Star Wars Rebels season three is out on DVD and Blu-Ray TODAY, and I’ve already got my copy!
So as season three is now released and as the fourth and final season is set to begin soon (though we don’t know the official date yet), I thought it was a fitting time to take a look back at the past season. Here’s my ranking of the top ten moments from season three (and if you haven’t seen it, then obviously spoilers are ahead):
10. Saw Gerrera introduced
On the heels of Rogue One, Star Wars Rebels introduced Saw Gerrera in the show, in the two-part “Ghosts of Geonosis.” Saw was on Geonosis trying to figure out what happened on the planet and what the Empire was up to (which we know was the Death Star), just like the Ghost crew was. The two groups run into each other, and Captain Rex obviously recalls his time spent with Saw during the Clone Wars on Onderon. Even though this takes place before Rogue One, we still get to see a bit of Saw’s radical nature and why the Rebel Alliance felt uneasy about him. It was a nice introduction to the character that audiences first saw in the standalone film but who would have certainly been active during the time period of Rebels.
9: Hello, Wedge Antilles
Early in season three, in an episode called “The Antilles Extraction,” we are introduced to a classic Star Wars character from the original trilogy: the only pilot to fly in the assaults on both Death Stars, Wedge Antilles. The episode has Sabine go undercover to the Imperial Skystrike Academy to help defecting pilots escape – among them Wedge and Hobbie. It is awesome to get to see the beginning of Wedge’s time in the Rebellion, as he defects from the Academy and escapes with Sabine, joining up with the Rebels and flying with them. He’s one of the best and most famous pilots in Star Wars, and he was introduced into Rebels last season.
8. Hera meets Thrawn
The biggest introduction in season three wasn’t Saw Gerrera or Wedge Antilles, however: it was Grand Admiral Thrawn. The fan favorite from Timothy Zahn’s phenomenal Thrawn trilogy was brought back into the new canon and opposes Phoenix Squadron. Though Thrawn was technically introduced in the season premiere, the first episode in which he truly received characterization and in which he truly was the antagonist was “Hera’s Heroes,” as he took up residence in the Syndulla home on Ryloth. Hera went undercover with Ezra into the palace to retrieve a family heirloom, but they encounter Thrawn, who remains one step ahead of them and takes them captive. The episode encapsulates Thrawn’s affinity for and knowledge of art, and it represents a key moment as Hera, the leader of the Phoenix Squadron, and Thrawn, the leader of the group of Imperials assigned to wipe them out.
7. Sabine vs. Gar Saxon
Some of the very best work that the Rebels crew has done came in the two Mandalorian-centered episodes, the latter of which (“Legacy of Mandalore”) pitted Sabine Wren against Gar Saxon. Sabine was reunited with her family, including her mother, Ursa, and brother, Tristan, and presented the Darksaber – but the weapon is given to Saxon. The inevitable showdown occurs, with Saxon’s troops fighting Clan Wren, who are aided by Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger as well as Fenn Rau. Sabine realizes that Saxon is aiming to kill Ursa with the Darksaber, however, so Ezra throws his green lightsaber to Sabine. What follows is an epic duel between Saxon and Sabine, and it is well-done. Rarely does Rebels make use of the force theme, but it plays during the fight. Additionally, the fight does a good job of showing that neither fighter is a Jedi – for example, blaster bolts are not deflected by lightsabers – but still showcases Sabine’s saber skills. It’s a great fight, and a great episode with several great moments.
6. Through Imperial Eyes
One of the best episodes of the season was “Through Imperial Eyes,” which focuses on Agent Kallus. A secret Rebel intelligence agent known as “Fulcrum,” Ezra arrives undercover to help Kallus escape. A lot of the action takes place on the Chimaera, and that means that it’s also one of the most Thrawn-filled episodes – which is a good thing! Thrawn teams up with Colonel Yularen of the ISB – who first appeared in A New Hope but became more well-known in The Clone Wars – as he’s nearing figuring out who the Imperial spy is as well as where the Rebel base is, which leads Kallus and Ezra to attempt to throw the Grand Admiral off the scent. One such way is when, after having infiltrated Thrawn’s office, Kallus unleashes the sentry droids on him, which showcases Thrawn’s fighting ability (and the override code is perfect: “Rukh”). When Kanan and Rex arrive disguised as stormtoopers, Kallus frames Lyste and therefore opts to stay behind. But by the end, Thrawn uses his expert insight and knowledge of art to deduce that Kallus is in fact the traitor, setting up for an inevitable confrontation later in the season.
5. The Last Battle
The episode “The Last Battle” was all-around terrific, especially to fans of The Clone Wars. The main thrust of the episode is that Kalani, a super tactical droid and Separatist General during the Clone Wars, wants to fight the last battle of the Clone Wars, sending his battle droids against Captain Rex and two Jedi, Kanan and Ezra (who were on Agamar searching for weapons). That means we get to see Rex against battle droids one last time, reliving the war. It represented a nice look into Rex years later and how he’s still dealing with the effects of the War, but it was flat out cool to get to see one last Clone Wars battle in Rebels. At the end, Ezra helps both Rex and Kalani see that the Emperor deceived them both, so the two sides team up to fight stormtroopers and Imperial walkers that had arrived. And as one last perfect touch, the credits music was the one from The Clone Wars rather than the typical Rebels music.
4. Formation of the Rebellion
When it comes to significance, it might be hard for Rebels to top what happened in the episode “Secret Cargo”: the formation of the Rebel Alliance. Though the show has made it clear that there are plenty of Rebel cells operating already, the episode showed the Ghost Crew transporting precious cargo: Senator Mon Mothma, who recently spoke out against the Emperor and is now on the run. Gold Leader Jon Vander is escorting Mothma (which makes for another cool cameo), but the Ghost Crew winds up transporting Mothma as Ezra and Vander fly as wingmen protecting them from new Tie Defenders. That makes for a good episode in itself, but the real significance comes at the end: Mothma transmits a speech to Rebel cells speaking out against the Emperor and calling others to join the fight. After the transmission ends, we see numerous people answer, as dozens of ships arrive to meet the Ghost as Mothma exclaims, “This is our Rebellion.” Since this is the official start of the Rebel Alliance, it represents perhaps the most important moment that Rebels has shown, at least within the context of the original trilogy.
3. Zero Hour
The culmination of what much of the season had been building up to, the two-part “Zero Hour” was easily the most large-scale battle that Rebels has done and had several terrific themes that represented a phenomenal season finale: Thrawn, the Chimaera, a desperate Rebel evacuation attempt, Kallas fighting Thrawn, Commander Sato sacrificing himself, the return of Sabine, deathtroopers, and the Bendu. It also provided plenty of epic moments with beautiful visuals: Kanan slicing through an Imperial walker as he comes to the aid of Rex and Zeb, the aerial bombardment that zeroed in on Thrawn versus Hera (with the excellent Thrawn theme playing), and Sabine, Ezra, and the Mandalorians fighting on the hull of the Interdictor. It represented an utter defeat for the Rebels despite the main heroes escaping, but at the same time the show was careful to portray Thrawn’s plan as perfect: if Tarkin hadn’t wanted prisoners then Thrawn could have simply wiped the Rebels out via aerial bombardment; if Constantine hadn’t rebelled against Thrawn’s orders then Ezra wouldn’t have been able to escape to get help; and if the Bendu hadn’t just wrecked havoc (something nobody could have accounted for) then Thrawn would have had the Rebel leaders captured. It’s not quite at the level of “Twilight of the Apprentice” (no other Rebels episode is), and while I didn’t love the Bendu stuff at the end, this episode was still terrific, with huge stakes and a ton of Thrawn.
2. The Death of Maul
Ever since Lucasfilm brought back Darth Maul at the end of The Clone Wars season four, everyone knew that the former Sith Lord still had to meet his demise at some point – and it made a lot of sense for it to come at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Maul received some terrific characterization in The Clone Wars that he didn’t get in The Phantom Menace, and he fought against Kenobi multiple times. Eventually, Maul re-emerged on Malachor in “Twilight of the Apprentice” at the end of season two; and then in an early season three episode in which Maul and Ezra combine two holocrons, Maul finds out an incredible truth: “He lives,” Maul utters in surprise and excitement, referring to the fact that Obi-Wan is still alive. So, near the end of the season, in “Twin Suns,” Maul hunts down Kenobi. Ezra goes to warn the old Jedi (who, as a really nice touch, Rex says that Bail Organa reported dead), and he’s sent off right as Maul arrives. The two rivals engage in some talk, and it’s clear that Kenobi doesn’t want to fight – but when Maul deduces that Kenobi is protecting someone, Kenobi ignites his lightsaber (making clear that he’s going to protect Luke). He starts out with his classic lightsaber form, but then switches to the form used by Qui-Gon Jinn. Maul realizes this, so he attempts the exact same move that he used to kill Jinn (thrusting the hilt into Jinn’s chin) – only Kenobi was ready for it, slicing through Maul’s blade and in doing so cutting through his chest. Maul dies in Kenobi’s arms, still consumed by hate (“he will avenge us”). It was a perfect end for his character.
Then at the end of the episode, we see Kenobi looking on from afar as Luke runs to respond to Aunt Beru’s call. On a more practical matter, Stephen Stanton absolutely NAILED the voice of Ben Kenobi, making it sound just like Alec Guinness. The episode also reveals once again Kenobi’s belief that Luke is in fact the chosen one, having given up on Anakin – something everyone else besides Luke also had, but Luke’s faith winds up being rewarded.
1. Trials of the Darksaber
The episode “Trials of the Darksaber” was simply fantastic. We hear of the history of the Darksaber, and we see Sabine’s reluctance to accept it and what it signifies. She eventually agrees to take it up, and Kanan begins to train her as to how to use it. She grows immensely frustrated fighting with a stick against Ezra, however, and quits. Ezra talks with Sabine and encourages her, while Hera talks with Kanan about trusting Sabine and letting her train with the Darksaber. That all sets up the amazing moment when Kanan gives Sabine the Darksaber and begins training her himself, fighting against her and probing deeper into her history and why she left her family. It is eventually revealed that she did everything for family, leaving in order to protect them from weapons she helped create. She overpowers Kanan as she expresses her emotional inner turmoil over that, and the soundtrack that plays during the fight is beautiful. Afterward, Kanan has a touching moment of encouragement with Sabine. The episode was terrific and emotional and beautiful.