While I’ve had the opportunity to talk about the series finale with friends and on podcasts, it’s another thing to sit down and truly process what we watched last week and capture my feelings in writing. Goodbyes are hard. They always have been and always will be, but it’s especially difficult to say farewell to a show that has not only brightened up my life but has had a significant impact on the franchise.
That said, I’m going to keep this short because I still can’t find all of the right words to describe my love for this show and how it ended in the best way possible.
To start off, there are very few television shows that end on a high note. Some of the most memorable endings to me include Avatar: The Last Airbender and Battlestar Galactica. Now, I can add Star Wars Rebels to the list. The final episodes of the series not only wrapped up the storylines of most of the characters in a happy and satisfying way, but it left us with the possibility of more stories in the future. There’s a delicate balance between giving fans closure and leaving an open door, and the creators managed to find that balance. Instead of going the expected route, they still found ways to surprise us and wow us in ways the Star Wars franchise has rarely done in the past.
“A Fool’s Hope” helped set the stage for the finale, and it’s been a joy to see how well these past episodes have connected to the next. The majority of Star Wars Rebels had mostly self-contained episodes and adventures, and they didn’t affect each other until much later. For example, “Fighter Flight” was the episode in which Zeb and Ezra acquired an Imperial TIE Fighter, but the ship didn’t make an appearance again until the end of the first season. The episodes from the final half of the season have done a spectacular job at feeding into the other, and it reminded me a lot of how the creators behind The Freemaker Adventures handled their story in such a connected and well-thought out way.
This episode, in particular, had some of my favorite moments, such as Ryder Azadi’s faux betrayal and the attack of the wolves. The betrayal card is one of the oldest cards in the game, but I still managed to fall into the trap because they used a character that could sell the story and make you believe it. And in terms of the wolves, we’ve seen their gentler side, but it was also fascinating to see nature become aggressive toward an entity that’s only brought destruction to the planet. Nature fighting back is one of my favorite tropes. And it also ties back to how Ezra has always been on Lothal’s side, so I’m glad the wolves were used in this way instead of being written off.
As for the finale itself, the creative team laid their best cards on the table and won the entire game. In my honest opinion, this is how Rogue One’s ending should have been done. If you think about it, both them had many similarities: a group ditches the Rebel Alliance in order to fight back against the Empire by infiltrating an Imperial facility, and while sacrifices are made, the ultimate mission prevails. The only difference is that Rogue One went to an extreme by killing off everyone in that group, while Star Wars Rebels found the balance between sacrifice and leaving several doors open for its characters to show up in future stories. Some will attribute that to the fact that it’s a children’s show, but honestly, it’s just good writing that has purpose. Rebels prevailed on this front, and I can’t praise the writers enough for yet again breaking away from expectations and thinking outside the box.
The last 5-10 minutes of the finale are some of the finest in the series. To see Ezra go from someone who was only looking out for himself to a mature individual who sacrificed his desires and himself for the love of his friends and his people, it’s one of the most satisfying and well-written arcs in Star Wars. The path he took was a fitting end for him, and it was a brilliant way to have his story continue while Luke’s story takes off and becomes the focus.
The series ending with an epilogue that jumped several years into the future was a bold move that miraculously worked. I say that because I’ve read epilogues that do something similar and the intention/execution fall short the majority of the time. Personally, what makes epilogues of this nature so off-putting is the fact that on top of jumping ahead into the future, the characters also get dramatic changes. It’s jarring and puts the reader in unfamiliar territory. The epilogue in Rebels didn’t take the viewer to a completely unfamiliar place, so I found it easier to accept the changes that were introduced as well as the open ended nature of it. Again, I found the entire thing to be well-balanced, and I honestly can’t imagine a better ending.
With that said, farewell, Star Wars Rebels. Whenever life started to drag, you always managed to bring some light into it. I can safely say that you are my favorite piece of Star Wars storytelling and that you changed my life and the galaxy far, far away for the better.
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