Star Wars Rebels Final Season Panel and Trailer Impressions (SWCO 2017)

The rumors have been swirling for awhile and I had my hopes there’d at least be a season 5 of Star Wars Rebels, but the packed and philosophical Rebels panel at Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 revealed the upcoming season 4 would be the series’ last. From Filoni’s heartfelt goodbye to the show, his promise of something darker and unexpected from the final season, a haunting trailer, and a premiere episode that’ll end with your tears, Rebels season 4 looks to hurdle us through its final hours in its biggest season yet.

As the panel began, things started out with a discussion about S3’s “Twin Suns,” because of course it did, and then Filoni and the full main cast, Freddie Prinze Jr. (Kanan), Vanessa Marshall (Hera), Tiya Sircar (Sabine), Taylor Grey (Ezra), and Steve Blum (Zeb) got to talking about where S3 left their characters and where they are in S4. Considering the news about this being the final season didn’t drop until the end, in hindsight everyone’s conversations about their characters certainly sounds like they were preparing us for the end of the series (besides maybe stuff from Blum about Zeb and the #HotKallus phenomenon from “Zero Hour,” of course!). Vanessa said Hera’s still reeling from the losses that occurred under her command at Atollon and she’s more committed than ever to winning the fight so those loses don’t occur again, as it’s now the time to get things done. Tiya can’t wait for us to see the surprises and twists in store for Sabine and the Mandalorian set tales ahead (and she, like usual, is a hoot to listen to as she frets over whether she can say anything or not). Freddie believes Kanan finally realizes who he needs to be now thanks to his time training Sabine, which allows him a greater Space Dad patience and gives him the ability to see more and with more clarity (you can tell how passionate Freddie is about Star Wars and Kanan during his entire chat, as he launches into a very deep and personal look at Kanan’s psyche and other thoughts about the franchise in general). Ezra seems set to be dealing with his decision to ask Kanan to stop training him in the Force and train him in the ways of being an actual person. While Chopper might not have a character arc, he still is one in his own right and Filoni promised we’ll see how he has a bigger heart for the Ghost family than we or they realize (though at least we know that doesn’t mean a big sacrifice because he’s in Rogue One…unless this final season goes past that timeframe…).

Beyond that, there were some reveals, though a few weren’t terribly surprising: Mon Mothma will continue to be part of the show, though we’ll get to see her fiery side; Saw Gerrara and Edrio Two Tubes (the alien who brings Bodhi Rook to Saw in RO) will be in the newest season, with the trailer revealing Saw looking even closer to his RO look; New starfighters will grace the small screen i.e. U-wings and the most iconic starfighter of all, the X-wing!!; and we’re definitely going back to Lothal. But the biggest one included the reveal of who Warwick Davis (who caught Filoni at last year’s SWCE ’16 Rebels panel off-guard and asked for a role, which they replayed for this year’s crowd {minus the best part of Sam Witwer voicing an Ewok}, and having been there last year it was cool to see the connection from year to year) would be voicing: the Noghri (!!) Rukh! Yes, not only is this the first Noghri seen on screen (this brings the species into canon for the first time), but Rukh was the one to assassinate Thrawn in the Legends Thrawn Trilogy, so one has to wonder if that’ll happen here as well. Interestingly enough, Thrawn’s codeword to shutdown his sparring droids is actually “Rukh,” (as revealed in last season’s “Through Imperial Eyes” ) so one has to wonder if he already knows this Noghri or that was just a happy coincidence.

But the biggest, and saddest, news of the panel was the reveal this would be Rebels‘ final, 15 episode season. Dave Filoni stood up in front of the crowd to address this, thanking the fans for their support, his cast and crew for their exceptional work (Tiya Sircar was definitely crying through the whole thing and I was definitely thinking about it), and said he was just happy to finally end a show for once (speaking about The Clone Wars‘ cancellation). He also promised a darker tone and tons of unexpected things they haven’t done before on the show, which from the first half of the season 4 premiere they screened for us, “Heroes of Mandalore,” followed up on that in spades. It’s going to be quite the final season, folks!

Here are a few other things:

  • I didn’t catch it, but all panel long Filoni was wearing an, “Ashoka Lives ?” t-shirt and after the episode aired, which the livestream of the panel below does not contain, he switched into an, “Ahsoka Lives !” t-shirt, trolling fans once again about her fate. I had assumed some of the stuff that was said at his and Pablo Hidalgo’s Animation chat panel meant we’d get a reveal about Ahsoka, but the panel, trailer, and episode didn’t confirm her reappearance. HOWEVER, there has been some speculation Ahsoka’s spirit or something inhabits the wolf seen in the trailer…but I highly doubt it, though I do find the idea interesting.
  • In my “Zero Hour” review I felt like Hera would likely receive her promotion in General (as revealed by Rogue One) due to her actions in the S3 finale, Filoni has at least revealed she’ll get the title before the series ends but they won’t really spend time on how/when it happens, just that one episode she’ll suddenly be called General (this isn’t new for the show to do nor for the films to do as well). Maybe we could get some Hera comics/novels to tell the tale…or just more of her tales? We will get to see her at Endor though in the newly announced Forces of Destiny animated shorts, so that’s a start.
  • This wasn’t mentioned in the panel, but the series will become more serialized, which means technically Filoni mentioned this in the panel when he said the last season would be like nothing we’ve seen before from the show. However, a serialized format isn’t too surprising given this season only has 15 episodes to complete its story as best as it can.
  • Filoni took to the Star Wars Show Stage to chat about Rebels, reiterating this is the intended end of the show, how bizarre episodes of past seasons connect to things in S4, his thoughts about the wolf seen in the trailer, mentions Ezra’s destiny in a battle with evil, and so much more.
  • Ashley Eckstein also was on the Star Wars Show Stage talking about Rebels and Her Universe, of course.
  • At Slashfilm, they spoke with Filoni at the press conference following the panel and he said we wouldn’t see the Battle of Scarif on the show or Jedha, but that doesn’t mean the show won’t show stuff up till or after Rogue One/A New Hope timeline. We’ll find out soon enough though!

Here’s the full panel for your viewing pleasure:

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.

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Season One: Spark of Rebellion | Ep. 2: “Droids In Distress” | Ep.3: “Fighter Flight” | Ep.4: “Rise of the Old Masters” | Ep.5: “Breaking Ranks” | Ep.6: “Out of Darkness” | Ep.7: “Empire Day” | Ep.8: “Gathering Forces” | Ep.9: “Path of the Jedi” | Ep.10: “Idiot’s Array” | Ep.11: “Vision of Hope” | Ep.12: “Call to Action” | Ep.13: “Rebel Resolve” | Ep.14: “Fire Across the Galaxy

Season Two: The Siege of Lothal | Ep. 2: “The Lost Commanders” | Ep. 3: “Relics of the Old Republic” | Ep. 4: “Always Two There Are” | Ep. 5: “Brothers of the Broken Horn” | Ep. 6: “Wings of the Master” | Ep. 7: “Blood Sisters” | Ep. 8: “Stealth Strike” | Ep. 9: “The Future of the Force” | Ep. 10: “Legacy” | Ep. 11: “A Princess on Lothal” | Ep. 12: “The Protector of Concord Dawn” | Ep. 13: “Legends of the Lasat” | Ep. 14: “The Call” | Ep. 15: “Homecoming” | Ep. 16: “The Honorable Ones” | Ep. 17: “Shroud of Darkness” | Ep. 18: “The Forgotten Droid” | Ep. 19: “The Mystery of Chopper Base” | Ep. 20: “Twilight of the Apprentice

Season Three: Steps into Shadow | Ep. 2: “Holocrons of Fate” |  Ep. 3: “The Antilles Extraction” | Ep. 4: “Hera’s Heroes” | Ep. 5: “The Last Battle” | Ep. 6: “Imperial Supercommandos” | Ep. 7: “Iron Squadron” | Ep. 8: “The Wynkahthu Job” | Ep. 9: “An Inside Man” | Ep. 10: “Visions and Voices” | Ep. 11: “Ghosts of Geonosis” | Ep. 12: “Warhead” | Ep. 13: “Trials of the Darksaber” | Ep. 14: “Legacy of Mandalore” | Ep. 15: “Through Imperial Eyes” | Ep. 16: “Secret Cargo” | Ep. 17: “Double Agent Droid” | Ep. 18: “Twin Suns” | Ep. 19: “Zero Hour

Season Four: Ep. 1: “Heroes of Mandalore” Part 1