Celebration Orlando 2017: Highlights From the ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Panel

Back in October 2013, I was fortunate enough to attend the first Star Wars Rebels panel at New York Comic Con. There was only one moderator, Pablo Hidalgo, and the panel primarily included concept art of Lothal and Imperial vessels. It ultimately ended with the reveal of the Grand Inquisitor, and I remember thinking, “This is going to be so good.”

Since then, I’ve been a full-on supporter of the show, changing my work schedule here and there to be able to watch it on weeknights, talking about it in two different podcasts, and creating detailed monthly roundups to generate interest. So it is with great sadness to report that season four will be the final season of what I consider to be a remarkable series with brilliant storytelling, performances, and visuals.

Before we look ahead to season four, however, let’s take a few steps back to see what highlights were brought up during the panel pertaining to season three:

  • I’m always fascinated by what Dave Filoni has to say on the topic of the Force, so when “Twin Suns” came up in conversation, it was great to hear him eloquently describe Obi-Wan and Maul as being on the path to enlightenment and the path to oblivion, respectively.
  • Freddie Prinze, Jr., also talked about the Bendu and described him as a different kind of teacher for Kanan, challenging him to learn how to see again. He also added that he calls the Bendu a Force Moose!
  • Tiya Sircar mentioned how it was an incredible opportunity for her to explore her character in such a deep and emotional way and go someplace that she hadn’t gone before both as an actor and with her character.
  • One of my favorite parts of the panel was the inclusion of the Zeb and Kallus bromance, or as Tiya called it, “The bromance of all bromances.” It warmed my heart to see the cast tease and interact with each other in such a familial-like way, especially given the fact that this was the last panel to feature all of them at once.

As for looking ahead at season four:

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

Vanessa Marshall stated that Hera in season four has the same agenda in mind, but her focus is sharper. Like everyone else in the crew, Hera was impacted by the losses that took place in season three, and that has driven her to be more focused and committed to the cause more than ever.

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

Steve Blum jokingly said that Zeb and Kallus would be starting a family on Lirasan, but on a more serious note, he said that Zeb’s become more of an uncle than a brother and that he’ll be making smarter remarks and better choices in the next season.

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

Chopper also came up in conversation, and Filoni mentioned that Chopper doesn’t have an arc and that he’s more of a reveal that you learn more about as time goes on.

“When someone’s that cantankerous, that actually means they care the most,” he said. “So what you’ll find out about Chopper probably in season four is [that] he has a bigger heart than you realize because when the chips are really down, he likes these guys, so we’ll see how that comes through.”

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

As for Sabine’s story, Tiya Sircar cautiously stated that Mandalorian fans will be excited about where the crew ends up and who might show up in the series.

“Sabine is in a new place this season. Over this last season, we saw her sort of step into her own in a way we hadn’t seen her before,” she said. “She’s this very complex young woman, who is wise beyond her years, but she’s still a young lady and I feel like she had her own insecurities, trust issues, and things like that, and I feel like over this past season, we’ve seen her grow whether she would like to admit it or not—grow and mature into this capable person. And I think she’s gotten beyond those issues with this family, and now, she’s got all these other issues with her other family and we’ll get to explore some those in season four.”

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

Kanan is also in a whole different place next season and Freddie Prinze, Jr., attributes it to the experience his character shared with Sabine in “Trials of the Darksaber.”

“That episode, to me, defined who Kanan is going to become in season four,” he said. “He’s still blind, but he sees more than he has ever seen before. He knows what path these rebels need to be on. It takes him some time to figure it out, but once he finds out, it is a certainty that you have never seen in other Jedi before and you will recognize it as a historical moment in this character’s development and growth.”

It’s interesting that he describes Kanan as someone with clarity in season four, especially given his character’s background. Kanan wasn’t always sure about what he wanted to do and who he wanted to be, but FPJr is very confident and satisfied about where Kanan is headed next.

“When you see a Jedi with clarity, I think you sort of—you get a sense of belonging to that person because you’ve seen them—you’ve seen Kanan struggle for so many years to be a decent Jedi, but his mistakes, I think, are what made me fall in love with him, and I hope his faults are what make you fall in love with him, too.”

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

Ezra’s brush with the dark side came up as the conversation shifted over to Taylor Gray. For his character in season four, Gray said that Ezra is now in a position where he has to decide what kind of Jedi he wants to be and what kind of person he wants to be. He also mentioned how Ezra will be going back to Lothal to figure out what he can do for his people and that he continues to learn how to be selfless.

“I think he makes some great decisions through season four,” Gray said, and as someone who adores that character, I eagerly look forward to seeing how Ezra attempts to liberate his home planet and what other lessons he learns in the final season.

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

As for guest appearances, we’ll definitely be seeing Mon Mothma and Saw Gerrera. Hints of their return surfaced in Rebels Recon, but it’s great to know that we’ll be seeing Mon Mothma in a way we haven’t seen before. Filoni said something along the lines of her getting fiery for once, since she is the type of character to embody grace, patience, and eloquence.

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

We’ll also be seeing Edrio Two Tubes as well as Rogue One vehicles, like the U-wing. Filoni mentioned that it’s been fun for him and the crew to bridge the gap between Rebels and Rogue One and that they’ve been pushing Rebels toward that aesthetic.

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

The crowd erupted into cheers when a new character was announced: Rukh. Voiced by Warwick Davis, Rukh’s name was briefly mentioned in season three, during Thrawn’s training session, but this will be the character’s first appearance on the screen.

One of my favorite parts of the panel was seeing Sal and Liz Perales’ family come onto the stage. They have been dressing up as Star Wars Rebels characters since before the series even aired back in 2014. Like Filoni has stated time and time again, Rebels is about family, so I’m glad that it all came full circle.

And of course, with the good comes the bad, specifically the announcement that season four will be the show’s final season. Hearts were broken and tears were shed, but we all ultimately understand why Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and the rest of the crew ended it.

“I firmly believe that each generation needs to have their own piece of Star Wars,” he said. “And I feel that this show, for a lot of kids growing up with it, is as much a part of Star Wars as any of the movies, and I really appreciate that love from you guys. And I feel creatively that I can make this story about these characters the most meaningful that it can be by arching it to where I need to get to at the end of this season. So I know that’s tough, it’s tough for me, but believe me, I can say I know what it’s like when I don’t get to end a series.”

Star Wars: The Clone Wars was cancelled in 2013, and many of us still feel the heartache that came with that creative decision. That said, there was still a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

“[Star Wars Rebels] represents by no means an end to anything we’re doing in animation,” he said, referring to Star Wars: Forces of Destiny as well as any other projects that are currently in the works.

Instead of thinking about the future and what comes next, though, it’s important to focus on what the cast and crew have done in season four and the story that awaits for us there.

“The way this arc continues and grows, you’ll see in season four [that] it’s not like anything else that we’ve ever done,” Filoni said, so if you haven’t seen it already (or if you want to see it a million more times), here’s your taste of season four.

Stay tuned for TWG’s breakdown of the trailer, but in the meantime, let us know what you thought about the panel, the announcement, and the official season four trailer in the comments section below.


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3 comments on “Celebration Orlando 2017: Highlights From the ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Panel

  1. Pingback: A Closer Look at the Season Four Trailer of ‘Star Wars Rebels’ – The Wookiee Gunner

  2. “Smarter remarks and better choices”? I don’t get it. The cast and crew seem to think that Zeb’s a dummy, but he’s really not and he never has been. That’s why I loved his character so much in the first two seasons because he was a great subversion of the typical dumb “big guy” trope. He had good ideas long before “Warhead” acted like it was something special (remember how he saved Ezra and Sabine from the Inquisitors?). He was the cynical realist of the group (especially in the first season), always the first to point out how likely something was to get them all killed. And, come on, he was smart enough to be captain of the guard on Lasan, a title which I don’t imagine they would hand out to idiots.

    Zeb’s treatment in Season 3– minimal character development, pushed out of the family dynamic (he was the only one not to have a moment with Sabine in “Trials of the Darksaber”– even Chopper did!), frequently in need of rescue, sometimes just *not there* for no reason at all– really got under my skin, and it’s discouraging to hear that Season 4 won’t do any better. (I think “Ghosts of Geonosis” and “Warhead” were okay in “let’s treat Zeb like an actual member of the team” department, but that’s it.) Zeb’s my favorite character and I miss when the creators took his story seriously.

  3. This is the recap I’ve been waiting for, because Rebels means so much to you. I could tell that from your writing, but I hadn’t realized how much you were in it from the start. I’ve also loved it, I have watched every episode with my two sons. They are 6 years apart in age but it somethign all three of us share.

    So I’m sad to see it end but I am also happy it will have a proper ending (unlike the Clone Wars). A lot of TV writers do their best work when they know the story is ending, so I think this last season will be fantastic. Hopefully we’ll continue to see these characters in other media and stories.

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