When Star Wars Rebels launched in October 2014, it had a rocky start. Initial reviews were mixed and ratings wobbled back and forth. Nonetheless, Rebels soon rose to success and became a hit with fans young and old. By the end of Season 1, it was every bit as exhilarating as the original Star Wars films, with an eager, growing fan base to show for it. A second season was ordered before the network pilot even aired. A bit preemptive, perhaps, but it allowed the show to get a better footing and hone its style. The result was the critically-acclaimed Season 2 that brought the ratings to an all-time high. This laid the groundwork for Season 3.
Created by a team of Lucasfilm veterans, Rebels uses well-rounded characters and expert story-telling to recapture the classic style of the Original Trilogy in each episode. Considering how much they stepped up their game in the second season, it’s no surprise that a third season was ordered so soon. With the Season 2 finale, “Twilight of the Apprentice,” Rebels has quite a bit to work with when it comes to Season 3.
Supervising director Dave Filoni recently announced that he will showcase the first few episodes of Season 3 at Star Wars Celebration Europe next month. In case that finale didn’t get you hyped enough, here are six more reasons why you should get excited about this upcoming season.
The Rise and Fall of Ezra Bridger
Season 2 ended with one powerful moment: Ezra embracing the darkness within a Sith Holocron. The rebels’ mission to Malachor didn’t go well as it was. On top of Kanan losing his vision and Ahsoka being left behind, Ezra found an unlikely mentor in Darth Maul. The forlorn Sith Lord taught Ezra how to use his aggression to his advantage and channel his true potential. That mission may have had serious consequences on the rebels, but Ezra has now had a taste of the Dark Side. There’s no going back now. Looks like this longtime fan theory may finally come to fruition next season.
Regarding Maul (who’s still not dead), the fearsome fallen Sith is back in action. Not everyone was thrilled with his return this time around but his presence in this era adds a unique element to the story of the Rebellion. He was instrumental in fueling Ezra’s fall to the Dark Side, but his story doesn’t stop there. Maul’s got his own agenda on taking down the Empire. Having escaped Malachor with a sinister grin on his face, he will undoubtedly be a thorn in the rebels’ side in the season to come. Time will tell how the Rebellion handles such a volatile adversary thrown in the mix.
Ahsoka Tano is perhaps the most famous and beloved Expanded Universe character of all time, so her appearance in Rebels was understandably a high point. Since she vanished after her fateful confrontation with Vader in the Season 2 finale, fans have been dying for news in this forthcoming season on the whereabouts of their favorite ex-Padawan. To address their concerns, Dave Filoni said that while Ahsoka was important to the Rebellion in Season 2, they are now strong enough to carry on without her. It seems like Ahsoka’s time with the rebels is up, but we probably haven’t seen the last of her. Dropping hints and clues is what Filoni does best, so keep an eye out in Season 3. Ahsoka may not be out of the fight yet.
With the help of Ahsoka and the Ghost crew, the rebels have compiled an impressive list of allies in their fight against the Empire. From the Twi’lek freedom fighters of Ryloth to the Protectors of Mandalore, more and more factions are standing up with the Rebellion. This unity was foreshadowed in the Season 1 episode, “Call to Action:” Grand Moff Tarkin warns that individual rebel cells pose no measurable threat, but should they come together, they would be more than a match for the Empire. With a sizable fleet, a stable base and powerful allies, the scale of the rebels’ fight has increased drastically. As a result, much higher stakes await our heroes in Season 3.
A bit of Truth in Legends
As thrilling a story as Rebels is, die-hard Star Wars fans can’t shake the fact that it’s not the story they once knew. When Lucasfilm announced in 2014 that all future projects would not be bound to the existing continuity (now known as “Legends”), it was clear that Rebels would be a story all its own. But the show still has a thing or two for those die-hard fans. A longtime fan of the EU himself, Filoni made a point of implementing as much existing material as he could into Rebels, such as the Inquisitors (Dark Side agents of the Emperor). Last week, he posted on Facebook about Celebration Europe, adding, “And remember, there’s always a bit of truth in legends.” Having already hinted that big “something” is down the pike for Season 3, Filoni has added an element to Rebels that will serve as a sizable addition to the ever-expanding lore.
Rogue One, Standing By
Speaking of lore, there’s an upcoming Anthology film that’s in an ideal spot for Rebels to build some backstory to. Rogue One will chronicle the efforts of the Rebellion to steal the Death Star plans, thus triggering the events of A New Hope. So while Rogue One will serve as a prequel to the Original Trilogy, Rebels may very well serve as a prequel to Rogue One. With the formation of the Rebel Alliance drawing closer, it’s not entirely out of the question that Season 3 will introduce elements that we’ll see play out on the big screen this December. That may very well be the “something big” Filoni was talking about: laying the groundwork for Rogue One.