Easily the best thing and the most exciting thing to happen on the first season of “Rebels” is the reappearance of Ahsoka Tano, now an adult, at the end of the season finale. Sure it was nice seeing Darth Vader too but bringing back the beloved star of Clone Wars opens a lot of doors and raises a lot of new questions. Besides posing as “Fulcrum,” what does she do for the Rebellion? How did she get involved? Does she know Yoda and Obi-Wan are alive and in hiding? Does she know Darth Vader is her former master? Will she and Vader ever meet? Does she know about Luke or Leia, especially since it seems Bail Organa knows who she is? Will she survive another Great Wall o’ Canon the way she’d obviously survived Order 66?
And as Big Shiny Robot says, this also opens the door to 14 years’ worth of stories about Ahsoka’s post-Clone Wars adventures.
Still, Ahsoka won’t be featured all of the time and “Rebels” is still being carried by a cast of relatively new characters. One of which has already committed suicide, the baddy Inquisitor. Or is he dead? If Darth Maul can be resurrected from being cut in half, then the Inquisitor may not necessarily have died. It is also possible that other Inquisitors and Jedi hunters will be introduced in the next season. Then during sweeps Vader can show up to cause more trouble.
The good guys are likable enough to varying degrees, with the master and padawan relationship between Kanan and Ezra perhaps the most interesting. Kanan had all but forgotten about his past and is kind of cranky he has to train an occasionally annoying teenage boy, but knows he has to do it. My only quibble with this is that Ezra is already doing way better than Luke, Chosen One Jr., ever did in the films. He’s a tad too good at least in skills if not in discipline, which makes you wonder why Obi-Wan and Yoda didn’t just train him then. (Unless of course Ezra dies or quits the ways of the Force.) I can buy that a few people managed to escape the Jedi purge but they really need to stop finding Jedi under doormats everywhere. Again, it cheapens what’s in the movies. Ahsoka’s it, guys. Please? I’d asked for more character development with the other members of the Ghost’s crew and I was glad to see more of den mother Hera in action. The voice acting is pretty decent overall but things will get even more interesting with Sam Witwer and Sarah Michelle Gellar (Mrs. Kanan) join the cast next season along with obviously Ashley Eckstein.
Henry Gilroy turned in some solid scripts the second half of the season and what happens in an extended Season Two depends on whether he and the other writers are willing/able to push the envelope the way they did on Clone Wars. While “Rebels” is set a few years before ANH, it is nice that the show frequently acknowledges the past, incorporating Clone Wars and stuff from the prequel trilogy wherever appropriate.
The animation still looks like they are trying as hard as possible to get what they can from a smaller budget. While some fans say that “Rebels” first season looks better than Clone Wars’s first season, it’s certainly not a patch on what was in Clone Wars Season Six. Disney needs to kick in some more bucks into the budget to allow “Rebels” a greater sense of scale and allowing the animators to get even more creative.
Someone commenting on SWPAS brought up a good point. The overall look of “Rebels” is very conventional while Clone Wars was very cinematic, even daringly so with its camera work. I don’t know if it’s a budget issue or if it’s a creative issue but it’s something the show’s makers should think about.
Anyway, Season Two holds a lot of promise. While I still think it has a long way to go to match its predecessor, it’s possible we will be very surprised by what they can do 2015-16. We’ll just have to see. As it is “Rebels” is good, solid 22 minutes of entertainment. The question is if there is a push to be even better.