[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from the “Star Wars Rebels” season finale episodes “A Fool’s Hope” and “Family Reunion and Farewell.”
“Star Wars Rebels” has disbanded. After four satisfying seasons, numerous covert operations, flirtations with the Dark Side, tests of character, breathtaking planet-scapes, and exciting cameos, young Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) fulfilled his destiny as a Jedi and saved his planet of Lothal. In the process, he was whisked away by the Purrgil, those giant purple space whales that also have the ability to fly through hyperspace. His fellow rebel Sabine Wren (Tiya Sircar) was lost for a while afterwards, but finally realized she had the task to go find him with the help of Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), the “Clone Wars” fan-favorite character making a cameo one last time.
After Kanan Jarrus’ (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) big sacrifice only a few episodes ago, this ending allowed the series to go out on a note of hope. It was somewhat unexpected, especially knowing that the events that would follow, leading up to a bigger galactic rebellion that’s seen in “Episode IV: A New Hope.”
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“I wanted people to understand once they overthrew the empire, that there were expectations of a large battle that never happened,” said Filoni. “Basically, our story ends, and then Scarif and the whole Luke Skywalker thing happens. When Luke happens, the emperor’s attentions are completely refocused. He has a series of defeats after losing the Death Star. His entire plan of fear is based on having a Death Star. Now his, you know, his trying to subject fear on the galaxy is completely inversed and now the emperor is actually afraid because that wasn’t supposed to happen…
“The reason they have accumulated this power and they persecute people is because they’re terrified inside,” he continued. “They cause pain and devastation to compensate for this fear. So his fear of Luke skywalker drives his attention away from Lothal so those people ended up benefiting the end. It was all kind of a matter of timing. But I wanted to get through part of the story that you understood that happy ending. you know, so many people are obsessed with everybody dying.”
Much more also went down in the hour-and-a-half series finale, and at an advance screening last week, series co-creator Dave Filoni and key cast members – Taylor Gray (Ezra Bridger), Tiya Sircar (Sabine Wren), Steven Blum (Zeb), and Vanessa Marshall (Hera Syndulla) addressed some of the revelations and answered fan questions to the best of their ability.
Here are highlights from the event:
Ezra’s Double Sacrifice
In the finale, Ezra is tested when a disguised Palpatine (Ian Diarmid) tempts him with a happier alternate life, one in which his parents are still alive and waiting to welcome him. Knowing that his fellow rebels need him, Ezra turns his back on the tantalizing image, thus causing Palpatine to reveal his true face.
“Ezra has seen him as evil and so evil has to be deceptive too,” said Filoni. “To challenge Ezra, he appears as this pleasant person. You can figure out technically how he does that with old holograms or whatever. What’s important is this is, this is the way he deceives you: Oh look, he’s not so bad. He’s this kindly old grandfather-looking guy, and that makes you want to trust him a little more, trust a little more.
“The whole trick there is that the emperor hears what Ezra desires most in the world between worlds. When he says, ‘Sometimes I wish my life was different. Sometimes I wish I could just be with my mom and dad,’ because when you’re pressed into difficult choices, your gut reaction is not wrong… That’s just the burden of being a hero and you have to be careful [if] that wish is given or granted to you.”
He also knew that in working with the Purrgil, he would have to stay with them when they left, and that left his friends unsure about his ultimate fate. Giving up the family he’d built for himself was no small sacrifice.
Gray addressed Ezra’s ultimate act and how that fit the man he’d become after training under Kanan.
“Kanan kind of led the way with his whole selfless act and … he came to be whole. Seeing the process that Kanan went through and how that came to an end, I think that was when we started talking about how Ezra is going to do something similar,” said Gray. “He has been led by this guy forever. Now he understands he must do something similar. The fun stuff, which we talked about – a lot of it was going to be that little nod and everything to Sabine in the end… entrusting her and that relationship that they’ve built and so to see how it ends with her going off with Ahsoka to come back to find him.”
Sabine’s New Adventure and Hairdo
Actor Donald Faison, who had attended the screening, was really keen to find out how soon if/when a Sabine-Ahsoka series would be realized, but Filoni wouldn’t tip his hand either way.
“Obviously it’s intriguing. It would probably make a good story,” he acknowledged. “There are so many stories to tell, Donald. I’ve been so busy finishing this story to think of another one while I’m doing that… I have this crazy thing: I have to know what the story is about before I tell it.”
Prompted by another (less famous) audience member who was a fan of the Mandalorians and wanted a hint about their future, Filoni would only say, “There’s absolutely no way I can answer that… Opinion noted. I shall take it back to LucasFilm, and we’ll see what develops. You never know.”
Sircar, who was entrusted with the secret of Sabine’s new mission, found it difficult to stay mum but was delighted that Filoni had faith in her.
As for Sabine’s penchant for changing up her hairdo regularly, she explained, “Sabine is a munitions expert and a warrior, but then she also has this artistic side and she loves art and beautiful aesthetics. Also she’s a teenager, so she likes to change it up…sometimes she wants purple hair, sometimes she wants to blue hair, and why not have both? She’s Mandalorian so her armor is very important to her, and so decorating her armor I think is really meaningful for her, but I think the hair is just for fun.”
Hera’s Love Child
The series had been teasing a very strong flirtation/romance between Hera and Kanan for a while now, but after his death, that dream seems to have died. When the finale makes a time jump, however, Hera has a toddler, who is clearly the result of a deep and loving relationship with the former Jedi.
“You guys would always ask bout that relationship,” said Vanessa Marshall. “I think it was pretty serious. Now we have evidence, and I had no idea [how serious]. Yeah, the baby shower will be next week.”
Rex Continues to Fight
The veteran clone trooper was another character who crossed over from “Clone Wars,” and despite a close call, it’s learned that he survives and even makes it to the Battle of Endor. While Filoni didn’t address this fate, he did reveal how he had wanted Rex to carry over from the beginning of “Rebels.”
“The only thing that I had thought was what’s going to happen to Ahsoka and Rex,” he said. “So that I gave a tremendous amount of thought. And some of those thoughts then wound up in ‘Rebels,’ some versions of confrontations and things. And I always thought that Rex would have this beard.”
A Fine Bromance
The coda given to Zeb Orrelios and Agent Alexsandr Kallus (David Oyelowo) is intriguing in that Kallus had participated in the genocide of Zeb’s people, the Lasat on planet Lasan. Although Kallus eventually realized the error of his ways and began to help the rebels, that had always hung over him. In the finale, Zeb reveals to Kallus that many of the Lasat had not been killed and introduced him to his people.
“I got my man in the end,” said Blum. “That was the greatest gift you had ever given me.”
The series finale credits finally revealed that Chopper (C1-10P) had been voiced by none other than Dave Filoni, who hadn’t initially planned to play the droid, but identified with it.
“I had a lot of people attempt to do it. I said,’Guys, no, Chopper is a likable jerk. So let me show you what that’s like. I’m good at that,’” said Filoni. “I found that out. I can be likable but a jerk. Ask my wife… We hadto deliver the first short to Disney to watch, and we didn’t have a final Chopper voice. And I said, ‘Alright, I’m gonna just do this.’ And then when we screened it. Bob Iger said, ‘I really liked that little droid.’ And I was like, ‘Well, now I’m stuck.’”