Rebels! Seasons 1 & 2

After finishing Clone Wars in December, it was time to look for some new material to very slowly consume in bite-sized chunks during my daily exercise bike ride, and I settled on Rebels as the most natural follow-up to Clone Wars.

One interesting thing about Rebels is that it only came out a few years ago and I actually remember people talking about it on Twitter a lot whenever a new episode aired. As I didn't expect to see it any time soon back then I allowed myself to be inundated with massive spoilers... but that hasn't really been detrimental to my experience so far.

I wasn't too impressed with the pilot (mostly I kept thinking about how much Ezra reminded me of Disney's Aladdin both in his looks and mannerisms - and I'm glad I'm not the only one who made that connection) but then first episodes often tend to be a bit rough, and things picked up quickly enough after that.

It's hard to not immediately draw comparisons with Clone Wars. I don't mind the softer, more rounded animation style, but besides that there are some occasionally (to me) very baffling artistic choices being made in Rebels. For example you know that thing film makers like to do sometimes where they hide the faces of evil minions and redshirts so the viewer doesn't feel too bad about them dying? For some reason Rebels loves doing that by having characters wear caps and open helmets with ridiculous visors and it just looks odd every time. Or there's a certain sound effect that they keep using whenever Ezra connects to the Force, which I guess is meant to sound mysterious but just makes me grind my teeth every time due to its awful pitch. Or what about those inquisitor lightsabers? I know new and slightly ridiculous lightsaber designs are a thing in Star Wars, and I was happy to let it slide as just another one of those the first time one of them started spinning, but when the inquisitors started turning into a squad of mini helicopters a bit later on it was just too much.

That said, in the grand scheme of things these are all just minor nuisances, and as a whole the show has been really solid so far. It feels much steadier than Clone Wars in the sense that there are fewer highs and lows and the quality is pretty consistent. You also get the idea that the writers actually had plans for the characters from the beginning, so you get episodes that have different characters interact with each other and develop their relationships in a way that feels like it has purpose.

The ensemble cast is varied and mostly quite interesting as well. Sabine being a lover of explosives but also artistic is an interesting combination for example. Or Hera with her odd mix of gentle, maternal caring and being a daring pilot. Even the crew's ship, the Ghost, has character, and that's coming from someone who generally cares less about the ships in Star Wars than most fans.

As the show progressed, the writers also started including more and more other, already established canon characters such as Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Ahsoka, Rex and more, which is something I feel somewhat conflicted about. On the one hand it's always been well done so far and it's just generally nice to see these characters again, but on the other hand it sometimes feels a bit like it detracts from what's supposed to be the main cast. For example, there's this two-parter at the end of season two that features Ezra being seduced by the dark side, but it also has Ahsoka meeting Vader so... you know where everyone's eyes will be!

I'm curious how the last two seasons will go.

1 comment :

  1. The Ahsoka episodes, both in Rebels and The Mandalorian, felt like they were used to push her character along to the point she could have her own series. Not that I minded them -- I rather enjoyed seeing some of the stories intersect -- but at least they had a brief and finite arc. The writers kept things moving for the main cast and gave them the attention they needed, while letting you feel connected to the wider Star Wars universe (the Rebellion in this case).

    I enjoyed Rebels as it felt more like the writers knew what story they wanted to tell and followed a more traditional path. The Clone Wars felt janky with the bouncing back and forth in time to tell different stories. (I still need to finish watching all of the episodes because of that.)

    All this said, I am glad they've been willing to try different things. I know some will fail, but at least they aren't trying to bet everything on big-budget movies.


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