Disclaimer: This review does contain spoilers; it is impossible to discuss the second season of Star Wars Rebels without mentioning major events from the first. Read at your own risk.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars may have been cancelled after several seasons, much to the dismay of fans, but with the arrival of Star Wars Rebels, fans of the Galaxy Far Far Away once again have plenty of new adventures to look forward to. Unlike The Clone Wars, which was set in the Prequel Trilogy era between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Rebels is set in the Classic Trilogy era, just five years before the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (AKA the original 1977 film).
In the first season of Star Wars Rebels, we were introduced to the crew of the starship Ghost, who were fighting a war against the Galactic Empire by stealing supplies from the Imperials and offering them to disenfranchised refugees on the planet Lothal, down on their luck no thanks to the Empire's rule. The crew initially consists of the Twi’lek captain Hera Syndulla, Lasat warrior Zeb Orrelios, former Imperial Academy student and artist Sabine Wren, crudely assembled astromech droid Chopper, and Kanan Jarrus, a former Jedi Padawan that survived Order 66 and had been in hiding from the Empire prior to the events of the story told on the show.
During one of their missions in the first season, the crew was joined by a Lothal orphan, Ezra Bridger, who Kanan noticed had a strong connection to the Force. Despite his initial self-serving attitude, Ezra joins the crew, befriending them and becoming a Jedi student under Kanan’s tutelage. The group wages war against the Imperials on their own terms, but find themselves face to face with some unexpected deadly foes, including the Grand Inquisitor and Grand Moff Tarkin.
Following a struggle to rescue Kanan from the Empire, he narrowly manages to defeat the Grand Inquisitor and escape with his life, but not before the Empire opts to send more Inquisitors to hunt down these surviving Jedi. Even the Emperor’s loyal Sith Lord, Darth Vader, is sent on the case. But the Ghost crew discovers new allies in the form of a fledgling, larger Rebel movement, which includes heroes such as another former Jedi Padawan, Ahsoka Tano.
With their new allies, the Lothal Rebels find themselves facing a curious dilemma – do they continue to play the role of intergalactic Robin Hoods, or do they opt to join in the bigger, more direct battle against the Galactic Empire? The stakes are higher in the show’s second season, as the crew finds themselves traveling across the galaxy, encountering new and old friends and foes alike. Characters from The Clone Wars, including Clone Trooper Rex, space pirate Hondo Ohnaka, and even a former Sith Lord all make comebacks throughout the course of the season. Even a pre-Episode IV Princess Leia makes an appearance! The season ends on a less than optimistic note, with Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka doing battle with multiple Inquisitors, and eventually, Darth Vader himself, amidst an ancient Sith temple.
The set includes all of the episodes of the show’s second season, as listed below:
The Siege of Lothal, Part One
the Siege of Lothal, Part Two
The Lost Commanders
Relics of the Old Republic
Always Two There Are
Brothers of the Broken Horn
Wings of the Master
The Future of the Force
A Princess of Lothal
The Protector of Concord Dawn
Legacy of Lasan
The Honorable Ones
Shroud of Darkness
The Forgotten Droid
The Mystery of Chopper Base
Twilight of the Apprentice Part One
Twilight of the Apprentice Part Two
The second season of Star Wars Rebels is, in all ways, a step up from the first. The first season of the show was a bit hit and miss early on, but picked up steam in its later episodes. With the second season, we already know who the characters are, so right from the get go, we are thrust into something bigger. It is a great balance of action and character development alike; nearly every member of the Ghost crew gets at least one episode devoted to their development. Even the Imperial Major Kallus, a fairly one-dimensional and uninteresting recurring foe from the first season, gets some much needed fleshing out in a rather surprising episode here. The whole season feels like classic Star Wars, yet like something entirely new at the same time. Overall, this is a great set of episodes and it is unlikely anyone who was a fan of the first season will be disappointed in the more developed and polished second.
In this second season, the stakes are higher, and because many of these characters have not been previously seen in any form of Star Wars media set later, their fates are anything but certain! There is one, major ongoing plot here, though many of the individual episodes/subplots do tend to branch off occasionally. This is good for character development, but sometimes can take the focus away from the bigger battle at hand. That said, even though some episodes of Star Wars Rebels’ second season are better than others, I would not say that any of them are “weak.” Although the show is appropriate for kids, it does not shy away from some of darker elements of the Star Wars mythos; characters actually do die, and there are some rather harsh moments throughout, though nothing is ever quite as bleak as what one would see in Revenge of the Sith.
At times the show, while good and solid overall, seems to be trying a little to hard to shoe horn in old The Clone Wars characters; many of these characters’ storylines were unresolved on that show so now it feels like the crew is trying to make up for that here. Some of these concepts and ideas actually work out well in the show’s favor; it is actually quite interesting to see what happened to some of the Clone Troopers after the Empire came into power. However, not every character’s appearance was necessary or needed; Hondo Ohnaka got a few laughs out of me but never feels like an essential part of anything at hand here.
The good by far outweighs the bad here; the two part finale is definitely the stuff of legend and will have you all the more eager for the impending third season. When it is all said and done, it is quite clear that the Ghost crew will never be the same again.
Audio and video quality on this Blu-ray Disc, which is divided up amongst three discs, do not fail to please. Sadly, the bonus features DO NOT include a “season recap” like the first season set did. There are a few limited featurettes in addition to each episode having a “Rebels Recon,” as well as the Rogue One trailer.
Star Wars Rebels definitely hits its stride in the second season, with non-stop action and character development that never let up. It is for this reason that season two comes highly recommended to any and all fans of the Star Wars universe, but watch season one first.
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