Based on the planet Atollon, the Ghost Crew led by Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) are trying to strengthen the rebel fleet by gaining resources, and recruiting those who want to stand against the Empire. Though, the Empire’s efforts to destroy the rebellion are now led by the cold, cruel and calculating Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen), whose insights and intelligence on the battlefield make him an adversary unlike any the Phoenix Squadron have faced before. This season, Jedi apprentice Ezra, and Sabine (Tiya Sircar) faces new challenges as the rebels prepare for their biggest task yet, assaulting the Empire head on.
As season three faced the impossible task of matching the Vader-Ahsoka showdown of the season two finale, the third season was very promising. Quite honestly, it had an excellent start, including the show’s introduction to the legendary villain Grand Admiral Thrawn. He’s deeply analytical and raw, but with a cold pragmatic approach to warfare. Not to forget to mention, there’s his fascination with the finer things, including art. Hannibal much? Then again, he’s voiced by Lars Mikkelsen, the brother of Mads AKA TV’s Hannibal Lecter.
Thrawn is not only a grand admiral, he’s a grandmaster. He’s playing the long game. This is the entire point to his character. He doesn’t act impulsively in the way many villains do. ‘Shoot first, ask questions’ later is a common trait with many villains. He knows he’d be better off by letting them go to see how they react in certain situations. “To defeat an enemy, you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art” says Thrawn. Information is power, and he’d be able to hurt the rebels more in the long-term. In chess, it’s often good to think five or six moves ahead. Thrawn is playing chess as it should be.
The longer the time period was for audiences not seeing Thrawn, the more expectation there was for him to do something really dark and unexpected in the finale. In the grand scheme of things, the rebels pulled a fast one against the Empire. Maybe not a physical one, but it was a mental blow that showed the Empire that the Rebels are organised and aren’t just a group of guerrilla fighters. They can hold their own in the field. They were forced to flee to Yavin, but this sets us up for season four. Thrawn won a victory (just about) but I expected more from a character that is immortalised by Star Wars geeks far and wide. A death of a core character would have done the trick.
Regardless of the weak finale, season three worked well. It was better paced than season one and season two. It was less congested with guest appearances and introductions of new characters during early episodes. If they were reintroduced, it was sparsely done throughout the season. Earlier seasons focused on the Jedi a lot. This time around, audiences knew who each character was and received a good amount of screen time. Hera (Vanessa Marshall) and Zeb (Steve Blum) got more focus, as did Sabine (Sircar) in one of my favourite arcs of the season, on Mandalore with the dark sabre. That was a badass turn of events. We felt the value of the supporting characters, not just the Jedi.
Jedi aside, other characters stole the show. Some of the best episodes involved Sabine and Agent Kallus (David Oyelowo) AKA Fulcrum. I have no fear in saying that I worship King David, and the ground he walks on. Whether he’s voice acting or in a live-action movie, David Oyelowo always delivers and whenever he was onscreen as Kallus, chills arrived. One of the most pivotal scenes being when he is discovered by Lars Mikkelsen’s Thrawn. Kallus went from imperial loyalist to a man doubting the cause, and then to a spy working against the Empire. “An Inside Man” and “Through Imperial Eyes” blew me away. These arcs made me think of the Battlefront games I used to play as child. Excellent work.
I’ve loved Sabine since the start of the series. When she discovered the Darksaber, I knew we were in for some badass shenanigans. We meet her family, and I took a liking to her mother Ursa Wren (Sharmila Devar) who is just as much the warrior and stubborn personality Sabine is. We get Sabine’s origins story so to speak. We see what drives her, what motivates her and why she is the way she is. “Trials of the Darksaber” was sensational and we follow Kanan in his training Sabine on how to fight with a blade. Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr) and Ezra teaching Sabine how to fight was great, even if she did decide not to listen. So Mandalorian!
Other character introductions/reintroductions included: Saw Gerrara (Forest Whitaker), Senator Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) and Darth Maul (Sam Witwer). We were witness to throwbacks from the Clone Wars, the Prequels, Rogue One and the Original Trilogy in great ways. Such episodes like “Visions and Voices” and “Ghosts of Geonosis” prove that this show has made waves in being a great television and a member of the Star Wars canon, as well as being an awesome fan-pleaser. This included great scenes like Darth Maul V Obi-Wan Kenobi. It was appropriate.
Season three brought Thrawn into the mix, but it was Kallus and Sabine that stole the show. With the addition of Mon Mothma (O’Reilly) and Saw Gerrera (Whitaker), this third season really enhances Rogue One, as well as its sequel A New Hope. With excellent voice performances and more “more Star Wars than Star Wars” storylines, Rebels continues to deliver. Season four drops in the fall season and I can’t wait.