“Gathering Forces,” which aired November 24 on Disney XD, marked the mid-season finale of Star Wars Rebels. We’ve already reviewed the individual episodes, but we wanted to recap the season so far and offer our thoughts on what we liked, what we didn’t like, and what we’re looking forward to as the season goes on. To the cut!
Things We Loved
Brian: Holy cow, the characters and the dialog. The focus on a smaller cast really seems to have fixed a lot of what tripped up The Clone Wars. Seeing the same characters week-in and week-out really has allowed for development to happen that was hard to show in TCW. Even when episodes jump from set piece to set piece, there’s a sense of continuity simply because we’re seeing the same characters every time.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I was going to think about a show set in the Dark Times. I wasn’t sure how I felt about things that looked to be way too wink-wink nudge-nudge in promotions. What I’ve absolutely loved about Rebels? The execution. Everything they’ve set out to do they’ve done brilliantly. It’s clear a ton of thought and love has gone into this show.
Nanci: The characters, and I mean all of them! Sure, I have some favorites–Hera and Sabine most notably–but I’m really enjoying everyone so far, more than I expected. Ezra’s experienced some great character growth, the Inquisitor is sufficiently intimidating, and Hera and Kanan are the Space Marrieds (TM) we love.
I also like that the story is more linear. I had a hard time getting into The Clone Wars because of its anthology-like nature and jumping back and forth in the time line. The time period appeals to me more than I thought, and it’s been really interesting to see what the galaxy is like under the height of the Empire.
Bria: Everything about the Space Marrieds. Oh wait, did you want something more than that? I definitely loved the crew of the Ghost and how all of them feel so fleshed out and real. I didn’t expect to get to like Zeb nearly as much and yet… (But seriously though. Hera and Kanan are by far my favorites and what I really want is to see the show ACTUALLY confirm that they’re in a relationship together please because you don’t hint this much and don’t confirm it.)
Like Nanci, I also love that the story is linear. It’s being told on a much smaller scale than The Clone Wars which really helps in terms of both story and characterization. After just 8 episodes, I feel like we’ve known these six for at least two seasons. They’re also doing a great job with being able to tell a good contained story and also one that’s part of a larger arc.
Sho: Like everyone else, I love all of the characters. I love how they interact and how they each have different dynamics with one another. There’s a great sense of family with this crew, a sense of camaraderie even when they bicker, and I love it so much. I also really appreciate that they are focusing on one little group of characters on one ship. Not only does it harken back to the Original Trilogy, the show feels much more focused than The Clone Wars and you get to spend more time with all of the main characters.
Things We Didn’t Love
Brian: In what will probably be a running theme in this section, I didn’t quite like that it Hera and Sabine (to a much greater extent) were on the backburner until episode six or so. Don’t get me wrong, the payoff from their episode was fantastic and might be the highlight of the season so far, but it’s disappointing that we had to wait that long for it. Admittedly, it’s tough to separate that from other things (marketing, merchandise) that make Hera, Sabine, and the female audience feel sometimes like an afterthought.
Additionally, I’m not sure how feasible it is to keep things centered on Lothal. It seems like it’s almost a waste to have this sprawling universe but to keep things centered on one planet. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t need to be as epic as TCW was in scale, but a few more locations here and there would be awfully nice.
Nanci: While Ezra has experienced some great character growth, the other characters haven’t received nearly as much attention. They finally gave us a Hera and Sabine centric episode which was fantastic, but I still don’t know nearly enough about those awesome ladies. Also, I realize our heroes can’t experience crushing defeats, but sometimes the Empire seems a little bit incompetent. The Ghost crew needs to get off Lothal soon or else it’s going to be really hard to believe the Empire can’t round them up when they’re based on a single planet.
Bria: I’m biased, I know but I’d like to see much less of Ezra and way more of Hera and Sabine. Yeah sure, Ezra has a sob story but so does everyone else on that ship. They’ve all lost their families. Dave and Co introduced a great background for Sabine in regards to her time in an Imperial Academy and her family and I would have loved to see that explored more.
I’d also like to see their outfits change up. I know there are limits with animation but it’s starting to strain credulity because they’re on the same planet, tangling with the same people, and dressed the same. You’d think that someone would’ve caught on by now.
Also, I’m still 300% unimpressed by the Inquisitor’s lightsaber. Well actually, let me clarify. Totally fine with it being double sided. Totally with the circular handgrip. Totally eye-rolling every time he has it do that spin-y circle thing. Seriously?
Sho: As much as I understand why they’re focusing on Ezra, I wish the show didn’t focus on him and his relationships with the crew so much more than everyone else. I also think the Imperial characters have been too unambiguously evil so far. Yes, they are the bad guys and the Empire is evil, but I think an at least slightly sympathetic villain would be more compelling than Kallus-the-Genocider and the Grins-While-Trying-To-Kill-Everyone Inquisitor.
Things We’d Like to See Going Forward
Brian: Rebels needs a more sympathetic Imperial. My nomination? Rae Sloane from A New Dawn. There are compelling reasons to want to be a part of the Empire, and Rae can show that there is a lure to security over liberty. Plus, female Imperial officer. Totally cool.
Selfishly I want to see more dogfights, for no other reason that the ones we’ve seen so far have been the best choreographed space fights since the Return of the Jedi. Figure out a way to introduce, say, some Z-95 Headhunters and I’m even happier.
Nanci: More Hera and Sabine, please! I really loved the Sabine backstory in “Out of Darkness” and would love to know more about what happened to her at the Academy. I also don’t know nearly enough about Hera, and hope they reveal something about her soon–how she got the Ghost, how the Empire has affected her life, what made her want to become a Rebel. Anything! Also, while Chopper is funny, sometimes he’s been a bit too cruel, and goes a bit too far when his actions almost result in two crew members becoming lunch. I’d like to see more of his contributions to the team and why he’s so indispensable.
Finally, I hope we learn Fulcrum’s identity, see more of the Rebels we know from the films and the Expanded Universe, and more awesome Space Married moments between Hera and Kanan.
Bria: I’d like to see them tell more multi-episode stories. Part of what I enjoyed Empire Day/Gathering Forces so much is that it seemed to give the plot line a grander scale. I’m also hoping that we continue to see more connections to the fledgling Rebel Alliance like Fulcrum and Bail Organa. (Please give us more Bail Organa. And take us to Alderaan. And have us see Leia. Pleeeeeease.)
I’d also like to see more of the relationships between the different characters. The snippet we got of Hera and Sabine in Fighter Flight was great and we could use more of it.
Oh. And more Space Married. What, you thought I wouldn’t say that at least one more time? 😉
Sho: More developing the character backstories, especially with Sabine and Hera. We got some tantalizing hints about why Sabine joined the Ghost in Out of Darkness and I have faith that what exactly happened will be fleshed out eventually, but I’m impatient. And Hera’s history is still shrouded in mystery at this point. I really want to know what her story is and how she got in contact with Fulcrum.
I’d like to see the Ghost encounter other Rebel groups, to increase the feeling that it’s part of something growing, something bigger.
And I want to see them deal with Kanan never having finished his own training and explore what that means for Ezra’s training. I feel like they touched on this, but I’d like to see it delved into some more.
Also, I want to see more cute family-like moments, because they make me happy.