A Destiny Fulfilled
Star Wars fans have come a long way with the heroes of Rebels, but their journey is almost over. The last few super-sized episodes of the Disney XD series begin on Feb. 19, and a new trailer shows a familiar old foe – The Emperor himself – turning up to stop them. Here’s a deep dive into the new footage, with insight from executive producer Dave Filoni.
The teaser begins with a lot of flashback. We’re getting only two hour-long episodes followed by a 90-minute finale, most of which will probably be spoiler-ish, so Filoni opened with some history. “I wanted this trailer to have a sense of This Is It,” he tells EW. “This is going to sum up everything about this particular Star Wars family.”
Street Kid to Jedi
Not that it has always been a clear or easy path for Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Gray), the hardscrabble Jedi hopeful who often found himself lured by darkness. “You want to give kids a sense that there’s growth, that you can change, that you learn. Sometimes you fail, but you can overcome those failures,” Filoni says.
The Original Rebels
Here’s the crew as they were at the start: (from left) Ghost pilot Hera Syndulla (Vanessa Marshall), Mandalorian graffiti warrior Sabine Wren (Tiya Sircar), Ezra and his later blinded instructor Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.), and alien badass Zeb (Steve Blum). Not pictured: surly droid Chopper.
A Rescue Dawns
“At this point, they are beginning with a major dilemma in that Hera has been captured,” Filoni says. “The matriarch of their family and the most experienced leader of their Rebel cell has been caught by the Empire. They have to decide what they’re going to do about that.”
An Ascetic Look
Prior to the rescue, Kanan cuts his hair. Simplifying. Filoni says, wasn’t part of a budget cut. (Flowing things, like robes and hair are expensive in animation.) “For once, it is not a cost-saving measure!” he laughs. “But if we were playing Family Feud, that would be one of the high ranking answers.”
The One Opinion That Matters
“For Kanan, it’s purely story related,” Filoni says. “It’s a meaningful transition moment for him.” …Even if Hera isn’t a fan. Perhaps she’ll grow to like it.
Filoni says Ezra and the crew of the Ghost are roughly landing where he hoped they would when he launched the series four years ago. “We’re really close. As you go, there are so many opportunities and so many twists and turns that you can take or leave,” he says.
Rogue One references
Although the Ghost was visible in the space battle above the planet Scarif in Rogue One (as seen in this still), Chopper rolled by in a scene on a Rebel hangar, and General Syndulla’s name was called out on an intercom in that movie, Filoni says fans shouldn’t expect Rebels to end by linking perfectly with that film.
“That’s where you can get trapped working on a big franchise like Star Wars,” Filoni says. “People get more concerned with filling in gaps between things and making them all mesh. I say, I totally get why that seems natural to you [that it would end with Scarif] because that’s the latest beginning/endpoint that you know.” But he wants the show to be more self-contained.
Sabine With a Lightsaber
Expect the final episodes to be more mysterious and intimate than explosive. “I think audiences are almost fatigued with Is it big enough? In terms of volume of battle and explosions,” Filoni says. “I think they want it to be emotionally fulfilling enough. I hope that’s what we actually hit with the end of the show.” But emotional could also mean Sabine Wren swinging a green lightsaber….
An Ending That Isn't
Rebels also isn’t aiming to end with our heroes saving the day in battle. “It has always been the theory in the back of their minds that if they could just get a hold of some X-wings they could just win the day, but the Rebels don’t have any major victories prior to what you see on Scarif,” Filoni says.
The show will give fans something they often want from the movies: more about the lore and history of the Jedi. While in a Stormtrooper disguise, Ezra has a Force vision that leads him to a mural of characters familiar to fans of Filoni’s earlier Star Wars series, The Clone Wars.
The Mortis Gods
These are the Mortis gods – a.k.a. The Ones – who are a kind of Holy Trinity within the Force. There’s the father, in the center, providing balance. Then there are his “children,” the Daughter, who represents the light, and the Son, who stands for darkness. In season 3 of The Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, and Obi-Wan Kenobi visit their surreal planet. They could be part of Ezra’s fate, unless …
Unless… the Emperor has his say. “Really, the ultimate challenge for everybody in everyday life is the temptation to be good or evil, or do nice things or unkind things,” Filoni says. “These temptations pull on us for what we want versus what’s better for the group.” Those are the natural temptations Emperor Palpatine will exploit in Ezra.
The Final Boss
Ian McDiarmid is reprising his role as the twisted, evil overlord. “The big bad in this time period of Star Wars is The Emperor,” Filoni says. “He is the one running everything and the evil of the land. We dealt with his lieutenants, and Vader is a lieutenant.” This is the ultimate source of darkness in the galaxy. “He’s a sophisticated villain,” Filoni adds. “That makes you more worried for Ezra.”
“I wanted something more insidious than perhaps lightsaber play,” Filoni says of bringing The Emperor into the series. “The Emperor can appear so many different ways. He can seem frail at times or powerful at times. He’s the ultimate deceiver, and he plays on your own wants and greeds.”
Star Wars: Rebels returns to Disney XD on Feb. 19 for a three-week run before ending March 5.