I’ve noticed many people who are more casual Star Wars fans aren’t familiar with the animated series, Star Wars Rebels. There’s a lot to love about this series, so I’m going to do a break-down of it and why I think it’s worth checking out!
Star Wars Rebels begins five years before the events of A New Hope and before the Rebellion has fully formed. We see it’s slow growth through the eyes of Ezra Bridger, a cocky, force sensitive pickpocket and
A force sensitive kid who joins the crew at the beginning of the series. Amusingly enough, his weapon is the Star Wars equivalent of a pea shooter. Ezra acts tough and cocky at the beginning, but he’s really insecure, kind-natured and a huge dork. He gets excellent character development throughout the series.
The Team Dad. One of the few Jedi knights left. He’s snarky yet still compassionate and he has ~chemistry~ with the crew’s pilot. His master was killed while he was still an apprentice, so being thrust into the role of teacher when Ezra shows up is daunting for him. His journey is central to the themes of the series.
The Team Mum, a Twi’lek, and talented pilot of the crew’s ship, the Ghost. Hera is brave, determined and compassionate. She is not only the heart of the team, but one of the driving forces in the Rebellion. She brought the crew together, and is a strong and capable leader.
Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios:
The muscle of the team. Zeb is a Lasat, a species based on one of the earlier pieces of concept art for Chewbacca. He’s a gruff warrior whose home planet was overrun by the Empire. Zeb has a chip on his shoulder, and takes an almost immediate disliking to Ezra. But, of course, he’s not quite as cold as he seems and like most of the guys around here, a big dork.
A teenage Mandalorian (the same race Boba Fett and his father is) with a love for art and explosions. She is my favourite. Sabine is a tough and guarded warrior, with a tragic past and a deeply poignant, satisfying arc revealing that past. She was cynical and self-serving, but is now heroic and idealistic and surprising ways.
A mouthy and snarky droid with personality that’s based on a cat. You can’t help but love this angry murder droid!
What makes it great?
Every member of the main crew has been disenfranchised by the Empire in some form. They all have rich, complicated pasts that gradually unfold throughout the course of the series.
We find out what circumstances led them to joining the crew, and why they have the various hang-ups they do. Separated from their own family and society, the five crew members learn to trust and depend on one another, helping them to move beyond the trauma of their losses.
Star Wars Rebels has a diverse and awesome cast of ladies, with backstories and arcs that are just as rich and deep as the male cast members. It’s also refreshingly free of objectification/fetishization.
The female Twi’leks, for example, have traditionally been used as background slave girls, i.e. fanservice. But the staff for Rebels deliberately wanted to subvert that with Hera, giving her a practical pilot’s outfit and allowing her a sense of agency. There’s even an episode in the first season that essentially flips the bird at the voiceless slave woman trope, and it was excellent.
Hera carries on the tradition of women being major figureheads in the Rebellion, helping to shape it into what we see in A New Hope.
Sabine has one of the most compelling arcs, not only in Rebels, but in Star Wars as a whole. On the surface, she’s an explosives expert and artist who uses both her skills to stick it to the Empire. Underneath, there’s a lot going on that I can’t talk about without revealing major spoilers.
The two main women aren’t the only ones who are amazing. There are more ladies from multiple Star Wars continuities who have a major impact on the plot. And that leads on nicely to my third point.
The Lore and World-Building:
The great thing about this, is you don’t need to have an in-depth knowledge of all these continuities to know what’s going on. I haven’t watched all, or even that much of Clone Wars, but the narrative makes sure you’re up to speed with everything that happened.
The series features many classic Star Wars characters such as Lando, Leia, Darth Vader and Mon Mothma among others. And they generally serve a purpose in the narrative. They’re there to impact the characters, plot and action in meaningful ways, and not just fleeting cameos there to please the fans.
If you have any interest in Star Wars at all, even a passing one, then I’d recommend this series. It has memorable characters, well-paced storylines and great action. Star Wars Rebels is on its fourth and final season. It finished in March last year. Season 1 consists of 15 episodes, while seasons 2 and 3 have 22 episodes. The 4th and final season has 16 episodes.