After three and a half seasons, the final few episodes of Star Wars Rebels will begin airing this Monday, February 19. The show doesn’t have a ton of questions to answer or stories to wrap up—which is possibly unsurprising, since we know its saga is ending shortly before Rogue One and A New Hope begin—but there are definitely still some lingering storylines. Here’s what you need to know and remember before the Ghost makes its final flight.
Canonically, Rebels began 14 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith and five years before Rogue One and the battle of Scarif. Most of the Jedi are dead and the Empire reigns, but very quietly an alliance is forming. The main crew on Rebels, detailed below, start revolting against the Empire independently but over time they become more and more involved in the larger Rebellion, led by such well-known characters as Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, and Princess Leia. These final episodes take place only one year before Luke destroys the Death Star in A New Hope.
Ezra is the main character on Rebels. A teenage boy from the planet Lothal who lost his parents to the Empire, he was surviving on his own until he encountered and teamed up with a group of thieves, only to realize they’re a small part of the larger Rebellion against the Empire. The leader of the crew at the time, Kanan, one of the few surviving Jedi in the galaxy, felt the Force in Ezra and took it upon himself to start training him.
Along his long journey, Ezra met Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Maul, Darth Vader and more, all as he struggled with the Jedi code of selflessness. Ezra has been a great friend to everyone but, because of the loss of his parents, he still feels a deep connection to his home planet of Lothal and wants to save it from Imperial occupation—a mission that he was finally able to return to in the most recent episodes. Ezra and his friends began the liberation of Lothal, only to be horribly derailed by Thrawn.
It’s also important to note that more than almost any other character in Star Wars, Ezra has explored the full nature of the Force. On one hand, he’s being trained by Kanan to work in the light side. In other times, he taps into the dark side to do more evil things (thanks to some brief and highly questionable tutelage from Maul). Ezra constantly struggles with what he wants and what is right, which is basically all of the themes of Star Wars rolled into one.
Though there are lots of side stories, supporting characters, and more, ultimately Star Wars Rebels is about the journey of Ezra Bridger, a seemingly random kid, strong with the Force, who just wants to do good in the galaxy.
Kanan was a padawan turned Jedi Knight who was able to escape when Emperor Palapatine ordered the Jedi to be wiped out. He hid his Force abilities and lived as a thief until meeting Hera Syndulla, a hotshot pilot, and the two formed a friendship. Eventually, they partnered up with a few others to stick it to the Empire, and the Ghost team—Ghost being the name of the ship—was born. Then they met Ezra.
Though he’s a strong Jedi, Kanan never passed down what he learned before meeting Ezra. So he has a subtle lack of confidence that permeates much of his being. But the two formed a strong bond as master and apprentice over the course of the show. When Kanan loses his eyesight during a duel with Maul, Ezra begins to take a bigger leadership role. It’s just one example of how, more than almost anyone else on the show, Kanan feels the burden of responsibility for his friends, their actions and consequences. And as the show goes on, he’s continually impacted by this.
When we last left Kanan, he was part of a small team heading to Lothal hoping to start the liberation. However, Thrawn and the Empire was ready for them and captured Hera. Kanan has vowed to go save her. He’s recently been aided by a mysterious Loth-Wolf, an ancient creature that’s tied to the Force.
There’s a ton more to Kanan, too. Out of everyone, he has the most accessible backstory on the show. There’s a book called A New Dawn that details how he and Hera met, and a comic book (called Kanan) about how he survived the Jedi massacre of Order 66. Plus he and Hera are the only two characters who have developed a romantic relationship.
Daughter of a famous Twi’lek general, Hera was sick of seeing the Empire kill her people. So she left her homeworld and formed a team of Rebels aboard her trusty ship, the Ghost. Hera is a natural-born leader and, over the course of the show, becomes not just the undisputed leader of her group of friends, but a general in the Rebellion itself, working alongside Mon Mothma and others.
She’s one of the best pilots in the galaxy and has incredible military instincts. Unfortunately, after choosing to lead a small strike team that begin the liberation of Ezra’s home planet of Lothal, her team was largely wiped out and she was captured by an evil bounty hunter named Rukh, who delivered her to Thrawn.
We already know their plan to rescue her is successful, though, because not only is Hera namedropped in Rogue One (which takes place after Rebels), her trusty astromech droid Chopper makes an appearance there, and her ship is seen during the battle of Scarif. In fact, other media has revealed she’s still alive when the Rebels blow up the second Death Star over Endor.
Sabine is a Mandalorian who is both an explosive expert and a talented artist. She was originally an Imperial recruit who defected. In that time, however, she created a superweapon for the Empire and when her family found out, they disowned her. However, through her trials with the rest of the Ghost crew, she has since not only destroyed that weapon, she rekindled a relationship with her family, and helped liberate Mandalorian people, aided when she gained possession of their ancient weapon, the Darksaber. She has since relinquished that weapon, though, to focus her attention on defeating the Empire.
Zeb is one of the last surviving members of his race, the Lasat. He’s a strong warrior and fiercely loyal friend to Kanan, Hera and the rest of the crew. He originally clashed with the young brash Ezra when Kanan picked him up to join the crew but has since then welcomed him as a friend and trusted ally. He’s got a top-notch bullshit meter and gruff, lovable demeanor, but doesn’t really have any broader story going on.
Thrawn is one of the highest-ranking officials in the Empire. He’s an expert on military strategy, a calculating badass, and collector of rare antiquities. Though his expertise may be better spent elsewhere, his main goal these days is the destruction of the nascent Rebel Alliance, especially the cell that contains Ezra, Kanan, Hera, Sabine, and Zeb.
Recently, he wiped out a major Rebel base, forcing the crew to flee to a new one on Yavin-4. (It’s the base the Rebels are in during A New Hope and Rogue One, so the timelines are converging.) He’s then a step ahead of the Rebels again, almost completely thwarting the strike team headed to Lothal to begin a larger attack, capturing Hera in the process.
Thrawn is also significant because he’s one of a handful of characters brought in from the former Star Wars Expanded Universe. He’s a fan-favorite, created by author Timothy Zahn, and also has a full and official backstory revealed in the novel Thrawn.
Kallus was a high-ranking Imperial official who spent the first season attempting to hunt down the Rebels. However, he eventually had a change of heart and became an informant for them codenamed “Fulcrum.” Once he was discovered, the Rebels helped break him out so that he could join the Rebel Alliance.
The former padawan of Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka was the first Fulcrum informant on Rebels, quietly aiding the characters before revealing herself. Years before, she had disappeared after giving up the Jedi ways during the Clone Wars but saw new allies worth joining in Kanan, Ezra, and the crew. However, after going on several missions, she was confronted with her former master, now going by Darth Vader, and after an epic battle between the two, Ashoka was defeated—but we didn’t get to see what happened to her next. We don’t know know if she’s dead, alive, captured—or even if we’ll get to see her again in these last few episodes.
Throughout its run, Rebels has been filled with cameos of famous Star Wars players. There was Lando, Darth Maul, Darth Vader and many others. Saw Gerrera appeared with a storyline that linked to Rogue One. We even briefly got to see a young Luke Skywalker living on Tatooine. However, while characters like Yoda, Obi-Wan, Leia, and others are important in the larger context of Star Wars, it’s highly unlikely they’ll return as Rebels reaches its end.
The one exception might be Emperor Palpatine, who makes an appearance in the trailer for the final half of the season. If there are known Jedi still in the universe, especially ones whose powers are growing, Palpatine is going to take an interest. After all, at this point, it’s unclear if he even knows his apprentice, Darth Vader, has kids. Maybe he thinks Ezra would make a perfect next apprentice?
Even if none of the above makes sense, basically, for Star Wars fans, the last few episodes of Rebels not only have to wrap up this story, they have to answer some big questions. The first is, where the hell are Kanan and Ezra during the original trilogy? If Luke Skywalker is the “new hope,” why didn’t the Force-wielding Kanan and Ezra represent hope before him? This is a question we’ve been asking since the series started, and the show has to provide an answer.
Second, once the show introduced Thrawn his whereabouts during the original trilogy need to be accounted for, too. There’s no bigger threat to the Empire than the Rebels so, if Thrawn is still alive, wouldn’t he be helping the Empire during A New Hope or Return of the Jedi? And third, Ahsoka Tano. She’s another powerful Force-user who is not around, or at least not spoken of, during the original trilogy. She’s walked away once (in Clone Wars) but in bringing her back, Rebels has basically teased that we’ll, finally, get some closure to her story, even after her incredibly mysterious fate following her battle with Vader. We go into all these mysteries in more detail here.
We’ll have much more on Rebels as the show wraps up. The final episodes will begin on February 19, continue February 26, and end with a 90-minute series finale on March 5.