The second half of Star Wars Rebels season two has already begun, and judging by the epic trailer (let’s just call it a mic drop) that was released last Friday, it’s going to be incredible. Before the next episodes arrive, here are five worthwhile Star Wars stories that I would recommend reading, watching, or reviewing before the series plunges us back into the action.
Lords of the Sith
Phoenix Leader Hera Syndulla’s father is Cham Syndulla, a character who originated in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode “Liberty on Ryloth.” During the Clone Wars, Cham was the leader of the Twi’lek Resistance — a band of freedom fighters dedicated to overthrowing the Separatist occupation of their homeworld, Ryloth. Cham was unafraid to question the principles of the Jedi and the Galactic Republic, even as they fought side by side to liberate Ryloth. Thanks to author Paul S. Kemp, we now know that Cham’s worst fears were realized when the Republic became the Galactic Empire.
Kemp’s novel, Lords of the Sith, is set nine years before the start of Star Wars Rebels, and tells the story of Cham’s never-ending guerilla war against the Empire. The Twi’lek Resistance has become a Free Ryloth movement, which sets out to assassinate Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader when they visit Ryloth. Though Cham’s mission does not go as planned, he survives the day. And since he’s about to debut on this season of Rebels, it looks like he still hasn’t abandoned his struggle against the Empire. Lords of the Sith is a gritty and thrilling read, and it’s worth picking up before we see Cham again.
“Path of the Jedi”
One of the main storylines of Rebels is Ezra Bridger’s journey as a Jedi Padawan. All Jedi have brushes with the dark side of the Force, but Ezra’s encounters with the dark side have been more prominent than most. The season one episode “Path of the Jedi” chronicles Ezra’s visit to a Jedi Temple on Lothal with his Master, Kanan Jarrus. Inside the Temple, Ezra is forced to confront his deep-seated feelings of anger, fear, and despair through a series of visions. After seeing the Grand Inquisitor strike down all of his friends, Ezra comes into contact with a certain green and impish Jedi Master: Yoda.
“Path of the Jedi” features the return of legendary actor Frank Oz to the role of Yoda, who appears in the episode in a disembodied form. This is Oz’s first time portraying the character in almost 10 years, since Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. This season of Rebels will include another appearance of Yoda, this time in the flesh (kind of) as Ezra faces him in a vision. Until then, “Path of the Jedi” will satiate your Yoda fix.
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir
Despite the fact that Ezra passes his trials in “Path of the Jedi,” the trailer for Rebels season two makes it evident that Ezra’s struggles with the dark side are far from over. Particularly as he crosses paths with a hooded, tattooed figure who tells Ezra to call him “Old Master.”
It’s no secret that Sith Lord Darth Maul survived his battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode I: The Phantom Menace. What you may not know is that he survived the Clone Wars, too. The Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series brought back Maul in a big way, showcasing his quest for revenge on the galaxy. Adapted from unfinished episodes of the series, Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir is a four-issue comic book that depicts Maul’s renewed campaign against his former Master, Darth Sidious. Son of Dathomir also reveals Maul’s true parentage, so if you’re a diehard fan, you won’t want to miss it!
The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary
This one is less of a story, and more of a treasury of Star Wars lore. You’ll want to see Episode VII: The Force Awakens before you check out its accompanying title, The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary. Written by Lucasfilm Creative Executive Pablo Hidalgo, this book is packed with facts and tidbits that exponentially enhance the film. For example, the Rebels mid-season trailer shows Ezra picking up a green-bladed lightsaber that looks awfully similar to the red-bladed one owned by Kylo Ren, the dark enforcer of the First Order. The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary reveals that this design, called a crossguard blade, actually dates back thousands of years to the Great Scourge of Malachor. Not much is known about this ancient event, but given that the crossguard design pops up in Rebels, it’s possible that we’ll learn more about it.
Fans who tuned into the Rebels episode this past Wednesday, “A Princess on Lothal,” were treated to another nod to The Force Awakens, in the form of the series’ debut of Princess Leia Organa. Instead of her distinctive side buns from the original trilogy, Leia sports a sort of back-bun in Rebels, a hairstyle akin to the one she wears in The Force Awakens. That means her hairstyle in The Force Awakens isn’t a new choice: It’s a throwback! Check out The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary to learn more about Leia and her transition into becoming the General of the Resistance.
“The Wrong Jedi”
If this episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was too traumatic for you, like it was for one of my best friends, maybe it isn’t worth rewatching. Otherwise, check out “The Wrong Jedi,” which concluded the series’ fifth season. After being expelled from the Jedi Order and mistakenly put on trial, Ahsoka Tano opts not to rejoin the Order, instead leaving to pursue a new path and a new future. This episode started Ahsoka on the path that we find her on in Rebels, serving as one of the coordinators of the nascent rebellion. Rebels season two is poised to deliver the fateful duel that fans have been clamoring for, ever since her return: Ahsoka Tano vs. Darth Vader. That confrontation will be made all the more emotional by a vision that she has of Anakin Skywalker, portrayed by Matt Lanter, who voiced the character on Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
It’s also worth noting that “The Wrong Jedi” features the Jedi Temple Guard, which served as security at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. The mid-season trailer for Rebels shows these mysterious Jedi crossing paths with Kanan, as well as the Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister of the Inquisitorius. While the true loyalties of the Jedi Temple Guard are currently up in the air, it’s still worth seeing them in action in “The Wrong Jedi” before they make their Rebels debut.