The Force is strong in this one.
A GRAND ENTRANCE
Fans have been excited as ever for Star Wars Rebels’ third season upon hearing the news over the summer that Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the Star Wars Expanded Universe’s most popular characters, would make his entrance into the official Star Wars canon. He might be the most popular character to never have screen time.
The gang is back and ready to take on the evil Galactic Empire yet again, though change is in the air after what happened at the end of last season’s epic finale. Ahsoka is gone (her fate is unclear). Kanan now wears a mask over his eyes thanks to last season’s duel, which by the way is very reminiscent of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed’s Rahm Kota, Starkiller’s master that went blind. And Ezra has cut his hair and totally looks like a Jedi, thanks to his appearance and new levels of natural power with the Force.
I absolutely adore the dynamic of Phoenix Squadron’s crew. I dare say it might be the best ensemble of Star Wars characters in any medium thanks to the way they interact with each other, their depth, and their ability to always have to stick together as a team to get things done. Ezra is now in command, as Kanan is spending time away from the crew to meditate and find himself. The crew is clearly not thrilled with this, but I love the way it develops Ezra’s character and where it could be leading him.
Ezra is totally heading down a similar path as Anakin Skywalker, but Ezra doesn’t have the guidance of the Jedi Order to aid in his development as a Jedi. He is obviously very powerful and is just scratching the surface of what he can do as a Jedi. He seemingly thirsts for power and justice. What’s also interesting is his usage of the Sith Holocron he found last season, which is a HUGE no-no for Jedi. Ezra is perceptible to both the light and dark side, so this is bothersome. Darth Maul’s influence, mixed with the Holocron’s, are truly in Ezra’s head, setting off doubt and confusion. Symbolically, the episode shows us in Ezra’s room that he keeps the Holocron under his cadet Stormtrooper helmet. It’s quite literally in his head.
The main plot of this first episode is so Rebels – steal some old Republic ships that the Empire is destroying at a junkyard disposal. Ezra leads the charge, while showing flashes of brilliance, immaturity, and darkness all at once. Ezra’s immaturity and on-a-whim decision making put the crew in danger at times, while putting others like the former Clone warrior Rex at odds. Ezra shows some absolutely awesome displays of his abilities, where he takes control of an AT-ST telepathically, destroying a squad of Storm Troopers before unceremoniously walking it off of a cliff. It’s dark, but that’s the theme here. It’s clear that the writers are trying to set the tone for the season, centered on Ezra’s path to greater power.
Kanan’s side adventure is a good change of pace from the action-heavy push from the main plot. Kanan is fearful and unsettled. He comes across Bendu, the Tom Baker-voiced creature that understands the Force, but does not wield it. The voice acting here is top notch, as usual. This sets Kanan back on the path to rejoin the Ghost and its crew, as he and Ezra have barely spoken since last season. The tension there adds depth to their relationship.
The big addition, as mentioned above, is Grand Admiral Thrawn. The Empire is having trouble with the various waves of Rebels and is looking to silence them once and for all. In order to do that, they need to bring in a fresh perspective. Grand Moff Tarkin elects to promote Thrawn, who is calculated, cold, and intelligent. His warfare is psychological and cunning, as opposed to flexing the muscle of the Empire through its sheer size and strength.
Thrawn’s screen time is limited but is just enough, establishing him as the center piece and main villain. His line “They will be the architects of their own destruction” is absolutely chilling. That will go down as a legendary quote in Star Wars lore – it’s that good. How the Rebels deal with Thrawn is going to be thrilling to watch play out. With the overall scope and tone laid out for the season, it appears we may see some loss (hopefully not you, Rex), and some big things Ezra’s way. As always, Rebels has done an amazing job of bringing on guest stars from some of the most recognizable characters in Star Wars history – I can’t wait to see who pops up this year.
Rebels is back and looks to be another awesome year with Ezra’s continued training and the emergence of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
+ Grand Admiral Thrawn is brought to life in exactly the way most fans envisioned him. His presence makes the show all the better.
+ Ezra’s new appearance, as well as his display of powers both in the Force and in Lightsaber combat. His path is a fascinating one, as the pull from the Dark Side is strong. Recall anyone else who would stop at nothing to save his friends?
+ Plot is exciting.
+ Tom Baker as Bendu
Josiah LeRoy is The Geekiverse’s biggest Star Wars fan. He cannot wait to see Rogue One! Also, he will be reviewing the upcoming novel “Ahsoka,” stay tuned.