Star Wars Rebels is a show which has become progressively better. While this should be the normal expectation for every show, it is much easier to say than it is to pull off in practice which is a credit to the talented people behind Star Wars Rebels. The show has gradually improved in terms of its animation, its storytelling and, most importantly, its consistency. Season 1 was a very mixed season with some episodes being great while others were just filler. Season 2 was a much improved effort with better story-lines, character arcs and world-building and Season 3 has continued this upward trend.
My Thoughts on Season 3 Episodes 1-6 of Star Wars Rebels
Certainly, the start of Season 3 is, for me personally, the strongest we have had to date in Star Wars Rebels, especially in terms of world-building. The episodes released so far have added to the mythology of Star Wars by, for the most part, strongly focusing on the main story-lines that the show has set up. These story-lines include the relationship between Kanan and Ezra, Ezra’s flirtations with the Dark Side and the overriding focus of the show which is the birth of the Rebel Alliance. Indeed, so far in Season 3 we have found out how the Rebel Alliance were able to gain Y-Wings (which would be used for the assault on the First Death Star) and how Wedge Antilles (the unsung hero of the original trilogy) was recruited into the Rebel Alliance.
Nevertheless, the strongest elements of Season 3 have been seen when we focus on arcs involving the main antagonists such as Grand Admiral Thrawn. For those who don’t know, Thrawn was one of, if not THE most beloved character in the old Star Wars Expanded Universe. The old-EU was re-branded as Legends in 2014 and, as a result, it was no longer canon which therefore meant that Thrawn was no longer canon.
However, the beauty of this was that Lucasfilm, if they wanted, could cherry-pick from this wide range of material and add particular elements of the old-EU into new-canon story-lines told in books, comics, video games or TV shows such as Rebels. They made the great decision to cherry-pick Thrawn and make him a part of Rebels. While he now exists in a new period of time, this popular character is now canon to the delight of many who adored him in the old-EU.
Personally, I had never delved too deep into the old-EU (partly because it was so convoluted and confusing) so I never had an affinity with Thrawn like other Star Wars fans did….until now!!! Undoubtedly, he has been my favourite part of Season 3. The character of Thrawn is cunning, calculated, articulate and a very layered villain which I believe has been lacking from Star Wars Rebels, at least on a consistent basis. Sure, we had the Inquisitor in Season 1 and Darth Vader in a few episodes in Season 2 but we have not had a long-standing villainous presence in Rebels.
However, now we have Thrawn who I think (and hope!) will be a big part of this show for the foreseeable future. In addition to Thrawn, we have Maul (formerly Darth) who will also play the role of antagonist in Season 3, although probably to a much lesser extent than Thrawn. Nevertheless, Maul was in my favourite episode of Season 3 so far (‘The Holocrons of Fate’) and the way that episode played out expanded the lore of Star Wars and sets up some really exciting things for the future. When we put all of these things together, Season 3 has been great so far.
Still, it is not without fault but, for me personally, this is confined to the most recent episode (‘The Last Battle‘). The purpose of this episode was to bring closure to The Clone Wars and, in essence, the Prequels (REJOICE!!!!!!!). Still, why this thought gives me great feelings of joy, it did mean that this episode was a distraction from the main story arcs in this show which we discussed above.
However, despite this and the amount of Prequel influences in this episode, it was enjoyable. In particular, the humour was very good in the fact that this episode poked fun at the battle droids (the roger roger’s) and their stupidity both in the way they act and they’re creation by George Lucas in the first place. At least that’s how I saw it. Additionally, Ezra’s thoughts about the meaning of The Clone Wars along with the themes of PTSD and letting go of the past gave the episode depth and a mature, poignant message.
Therefore, even with this episode, it was still able to add something to the Star Wars universe. Overall, Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels has started in a very strong way by, on the whole, pushing the main story arcs within the show forward while still being able to add to the lore of Star Wars. Moreover, the addition of Thrawn and the use of Maul in these early episodes give me hope that this consistency in quality will continue throughout the season.