With “A Fool’s Hope” and the two-part “Family Reunion and Farewell,” Star Wars Rebels has finally come to a close. Though fans were understandably disappointed when executive producer Dave Filoni announced that season 4 would be the last, this decision allowed Filoni and his creative team to end the beloved, game-changing series on their own terms. Indeed, this past season of Star Wars Rebels has pulled out all the stops when it comes to the more mysterious elements of Star Wars lore. But it has also stayed true to the show’s main characters: Ezra Bridger, Sabine Wren, Kanan Jarrus, Hera Syndulla, and the entirety of the Ghost crew.

The three-episode finale brought back a whole host of familiar faces and sent others into space for some new and enticing adventures. There were Loth-wolves. There were temptations to the Dark Side. And there was a spine-tingling time jump. The Star Wars Rebels series finale may not have been the flashiest episode of the show, but it tied up several themes and storylines in a tight little bow…while giving us hope for a whole new series of adventures.

/Film’s resident Star Wars experts, Allyson Gronowitz and Rosie Knight, sat down to talk about the Rebels finale, its grand reveals, and how the overall series impacts the Star Wars universe and fandom. Naturally, major spoilers follow.

Meeting Expectations

Rosie: In my opinion, it was hard for the team to top what they introduced in “World Between Worlds.” That was such a shattering, incredible reveal. Star Wars has long been a beacon in the world of science fiction, but to see them commit to such a hard sci-fi concept, and its huge ramifications, was utterly magical. Plus, I adore the legacy aspect of Star Wars lore, so hearing all of the voices throughout the galaxy’s history moved me in a profound way.

In the end, the team did a really solid job and airing the final three episodes together was a stroke of genius. I thoroughly enjoyed the exploration of the Empire as colonists, stealing artifacts, art and knowledge from other worlds. Star Wars always excels when it commits to political and allegorical narratives and I loved that side of the finale. I also loved that Ezra lifted some rocks, because we all know that’s what the Force is really about.

What I wasn’t expecting was for Rebels to set up a direct follow up series, and to be honest, the final moments of the show totally blew me away, I’m super stoked at the potential spin-off starring Ahsoka and Sabine. The idea of two badass women exploring space, both of whom have  already made such a huge impact on the galaxy, is more than I could have hoped for.

Allyson: I agree. I sort of knew before I sat down to watch the three-part finale that nothing would be able to top “A World Between Worlds” in terms of narrative audacity and universe-shaking storytelling implications. And given the way that “World Between Worlds” literally bridged all of the different stories in the Star Wars universe, I feel like that episode would have been a more fitting finale. But the actual finale doubled down on the commitment to telling Ezra’s story and the story of the Ghost crew, rather than turning the show into an Easter egg hunt for fans of the movies. Rebels truly does stand on its own, and this is evidenced by the Ghost crew declining a suggestion to hit up the Rebellion for help, instead allowing our heroes to shine one last time.

Of course, Sabine’s closing monologue allowed us to have it both ways. The words “Battle of Endor” sent me into a fit of glee because of the way it conclusively connects this show to the original trilogy and confirms that Rex is indeed the old guy on Endor. And, I have to admit, the last 30 seconds thrilled me more than all of the 89 and half minutes leading up to it, so there is still something to be said for having Rebels embrace its place as part of the larger legends of the Star Wars universe.

I also feel like the entire opening episode of the finale was a bit too drawn-out; a fight sequence like that usually takes up only about two minutes on your average episode of Rebels. Oftentimes, the brilliance of the storytelling on Rebels comes from its condensed nature, so I didn’t really love the pacing of the triple-episode approach. But, hey: it allowed the show to give a proper send-off to characters like Kallus, Ketsu, and the incomparable Hondo Ohnaka! And here’s one thing I certainly did not expect to walk away with after the finale: an appreciation for the Kallus/Zeb ship. All aboard Kalluzeb!

The Progression of Ezra

Rosie: I definitely think that Rebels‘ strength is in its ensemble cast and universe-building. Though as the seasons progressed, I definitely found the ever-evolving relationship between Ezra and Kanan to be one of the more interesting parts of the show, and Ezra’s friends consistently made me care more about him. I also think Ezra fits into the Star Wars protagonist tradition pretty well as OG protagonist Luke was also an awkward, dumb kid who just happened to be Force Sensitive, as was Anakin in the prequels, so I don’t think Ezra breaks any boundaries there. I do think he’s had an interesting character arc and that the addition of the mystic Force elements have cemented his character’s place in Star Wars history.

Allyson: I’ve had issues with Ezra for a while. Nothing to write home about, mind you, but I always felt that he was the weakest or least interesting character of the bunch. Even Chopper had more of a magnetic personality! I do think Ezra grew a lot over the first two seasons – he and Kanan both went through pretty powerful transformations to become the dynamic master-apprentice duo we came to know and love, as Kanan wrestled with his survivor’s guilt and sense of imposter syndrome and Ezra came to realize he needs to let the past go (I’m sensing a Last Jedi connection! Especially when Ezra tells the holo of his parents that he will “finish what they started”…) and devote himself to a cause higher than himself.

But I felt that his growth arc peaked too early, and he kept learning and relearning the same lesson for a while. I almost feel like Kanan’s death should have occurred at the end of last season, because the Ezra that emerges from the ashes of his master’s death is much more mature, and very much the leader we’ve been waiting for him to become this whole time. Even so, this finale offered such a beautiful coda to the lesson of learning to let go when Ezra gazed into the Force-powered Mirror of Erised and had to decide to leave his parents behind. It reminded me of the Mirror Cave scene in The Last Jedi, when Rey hopes to see her parents, but instead sees only herself. Ezra does see his parents but chooses himself and therefore his future: “Mom, Dad, you’ll always be a part of me. But I have to let you go.” ALL OF MY TEARS.

Rosie: I totally agree. I cried A LOT during this episode, and watching Ezra finally understand and commit to the idea of the family he’s chosen over himself and what he’s lost was a such powerful moment. I hope that we get to see more of this version of Ezra in whatever Filoni and the team do next. His journey had a payoff which was truly earned, but it was over too fast.

Doing Right By Female Characters

Rosie: Part of what first caused me to fall in love with The Clone Wars and Rebels were their exploration and introduction of strong women in the Star Wars universe. Rebels is definitely at its best when it focuses on the women at the center of the stories and the later seasons really excel at that. Sabine’s arc has been a standout one to me, as she has grappled with her identity, journey and place in the galaxy. It was so lovely to see the creators hone in on Ezra and Sabine but avoid the obvious inclination to cement a romance between the pair, just creating a pure and devoted friendship. It’s strange to say it, but that choice is radical, not just in Star Wars but in pop culture in general. To have Sabine take the reins at the end of the show, writing her own history whilst sharing that of the people she loved, was a stunning and powerful moment.

Allyson: Both Star Wars animated series really broke new ground in terms of spotlighting female characters in the Star Wars universe and giving them their own storylines. The Clone Wars plucked some of the silent female Jedi who stand around in the background of the prequel trilogy and gave them – gasp! – speaking roles and rich backstories, while introducing us to one of (if not the) most impactful female characters to come from the animated realm: Ahsoka Tano. Rebels continued on with this tradition not only by bringing Ahsoka back into the fold, but by creating a whole host of new proud, complicated, empowered female characters like Sabine Wren, Hera Syndulla, and even Arihnda Pryce.

And as far as Sabine is concerned, I cannot overstate how important it is to see a young woman stand on her own, suffer her own trials, and come out the other side stronger for it – without being defined by a romantic relationship with a man. It certainly must have been tempting for the writers to pair up Ezra and Sabine at some point, but I love, love, love that the show decided to explore their relationship in a more familial way.

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