'Star Wars: Rebels' reveals the origins of the galactic Alliance and its fight against the Empire. Now, its mission is ending with season 4.
Every beginning has an end, and that final moment is coming for Star Wars: Rebels.
Disney XD has announced that next season will be the last for the animated series, about an orphaned boy named Ezra Bridger, a fallen Jedi named Kanan Jarrus, and the misfit crew of the Ghost: pilot Hera Syndulla, surly droid Chopper, reformed bounty hunter Sabine Wren, and mercenary muscle Zeb Orellios.
Produced by The Clone Wars co-creator Dave Filoni, Rebels will get 15 more episodes next season, starting in the fall.
Although it will end with season 4, Rebels has become interwoven throughout the broader Star Wars storytelling universe. References to it were embedded throughout the recent standalone movie Rogue One, with the Ghost visible throughout the battle of Scarif, and a new Forces of Destiny series of animated shorts and toys will highlight Sabine Wren and Hera Syndulla in stories that have them interacting with characters from the original trilogy.
The new trailer, featured above, features some major squee moments for fans: Hera piloting an X-wing, with Chopper as her co-pilot; a starship using its hyperdrive to blast through the center of a space station, and the Ghost descending toward the Yavin 4 base seen in Rogue One and 1977’s original Star Wars.
Filoni made the announcement about the show’s end at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando at a Rebels panel alongside his voice cast Freddie Prinze, Jr. (Kanan), Tiya Sircar (Sabine), Taylor Gray (Ezra), Vanessa Marshall (Hera), and Steve Blum (Zeb).
Filoni promised the crowd that although Rebels was ending, Lucasfilm had other plans for animation in the future.
The final season will also include more characters from the films, with Genevieve O’Reilly, who played Mon Mothma in Rogue One, returning to the series to voice the Rebel leader once again. “Mon Mothma has always been pretty level, but you might see her get a little fiery for once,” Filoni says. “She’s a leader for a reason.”
Forest Whitaker will also return to the show as the insurgent Saw Gerrera, partnered with his alien co-pilot Idrio Two-Tubes. The panel showed an image of the pair piloting one of the U-wing fighters from Rogue One.
Warwick Davis, a Star Wars veteran of many films, but most notably as Wicket the Ewok from Return of the Jedi, finally gets to voice a character after publicly lobbying Filoni for a role. He’ll be performing Rukh, a sinister alien assassin and bodyguard for the blue-skinned Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn.
“He’s really creepy,” Filoni said of the character, after bringing Davis onstage (mainly to torment him.) “So I needed someone creepy. And also sneaky and devious.”
THE GHOST CREW
Each of the cast members got to reveal a little about the story arcs their characters will follow in the final 15 episodes.
Hera Syndulla: Vanessa Taylor said Hera will continue her love/hate battlefield romance with Kanan. But she’s not down for distraction either. “Her focus is much more sharp — as it needs to be,” Taylor told the audience. “She’s been impacted by losses, and is more determined to get the job done. [The Ghost crew members] always have hope, but they’re pressed to the very edges of what’s before them.”
Zeb Orellios: One of the last survivors of the nearly extinct Lasat species is finally feeling like he belongs. “He’ll get 20% better at not losing Chopper in bets,” Blum said. But Zeb finally feels a deeper allegiance to the Rebel cause. “He’s becoming a better citizen, rather than just a tough muscle-head.”
Chopper: Filoni joked that contract negotiations almost prevented the droid from appearing on the finale season. “He was a tough negotiator for Season 4 because he had done some film …” the executive producer said — a reference to Chopper’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in Rogue One (see below.) “But I was like, ‘But I didn’t see you in it, does that count?'” Filoni said. Ultimately the robot relented.
It may seem like Chopper doesn’t have a real arc, but we’ll learn more about his past — even if his personality doesn’t evolve much. “People think he’s just grumpy, but sometimes you find that when someone is that cantankerous, they actually care the most,” Filoni said.
Kanan Jarrus: “He’s still blind, but he has seen more than he has ever seen before,” says Prinze, of the former Jedi trainee, who lost way, and later lost his sight in a battle involving Darth Maul and Darth Vader. “He has struggled for three seasons to be a decent Jedi, but his mistakes made me fall in love with him.”
Sabine Wren: Sircar strongly hinted that we’ll see another Mandalorian “we know” this season. The most prominent member of this warrior race was Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who collected Han Solo for Jabba the Hutt at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. As the show draws to a close, it’s natural we’d finally see him interact with Sabine, even if they’ve chosen to align with different sides of the galactic civil war.
“You’ll be happy with some specific episodes, and who might show up,” she said, glancing constantly at Filoni for guidance about how much, or how little, to reveal. “There might be people you know…”
Fill-in cut in: “It’s fun to listen to someone evade.”
Ezra Bridger: This young boy, who began the series as a street kid, a thief, and an orphan, has finally found his family and begun to tap his Force sensitivity as a hardscrabble Jedi trainee. But we know from the original Star Wars movies that Luke Skywalker is the last Jedi, so somewhere along the line Ezra either choses a different path — or his journey comes to an end.
“He’s seen the good and the bad,” Gray told the audience. “Season 4 is about mostly about what kind of Jedi — or person — he wants to be. It’s time to go back and do what he can for his own people.”
That’s when Filoni gave him a look to say no more. But it sounds like one reason Bridger doesn’t continue on as a possible Jedi is that he returns to his home world of Lothal, to help lead it out of Imperial oppression.
Ahsoka Tano: This former padawan of Anakin Skywalker, turned relentless foe of Darth Vader, began on The Clone Wars series — and when that show was abruptly canceled, her own arc was left in the lurch.
Filoni gave her a conclusion at the end of the second season, coming face-to-mask with her former mentor, and that episode ended with an enigmatic shot of her walking into a cave, which some fans took literally (She lives!) and some saw as a metaphor for her spirit passing into a different realm (She’s gone …)
Although actress Ashley Eckstein wasn’t on the panel, her heroine was represented on the t-shirt Filoni wore, with “Ahsoka Lives?” emblazoned on it.
After showing the trailer to the audience, Filoni walked back to center stage to introduce a full episode from the upcoming season. As the lights came up, his t-shirt had changed.
It now read: “Ahsoka Lives!”
If you need proof that nothing in Star Wars is truly gone forever, there was a sign.