Part I and II
Kanan got better!
This two-part episode sees Ezra, Kanan and Ahsoka Tano go to an abandoned Sith temple to find some mysterious ~*~something~*~ that will help them "know their enemy." Except the temple's only mostly abandoned. Skulking around is this weird guy who has an axe to grind against the Sith and befriends Ezra and looks a lot like Darth Maul and holy Sithspit it's Darth Maul! Yes!
Getting this out of the way now: Ezra's a bit of a snotty little dumbo here, isn't he? Or, as I wrote in my notes: "Ezra's a ding dong." He instantly trusts Maul despite the fact that he's giving out mad "YO THE DARK SIDE IS GREAT" vibes. Child! Child!!! Why are you like this??? That said, did we not all lack judgment when we were approximately five years old? I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, if only because Ezra trusting the obviously evil Maul gives Kanan room to let some nascent inner peevishness fly.
This. I like this.
Kanan's badass here. In the final fight with Maul, he's blinded, only to regroup like two minutes later and help Ahsoka defeat Maul. That's hardcore! Speaking of hardcore: Darth Vader going all deus ex machine like the drama queen ("drama Sith"?) he is.
But this two parter is Maul, all Maul. I dig the characterization of him as someone who's been burned by the Sith and the Jedi and really just wants to burn a motherfrakker down. He's smart and snarky, two of my favorite things. (Him derisively calling Ahsoka a "part-timer" had me clutching my heart in glee.) Favorite thing number three:
Is he wearing a cape … dickie? Like a hood without a shirt attached to it? That's a look, Maul. He looks good for however old he is. Obi-Wan Kenobi went from Ewan McGregor to Alec Guinness and Maul doesn't look like he's aged a day. What moisturizer does he use?
Finally, I would be remiss not to mention that I love the lightsabers on this show. Kanan has a lightsaber/taser combo (I want), Ahsoka rocking a pair of white sabers, and someone else has a crossguard saber of the sort that Kylo Res would later come to use. Most important: the Inquisitors have helicopter lightsabers that allow them to fly. It's capital-E Extra and I love it.
Season 3, Episode 15: Trials of the Darksaber
The non-Ezra and Kanan segment of the Ghost crew was MIA in "Twilight of the Apprentice," so I'm happy to get to know Hera and Sabine a bit better here. Sabine's tightly wound, angry, and is always threatening to beat people up, which means she's my kind of girl. And one of Hera's roles on the team appears to be telling people to get their sh*t together when they're acting dumb, which obviously means she is a very aspiratioinal character. I adore the moment where Ezra goes all Fauxda ("First lesson. Don't try. Just learn.") and Hera shoots him her best "I will murder you in your sleep" glare in response.
But Hera's not the only one who leveled up in sarcasm. Even Kanan gained shade when he lost his eyesight!
Sabine: When you said you were going to be training me, I thought there'd be more swordfighting involved.
Ezra: Hey, it's always like this. He was the same with me.
Kanan: Yeah, and look how well you turned out.
Hey-ohhhhh. And not for nothing, but the bearded look is really good on him.
Season 3, Episode 20: Twin Suns
For the final episode Shana gave me, we go from "everyone in this show is a bona fide sassmonster" to "murder my heart with Darth Maul feelings."
Darth Maul, wandering the desert of Tatooine monologuing like the drama queen everyone in this show apparently is, uses the Force to lure Ezra to him, reasoning that doing so will bring Obi-Wan out of hiding. It does, because there's not an obvious trap Ezra won't wander into. (Listen to Hera when she tells you you're being dumb. Tell me Ezra eventually figures this out.)
Not a ton happens in "Twin Suns," plot-wise. It's tough for me to say without having seen the rest of the season, but it seems like a bottle episode. The entire purpose of the episode is to set up Darth Maul literally dying in Obi-Wan's arms, which is fine. I'm fine.
Darth Maul's filled with rage against everyone who's done him wrong, and when he finally gets the confrontation he's been after for decades, ol' Ben cuts him down in two seconds flat. He has no friends, no family. His life has amounted to nothing. It's just been collateral damage in the unending back-and-forth between the Jedi and the Sith. His final words are to Obi-Wan, his mortal enemy and the only person he appears to have a real connection to: "He [the Chosen One] will avenge us."
Oh, and also:
To hell with this show and to hell with Amazon video player's x-ray view, honestly.
Overall impression: One of the reasons I didn't watch Rebels before—aside from my to-watch list being several miles long—is that it's an entirely new set of characters. As a Legends fan, I've fallen for non-movie characters before (Winter FTW), but with Rebels there was no "you have to watch because __ is in it" hook to get me in. But the five eps Shana chose gave me a taste of characters who I think I'll really come to enjoy, namely Hera, Sabine, Kanan and Maul. (I'll hold out hope for Ezra.)
Decision: Yeah, I'll watch it. It has that sweet, sweet Star Wars feeling. Plus, I know there's a young Wedge Antilles episode, and Wedge is my main man.