I may have jokingly compared Rebels to Firefly in my first review but now in the run up to the fourth and final season I realise how much the show has evolved. I usually give Disney the benefit of the doubt when they acquire new properties whereas the Internet generally feared their handling of Marvel and Star Wars as if the movies would suddenly be full of princesses, mouse ears and jaunty musical numbers. Rebels is/was the first star wars animation under Disney’s ownership and that was enough to turn a lot of people off. In my first review I made comparison with Aladdin and Firefly but it cant be overstated how “Star Wars” this show is... for me it felt more true to the universe than The Force Awakens did. Thinking back, the first season’s popularity probably wasn’t helped by the few Disney-esque touches. Ezra, wide eyed street rat kid with floppy hair ventures out into the world, finds himself in situations out of his depth thanks to his naiveté and overconfidence. There's a little too much focus on "annoying kid gets into comedic scrapes" to start with.
Thankfully he grows up fast and by the time of the second season it’s much easier to take him seriously despite the occasional overconfident outburst. By this point the show itself is confident enough to spend time on other characters. Zeb’s warrior heritage lets him bond with an unlikely ally, we see Hera Syndulla's relationship with her family and background during the war, Sabine's past catches up with her forcing her to grow too and later giving us a closer look at Mandalorian society. Kanan continues being one of the more human Jedi mentors we’ve seen despite some personal set backs. The characters and relationships in this team have grown and evolved more over these 3 seasons than you see in some big name TV shows, some that have run for years.
Looking at the wider story we get a gripping insight into the formation of the rebellion and its impact on individual settlements and the series might be the best current (canon) exploration of the force; the light, the dark and the grey in between. There’s some more diversity between force users from returning characters and epic sci-fi guest appearances to Darth Vader’s chilling reappearance well before Rogue One was making headlines.
Rebels also happens to feature some edge-of-your-seat space battles, personally I can’t get enough of well thought out starship shootouts. If you account for classic star wars cinematography, familiar soundtrack and smexy smexy ship designs and there’s no way I can resist. It’s particularly nice to see some ships resurrected from the old Expanded Universe (now known as non-canon Legends). They’re not the only things to make a comeback either as story threads between Episode 3 and 4 (of the movies) bring in familiar characters and settings, there’s even space to shake things up with popular EU characters particularly Grand Admiral Thrawn who is on a whole other level to the general Empire schmucks the rebels have been running wrings round.
With the fourth and final season is airing in the UK starting 28th October 2017 there's no better time to get caught up and prepared for the conclusion to the Ghost's crew's story. With a closer look at Mandalore, rising stakes against the empire, deepening personal conflicts, fan pleasing crossover appearances and the looming shadow of Rogue One and A New Hope edging closer this is going to be some good TV... oh and it's all part of the new Star Wars canon.