No matter how many times I swear off of Star Wars, I just keep managing to go back to it. I can’t help it. I’ve been in love with the mythos since 1998 when I saw it in all of its original glory on my cousin’s old VHS box set, and it’s had a hold on me. Since Disney bought the franchise a few years ago, it’s managed to accomplish so much with the stagnant series, and I’m glad we’re seeing forward motion in the right direction with the narrative. The Expanded Universe is gone, there are more movies on the way, and “Star Wars: Rebels” has been a wonderful precursor to he new trilogy. Aside from being fun, exciting and compelling, it’s also helped improve what the prequels damaged. The show has a ton of great qualities but we settled on five major accomplishments it’s brought to the table. Here are five things the series has done right.
LANDO CALRISSIAN IS COOL
People that mainly know Lando Calrissian as the traitor from “Empire” will be happy to see that he’s redeemed here big time. When we first see him, he’s a huckster and a debonair hustler who takes the crew on a ride after beating them at gambling. Lando is given a lot of guest spots with the one and only Billy Dee Williams reprising the role, and he’s given a chance to show that not only is he not a coward, but he does whatever he has to to survive. There’s thankfully no real mention of Han Solo yet, but I’m happy for that. I love Solo, but I want Lando to stand on his own. He acts as a guide to the growing rebellion while also showing that he’s occasionally in it for himself. He’s a smooth talker and a charmer, but one with an ace up his sleeve every time. I’m glad we get to know Lando more as the series progresses.
DARTH VADER IS MENACING AGAIN
If you’re still fuming over the prequels turning Vader in to a whiny petulant brat with a power trip, “Rebels” really redeems the character. Darth Vader is a force to be reckoned with and one of the best villains this series has had yet. He’s not the main villain, but he’s surely one that makes his presence felt in the season two premiere event. Based around the original designs by Ralph McQuarrie, and voiced by James Earl Jones, the show gives us a look in to the legendary Vader/Anakin Skywalker, and what he’s capable of. Not only does he use his force with great ability, but he’s able to take on Kanan and Ezra without even breaking a sweat. To make things worse, when he attacks a rebel star fighter, he does so single handedly, brings down a squadron all alone, and crashes the starfighter without anyone’s help. This is the Vader of legends that we’ve heard about but rarely seen.
IT SIMPLIFIED STAR WARS AGAIN
No more trade federations, no more politics, no more military strategy, no more clones, no more crapola that bogged down the prequels and the “Clone Wars” series. It’s just stripped down and simplified Star Wars as I love it. It’s about a rebel crew accidentally taking part in the rebellion resistance, and watching as the rising tide of volunteers sets the stages for the original trilogy. And thankfully there’s no Extended Universe junk as Disney has officially declared all of it null.
IT’S AN INTERESTING PREQUEL… WHAT A CONCEPT!
“Rebels” is a prequel to the original trilogy, technically, even though it follows the prequels directly after Anakin becomes Vader. It just serves to prove that not all things prequel stinks, and “Rebels” certainly doesn’t stink. It has lovable characters, wonderful Easter eggs, great action sequences, new takes on the lightsaber, and features very carefully measured appearances from classic characters like Yoda, the droids, and Darth Vader.
IT HELPED MAKE AHSOKA TANI INTERESTING
There wasn’t any indication that the new show “Rebels” would pay mind to previous shows or movies, but surely enough here is Ahsoka Tani proving she belongs in the canon just as much as anyone else. Originally just a pandering character for female audiences, “Rebels” has shown she is a very important character and is quite the warrior to boot. When we first see her she’s simply known by the codename Fulcrum, who helps the Ghost crew build the foundation for the rebellion. We get a true definition of her character as well as the answer to her reaction to Anakin becoming a Sith Lord in the season two premiere when Darth Vader senses her and declares “The Apprentice Lives!” Perhaps she faked her death like Yoda and hid out. Either way Vader knows she’s alive, and she has to work harder now more than ever to build the resistance against the Empire.