SPOILER ALERT: Warning, this article contains spoilers from the series finale episodes of Star Wars Rebels, entitled “A Fool’s Hope” and “Family Reunion – and Farewell.” Proceed at your own risk.
What happens to Ezra Bridger?
Fans have been asking that question since Star Wars Rebels debuted in 2014. Like Ahsoka Tano before him, Ezra seemed like a Jedi out of time – a character set in an era where fans thought he shouldn’t have existed. After all, how could there be a Jedi running around that close to Star Wars: A New Hope? What would that mean to Luke Skywalker’s journey? Does Ezra have to die?
That question is at the heart of the 90 minute Star Wars Rebels series finale, beginning with the episode “A Fool’s Hope” and concluding with the double feature “Family Reunion – and Farewell.” Ezra knows it too. He’s known that his fate could be in jeopardy ever since his late master, Kanan Jarrus, taught him one last lesson: how to be selfless for the good of others. In other words, how to be a true Jedi.
Star Wars Rebels signs off with an emotionally satisfying finale that answers these questions while asking new ones that point toward the future.
This is Ezra’s Story
The three-part finale is all about the liberation of Lothal, a successful operation that shows how the Galactic Empire lost its grip on this once-essential planet. Though the stakes are planetary, the focus is largely on one young Jedi as the finale reminds you that this is Ezra’s story. Lothal is his home. The plan to liberate it is his. It all comes down to Ezra, his fate, and what kind of Jedi he is going to be. As events unfold, Grand Admiral Thrawn goads him over his Jedi path, saying that for all their power the Jedi lack the vision to use it. But Ezra counters: the Force is not a power. It’s so much bigger. And being a Jedi means being selfless.
This is one of the most impressive throughlines not just of the finale, but of the entire final arc of this season. We are seeing more and more, throughout Star Wars, the idea of what it means to be a Jedi. Luke Skywalker questioned it in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and was willing to burn the last traces of the Jedi Order to the ground because he thought that’s what the galaxy needed. But he was reminded that to be a Jedi is to take the harder and more selfless road, and in doing so he ignited a spark of hope for the future.
Ezra and Kanan had similar journeys. Like Luke, they had their doubts. Kanan doubted his ability to teach Ezra. Ezra, over the years, teetered on the edge of the dark side. But like Luke, they both found something by the end of Rebels: peace and purpose. And in doing so we were given an incredible story about what it means to be a Jedi.
It’s a Story About Family
From its inception, Star Wars Rebels was about the Ghost crew. Hera Syndulla and Kanan were Space Mom and Space Dad. Zeb Orrelios was the older brother. Ezra and Sabine Wren were the younger siblings, and, by virtue of that, the main characters. Chopper was their astromech droid companion. They were always a scrappy band of rebels who came together as a family. In the process of saving an entire world, they helped ignite the spark that restored the Republic.
Ezra’s emotional connection to them is at the core of the episode. Through the machinations of Emperor Palpatine, who makes one last effort to get Ezra to open the world between worlds, Ezra has the opportunity to change the past and be with his parents again. But he refuses. He will always mourn his parents and they will always be part of him, but he has a new family now. And they’re the ones he now has to protect, while honoring the sacrifice of his mother and father.
Ezra sacrifices himself for his family and gives them a new future on Lothal. In the most emotional part of the finale, we look ahead to the time after the Battle of Endor. Lothal is free. Sabine helps lead the recovery. Hera has a new life to look out for. Zeb and Agent Kallus find a new home. And Captain Rex? It turns out a theory about his whereabouts in the Battle of Endor was right after all. The most important idea here is that despite being part of the Rebel Alliance, they all remained a tight-knit family. Nothing can ever break their bond. Ezra made sure of that. It’s a great message to go out on…
And It’s a Story That Continues
…and also to carry into the future. Because the question of “What happens to Ezra?” has been answered. But it also hasn’t.
During the final battle in the finale, Ezra calls in reinforcements: purgils, the “space whale” creatures from season 2 who can naturally move through hyperspace. Ezra, aboard a Star Destroyer, disappears into hyperspace with Thrawn, leaving only a pre-recorded message behind for his adopted family about why he had to sacrifice himself. But it’s unclear if he perished. In fact, the finale strongly hints that he’s still out there somewhere.
It’s the final scene that gives us a hint of what’s to come. Sabine realizes that Ezra, who kept telling her that he’d be depending on her, wants her to come find him. And she’s not alone. Ahsoka arrives, and they join forces to find Ezra – and bring him home.
We’ve tracked Ahsoka’s journey for the last ten years, and Ezra and Sabine’s for the last four. Looking back on the beginnings of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, it’s hard to imagine ever thinking that Ahsoka’s journey would span the events of the prequel trilogy, the original trilogy, and beyond, and that she would return in the last moments of the finale as a sort of Gandalf the White figure to help guide Sabine in her journey to find Ezra.
Where will this story lead? Will it remain between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens? Might we see another rebel-centric show, this time about the Resistance? Or are we in for something else entirely?
These are all great questions to ask.
Star Wars Rebels never needed a definitive ending. It didn’t have to blend seamlessly into A New Hope. That’s what The Clone Wars taught us. Ahsoka lives, whereas so many fans assumed she would have to die because she wasn’t in Revenge of the Sith. It’s a reminder that just because the live-action movies are the major episodes of the Skywalker storyline, they’re not the only place where important Star Wars stories are told. Ahsoka’s story has now outlasted even Anakin Skywalker’s. No one can claim that the animated series aren’t important.
I never imagined Star Wars Rebels would leave me asking these kinds of questions. I never expected it to end in a way that would set the stage for another new story. When the show first started, I assumed it would end with the capture of the Death Star plans – an assumption that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story disproved pretty quickly. But even with all of these questions, we’re still left with an emotionally satisfying finale that concludes this chapter of the saga and about this family’s story. We know their journey and their legacy. We can mourn for Kanan, celebrate the victors, and wonder about Ezra’s fate. They will always be a critical part of the evolving Star Wars story.
The saga continues.