When Star Wars Rebels begins its third season September 24 on Disney XD, I’ll definitely be watching!
Rebels has become so much more than I hoped it would be when it started. While Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story have been getting the bantha’s share of public attention, Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni and his creative team have been confidently spinning a story that spans the Star Wars universe in all its richness.
While we’re waiting for Season 3 to take Rebels’ characters in new directions and deepen our understanding of the Star Wars mythos, here’s a list of five Rebels episodes from Seasons 1 and 2 that impressed me. Are they on your list of favorites, too?
1) “Twilight of the Apprentice” Season 2, Episodes 21-22
Shame on me – cheating right out of the gate! But it is impossible to divide this story in two. It introduces an entirely new threat – new to Ezra, at any rate – with the return of Maul (“No longer Darth,” he claims), who tempts our young hero down the path to darkness (a pull Ezra will continue to struggle with in season 3, if the previews and trailers are to be trusted). And it delivers what so many fans had been anticipating or dreading (depending, as they say, on one’s point of view): The epic showdown between Ahsoka Tano and her former master. What do you make of the episode’s ambiguous, fleeing final glimpse of Ahsoka, walking into darkness? Did Darth Vader destroy her—or did she somehow escape to fight another day? Whatever happened, their duel is one of the most titanic seen in animated or live-action Star Wars.
2) “Path of the Jedi” Season 1, Episode 8
Remember how you felt watching Luke Skywalker’s vision in the cave on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back felt the first time? A little weirded out, a little confused, but a lot impressed? That’s how I felt watching Ezra face his fears in the hidden Jedi Temple on Lothal. “Path of the Jedi” was the first Rebels episode I found not just entertaining but really riveting. Seeing Ezra receive his kyber crystal and produce his first lightsaber (a lightsaber-blaster combo, to be specific—sweet), we’re reminded of the kids inside all of us who still long to know we are special and can make a positive difference.
Hearing Frank Oz voice Yoda again for the first time in a decade? Icing on the Sic-Six-layer cake!
3) “Wings of the Master” Season 2, Episode 7
If you’d asked me whether a story about the origin of the B-wing would be interesting, I’d have guessed not. But “Wings of the Master” wisely focuses less on the technology and more on who’s using it. The episode places Hera’s quest to get the B-wing for the fledgling Rebellion against the backdrop of her lifelong personal quest to fly, both literally and metaphorically. The result is a genuinely moving story about pursuing goals and refusing to give up on dreams.
Don’t forget how composer Kevin Kiner scores Hera’s “test drive” of the new ship with a cue that beautifully evokes some great flight music from cinema’s past, especially The Rocketeer, allowing the episode to soar!
4) “Relics of the Old Republic” Season 2, Episode 4
The episode preceding it, “The Lost Commanders,” provides the necessary setup, and the clones’ hunt for the giant Joopa worm in that episode – with Zeb as the “bait” – is an amusing must-see. But it’s the second of these two episodes that really shines. The story kept me guessing about Rex, Wolffe and Gregor’s ultimate fates until the end, and the animation of the battle in the sandstorm against the AT-ATs struck me as some of the series’ most cinematic and beautiful to date.
5) “Idiot’s Array” Season 1, Episode 9
No, it’s not of one the show’s more serious stories, and the puffer pig is pretty ridiculous. But Billy Dee Williams’ vocal performance as Lando Calrissian at the height of his career as a smooth-talking, sabacc-playing, high stakes smuggler (excuse me, “galactic entrepreneur”) makes “Idiot’s Array” a fan’s delight. I also found myself liking the large, lazy, loudmouthed Azmorigan. Based on an unused Ralph McQuarrie concept for Jabba the Hutt, Azmorigan is just foolish enough to be taken seriously—and just powerful enough to be dangerous if you don’t!
Star Wars Rebels Season 3 premieres on Disney XD September 24.
What episodes from Rebels’ first two seasons make your list of stand-outs? Let us know in the comments below!