Of all the various spin-off properties the Disney Star Wars universe has given us, the animated Star Wars Rebels TV series has been the most intriguing on a large scale. The follow-up effort to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, it’s given us two seasons chock full of new adventures, characters, and stories. On top of all that, it’s also answered a handful of pressing questions that the films don’t have the time or bandwidth to address themselves.
We’ve seen characters thought to be long-gone returned to the fold. All the while, new characters have infused their own special energy into an already rich Star Wars saga. The sum total has been a series with plenty to offer fans, even doubling largely as a cartoon series for a decidedly younger demographic. Season 3 kicks into gear September 24, so let’s jump into some of the more pressing questions the series has answered for us so far.
1. There were other Jedi helping the Rebellion
In the original trilogy, it was widely assumed that Luke Skywalker was the first active Jedi since the Empire took over, and that Obi Wan and Yoda were the last survivors of Order 66. As it turns out, Caleb Dume, a Padawan who fought in the Clone Wars, was still at large. Dume later changed his name to Kanan Jarrus to hide his identity, before teaming up with Hera Syndulla and joining the fledgling Rebellion. In Rebels, we see Kanan taking on a Padawan of his own in young Ezra Bridger.
It seems curious that neither were on Luke’s radar during his own Jedi training, but the hope is that Rebels will seek to explain that in some way before the series wraps up.
2. Darth Maul is still alive and causing trouble
Despite his across-the-board popularity in The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul was criminally under-utilized in the primary portion of the prequel trilogy. That made it that much more exciting when he was brought back for The Clone Wars, having survived his injuries at the hands of Obi Wan. The series kept his eventual fate even at the end of the The Clone Wars up in the air though, leaving many to wonder if or when he’d return.
Rebels answered that question in Season 2, bringing him back into the fold in his quest for vengeance against his former master, Emperor Palpatine. He’ll once again make his presence known in Season 3, as Ezra begins to battle his own inner dark side demons.
3. Ahsoka Tano’s post-Clone Wars fate
Ahsoka Tano endeared herself to fans immediately during her initial arc as one of The Clone Wars‘ main characters. Originally, Anakin Skywalker’s first and only apprentice, she left the Jedi Order at the conclusion of the series, after they failed to stand behind her when she was framed for a crime she didn’t commit. She resurfaced in Season 2 of Rebels, acting as an informant to the Rebellion, while occasionally stepping in to help the crew of the Ghost on various missions. This all culminated in a climactic showdown with her former master (above), with her fate left uncertain. On one hand, it seems unlikely that she survived the encounter. On the other, it’s tough to count out the fan-favorite just yet.
4. The Inquisitors
Introducing an interesting wrinkle into the Star Wars mythology, Rebels revealed the existence of an order of red-bladed Inquisitors. Their main reason for existence within the Empire was to hunt down what remains of the Jedi Order, while also gathering Force-sensitive children to add to their ranks. That said, they were also not fully Sith, deriving much of their training from what remained of the Jedi archives.
Given that they weren’t seen in any of the original trilogy (or the initial footage from Rogue One), we can safely assume that the Inquisitors didn’t survive long. Still though, they’ve proven to be worthy adversaries for our Rebels heroes throughout the short run of the series.
5. Darth Vader before A New Hope
Much of the Darth Vader we’ve seen in Star Wars ties into his relationship with his son, Luke, and his eventual redemption in Return of the Jedi. What we haven’t seen much of are his days before the original trilogy, when he was ruthlessly acting as the Emperor’s terrifying and mysterious right-hand man.
Rebels’ second season has Vader acting as the primary villain, eventually doing battle with his former apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. James Earl Jones even returns as the voice of Darth Vader himself, giving us the full Sith Lord experience. Next up for the man formerly known as Anakin Skywalker is an appearance in Rogue One.
6. Grand Admiral Thrawn rejoins the Star Wars canon
Back when Disney first bought Lucasfilm, one of the studio’s first moves was to remove the dozens of Expanded Universe novels from the official Star Wars canon, in the interest of creating a new story with an updated trilogy.
Unfortunately, this also took a handful of amazingly compelling characters out of the picture, most prominently Grand Admiral Thrawn. A master strategist, Thrawn acted as the primary villain for Han, Luke, and Leia post-Return of the Jedi, and his trilogy of novels by Timothy Zahn are widely regarded as the best the Expanded Universe ever gave us. Rebels returns the blue-skinned Grand Admiral to the canon in Season 3, showing us firsthand that Lucasfilm is willing to listen to the wants and needs of fans.
Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels premieres on September 24, 2016.
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