March 5th, 2019 marks a full year since Star Wars: Rebels reached its finale. Fans are coming together to remember the intrepid crew of the Ghost all over social media. Is it possible though that we have not quite seen the end of those characters? What has Rebels left in place for future Star Wars tales?
The call went out on Twitter from Johnamarie Macias: Star Wars Rebels ended on March 5th 2018, and with the anniversary approaching it was time to remember. Indeed, throughout social media SWR fans have picked up the #RebelsRemembered tag and shared art, stories, personal recollections, and favorite series highlights.
Though I have talked about Rebels before, this is a prime opportunity to remember this terrific show, and examine how it affected the theatrical entries in the Star Wars universe while it was running. Additionally, there are enough story threads left out there after the finale to continue to reverberate; how might Rebels influence Episode IX and future Trilogies?
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
The Rebels crew made the leap subtly to the big screen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story with several Easter eggs such as Hera getting name-dropped, the Ghost appearing in several shots both on Yavin 4 and in the battle over Scarif, and of course with a cameo by C1-10P, Chopper. Seeing the Ghost in action on the big screen was a delight; seeing the Hammerhead Cruisers alongside her and knowing how those got into Rebel hands was an extra treat for Rebels fans.
Perhaps more importantly, SWR throughout its run began to expand our understanding of The Force. As Ezra learned from Kanan, Kanan too learned more about his role and ways the Force connects the Galaxy. We saw Ezra manifest his power in new ways. We saw Kanan after sacrificing his life return not as a Force Ghost, but in a new form entirely, seemingly as a Lothwolf.
We learned how planets like Lasan touched The Force, while experiencing it very differently than the Sith and Jedi did. This idea that The Force was not solely the purview of those two sects plays heavily into The Last Jedi when Snoke is revealed not to be a Dark Side user, but not Sith, and Kylo Ren wants to “let the past die” and move beyond Sith and Jedi. Rey and Broom Boy show us anyone can take steps into a larger world.
Star Wars Rebels showed us that larger world is far more connected than we thought as Ezra enters “a world between worlds” and shows us even time itself can be opened to The Force. This helps set up the show’s finale. Season two of Rebels had shown us a possible end to the story of Ahsoka Tano.
While between worlds, Ezra reaches back through time and saves her, setting her up to return at show’s end. Sabine and “Ahsoka the White” as she has come to be called, a nod to the wizard Gandalf’s return in the Lord of the Rings saga, prepare to venture into unknown regions to see if Ezra can himself be saved after his final confrontation with Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
The coda to Star Wars Rebels’ final episode shows us the crew going their separate ways, but also leaves them on the board for use in other projects. It is also quite possible that specific threads were left in place to later be pulled back into the Star Wars tapestry. With a myriad of projects still come come across books, comics, games, television, and film, I expect we will see some of those characters make a comeback.
Elsewhere I have surmised Keri Russel might in fact be bringing Hera Syndulla into the Resistance in Episode IX. Certainly a TV show like The Mandalorian could make use of the state of Mandalore as set up by the last season of Rebels. Bo-Katan Kryze wielding her dark saber would be a welcome addition.
There is a subplot that has been brewing in the novels that might also tie into what Rebels has left for us; in particular it is the backstory that has been woven around the SWR villain Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Photo Credit: [Star Wars Rebels] LucasfilmThrawn, when he disappears into Wild Space with Ezra (“surrounded in many arms, wrapped in a cold embrace,” as prophesied by The Bendu), is returning to an area he is familiar with. As a member of the Chiss Ascendancy, The Emperor took him in to exploit his knowledge of those Unknown Regions.
Meanwhile, Thrawn was assessing the Empire to see if they would be a worthy ally to the Chiss; there was a mysterious threat out there, and the Ascendancy wanted to see if the Empire could be an ally.
Couple this with the First Order using Thrawn’s knowledge to hide and rebuild in Wild Space before the Sequel Trilogy, and Rebels has helped set the stage for a new external threat which sounds like the perfect foil for one of those two new trilogies in the works after the Skywalker Saga ends. We’ve seen Star Wars after the Disney acquisition cherry pick the best from the old EU, indeed, Thrawn himself, but could a huge threat like the Yuuzhan Vong of Legends have been put in place by Rebels and its tie-ins?
In the end, Star Wars: Rebels told us its own internally great stories, and developed characters like Kanan whom we mourn; characters like Sabine, Hera, Chopper, and Zeb whom we cheer; and characters like Ezra whom we miss.
As we celebrate #RebelsRemembered, it is nice to look back on what they did and how it moved us. It is perhaps even better to look ahead to when and how we will see them again.