Yes, so last night's season finale of Star Wars Rebels contained a big reveal, one that we've been hoping we'd see for a while. But there was much more to the finale, including some massive changes for our core characters, the return of Darth Vader, and one Jedi turning into a genuine badass.
Like just about everyone else, I am excited that the Fulcrum reveal. Nice to have you back, Snips! And our own James Whitbrook has an excellent piece up about why the Ahsoka-as-Fulcrum revelation was so satisfying and what it means about the future of Star Wars, but I'd like to talk to you for a moment about Kanan. And the rest of the crew. And Vader.
I will admit, I was a bit lukewarm on Kanan early in the season. I don't love his design (although it's not as bad as Ezra's), and I wasn't sure what to make of him besides his being a basically good-hearted Jedi who probably makes a better father figure than he does a teacher in the Force. But this finale hit home what was for me, an important point: Kanan is still learning how to be a Jedi.
Some of the most exciting sequences in Rebels have been Kanan's duels with the Inquisitor. There's been some implication from the start that Kanan is probably a stronger Force user than the Inquisitor, but the Inquisitor was, at the beginning of the season, the superior fighter. The Inquisitor's training is fresher and he's studied the styles of various Jedi masters. But as the season goes on, Kanan trains harder and harder so that he could eventually best the Inquisitor. And last night it happened.
We open with Kanan still imprisoned aboard a Star Destroyer. The Inquisitor is still convinced that Kanan might know about other Rebel cells (he doesn't) or the identity of Fulcrum (nope). And he continues to torture Kanan in hopes of burning the info out of him.
Meanwhile, Hera is trying to work out a plan to get Kanan back. Conveniently, her crew has been lying to her about that TIE Fighter from several episodes back. Ezra and Zeb kept it, and Sabine has been using it as her canvas. It's Sabine's signature colors (which is to say, not Imperial black, red, white, or gray), but it will be enough to get the crew inside the Star Destroyer. Operation: Rescue Kanan is a go!
By the way, on my wishlist for next season: more Sabine and Zeb. Sabine has a fascinating backstory that I'd love to see further explored and Zeb is just so much fun to watch. Now that we've laid the groundwork for Ezra's training and the Jedi are a symbol of hope, etc. etc., I'd like to see more from the rest of the crew.
Chopper, on the other hand, is perfect. While his crewmates are off serving as target practice for Stormtroopers, he calls up Fulcrum for backup. Aww, we were never going to trade you in for that courier droid, buddy.
So Ezra manages to get to the chamber where Kanan is being held and frees him, but before they can escape, they're intercepted by the Inquisitor. Naturally, a duel ensues.
Can I just say how much I love Ezra's blaster lightsaber? I thought it was a neat idea when it was first teased, but I love watching it in action. Kanan uses Ezra's lightsaber, alternating between blasting and swinging, and he's finally a match for the Inquisitor's martial might. Then the Inquisitor manages to knock Ezra off a platform, seemingly to his death, and the duel goes on pause for just a moment.
I'm thinking, "Okay, I've seen this song and dance before. Kanan gets angry, taps into the Dark Side, and beats the Inquisitor — at a price."
But that's not what happened.
This season has dealt a lot with Kanan's journey as a Jedi. When he trains Ezra, it can sometimes feel like he's paying lip service to the Jedi philosophy. But in this moment, he truly lives that philosophy, responding to Ezra's apparent death not with rage but with zen detachment. He's able to defeat the Inquisitor without the Dark Side, using only techniques and training.
He also exploits a weakness in the Inquisitor's lightsaber. So yes, the people who make Star Wars media are aware of the risks of flashy lightsaber design.
Of course, before the Inquisitor drops into a fiery explosion, he rattles off a warning to Kanan. You should, uh, probably listen to that.
Ezra isn't actually dead, of course, and we get a fun escape sequence, with TIE Fighters fleeing from TIE Fighters. I especially dig Ezra's line, "It was nice getting to know you all."
But it's Chopper to the rescue! He arrives not just with the Ghost, but a whole fleet of ships, and when our crew returns to their spacefaring home, they find a small guard waiting for them. Bail Organa reveals himself via hologram, and acknowledges that the crew is but one cell in a larger rebellion.
Sabine is visibly relieved. Ezra's a bit stunned.
That's not the last surprise for the crew. Because Fulcrum is aboard in the flesh:
So I don't want to overlap too much with what James has already said, but aside from my great affection for this character, there are a couple of reasons that I'm excited to see Ahsoka. For one thing, this means that we're getting a better look at the wider Rebellion in future episodes. The Ghost isn't just a solitary cell anymore. Ahsoka trusts them and they are on her team — and clearly it's a big team. (Any chance Asajj Ventress is on that team, too? Pretty please?) It also means that, outside of Rebels, we may see a bit more of what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order.
As an aside, I'm a bit surprised that Kanan didn't have a bigger reaction to Ahsoka's appearance. I suppose it's possible he's never heard of her, but a Jedi — especially Master Anakin's padawan — being tried for murder and then leaving the Order seems like a big deal, something every padawan would know about.
The other reason I'm excited to see Ahsoka is because of this guy:
In a scene very reminiscent of A New Hope, Tarkin leads Lord Vader himself off of a ship so that he can deal with the situation on Lothal. (For the record, Tarkin is one of the few people in the Empire who suspects that Vader is actually Anakin Skywalker.) It's exciting enough to see Vader. The Inquisitor was an entry-level bad guy, but now the Rebels will have to face off against the real deal. But the fact that Ahsoka and Vader have found themselves in the same system? That makes me bounce in my seat in anticipation. That's a showdown I've been waiting to see since Clone Wars ended.
So, character development, a new, wider chapter opening up, and Vader? You want me to watch Season 2? You've succeeded, Rebels.