Star Wars: Rebels – Season 4

The home video release has been out for almost a month, but I’m finally getting around to sharing my thoughts on the fourth and final season of Star Wars Rebels.

Over the course of these four years, I’ve sat and watched as this show matured from a loose-episodic narrative, to the serial drama that it has now become. This season does a fine job of taking the momentum put in place by season three and continuing to build on it. The relationship between the characters has now reached its crescendo, and fans are in for a real treat. The fate of Kanan is finally revealed, and I must say, extremely well done. Fans of Thrawn are treated to a number of appearances over the course of these episodes. Also, this final season of Rebels continues to bring back the religious mysticism of the force that was largely lost in the prequel era. It seems Disney continues their quest to restore certain parts of the Star Wars mythology back to its roots. Overall, the entire season is well worth watching for nearly any Star Wars fan. However, it is undeniable that the final episode is one that fans will be talking about for years to come. For those that have not watched it, be warned. The following paragraph is a MAJOR spoiler alert: As you may have guessed, the main Rebels storyline concludes with the death of Kanan and the formation of the Rebel Alliance. But it is actually the fate of Ezra that ends up stealing the most attention. In order to negotiate peace on the planet of Lothal, Ezra allows himself to taken prisoner by Grand Admiral Thrawn. Shortly after, Thrawn’s fleet is attacked by a slew of force sensitive space whales… (I know it sounds odd, but go back and watch season two and it will all make sense). During the attack, Ezra and Thrawn are whisked away by lightspeed to an unknown fate among the stars. At this point, the finale takes a very ambitious time jump and picks up back up after the events of Episode VI. We learn that Hera was present during the battles portrayed in both Rogue One and Return of the Jedi, and that she had become pregnant by Kanan before his death. Now, with the galaxy seemingly at peace, Sabine has decided to take it upon herself to uncover Ezra’s fate. On her journey she is accompanied by none of than…. Ashoka Tano. That’s right, in a moment of shock it is revealed that Ashoka survived the events of season three. Naturally, all of this fuels fan speculation more than ever. What happened to Thrawn and Ezra? If Ashoka is alive during the original trilogy era and after, does that mean she met or even trained Luke Skywalker? The possibilities are endless and it seems fans will have to wait for answers. But the hype train is going full speed ahead. All of this makes season four a must watch for serious Star Wars fans.

Star Wars: Rebels – Season 3

What a fantastic time to be a Star Wars fan! Now that the final season of Star Wars Rebels is on the air, I can go ahead an discuss season 3 with little care of spoiling anything. I last posted about this show just about a year ago. Now, the third season is finally available on DVD/Blu-Ray for your binge watching pleasure.

This is the season where the show really came into its own. Rebels no longer rides the coat-tails of Clone Wars. It features a cast of characters that are now fully developed, and a story-arc that fully bridges the gap between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy. The character of Ezra has matured, Kanan has been forever changed, and we’re  beginning to see the mechanics of the early Rebel Alliance in better detail.

Probably one of the more exciting developments of this season is the introduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn, a popular Expanded Universe character who has now been brought into the official canon. This is important for a number of reasons. First, it gives us a good look at just how Disney plans to pluck content from the old EU. Second, it also tells us that they are listening to fans. Thrawn is arguably the most popular “non-Lucas” Star Wars character. Recognizing this, Disney took the initiative to incorporate his character, as we already know him, and bring him into the official mythology. They did this in lieu of inserting some cheap replacement/copy-cat. This is good sign.

The second big event in season 3 is the fate of Darth Maul. In this season of Rebels, fans finally get the chance to see the ultimate end of this character. For me, this was probably the most memorable part of the season. In case you don’t know, I’m going to go ahead a drop a spoiler here: Darth Maul is killed by Obi Wan Kenobi. (Yes. I know that happened in Episode I… except, it didn’t.)  I loved seeing the portrayal of Kenobi in Rebels. The character’s introduction here is the perfect blend of the young and old version of Kenobi. The voice acting for character was SPOT ON. I also particularly enjoyed the noble way that Darth Maul was finally laid to rest and the massive hint provided by Obi Wan regarding a major plot point in the Star Wars story. (I’m not giving this one away).

In my opinion, season 3 of Rebels has been the best season yet. It’s a high point for the show and it has me very excited for the fourth and final season. If you’re a fan of Star Wars in general, this show is very much worth your time.

Star Wars: Ahsoka – E. K. Johnston

I know… It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Star Wars novel and I’m actually accumulating quite a backlog. But, as per my October tradition, my family always takes a vacation during Fall Break and that gives me plenty of off-the-grid time to catch up on reading. This time, I managed to read a few different books! So expect some book reviews in the coming days.  While I was away, the fourth season of Star Wars Rebels premiered. With that in mind, I felt like this would be the perfect time to read and review one of my neglected novels: Ahsoka.

For casual fans, the character of Ahsoka may not gin up a lot of excitement. After all, the character debuted in the dismal Star Wars Clone Wars animated movie. (That alone is a death sentence for her in the mind of many fans). In that film, she was introduced as a young Padawan assigned to Anakin Skywalker. The character carried over to the Clone Wars animated series. It was there that the character of Ashsoka matured and really developed into a fan favorite. If you’re not one of the fans that gave the Clone Wars series a chance, it may be hard to imagine just how the annoying little girl from the animated film turned out to be one of the coolest characters in the Star Wars universe, but trust me. It happened.  It was for this reason, that fan’s rejoiced when Ahsoka was eventually unveiled as a key figure in the formation of the early rebellion in the Star Wars Rebels animated series.

In fact, this book actually fills in the gap between those two animated series. The story found in Ahsoka tells the tale of Ahsoka Tano after the events of Episode III, leading right into the events of Star Wars Rebels – and it’s masterfully done.

This book is a junior novel. Meaning, it was written for younger readers. For this reason, it won’t appear on the official time in the front cover of your latest adult Star Wars novel. But, the contents of the book are canon and just because it is aimed at younger readers doesn’t mean that it’s a book for children. Both the subject matter and the writing are just as good as any adult science fiction novel you will come across. The main difference being, it’s a short read. It’s about half the size of a standard novel.

Until this book, I’ve always been somewhat indifferent to the character of Ahsoka. I wasn’t a fan at first, but over the course of the Clone Wars television series, she started to grow on me. By the time she appeared in Rebels, I had warmed up to the character considerably. But now, after reading this novel, I find myself feeling much more “fanboyish” about the character. It’s really an excellent read. If you’re curious how Ahsoka got her white light sabers or just how she managed to join the rebellion, this book will provide the answers that you seek.

Not only that, but this novel also serves as a soft introduction for the mysterious Inquisitor characters that have also become a fan favorite since their introduction in Star Wars Rebels. In a nutshell, I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to. I truly thought this was going to be one of those reads that I would have to force my way through. But once I cracked it open, I couldn’t put it down. It read through it in under 24 hours. I recommend it.

Story: Surprisingly well done! It covers Ahsoka Tano’s adventures between the Clone Wars and Rebels in a masterful way. This book really does a fine job of detailing the character’s changes between these two crucial eras. The plot is engaging and action driven.

Recommended:  For most Star Wars fanatics. Especially for Clone Wars/Rebels fans.

Star Wars: Rebels – Season 2

star-wars-rebels-s2-bluray-pic

Considering the third season of Star Wars Rebels is already on the air and half over, I guess I’m a little late with this review. But, that’s ok since I plan to discuss several details in the series that can be considered spoilers. Be forewarned!

The second season of Rebels keeps the momentum that finished off the first season going. Over the course of this season, we can begin to see the Rebellion against the Empire as it starts to solidify. Different rebellious factions are slowly starting to come together. A big part of this season involves the search for a suitable location for the Rebellion to establish their first base. The second major story-arc focuses on Vader’s newfound knowledge that Ashoka, his former student, is alive and aiding the rebels. As a result of this revelation, Vader dispatches more Imperial Inquisitors to seek out and eliminate Ashoka. In the meantime, Ashoka is determined to learn all she can about the Emperor’s new Sith helper.

There’s a lot of content to digest in this season of Rebels. There’s certainly a fair share of fluff episodes. But the producers did a pretty good job of keeping the main story arcs going in this season. Again, much like in season one, the last handful of episodes are best. In the final two episodes Kanan, Ezra and Ashoka discover an ancient Sith temple. However, upon their arrival they learn they are not alone. The temple is currently occupied by none other than an aged Darth Maul as well as two Imperial Inquisitors. The inquisitors were there seeking to put an end to Maul once and for all, but upon discovering the Rebel’s presence they turn their attention to them instead. This leads to some really great combat scenes that put our heroes on the same side as Maul temporarily. Seeing an opportunity in young Ezra, Maul tries to plant the seed of the dark side into the boy’s young mind by convincing him to slaughter one of the Inquisitors, but in the end Ezra refuses. This results in Maul going on a rampage and finishing the job himself. Before it’s all said and done, Maul turns on the team and another battle ensues. During this fight, Kanan is seriously injured and blinded by Maul’s lightsaber.

Eventually, Vader arrives on the scene and an epic showdown ensues. After doing away with Maul, Vader turns his attention towards our heroes. Now fully aware of Vader’s identity, Ashoka confronts him one-on-one – allowing Ezra and Kanan to escape as the Sith temple crumbles around them. Naturally, Vader escapes the battle – injured but alive. The fate of Ashoka remains unclear.

All in all, Season 2 serves as a step up from the debut season. This second season does a great job of linking the prequel/clone wars era to the original trilogy. Things are certainly falling into place. I promise not to wait until six months after the release of season three to share my thoughts on it.

Star Wars: Rebels – Season 1

Star-Wars-Rebels-season-1-cover-large

The first season of Star Wars Rebels has come to an end. So here are my thoughts on the show thus far.

Overall, I feel the show has been a success but with a few minor rough edges. The first half of the season seemed a bit directionless. I understand the goal of the first few episodes are to establish characters and upcoming plot points, but even so, I was left feeling like it dragged by. A big point of controversy, was with the re-airing of the pilot on ABC. The ABC version was a re-cut that featured James Earl Jones reprising his role as Darth Vader. Many fans missed this awesome scene as a result. For the record, this is NOT the version of the Rebels debut episode that is available for purchase on DVD. So fans may want to wait for a definitive season one package to finally see this version of the first episode.

By mid-season, the show has started to pick up and we were treated to a Bill Dee Williams cameo, reprising his role of Lando. While it was nice to see Lando again, I have to admit that this felt a little forced. Thankfully, the show finished strong with the last three or four episodes being simply amazing. Since the finale is almost a week old, I’ll go ahead and post some spoilers:

In the finale, we learn that a band of “rebels” are not alone. They are but a single cell in the larger network. Ie: The Rebellion we all know and love. We find that this rebellion is indeed lead by Bail Organa and also features…. Ashoka Tano! Yes, one of our favorite characters from The Clone Wars has finally made her return and now as a full grown adult. Naturally, this leaves fans with many questions. What an excellent set up to season two. The series finale completely turned me around from feeling luke-warm on the series to being full of excitement.

I look forward to getting my hands on a complete season Blu-Ray in the future and binge watching to see if my attitude towards the first half of the season has changed any.

In the meantime, Star Wars fans have a lot to keep themselves occupied with. The third novel in the new continuity was just released, Kevin Hearne’s: Heir to the Jedi. The first issues of Marvel’s the Princess Leia mini-series just dropped, and there’s a handful of new novels scheduled for release in the coming months. December will be here before we know it.

Star Wars: Episode 7 Teaser and Rebels

If you’re a Star Wars fan like me, you’ve no doubt seen the above still frame already. It’s a shot from the first teaser trailer for the upcoming Star Wars movie.

Now, I’m not going to go over the contents of the teaser, picking apart every second of it frame-by-frame. If that’s what you’re interested in, there’s plenty of other sites just for that. I’m just posting this so that I can share in the excitement. December 2015 is going to be epic.

To hold us over until then, we have Star Wars Rebels. This is the new animated series airing on Disney XD. It’s created by the same individuals that brought us The Clone Wars. It is set a few years before Episode IV, this series follows a band on unlikely heroes as they lash against the oppression of the Empire. Currently, the series is on hiatus, as we’ve reached the mid-season but it will be back with new episodes after the holidays.

Now is a great time to catch up if you’ve not had the pleasure.