Back when Star Wars Rebels was first announced in May of 2013, I was still writing for the fansite Knights’ Archive, which is where I started covering the show once the character announcements began in early 2014. That site closed its doors only a few months later in May and I opened the Manor in June, anxious to continue covering the show here as my excitement for the series grew. Fast forward to March 5, 2018, and after four seasons, Rebels airs its final episodes, ending an era for both Lucasfilm Animation and for the site as well. Considering how Rebels has been a vital part of the Manor’s content since I started the site, as I sit here hashing out my finale review, it’s been crazy to think how far both the show and this site have come since then. While I’m sure we’ll talk about Rebels in the future through think-pieces and various, numerous connections other material will make to it in the years ahead, this is the last review I’ll ever write for an episode of the series and, most importantly, I’m happy to have shared this journey with you, my fellow fans! But enough waxing poetic, let’s get into the series finale review, shall we?!? With “A Fool’s Hope” & “Family Reunion – and Farewell,” Star Wars Rebels has crafted an unforgettable finale, closing off the show in exciting, well-earned ways, while setting up for the next chapter with so many surprises my head is still spinning. Dive below for the spoilers, because there is PLENTY to talk about!
– Spoiler Review –
The majority of the finale is spent focused on the Ghost crew, and the various friends they’ve made along the way, finally fulfilling the promise of freeing Lothal from the grasp of the Empire. This is a mission they take up themselves, not officially sanctioned by the Rebellion, and it shows through their signature habit of increasingly strange, weird, and somewhat unpredictable plans. But to paraphrase Captain Rex from the episode, “The worse the plan, the better the result” when it comes from a Jedi, and Ezra pulls out a few great tricks along the way, including Kanan’s final lesson. What was so great about the action on Lothal, as Governor Pryce is lured out to the rebels’ base by a trick from Ryder Azadi, is how every member of the crew, and their friends, got to shine: Hera piloting like the ace she is, Sabine flying around like a true Mando, Chopper pulling a sick kill, Zeb going crazy with the repeater, the clones getting to fight together again, Ketsu Onyo getting a few chance appearances (not enough, but I’ll take it!), and even Hondo and Melch taking down fools left and right. Ezra’s battle with Rukh was well choreographed, using both of their various skills to their advantage. The battle was frantic, but easy to follow, and provided a real big budget feel to the proceedings, something that remained for the entirety of these final episodes; Happy they seemed to have saved the budget for the finale because anything short of how spectacular everything looked could have robbed it of feeling so epic.
While Pryce is easily fooled by the rebels, helping them gain access to the capital dome ship at the center of the city due to her eventual capture, Thrawn makes his reappearance and is not amused in the slightest. He calls a big, obvious bluff from Ezra, that they’ll blow the ship with themselves on it if he doesn’t let Lothal be, and bombards the civilians of the city. Thrawn counters, Ezra in exchange for Lothal’s safety at the moment, and Ezra accepts. Hera doesn’t allow this of course, having just lost another family member, but Sabine understands and trusts Ezra and helps him rush out to meet Thrawn. The portrayal of Sabine and Ezra working together so well, understanding one another, has been a highlight of these final few episodes and it’s great to see how they’ve grown to trust one another so well. The conversation between Thrawn and Ezra was a fun one, with Ezra calling him out as someone who steals things he doesn’t deserve, and Thrawn happy to do so because he has power and isn’t constrained by morals like Jedi/heroes often are. But Ezra isn’t Thrawn’s problem, and that’s when he dumps Ezra at the foot of a hologram of Emperor Palpatine, looking much like he did pre-Revenge of the Sith.
At the core of the show has always been Ezra, whether you cared for him or not, and this finale focused on him, and rightfully so, but at least gave the rest of the crew a chance to shine as well. For most of the finale Ezra sounds like Kanan did in “Jedi Night,” assured, focused, and making peace with those he loves because he knows what he must do. Kanan’s final lesson to Ezra is letting go, which is more of a sign you love someone than staying attached, as it allows Ezra to make decisions which save his friends, even if it might be at the cost of his own life. Selflessness, the true Jedi way, and a very mature way to show love for those you care about. I have to admit, as he sits in the Ghosts‘ top gun, talking to the hologram of his parents about his new family (with Hera listening in), was one of a few moments that nearly brought me to tears. The next was when he sneaks away to face off against Thrawn, with Sabine putting her trust in him. As for the Emperor’s temptation, a chance to jump into a time when his parents were alive, thanks to the final chunk of the Lothal Jedi Temple being aboard Thrawn’s Star Destroyer, is an obvious gambit to get Ezra to open the portal to the world between worlds one last time so the Emperor can get in. I didn’t really believe Ezra would give in, as he does come close, but Kanan’s final lesson sticks, as he knows fighting on in the name of his parents is better than letting his friends die and escape to what he wants, so he destroys the last bit of the Temple and hopefully the last chance to visit the world between worlds.
Pissed, Palpatine sends IMPERIAL ROYAL GUARDS against him and they look like they would’ve been formidable opponents, and while Ezra defeats them, I hope like hell we see them again. Everything looks to be going well for Ezra, as his surprise plan to call in the purrgil aka space whales (last seen in S2 “The Call”) helps to overrun the Empire over Lothal, he makes decision to ensure Thrawn doesn’t escape this trap: he pulls a Kanan, sacrificing himself to hold Thrawn captured as the purrgil haul Thrawn’s ship into hyperspace with the two of them in it for parts unknown. Is Ezra dead, does Thrawn die too? The rebels stare in shock, but seize the moment and manage to pilot the capital ship safely away from the city and blow it (with Pryce on it!), symbolizing the freedom of Lothal from the Empire. Ezra has always struggled with letting go, as it is what fuels his desire to use the Sith holocron to save his friends after what happened on Malachor, and so many other foolish choices he made throughout the course of the series, so to see him overcome makes for a solid character arc. I always thought he was close to learning this lesson before, but he always went back coveting his attachments instead of understanding he couldn’t always save them, something that caused Anakin to fall to the dark side, but knowing now the end game was this lesson, and how he would react upon learning it, was a setup I’m happy to have sat through during the series. He even recorded a final message, leaving them all little gifts, and Sabine his ultimate trust, in a form of goodbye…for now, which we’ll get in a moment. But to have this series end with Ezra learning such an important lesson, and using it to its full potential which leads to Lothal’s freedom, is an excellent way to wrap things up, giving Rebels a cohesive end, as everything from the finale has been waiting in the wings all series long, in plain sight. Besides the big, giant surprised filled montage at the end…which, like I said, we’ll get to in a moment.
Outside of the main Ezra stuff, the rest of the crew, as I mentioned before, all shines in little moments throughout. Sabine, while not taking up leadership on Mandalore, comes into her own in leading the attack to retake the city’s shield room so Thrawn can’t hurt any more innocents, giving Hera a swelling moment of pride. Zeb does something crazy to help them take over the shields, nearly losing his life in a battle with Rukh, but the latter ends up being fried to a crisp, never meant to fulfill his Legends life, as I had hoped and wished because he really didn’t deserve to be the one who took down Thrawn. Rex and the boys fight together again, though it meant the end of Gregor. And Melch, the Ugnaught with Hondo since S3’s premiere, stole the show a few times doing crazy, funny, but heroic things, and Hondo’s reactions were classic entertainment from the old pirate. And the planet of Lothal, both through the wolves taking up the fight and the citizens revolting once the Empire purrgil towed away, has a chance to get in on the action.
And now for the big, surprise-filled TIME JUMP stuff that we have to unpack. That’s right, Rebels‘ final moments are spent post-Return of the Jedi, with Sabine giving us a low-down on what’s happened since Lothal’s freedom, and it’s stocked with so many big moments I could’ve passed out from each successive reveal. We’ll start small, but awesome, nonetheless. Yes, Rex did fight on Endor, though whether he’s taking the place of Nik Sant or not remains to be seen, but REX LIVES regardless so let’s celebrate! Zeb takes the reformed Kallus to Lira-san, where he’s welcomed with opened arms, and I assume starts a family with Zeb….kidding on the last part (MAYBE), but their friendship is an awesome, precious thing and this was a powerful little moment for the two of them. Thrawn we still don’t know about, but he did at least have tendrils grasp him as Bendu predicted in the S3 finale. And Lothal wasn’t attacked again because a certain Death Star got blown up so the Empire had more pressing matters at hand. And then for the even bigger ones…
JACEN SYNDULLA. And it is TOTALLY spelled that way. Let that sink in for a moment…yes, this does mean he is the child of Hera Syndulla and Kanan Jarrus!!! The implications of Hera and Kanan’s love for one another, throughout the series, has easily signaled they shared intimacy, but they haven’t pursued an actual relationship because the efforts of fighting the Empire were too important/didn’t want distractions like that. By having them kiss on-screen for the first time and just finally profess love in their final moments did feel like a cheat of what has always been there, but with the birth of Jacen Syndulla, it proves they have always been as we imagined them, and they were finally allowing themselves to choose a relationship in this time of war, deciding to deal with the distraction, in these final episode, rather than finally actually being intimate on any level. We’ve known Hera survived till Endor for quite some time, thanks to her Rogue One off-screen mention and later in the Forces of Destiny shorts, but the big reveal of having a child was kept wonderfully as a secret! I immediately had to wonder…do Jacen and Ben Solo grow up as friends, despite Jacen being a few years older? And if Jacen has the Force…PLEASE TELL ME HIS IS NOT AT LUKE’S ACADEMY…I’ll die right here if that happens. But for the time being Jacen and Ben have the potential to know one another and this is a crazy new world. And if you are wondering why the name Jacen is a big deal…it’s because it was the name of Han and Leia’s son in Legends, who would turn to the dark side and be killed by his sister. Regardless, I’m happy the name is revived in a new character…the son of Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla! He has the coolest aunt, Sabine, and uncle, Zeb…EVER. Would’ve been nice for it to be a daughter though, but we’ll take a child of Kanan and Hera regardless.
As for Sabine? She’s cut her hair! Okay, that’s not the most important thing, but it’s the realization of Ezra’s final message to her that is the giant moment: he’s hoping she’ll come find him, wherever the purrgil took him and Thrawn. So yes, Ezra looks to be alive post-RotJ, and it’s up to Sabine to save him…again, like she always does. While I’d like her next steps not to have to be tied up with Ezra, it’s mostly all forgiven because she’s not going on the journey alone: AHSOKA TANO THE WHITE is coming with! Remember, Ezra told her to come find him before she went back through her portal to Malachor? Well, now she’s fulfilling the promise she made! If this is the next animated series, please say some prayers for my soul because it is gone now. Ahsoka and Sabine, journeying across the galaxy together???!!!! Holy. Shit. This is an incredible surprise and amazing direction, and I need to see this all, now. Shoot it directly into my eyeballs. Ahsoka. Sabine. Two of the best female characters in Star Wars, fighting the good fight, together, is a spectacle I don’t think I can handle but desperately need. Will Ahsoka and Luke cross paths at some point? Will Ezra? Who knows, but let’s find out, please!
Update: You can watch the entire Epilogue right here!
Considering The Clone Wars was never given a chance to end as intended, in fact it still has plenty of stories to tell, it has been nice to see some questions answered in Rebels. But better yet, it’s pretty awesome to see what story leaders like Dave Filoni and Carrie Beck, the crew behind the animation, and composer Kevin Kiner managed to cook up when they got to tell the story they wanted and give it a proper ending in the process, as a full rewatch of Rebels in light of the finale will be so rewarding, as little bits will be revealed to hold greater importance in hindsight. It’s not been a perfect road, by any means, but it has been rather wondrous and these finale episodes were a great cap off to the series and the direction it eventually took. And no thank you can be proper without love for the cast: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Taylor Grey, Tiya Sircar, Vanessa Marshall, Steve Blum, Sam Witwer, Lars Mikkelsen, Mary McGlynn, Ashley Eckstein, Stephen Stanton, and so many more have brought these characters to exceptional life, no matter who they played or the scope of the roles, and it is through these people everything finally clicked.
Here are a few other things:
- Where’s Jacen during most of the war, as he’s seemingly not around when Doctor Aphra captures Hera between Ep. IV and V? Maybe there are good babysitters in the galaxy finally!?
- Seriously, loved more Ketsu, but damn was she underutilized. Let’s get pre-Rebels material exploring her and Sabine’s friendship, please!
- Thrawn said Captain Pellaeon…I repeat, he said Captain Pellaeon!! Here’s hoping he didn’t die in the purrgil plow attack, but a great name drop from Legends anyways. However, Rae Sloane has been an even more nuanced Imperial character in the new canon, so I’m fine if this was just an Easter Egg.
- Along with Rukh dying, killing off Pryce was cathartic after she basically killed Kanan.
- I really wish we got some more verbal sparring between Pryce and Kallus.
- At a Q&A held at the fan screening of the finale, Filoni and the cast talk full spoilers about the ending (via EW.com).
- I’m assuming Palpatine appeared as a younger version of himself to Ezra to help make his offer seem less sinister, but having Ian McDiarmid voicing Sheev certainly made it really cool and even more effective.
- I always enjoyed the purrgil episode from S2, so the moment Mart Mattin mentioned Ezra was having him hail something, I knew exactly where they were going. Ezra’s connection to nature through the Force really shined through this final half of the season!
- Look, I know Thrawn’s fate is in the air and what happens here leaves a lot of questions, though our first answers might come from understanding where/when the Thrawn: Alliances book takes place (which releases in
JuneJuly 24). Seeing as Filoni has said Thrawn survives, but he’s still not back at the time jump was roughly 5 years post-Return of the Jedi, Jesse from MakingStarWars suggested on Twitter (scrambled with rot13, so visit rot13.com to unscramble it) a pretty great idea: this basically could be the set up for the canon’s version of a new Thrawn Trilogy! I’d be okay with that!
- This shot below, of a renewed Lothal, is exactly like the one Ezra saw from the same spot when he had a vision of his parents saying goodbye. Love the look of Lothal this way!
- UPDATE: Say goodbye with a supersized Rebels Recon! Filoni confirms Ezra and Thrawn do not die, a final question for Pablo, and the cast and crew recount their favorite moments! Of course, also check out the episode guides: “A Fool’s Hope” mentions there’s a cut of the wolf attack scene with squeaky toy noises and there was nearly a Krennic appearance, while “Family Reunion – and Farewell” gives us the awesome epilogue tune to listen to and answers something I was wondering: Sabine put a purrgil on her armor!
It wasn’t perfect, but it was about as perfect of an ending you could’ve asked for from Star Wars Rebels, as it gave the series a cohesive feeling and satisfying ending, while setting up exciting new story threads fans will hope to see continued. It also helps make this goodbye just a little bit easier, though I still need to emotionally consume some ice cream.
+ Ezra’s journey and Lothal’s freedom
+ How it all makes the series feel like one, giant connected thing
+ JACEN SYNDULLA?!?!?!?!
+ AHSOKA AND SABINE ADVENTURING
– As great as it was to see all the characters from throughout the series together, it reminds us how some of them were shafted/forgotten until now
STAR WARS REBELS REVIEWS:
Season Four: Ep.1/2: “Heroes of Mandalore” Part One / Part Two | Ep. 3/4: “In the Name of the Rebellion” | Ep. 5: “The Occupation” | Ep. 6: “Flight of the Defender” | Ep. 7/8: “Kindred” and “Crawler Commandeers” | Ep. 9: “Rebel Assault” | Ep. 10/11 “Jedi Night” and “Dume” | Ep. 12/13: “Wolves and a Door” & “A World Between Worlds”
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 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 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”