Plot: Coming off the heels of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Disney has decided to continue creating stories in the Star Wars universe with adventures of new characters. Star Wars Rebels takes place fourteen years after the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Rebels focuses on a band of mercenaries who are trying to make money to sustain them, while simultaneously thwarting the Empire. The bandits involved are: Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray), Zeb Orelios (Steven Blum), Sabine Wren (Tiya Sircar), Hera Syndulia (Vanessa Marshall), a Twi’lek who pilots the bandits’ ship, and a C1-10P droid known as “Chopper.” In addition, the episode featured the obligatory cameos of C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2, who get involved in the mercenary group’s mission for personal reasons.
At first, Rebels looks like an attempt from Disney to keep Star Wars relevant to help the release of the upcoming movie. Given the success of the Star Wars franchise, Rebels release can seem like a marketing ploy; however, it has the potential to be something enjoyable on its own. What made The Clone Wars accessible was a cast of familiar characters, while adding some new ones to help the series feel fresh. Rebels does not have this benefit: all of the characters in Kanan’s crew are new. This combined with new, unfamiliar settings provide an uphill battle to make Rebels accessible to fans and newcomers alike.
For this episode, Rebels seemed to focus more on character introduction than plot advancement, which is suitable for the season opener. We have, however, seen these archetypes before: Kanan and Zeb having a very Han Solo-Chewbacca relationship; Ezra is the impatient teen looking for guidance a la Luke Skywalker; Sabine and Hera are the key women with specialized skills, keeping everything together, much like Princess Leia; and, of course, the droids offer comic relief. In following episodes, I hope to see plot advancement in addition to deeper cast characterizations.
One of the things that keep people coming back for more Star Wars is the action sequences. Rebels offered a good spattering in the second half, though most of it was watching people shoot lasers and miss. There is a cool scene with some electric double-sided spear fighting, but nothing that really makes you go, “Wow!”
If you aren’t very curious about Rebels, nothing in this episode keeps you wanting more. Only time will tell, but with the vague plot and generic characters, it is easy to see why someone would get bored. To the show’s credit, Kanan’s group is not strictly “good”, so the idea of a Jedi character that that is neither of completely good nor completely evil is intriguing, and something I would like to see explored. In addition, I applaud the episode for managing to not overload on typical Star Wars staples like the Force or light sabers.
Rebels is a “watch” if you are looking for more Star Wars stories in between the events of Episodes III and IV. While the show is off to a slow start, I see parts that can propel the show forward and make it something that every Star Wars fan should see. Star Wars Rebels looks like it could fall short into the same characters we already know the stories to, but there is a lot of untapped potential, and I have high hopes for the series.