"Star Wars: Rebels" Season 4 Episodes 14, 15 – A Fool's Hope and Family Reunion - and Farewell (10 out of 10) – Based on characters and situations created by George Lucas; Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Taylor Gray, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar, Dave Filoni; Special Guest stars: Ian McDiarmid, Lars Mikkelson, Clancy Brown; Rated TV-Y7, Aired on Disney XD 3/5/18.
This review will contain spoilers.
Tonight's three-episode conclusion to Star Wars Rebels is the end of the series and it brings things to surprising, but inevitable conclusions. Characters are taken off of the map in ways that get them off playing field of the classic trilogy, but Filoni and the team are able to do it in very satisfying ways that one might not expect.
Going in, many thought the wholesale death of the crew, save for Chopper and Hera, was a foregone conclusion. How wrong we all were.
These episodes are Ezra's Return of the Jedi. Instead of freeing his friends, he is left to liberate his planet. He surrenders himself to Thrawn (where Luke does to Vader) and has to face the temptations of Palpatine before he's able to come through. His plan is complicated and nonsensical at times, just like Luke's in Return of the Jedi, but with the Force as his ally, he's able to bring pieces to the board that no one, not even Thrawn, could predict.
The emotional core of this episode is Ezra's. He has to come to terms with what it's like to move on without the guidance of his master, and one might read more into that. These last five episodes feel very much like a statement from Dave Filoni about the struggles of working on Star Wars without the rudder of his own master, George Lucas. Where Lucas was Kanan here, sacrificing himself for Filoni's growth, and Filoni needed to come up with a plan of his own and succeed or fail based on his teachings.
One could almost imagine Lucas watching these episodes of the show and thinking of Yoda's lines from The Last Jedi, "We are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters."
Like Return of the Jedi, this episode offers us various shades of happily ever after. The people of Lothal rejoice in a sequence that looks as though it could fit right into the end of the Jedi and it felt so refreshing. The tyranny of the Empire on a person to person basis is something we never really got to see in the films as far as the general populace was concerned. Rebels gave us that window into their totalitarian and torturous methods and we watched the people of Lothal suffer first hand. Seeing the Empire driven from the planet feels rewarding.
The fight for Lothal itself made that victory feel even more satisfying. There's nothing more satisfying than watching Ezra bring the Loth-wolves into the fight. This moment reminded me instantly of the last march of the Ents in The Lord of the Rings books and films. They tore up the stormtroopers of Pryce's retinue as effectively as the Ents shattered Isengard. But that wasn't the only natural ally Ezra had. In what some had mistakenly labeled a filler episode, we were introduced to the purrgills, a species of hyperspace-faring space whales that Ezra forms a connection to. They come as cavalry to render the power of Thrawn inert in another beautiful moment.
The pacing of this hour's worth of episodes is breakneck. You're on an emotional roller coast from the very first frame. For me, the first tears hit when the pirate Hondo announces that he would do anything for Ezra and they never let up from there. The episodes are funny as much as they are emotional, though, they strike a perfect balance for the ending note that they hit. I
As a villain, Thrawn was used to perfection and not necessarily dead. He, like Ezra, is whisked off into the great unknown. If Ezra could survive that trip through hyperspace, there's every reason to believe that Thrawn could, too. And that means he could, conceivably, come back sometime after Return of the Jedi to bedevil the days of our Rebels. The shots of his ship, the iconic Chimaera, were gorgeous, and his ability to outthink everything save for his blindspot of the Force was done perfectly. Ezra didn't outthink Thrawn, he merely brought in assets that Thrawn couldn't possibly conceive of. And who wasn't excited about that name check of Captain Pellaeon?
The epilogue, however, is going to take most of the conversation at the end of the episodes because it forces a reevaluation of many things we'd seen before.
First, let's talk about what the existence of Jacen Syndulla makes us reevaluate. Now, when we watch the battle of Scariff in Rogue One, we'll know that Hera was pregnant. When we watch Forces of Destiny and see Hera on Endor, we know she's still fighting as a mother. Perhaps the most heartbreaking revelation is Hera's line in the previous episodes. "I shouldn't have waited to tell him." When we first hear these lines, we naturally assume it's that she loves him, but now, knowing that she was carrying his child, her pregnancy is the thing she regrets not telling him.
Then we have Zeb and Kallus, who managed to get their happily ever after together. Zeb practically takes Kallus home to meet the in-laws, but how touching is this sequence? Kallus is broken because he views himself as complicit in a genocide, and Zeb brings him to this secret second home of his people where they forgive him for what he'd done. It's enough to bring more tears to my eyes.
Perhaps the most shocking ending is the one I expected the least. Ahsoka and Sabine lighting off together to seek out Ezra. Again, this is something that was surprising but felt inevitable when it was revealed. In the world between worlds, Ezra already knows the path before him. "Come find me," he tells her. And he continues to tell Sabine that he needs to count on her through the episode.
Ahsoka also evokes images of Gandalf the White, and those comparisons will be made ubiquitously, but they only work to a point. Yes, she faced down a Balrog in Darth Vader on Malachor and passed into shadow, but instead of a netherworld of death, she passes into a passage in the Force that Ezra pulls her into corporeally. She's then deposited back into Malachor and makes her way off to find Ezra. Gandalf, upon his return, is a different being and an entirely different entity. But this raises many more questions and asks us to hope for the further adventures of Sabine and Ahsoka.
Would Ahsoka and Luke have had a conversation at any point? Would he have sought her out after the battle of Endor?
I'd love to find out.
Overall, these episodes were gorgeous and paced perfectly. They leave everything they need to open-ended, particularly Thrawn's fate, and offer us closure without making us feel as though the story is closed off. It was a delicate balancing act, but worked out in all the ways I felt like it needed to. Much like Return of the Jedi, we got our happily ever after for these characters. I only wonder how long they can keep it.
For the brilliant acting, story, and animation capping off a series that found its way into the tapestry of Star Wars and fitting beautifully, these final installments earn a 10 out of 10.
Season 4 Scorecard
- Heroes of Mandalore (9 of 10)
- In the Name of the Rebellion (9.5 of 10)
- The Occupation and Flight of the Defender (9 of 10)
- Kindred and Crawling Commandeers (9 of 10)
- Rebel Assault (10 of 10)
- Jedi Night and DUME (9 of 10)
- Wolves and a Door and A World Between Worlds (10 of 10)
- A Fool's Hope and Family Reunion - and Farewell (10 of 10)
Season Average: 9.43 out of 10
For more in-depth discussions about Star Wars Rebels and all other things Star Wars, be sure to tune into Full of Sith every week.