Essays · TV

The Closures and Dangling Threads of the ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Finale

The Ghost crew gave their final curtain call before a legendary Luke Skywalker became a galactic household name.
Star Wars Rebels Finale
By  · Published on March 7th, 2018

Star Wars Rebels gave their final salute in “A Fool’s Hope” and the one-hour “Family Reunion And Farewell”. Unlike the case with the canceled The Clone Wars, showrunner Dave Filoni ended Rebels on his own terms with a heavy dosage of feels.

In a last stand, Ezra, the Spectres of the Ghost, and allies from past exploits lead a massive mission to reclaim Lothal. As a result of these efforts, Rebels wraps up its threads while spinning new ones:

The Rebel Cell on Lothal

Knowing the scale of the Empire’s dominance, it was not expected that the Rebels could ensure Lothal’s salvation so soon. But the underdogs achieved the impossible. Filoni also states that the Empire did not retaliate in order to focus on the Death Star project.

It’s not officially deemed a Rebel Alliance’s victory since it abandoned the occupied Lothal as a lost cause, it is a personal triumph for the Lothal sector. Lothal owned that win. By regulating the narrative goal to one piece of the universe, Rebels is remarkable for celebrating the smaller picture, the increments of progress through small victories and even defeats. As the late Kanan Jarrus told Ezra, “You win by surviving,” a theme that would resonate in Leia’s words in The Last Jedi.

The Clones Fought the Good Fight

“A Fool’s Hope” saw Rex reuniting with his fellow clone brothers Gregor and Wolffe.

In a voiceover, Rex is revealed to have served as a commander in the decisive Endor battle. Notably, this plays to a circulating fan theory that he was a background soldier in Return of the Jedi due to the coincidental resemblance to clones.

Wolffe lives, but Gregor perishes. But most importantly, a dying Gregor affirmed that it was all worth it. The Clone Wars did something daring for the clones storyline, exploring their process of agency and conditioning in a world that bred and covertly programmed them to fight a grimy war. While it will never be a fully realized restitution for the senseless conscription-by-birth of expendable clone soldiers in the Old Republic era, Rebels gives Rex and his two brothers a spiritual redemption for their Clone Wars struggles: Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor fought for a cause, not because of artificial birth-conditioning or control chips, but because they wanted to.

Star Wars Rebels Finale

The Whereabouts of Grand Admiral Thrawn

In “Zero Hour”, the Bendu gave Thrawn a forecast of defeat–“surrounding you like a cold embrace.” It comes true. Fan favorite and Legends-immigrant Thrawn is last seen pinned to the tentacles of space-whale purrgils in his Star Destroyer before Ezra orders the purrgils to hyperspace-jump the Star Destroyer to unknown regions. While it may sound goofy like Ewoks’ sticks and stones overpowering metal, Thrawn and the oppressive military technology received a thematic consequence by forces of nature.

Interestingly, Rebels does not make it clear Thrawn survived the intense hyperspace-jump. Though in the follow-up Rebels Recon video, Filoni himself said Thrawn did survive. Though it’s unknown when Thrawn will return to the Star Wars narrative. You can’t kill off and waste a legend too soon.

The Child of Kanan and Hera Syndulla

In a twist for a family-oriented production on Disney XD, Hera had been pregnant with Kanan’s son prior to her epic love declaration in “Jedi Night”. Talk about some offscreen intimacy in a Disney show. The pregnancy possibly explains why Rogue One gave General Syndulla a shout-out in the Yavin loudspeakers but did not show her in the full flesh.

Post-Endor battle, she has a tiny new co-pilot by her side: Jacen Syndulla (a mythology gag to Han and Leia’s son in the Legends universe). While the child’s final design proved polarizing to the fandom, Jacen’s appearance sets a precedent for the design of Twi’lek-human hybrids, which were seen in Clone Wars’ “The Deserter” with traditional lekku headtails. With Jacen’s debut, Twi’lek-human hybrids can have weirdly colored hair rather than lekku head-tails.

As Force-sensitivity is hereditary as in the Skywalker lineage, it’s safe to assume Jacen harbors Force-sensitivity as well and the makings of a Jedi trainee in the new world order. Intriguing possibilities could include him encountering Luke Skywalker, who would be recruiting for his new academy post-Return of the Jedi (though this yields frightening implications if Jacen encounters Ben Solo).

Now that a prospective Force-sensitive is in the world, what about the old ones?

Star Wars Rebels Finale

The Fate of Remaining Force-Sensitives

Ezra Bridger has his final cave moment. Reviewing the late Kanan’s final lesson in “World Between Worlds”, Ezra releases himself past attachments to the dead and resists the temptation of Darth Sidious’s temple in a tension that mirrors Rey’s “show me my parents” cave scene in The Last Jedi.

However, in a bid to drive away the Empire, Ezra is carried off with the hyperspace-jumping purrgil to drag Thrawn’s ship away. His optimistic farewell holo-message promises he will come home one way or another. Until then, he has passed the baton to the rebels, much like how ordinary people are left to fight the battle in Rogue One in a world deprived of Jedi protectors.

Ezra Bridger isn’t declared dead, but he is too absent in the known galaxy to be considered a living Jedi. Likely why Yoda in his deathbed in Return of the Jedi wouldn’t acknowledge Ezra’s presence to Luke Skywalker.

Garbed in flowing Gandalf-the-White-esque robes, ex-Jedi warrior Ahsoka Tano has escaped Malachor and outlived her fallen master past the original trilogy era. With Ezra’s comrade Sabine Wren at her side, Ahsoka now has a certain mission: find Ezra Bridger according to her promise back in “A World Between Worlds”. Interestingly, whether Ahsoka or even Ezra could cross paths with Luke Skywalker is up in the air.

The universe of Star Wars is infinite with possibilities at every corner. Filoni has his sights set on his next animated project, rumored to bridge between the original and sequel trilogies. While the inevitable rise of the First Order may nerve fans that Lothal’s salvation may be all for naught, that doesn’t negate the years of relative peace the Ghost crew earned. How or if the veterans of Rebels may resurface in the new show or movie worlds is the new riddle.

A dawn of a new era is on its way. May the Force be with us all.

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Contributor for The Script Lab, The Mary Sue, and Birth Movies Death.