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  • Writer's pictureAaron Fonseca

Why Star Wars Rebels is Still the Franchise's Most Important Show

This week's Your Nerd Side Show:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars served as an important continuation of the stories George Lucas set up in the prequel movies. The animated series was embraced by fans, and it would have been hard for any follow-up show to live up to what The Clone Wars did, but Star Wars: Rebelsproved to be more than capable of taking on that challenge. Just as Clone Wars helped fill in the past,everything that has come after Rebels has been directly impacted by many of the events that occurred in the show - including the currently-running Ahsoka.

By watching the adventures of the Ghost crew, the audience learned more about the Force through Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger, experienced the fractures in Mandalorian culture through Sabine Wren, and witnessed the birth of the Rebel Alliance through Hera Syndulla and Zeb Orrelios and, of course, Chopper. Rebels also introduced a fan-favorite Legends character, Grand Admiral Thrawn, into the canon. These are all essential moments in Star Wars history, and they are a few of the reasons why Star Wars: Rebels is so important.

Star Wars: Rebels Revitalized Clone Wars Characters and Introduced New Ones

The Clone Wars did a lot of character work and character-building during its run. Arguably, two of the breakout characters from The Clone Wars are Ahsoka who was a brand-new character for the show, and Darth Maul who had been revived from his death in The Phantom Menace. After its cancelation in 2012, many fans wondered where these characters might show up again if at all.

Luckily, Rebels came in to save the day and re-introduced the audience to Ahsoka, who served as a guide for Kanan and Ezra on their Jedi training journey. The show also brought back Darth Maul, who tried to seduce Ezra to the dark side and have him become his apprentice. Rebels closed out Maul's story with a lightsaber duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi, giving the character a fitting and somewhat tragic end.

The Clone Wars crowning character achievement was giving all clone soldiers individual characterizations, leading to fan-favorite characters like Captain Rex. A few of these clone characters got their revitalized time in the sun during Rebels as well. The series showed the audience how some clones continued to fight for what they believed was right after removing their inhibitor chips. Rex, along with his comrades Wolffe and Gregor, become instrumental in building the Rebel Alliance.

Aside from re-introductions from The Clone Wars, Rebels also introduced Grand Admiral Thrawn to the current canon marking his first major appearance outside the Expanded Universe novels. Thrawn served as the main antagonist of Seasons 3 and 4 of Rebels where he retains his menacing appearance, his love of art, and his battle tactics in his attempts to thwart the upcoming Rebellion and the Ghost Crew. His disappearance at the end of the show, of course, leads into a main plot thread of Ahsoka.

Rebels Builds On Existing Star Wars Lore in New and Fascinating Ways

Rebels takes a lot of lore that was developed previously in the films and The Clone Wars and continues to build on it in ways that are essential to understanding the mythology of Star Wars in later series. The Darksaber, for example, was introduced in The Clone Wars, but the true backstory and full significance of the only lightsaber ever built by a Mandalorian is revealed in Rebels. Not only is the origin revealed, but through Sabine's training with the saber, the audience learns more about how the Darksaber works and why it is so important to the people of Mandalore.

By showing Sabine training with the Darksaber and ultimately using it to unite her family clan in the fight of the Rebellion, the audience learns that this is more than just any standard lightsaber but something so much more. At the end of this arc, Sabine, who, much like Din Djarin, finds the Darksaber to be overly heavy and hard to use, passes the blade to Bo-Katan. From here, the story of the Darksaber moves on to The Mandalorian.

Not only does Rebels enhance Mandalorian culture, but also it enhances Jedi culture through the Bendu. In the first two seasons of the show, Kanan is somewhat of a reluctant teacher to Ezra, and since Order 66 occurred when he was a Padawan, he doesn't know all there is to know about the Force as his master did. At the beginning of Season 3, Kanan is blinded thanks to Maul, and decides to cut himself off from his friends and the Force to an extent. It is then that he meets the Bendu, a force-sensitive being who claims to live in the center of the light side and the dark side, something that not many beings in the Star Wars canon do. Through the Bendu's teachings, Kanan is not only able to reconnect to the Force, but also mend his relationship with Ezra. The introduction of the Bendu feeds into and builds out the concept of the Gray Jedi, which Ahsoka appears to be further exploring with Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati.

Star Wars Would Not Be Where It Is Without Rebels

Star Wars as a franchise owes a lot to Rebels. The show was Disney's first big project since it began airing before The Force Awakens came out in theaters and so much of what Rebels did is essential to pretty much every other project. The Mandalorian may have started as a fairly stand-alone project during Season 1, but that season ended with a Darksaber reveal. That led to a season 2 with a big focus on the Darksaber and Mandalorian culture which could not have happened without Rebels. Rebels was also able to move many characters, both new and old, story arcs forward in exciting ways - the effects of those arcs are still being felt today.

Even though Rebels enhances so much of the storytelling done in The Clone Wars, there are still many fans who won't give Rebels a chance. Ahsoka has proven to be a success so far and at its core, it's a sequel to Rebels. Here's hoping that the fans of Ahsoka will flock to Rebels to discover all the lore additions, character changes and growths, and overall beauty of the show for the first time.

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