Saturday afternoon at Star Wars Celebration was rebel territory, thanks to an information-packed panel all about “Star Wars Rebels” Season 3, along with the exclusive premiere of the first two new episodes from the animated series. Co-creator Dave Filoni hit the Celebration stage in London alongside “Rebels” stars Tiya Sircar (who voices Sabine) and Sam Witwer (who voices Darth Maul and the Emperor on the show) to talk about what fans can expect to see from the newest season.
In short, it’s a lot. From the introduction of new characters (and maybe a few not-so-new characters) to some major developments from old favorites, along with the kind of reveal that made a grown man sitting in front of me stand up and cheer “YESSS!!!,” Season 3 does not appear to be holding back (even if Filoni had to, just a little bit).
So what can fans of “Star Wars Rebels” expect to see when the show returns for Season 3? Here’s what you can look forward to, thanks to both a very enlightening panel and the first two episodes of the new season. (And, yes, lots of spoilers ahead.)
1. The Return Of Ahsoka Tano
Although Season 2 ended with Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan learner battling him (now in Darth Vader form!), leaving the door open for fans to speculate about her fate, Filoni hesitated to offer up a complete answer — and, no, the first two episodes of the season don’t feature her, though she is mentioned in the past tense — leaving “Rebels” fans on the hook for an Ahsoka return. When asked about her final fate, Filoni said, “It’s likely that you might not have seen the last of Ahsoka Tano.” Filoni did, however, admit that he could he be hedging his bets — maybe she’ll come back in a flashback! — he did seem loath to let go of the beloved character wholesale.
2. A Blind Kanan Jarrus
The Jedi hero was recently blinded by Darth Maul during a lightsaber duel, and that’s not something that’s going to quickly change once the new season kicks off. When the show returns, Kanan is still blind, but he is soon forced to find a way to deal with his injury and its repercussions. Per Filoni, being blind “changes the way he looks at life, makes him a better Jedi and more compelling in the long run.” That’s something that becomes very apparent in the first two episodes, as Kanan meets a new character (more on him soon) who pushes him to adapt to his new condition in unexpected ways.
3. Sassy Teen Ezra
During the panel, Filoni indicated that teen hero and Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger is going to be going through some big changes — many of them effecting his attitude and choices — that could be attributed to good old teenage growing pains. But while the first two episodes of the new season definitely show a stronger, more forceful Ezra taking charge, it’s hard to blame hormones for what plays out on the small screen. Ezra is eager to do more, but thanks to a partially absentee Kanan and the looming influence of the Holocron, that doesn’t always come out in the best of ways. Although Ezra earns a promotion early on, his cocky attitude and a series of bad demands of his crew very nearly destroy everyone and everything. And that’s just what we’ve seen so far…
4. New Looks For Some Characters
Yes, Ezra has a haircut. But some of the other “Rebels” characters are sporting new looks too, including Sabine, who is rocking a brand new hair color (and who was eventually sport a new jetpack and a darksaber, origins unclear), and Hera, who is leaning more into the Rebellion in ways that are reflected by her outfit choices (including a Rebellion-issued badge).
5. A “Rogue One” Influence
Filoni revealed that he and the “Rebels” team have been working with the much larger and wide-ranging Lucasfilm story department to more closely align not just the look and feel of the two properties, but to match up possible story beats. Synergy!
6. Darth Maul Searching For A Purpose
The Sith Lord has been knocked down and cut up time and time again, and Filoni promises that will feed into his search for a real purpose during the upcoming season. One thing that might help (well, help him, and likely no one else) is his interest in using Ezra as his apprentice. The battle-scarred warrior surely has much to teach, too bad it’s all from the dark side of the Force.
7. The Introduction Of Some Old Favorites
This season of “Rebels” will see the expansion of the rebel forces, including the addition of a young Wedge Antilles, who breaks away from the Empire to serve the Rebellion.
8. A New Kind Of Force Being
The new character that helps Kanan deal with his blindness? That’s Bendu, an ancient and powerful creature who refuses to dedicate himself to the light side or the dark side. He’s somewhere in the middle, though that does not seem to impact the very real ways in which he interacts with the Force. Voiced by former “Doctor Who” star Tom Baker, Kanan meets Bendu early on in the new season, and he has a big effect right away.
9. Grand Admiral Thrawn
You read that right. The Expanded Universe fan favorite created by author Timothy Zahn is joining “Rebels.” Though Zahn’s immensely popular EU novels are no longer considered canon, the character of Thrawn — voiced by Lars Mikkelsen — has been tapped to join the cast. While it’s unclear which of Zahn’s original stories will make their way into rounding out the blue-skinned baddie, he’s just as terrifying as ever and Zahn, who appeared via prerecorded video, made it clear how pleased he is with what “Rebels” has done with his creation. Even better, Zahn has written a new book — just titled “Thrawn” — that will debut next year.
And, no, you don’t have to wait to see Thrawn. He shows up in the very first episode of Season 3.
10. Some Answers, Not All
During the panel, Sircar revealed that, no, Season 3 is not going have all the answers that fans are looking for. “We won’t know everything in Season 3,” the actress said, but it sure seems like we’re going to know quite a bit.
Check out the brand new trailer for “Star Wars Rebels” Season 3 below:
“Star Wars Rebels” Season 3 will debut this fall on Disney XD.