Star Wars Rebels: 4.15 & 4.16 Family Reunion & Farewell
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Knowing this was to be the very last episode of Star Wars Rebels, I went in with mixed feelings. I was excited to see what happens to everyone and how any surviving members were intertwined into the original trilogy. At the same time I was nervous, as I wanted the final goodbye to be worthwhile. Although perhaps not as satisfactory as I would have liked, it was perfectly serviceable and re-watchable. The biggest problem comes three-quarters of the way through when it became a little incoherent, taking some big risks with the characters and story.
The story element fully encapsulated the essence of Star Wars; family-friendly, high stakes stories full of hope and the Force. The series finale followed on from the happenings of A Fools Hope perfectly, taking the Rebels to the centre of Lothal as they attempted once and for all to take the planet back from the Empire. And what would a finale be without a good old fashion standoff, in this case with Thrawn.
Having Pryce as their prisoner, the Rebels attempt to use her clearance codes to gain entrance to the Imperial control room, send an evacuation order making Imperial forces retreat to the command centre, launch it into space and blow it up. The plan is intercepted by Thrawn, who instructs his assassin Rukh to disable the planetary shields. He succeeds as Thrawn arrives in his star destroyer and positions it directly above the city, and here‘s where things get interesting, Thrawn gives Ezra an ultimatum; surrender or he’ll attack the people of the city. After Thrawn shows it’s not a bluff and bombards the city, Ezra surrenders. Although the decision to attack was expected, the lack of emotion in Thrawn’s decision was frightening, giving his character a new level of intimidation, which was taken down a peg when he only took Ezra prisoner, leaving the remaining Rebels to conduct a rescue plan … very un-Thrawn like.
Ezra’s taken to a younger looking Palpatine, who offers him a life where his parents are alive and well. This shows the emotional stakes the finale has to offer. Torn between fighting and living with his newly formed family or, although knowing it may well be a trap, go to the true family he has longed for, for many years. These are the kinds of tests Kanan prepared him for, so of course he declines. The imagery quickly turns eerie as Palpatine’s hologram switches back and forth to the Darth Sidious we’ve come to know. This whole sequence was powerful and full of symbolism, focusing on family and leaving one wondering what would’ve happened had Ezra chosen differently.
The scenario was expected by Ezra, who puts in place a contingency plan; bringing back the Purgills, the space creatures from season two, who arrive and destroy Thrawn’s fleet. They then creepily put their tentacles around Thrawn and plan to jump into hyperspace. Ezra, helping to hold him still using the Force, leads to a very touching and emotional scene that mimicked Kanan’s death. Hera urges Ezra to escape, but he claims he must see this through till the end. The ship is then taken by the Purgills, with Ezra and Thrawn inside. Although not holding anywhere near as much emotional significance as Kanan’s death, it showed a growth for Ezra that progresses his Jedi training and once again depicted his connection with animals. It’s just a shame his fate is never fully revealed … more on that soon.
From here on out things get a bit crazy, and I can see this section being viewed in the same way The Last Jedi was … very hit and miss. After the battle of Lothal is won and the people are freed, Sabine provides an epilogue several years after the battle of Endor from Return of the Jedi, explaining where everyone has been and what they’ve been doing.
Kallus, once the sworn enemy of the Lasat species, now has a home among them. This was a powerful expression of forgiveness. It was very heart-warming seeing a character we believed to be an enemy to the Rebellion given a second chance, again encapsulating the message of hope that Star Wars is all about.
Possibly the silliest was Hera’s path. We learn that she survived the original trilogy and that she and Kanan had a child. This is the biggest surprise, just before his demise I was under the impression that they were together but not “together”, only confessing love for one another shortly before his death. Also, it had never been implied that they had been with each other. To be honest, I am not a big fan of this development as it opens too many questions, I like that we can end with Hera having a smile on her face, but this could’ve been achieved without the inclusion of a child.
Now to the most irritating / open ended story of them all. Now that the war is over, Sabine joins up with Ashoka go a quest, to find Ezra once and for all. Not only is this annoying as it doesn’t provide any closure on Ezra or why they’ve waited so long to search for him, but it creates further mystery surrounding Ashoka. How did she escape Mustafar? Or what was she doing throughout the original trilogy? I like the idea that this opens the door to potential new movies or TV series, but I can’t help but feel a little used; I was hoping for closure and I didn’t receive it in the way I had hoped.
Regardless of the outcome, when a series comes to a close, I feel it’s important to give everyone, heroes and villains, an opportunity to give their own goodbye, and aside from Ezra’s path, which I still can’t fully decide if I like, I thought Star Wars Rebels did just that. It may not be everybody’s preference but I doubt any Star Wars fan could argue that this show, over four seasons, has done what’s expected; invite intrigue and wonder. No matter how I feel, I commend the creators and everyone who ever worked on the show for making a series that’s just as re-watchable as the movies, looking and sounding superb. I look forward to seeing what comes next for Star Wars, and if one thing’s for certain, the possibilities are endless.
May the Force be with us all … always.