This weekend I had the privilege to attend the ‘Star Wars Rebels’ events at ‘Star Wars Celebrations’ in Anaheim, which included the ‘Rebels’ Panel with the producers and cast, as well as the preview of the first two episodes of Season 2.
The ‘Rebels’ panel was hosted by James Arnold Taylor, who fans remember as the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi from the ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ animated series. He eagerly introduced the stars of ‘Rebels’ in attendance, including Taylor Gray (Ezra), Freddie Prince Jr. (Kanan), Tiya Sircar (Sabine), Steve Blum (Zeb), Vanessa Marshall (Hera), Simon Kinberg and Dave Filoni.
During the panel, Filoni spoke of the impetus of the series, how they wanted to be different from ‘Clone Wars’ and pay homage to the tone of the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, including the sense of humor and humanity of the characters. They loved the dynamic of a band of freedom fighters forming a type of family, and living together aboard a ship, in the case of ‘Rebels,’ aboard the freighter known as ‘Ghost.’ Furthermore, they wanted to delve into the universe after the events of ‘Revenge of the Sith,’ and what would happen to a child born with the Force when there was no longer a Jedi order to find and train him. Hence, the story of Ezra Bridger.
We got to hear stories about the cast, how they all get along during production, including the fact that Freddie Prince Jr. and Vanessa Marshall are the big ‘Star Wars’ nerds (they called Vanessa the encyclopedia, and Prince Jr. told a story about a facial scar he has that was caused by playing ‘Star Wars’ with his brother with sticks in place of lightsabers.) We also learned the cast messed with Taylor Gray the most (as he’s the youngest), Blum is the “least professional” (aka class clown, which we learned right before he demonstrated his ability to burp on command), and that Filoni is often thought of as the Sith Lord of the crew, carefully guarding secrets of the saga, including the fate of characters from the ‘Clone Wars’ series. When asked about their specific characters, Tiya potentially leaked a spoiler about her character, when she stated that for Sabine, “…this is her family…presently.” Does this mean she has loyalty to another group beside the crew of the ‘Ghost?’ Could she be secretly working for the Mandalorians? (hence her armor?) We’ll have to wait for Season 2 to find out more.
We were also treated to a trailer for Season 2 of ‘Star Wars Rebels,’ (see below) where they revealed the return of clone Captain Rex (and a few of his clone buddies), who seemed to be there to help in a mission. (Filoni also hinted at the friction between Kanan and the clones, well aware that it was the clones that executed Order 66 and wiped out the Jedi Order. Though he was vague on whether or not Rex actually followed through with the kill order, reminding us that he was warned by clone trooper Fives about the command chip in the Clone brains shortly before Fives died). We also saw the mercenary outlaw “businessman” Hondo return (voiced by the great Jim Cummings), as well as how the introduction of Darth Vader in the lives of the rebels will bring many new challenges, including a one-on-one confrontation between the Dark Lord of the Sith with Kanan and Ezra. Ahsoka, who appeared in the Season 1 finale of ‘Rebels’ was also featured, hopefully meaning she will have a significant role to play in Season 2. In the villains department, we also saw a new lightsaber wielding opponent, as well as some excellent action shots of the rebels taking down an Imperial AT AT.
Following the trailer, James Arnold Taylor announced more special guests, and out came the voices of Ahsoka and Rex, . They both spoke of how excited they were to be back in the ‘Star Wars’ universe, with Eckstein speaking of the tears that came to her eyes when she saw Baker return to the soundstage, as she had not known Rex’s final fate following the ‘Clone Wars’ and loved both the actor and his character.
Lastly, they opened up the floor to fan questions, and there were many. Aside from a couple of fans wanting autographs, or to give something to Filoni, there were also questions about what happened to Rex and Ahsoka following the ‘Clone Wars,’ which Filoni would not give details on, outside of saying they had already mapped out exactly what Rex and Ahsoka’s stories were during the tumultuous times, and that back-story might be told during ‘Rebels’ season 2. Freddie Prince Jr. was also asked whether he believed Yoda’s comments in Season 1 to Kanan meant that Kanan was now a full Jedi, to which Prince Jr. responded that he did not believe so, that Kanan had only passed 2 of the 5 trials so far. In a humorous moment, a little girl in the seats up on the stage asked Filoni who the voice of Chopper was, which he would not answer for the audience at large, but whispered to the little girl (rumor has it that Filoni himself does that voice). Filoni was also asked whether Ahsoka knows Anakin became Vader, and whether she will have to face her old mentor this season, to which Filoni replied he could not answer, as those questions were part of the arc of Season 2. Lastly, Filoni was asked whether we would see the return of notorious bounty hunter Cad Bane in ‘Rebels,’ which required a long answer of the producer. He stated that they want ‘Rebels’ to be its own show, and that any appearances by ‘Clone Wars’ characters could only happen if it was organic to current storyline, concluding by saying that if they had a story where Cad Bane fit, they might use him, but otherwise they had no plans as of yet.
It was an enlightening panel, and promised many great things from Season 2 and the show in general, and definitely got the crowd excited for where ‘Rebels’ was going next.
(Video credit: Good Nerd Bad Nerd)
Later that day, after a re-watch of the fantastic finale to ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season 1, we were treated to the first two episodes of Season 2. Without giving away too many spoilers, it is clear that the show would not return to “business as usual” following the events at the end of Season 1, and that Vader’s presence means they are now going up against a powerful, competent, and downright vicious villain that at first, is more than a match for the Rebel band. Their adventures on Lothal might be drawing to a close for the time being, as they are drawn further into the Rebellion itself, especially when Ahsoka tags along within the ghost toward the end of the second episode. As for character arcs, it seems Kanan is nervous about openly joining the larger rebellion, wanting his crew to stay small and concentrated on helping those oppressed by the Empire with small actions helping individual people, instead of large military actions against the Empire’s forces. And Vader (thankfully) is shown in his prime, as a competent military man, powerful with the Force, deadly in battle, and determined to bring in the last of the Jedi.
To speak any more would be to give away too many spoilers, but suffice it to say that Season 2 will not disappoint, as the momentum the show built up in Season 1 continues into the new episodes. Lots of action, lots of the characters we love, and some new faces that will help propel the rebels into a new level of storytelling. Look for it to premiere on Disney XD in the near future!