Of all the Star Wars stories in 2018, the final episodes of Star Wars Rebels Season 4 proved the most impressive.
This year brimmed with quality Star Wars content. In film and television, Solo: A Star Wars Story hit theaters, Star Wars Rebels concluded after four seasons, and a new animated series began with Star Wars Resistance. The Force was also strong with the comics – particularly the Darth Vader series – and also novels like Thrawn: Alliances and Last Shot.
In most years when a film is released – even when fan reception is somewhat divided – the film tends to be the best Star Wars story of that year. While Solo was a solid movie on many fronts, it ultimately wasn’t the very best Star Wars story of the year, though. That feat – at least in the opinion of yours truly – belongs to the final episodes of Star Wars Rebels.
More from Editorial
- How animation changed Star Wars: Ewoks and Droids
- The Acolyte might change Star Wars storytelling
- No Star Wars for Feige, and I’m ok with that.
- 3 major ways the Star Wars Holiday Special changed canon
- If Jon Favreau remakes the Holiday Special, it needs to star Peli Motto
It’s easy to forget that all of Season 1 and half of Season 2 of Star Wars Rebels aired before fans saw The Force Awakens. As such, Rebels was largely responsible for jump-starting the new era of canon. The show certainly had its flaws in those earlier days, but it also helped draw a new generation of fans into Star Wars and revitalized the excitement of previous generations, both before the release of The Force Awakens and afterwards when the film made many audiences eager to explore new content being created outside the films.
Part of what the final episodes of Season 4 so satisfying was that they provided an epic, surprisingly mature, and satisfying end to the series that was so crucial to revitalizing the franchise. Longtime story threads like the incredibly slow-burn romance between Kanan and Hera, and Ezra’s unique Force-bond with creatures like the purgills and wolves of Lothal came to fruition to serve character development and the culminating story in meaningful ways.
Kanan’s ultimate sacrifice was the most heartbreaking and emotional Star Wars moment of 2018. That sacrifice and Ezra’s own sacrifice related to the purgills were acts that truly embodied the values of the Jedi. These moments not only answered the questions Kanan and Ezra long grappled with of what it meant to be Jedi, but also served as a brilliant way of explaining why they were never seen during the original trilogy.
The episodes “Wolves and a Door” and “A World Between Worlds” were particular standouts. The world between worlds brought back fan-favorite Ahsoka Tano and finally answered whether she survived her duel against Darth Vader in the Season 2 finale of Rebels. This mystical plane that exists outside time and space also brought Emperor Palpatine into Rebels, showing how close he came to controlling the world between worlds, which likely would’ve made Palpatine invincible.
Ezra hearing voices from all the Star Wars films, The Clone Wars, and Rebels was also a beautiful moment that tied together all the onscreen Star Wars stories together, more than ever making them feel like one single story.
Kanan and Ezra weren’t the only characters who had the chance to shine, though. Core characters like Hera, Sabine, Zeb, Chopper, and Kallus all played vital parts in pulling off the unthinkable and liberating Lothal from the Empire and Grand Admiral Thrawn. Also vital to this accomplishment were characters fans have loved and followed since The Clone Wars like Captain Rex and Hondo Ohnaka.
The last episodes acted as a proper conclusion to Rebels while also opening up the door for more stories, particularly with Sabine and Ahsoka setting out to search for Ezra after the events of Return of the Jedi.
Saying the final installments of Rebels was the best Star Wars story of 2018 isn’t a knock against Solo and any of the novels or comics. It’s just a testament to the ending of Rebels.
With so many incredible stories being told in television, novels, comics, and video games, it’s possible that 2018 will only be the first of many years in which a film doesn’t end up being the best Star War story of the year. Even the highly anticipated Episode IX will face serious competition to win this “title” in 2019, the fiercest competitors likely being the live-action television series The Mandalorian or the long-awaited season 7 of The Clone Wars.
What was your favorite Star Wars story of 2018? Sound off in the comments!