A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
There was a show called The Clone Wars and it had a promotional feature length movie that was garbage. Bear with me, I’m going somewhere with this. I saw that movie because, at the time, I was desperate for more Star Wars content and I was supremely disappointed, even moreso than by the Prequel Trilogy. Then I ended up watching the entire show across one summer after it had aired and realised that it was actually the best piece of Star Wars media to be released in years.
I did much the same with Rebels, having not learned my lesson, but I caught on quicker this time. After a mostly underwhelming first season, we’ve just experienced a second season of the show that rivalled even the best moments of The Clone Wars.
This is a countdown of five of those best moments from the second season of Star Wars: Rebels.
5. Old Versus New in ‘Relics Of The Old Republic’
It’s an AT-TE fighting three prototype AT-ATs in a sandstorm, what more do you want from me?
Okay, okay. So this moment ranks on the list because I wanted a moment that was exemplary of how this season used large action set pieces to its advantage and this was the moment that stood out to me. It came really early in the season and set a pretty high bar for what could be accomplished in 22 minutes with a limited animation budget. There might have been scenes that topped it later on the season, but none of the really had as much impact.
Or felt like like Mad Max meets Star War. That helped a lot.
4. Seeing Leia in ‘A Princess On Lothal’
This season of Star Wars: Rebels was heavily entrenched in the lore of the Star Wars universe which is maybe the wankiest sentence I’ve ever typed, but it’s true. The first season was a light side-story that never felt like it had much repercussions on the galaxy at wide, but this one definitely changed all that even from the first episode bringing in characters from The Clone Wars.
That’s why it was so cool seeing Princess Leia show up in ‘A Princess On Lotha’. Sure, this was before she really began to work with the Rebel Alliance and is mostly focused on her as a junior senator from Alderaan, but her interactions with the Ghost Crew definitely seem to leave a mark on her and you can see how this story charts the course from where she is by the end of the episode to where she is at the beginning of A New Hope. That’s how you do a prequel story, George.
3. The Trials In The Temple in ‘Shroud Of Darkness’
I’m honestly surprised at the fact that the Jedi storyline became the storyline I care about the most this season. While I kind of resented the first season’s attempt to make Ezra and Kanan into expies of Luke and Obi-Wan, seeing them dig deeper into the history of the dark side in this season with the help of Ahsoka in order to counter the Inquisitors was a much more rich storyline than the hunt for a Rebel base or the one-offs about the rest of the Ghost Crew.
The entire episode of ‘Shroud Of Darkness’ was an episode that really stuck with me as it lead towards the finale in how it broke apart the three Jedi and used the trials in the temple to really dig into who they are. We saw Ezra finally commune with Yoda, whose hands on approach was quite startling and showed just how at risk of falling to the dark side Ezra might be. We saw Kanan confronted by a Jedi Temple Guard for running away from his past, forcing him to buck up and accept his role as teacher and master. And we saw Ahsoka get the reassurance that she wasn’t fully abandoned by the Jedi Order.
It’s the episode the really cemented Rebels as essential Star Wars viewing.
2. Vader’s Introduction in ‘Siege Of Lothal’Continued below
This is a quick one and can pretty much be summed up by the video below:
That’s how you make an entrance. The slow swell of the Imperial March, the two quick lines from Ezra and Kanan and the cold cut to Vader’s instantly recognisable silhouette with that one beat of silence punctuated by the single breath before the ignition of the lightsabre cuts through the scene with a line of brilliant red. It’s masterful.
1. The Vader/Ahsoka Fight in ‘Twilight Of The Apprentice’
Oh, come on. Like it was going to be anything else.
This was a moment that had been teased all season, since as far back as ‘Siege Of Lothal’, and I was so excited all season to finally get to see it… until I saw it and then I realised it was just hurt and pain and anguish and oh god I’m still not over it. This was the culmination of a story that began in 2008, way back in the Clone Wars movie, and was a final punctuation on the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, showing how far he had fallen to be confronting his former padawan.
This was an emotionally charged lightsabre battle the likes of which we’ve never really seen in Rebels and harkened back to the Obi-Wan and Vader fights in Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope in a lot of way. And it was directed so powerfully to with the harsh red lighting, the choreography of the fight and the sublime score that mixed a single, choral voice amid a rendition of the Imperial March to show the might of Vader drowning out Ahsoka’s attempts to stop him.
And that final moment, seeing Anakin’s fear-ladden eyes through the mask as he confronts the notion that he will have to kill Ahsoka and forcing Ezra and a now-blinded Kanan to run away in the knowledge that they might never see her again was a hell of a dark way to the end the show. This isn’t just one of the best Star Wars: Rebels moments, it’s one of the best Star Wars moments.