David's Vacation Club Rentals
David's Vacation Club Rentals

OPINION: “Star Wars Rebels” has a Jedi problem; let’s hope Lucasfilm knows how to fix it

in Entertainment, Movies & TV, Star Wars, Television

Image Copyright Lucasfilm / Disney

AUTHOR’S NOTE: THIS PIECE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR “STAR WARS REBELS” UP THROUGH THE MOST RECENT EPISODE, THE 2016 MOVIE “ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY”, AND STAR WARS IN GENERAL. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK IF YOU’RE NOT YET CAUGHT UP.

 

“When gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be.” – Yoda

With those immortal words– among his very last– the wisest (and possibly oldest) Jedi Master became one with the Force and put his remaining faith and hope into his still-young student Luke Skywalker, who then took it upon himself to confront his father Darth Vader and the evil Emperor Palpatine aboard the second Death Star at the end of “Return of the Jedi”. But is Luke’s mission (not to mention his importance in the grand scheme of things) minimized by the possibility that there might be other Jedi still around after all?

Any any Star Wars fan knows, after the end of the Clone Wars Palpatine enacted Order 66, effectively wiping out the Jedi Order by turning their companion Clone Troopers against them. As far as casual viewers were concerned, the only Jedi meant to have survived this purge were Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi (of course readers of the novels in the now-jettisoned Legends canon knew this list to be much longer, but at this point that’s entirely irrelevant). Then, after Luke, Force-endowed son of Anakin Skywalker, came under the tutelage of Kenobi, he stepped into a larger world and was on his way to becoming the first of a new generation of Jedi. And the rest is Star Wars history. Or so we thought.

Image Copyright Lucasfilm / Disney
Image Copyright Lucasfilm / Disney

“Star Wars Rebels” is a half-hour animated series which debuted on Disney XD in October of 2014 and is set in the current Star Wars canon, just a few years before “Episode IV – A New Hope”. Despite the events mentioned above, two of the main characters on the show are in fact Jedi: Kanan Jarrus and his Padawan learner Ezra Bridger. As of the most recent batch of episodes, both Kanan and Ezra are alive and well and regularly using their Force powers to battle the Empire– although Kanan suffered a blinding at the hands of the devious Maul in the second-season finale.

When I first started watching “Rebels”, I assumed that both Jedi were destined to perish by the end of the series, in all likelihood sacrificing themselves for the greater good. While the show is ostensibly for kids, airing on what is essentially a somewhat-more-mature version of the Disney Channel, “Rebels” rarely shies away from the darker elements of Star Wars. And though the series has yet to kill off a major character, unnamed soldiers on both sides of the galactic Civil War die regularly in starship explosions and ground battles alike. In the carnage department, “Rebels” certainly isn’t any less Star Wars than the original “Star Wars”.

Image Copyright Lucasfilm / Disney
Image Copyright Lucasfilm / Disney

But that realization is also where I started to have my doubts about the fates of the show’s heroes– we’ve come to love and admire Kanan and Ezra, and for the most part Star Wars tends to wait until a beloved character at least gets pretty old before it kills them off (see the demise of Obi Wan in “A New Hope”, or a certain scruffy-looking scoundrel in 2015’s “Episode VII – The Force Awakens”). Now, until about a month ago, my method of explaining that preconception away in terms of the “Rebels” problem was that I wouldn’t put it past the show’s creators to do something so bold and unexpected as to eliminate the youthful protagonists of a Star Wars story, especially if it would be the first time that had ever happened.

Clock-wipe to December 12th of this past year, when I sat in the press screening of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and discovered that the outcome of Jyn Erso and her unlikely band of Rebel heroes was very similar to what I imagined would eventually happen to the crew of the Ghost. Long story short, now it’s been done. Sure, background audio and cameos in “Rogue One” confirm that “Rebels” characters Hera and Chopper are still kicking around Yavin 4 just before “A New Hope”, but the events of the movie also mean that Kanan and Ezra can’t go out in a blaze of glory as I’d hoped without it seeming at least a little bit repetitive.

WATCH “STAR WARS REBELS” PANEL DISCUSSION WITH CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM:

So what are the other options? The two Jedi could be somehow relieved of their powers, which in itself would be something we haven’t quite seen before in a Star Wars story. Or they could be sent to some distant, unexplored part of the galaxy without means of return, which would go a long way to explaining the characters’ absence from the Rebellion of the original trilogy. Because let’s face it, knowing that Yoda is aware of their existence (see the first-season episode “Path of the Jedi”), and that it appears they may also encounter Obi-Wan this year (as shown in the mid-season trailer for season three), it just doesn’t make sense to leave their destinies unknown.

My problem with “Star Wars Rebels” isn’t at all one of quality– I really enjoy the show and look forward to watching it on a weekly basis. My problem is that, for the sake of the larger Star Wars saga, I ultimately kind of want both Kanan and Ezra to die before the series ends, because I want Luke’s journey to be as important as it always seemed. And now, after seeing “Rogue One”, I want their deaths to be meaningful and wholly unique in a way that thoroughly differs from the deaths in that movie. Is that too much to ask? Am I being too demanding as a fan? When it comes to Star Wars, I sure hope not.

WATCH “STAR WARS REBELS” MID-SEASON TRAILER:

“Star Wars Rebels” airs Saturday nights at 8:30 PM on Disney XD, and is currently in the middle of its third season.

21 Comments

  1. Oscar

    Mike Celestino, I was thinking of another animated Star Wars series that should accompanied with Star Wars Rebels and i want this to become reality.

    Star Wars: Resistance, a new animated Star Wars series made by Rainbow s.r.l., an Italian animation studio who made Winx Club and Huntik. It is a prequel to The Force Awakens.

    In my opinion, Disney should buy Rainbow s.r.l., Iginio Straffi would become president of a combined Italian-American company, Disney-Rainbow (which consist in two animation studios, Disney Television Animation and Rainbow s.r.l.), while Iginio’s wife, Joanne Lee would become both Vice Presidents and Chief Officer of Disney-Rainbow, replacing Eric Coleman.

    Can you imagine a full hour Star Wars block on Disney XD, with Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars: Resistance?

    1. Mike Celestino

      Sounds good to me!

    2. EricJ

      Oscar…WHY do you keep asking us to validate your imagination?

  2. Erik

    All excellent points, however, now I’m ever more confused about the timeline, as in this past weekends 2 parter is the comment about Skywalker??? Surely they are not referring to Vader at this point? He exists in the Rebels, so they must be talking of Luke, but if this predates Rogue, which predates Episode IV, how?????

    1. Hector

      Allow me to clarify, In the episode, Rex was referencing Anakin Skywalker. Both Saw Guerrera and Rex fought alongside Anakin and got to see him do some impressive things with the force in the Clone Wars animated series on Cartoon Network. This is why he made that “He’s no Skywalker” comment. No one knows about Luke’s existence in this series yet as it takes place a few years before Rogue One.

      1. Mike Celestino

        What he said!

  3. EricJ

    I’m not sure–Are you disappointed that a 10’s TV show ISN’T killing their characters off?

    1. Mike Celestino

      I don’t expect them to have killed them off already, just a little concerned that they may not satisfactorily explain their absence from the original trilogy time period, and worried that the powers that be may dilute the “Luke is the last remaining Jedi” plot point that made his journey so powerful. I hope I’m wrong.

  4. Christina

    Perhaps Yoda’s comment to Luke is for Luke’s benefit, it is what personally motivates Luke, it may not be a comment as to whether Kannan and/or Ezra or other Jedi’s or Force-Sensitive characters are existing in the infinitely large expanse of the Star Wars Universe–ie. just because we dont hear about or see Kannan, Ezra or Sabine in Rogue One, or the original trillogy, doesnt mean they cannot be out there. Think of all the characters we have never met that exist. I think it would be tough to kill off any of the Rebels in the animated version, not because its targeting a younger audience (whatever I am 37), but like Ashoka, we have spent a lot of quality time with them and personally, I would rather have it left ambiguous. Seeing Jyn, Cassian, etc. sacrifice themselves for the cause was hard enough, and we had only gotten to know them for a short time, versus how much more time has been invested with the crew of the Ghost. The character overlaps into other stories are always cool, but again, it is an infinite galaxy, so stay optimistic!

    1. Greg

      I agree. And though Leia was not seemingly a full jedi, she did have SOME abilities, and in fact Yoda even told ghost Obi Wan that Luke wasn’t their last hope, but that there was another (Leia).
      So, it certainly could have been motivation for Luke. Also, since the galaxy seems to be randomly dotted with potential force users, it seems unlikely that at any given moment there are no Jedi out there, and Yoda would most certainly know that.

      1. Mike Celestino

        As another commenter noted below, there’s a big difference between a Force-sensitive individual or even a potential Jedi and a trained Jedi Knight. It would bug me if Ezra and Kana were still around for the period of ANH through ROTJ and were not enlisted in Luke’s battle against Vader and the Emperor, especially if Yoda already knew they existed, which he does.

  5. Casey

    Kanaan never became a Jedi as he was a padawan when he escaped Order 66, while he is training Ezra in the ways of the Jedi neither are actual jedis. Ashoka left the Jedi Order. Once Obi Wan was killed, Yoda was the last of the Jedi, not the last force sensitive being.

    1. DALON

      Kanan was elevated to full Jedi Knight in the middle of last season.

  6. Marie

    I’ve stated this elsewhere, but wondering what all of you think….Some people see Ezra as going to the dark side, but rather than go to the dark side, maybe Ezra forsakes being a force user and becomes Lor San Tekka ….the “explorer” in Force Awakens. Lor states that Leia would always be royalty to him when speaking with Poe revealing a familiarity with her from long ago. A loss of Kanan (even if ambiguous like Ahsoka) and threat of the Empire, could push Ezra to leave it all behind. He would also be contemporaries with Luke and Leia (having met Leia and Senator Organa) and, therefore, maybe would be the one trusted with the piece of the map leading to Luke’s whereabouts…..just a theory…..who knows, but you gotta love this stuff! We shall see!

    1. Mike Celestino

      Now that’s a very interesting theory! I like it a lot, but is Lor San Tekka a little too old by the time of TFA to be a grown-up Ezra? He’s certainly at least a couple decades older than Luke, but in Rebels timeline I feel like Ezra and Luke are maybe 2-3 years apart if that.

      1. Marie

        I agree. They are close in age. By the time of Force Awakens Luke and Leia are around 60. Rather than old, maybe Lor San Teka (Max Von Sedow) is just a little…hhmm….” weathered” from exploring. ;o)

  7. MykeTV

    I believe that Ezra will become a powerful force user with no alliance to Jedi or Sith. Remember, there are force users in the galaxy that do not practice the way of the Jedi or Sith. When Ezra was introduced in Rebels, he was a young force user with no alliance with anyone. He was driven by his hatred and confusion of what the Rebellion stands for and his fear of the Empire. Pair this theory with the casting of Benicio Del Toro in Episode VII. He could very much be cast as an older version of Ezra who is on a much different path than he was in Rebels, perhaps to avenge something that will take place later in the show. He will no longer be a Jedi.

    In many ways this parallels Maul’s journey, who was once part of the Sith order, then after being betrayed by the Sith, he went rogue and also has no alliance. It just so happens that Maul is trying to be Ezra’s mentor and confidante. I think their intertwining aspirations will also play a role in how the First Order and/or Knights of Ren enter the picture.

    As for the fate of Kanan, I look forward to seeing how this gets tied up, but I don’t have a good feeling about his survival.

    You mentioned no major deaths in Rebels… what about Ahsoka Tano?! She spanned the timeline of both the Clone Wars and Rebels series! Very major character with a huge impact to the storyline, especially the fact that she was killed by her former master, Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader.

    Between Ahsoka’s death, Ezra abandoning the Jedi order, and an some kind of conclusion for Kanan… I think this takes care of the remaining Jedi before A New Hope begins.

    I spend way too much time thinking about this stuff, lol.

    1. Mike Celestino

      This is all wonderful, Myke. I especially love the Benecio theory. But I’d say Ahsoka’s fate is a little bit more open-ended than to say she is definitively dead. Last we saw, she was walking into that temple after having fought Vader.

      And don’t worry about spending too much time thinking about Star Wars. That applies to plenty of us! 🙂

  8. Dave Thomas

    Given that the references to Hera and Chopper occur in R1 prior to the Battle of Scarif, and a Corellian VCX-100 that may well be the Ghost pops up in the battle, I’d like to see the series end with them arriving at the battle and… that’s it. Do they make it? Up to the viewer 🙂

  9. I am Robin Lee of the Maxfield Parrish Motif project. Twenty years ago I filmed and documented the senseless destruction of the iconic estate art studio of pop culture artist, Maxfield Parrish, look his work up. Filmmaker George Lucas said that it was the art work of Maxfield Parrish that directly inspired the feel and look of his Star Wars films, The Lucas Effect, page 282. It is now all over the internet.
    I have uncovered so many epic discoveries and I am trying to get this amazing story out to the masses and podcasts. Lucas will display his Maxfield Parrish collection in his new museum. My research and findings are vital and valuable to the art and Star Wars world. I am not tech savvy, I know how important anything Star Wars is, so please look into this story with decades of research and findings.
    * I do believe that Star Wars began in that art studio of Maxfield Parrish around 1904.
    I have other discoveries and yes they are epic.
    Thank you for your time, Robin Lee, Maine

  10. Wow, do I have an epic story out of the UK, new Star Wars info! This is really wonderful new info on Princess Leia, George Lucas and more, read it.
    ( The Game of Nerds origins of Star Wars the case for Maxfield Parrish).
    look it up!

Add Your Voice