On Saturday at Star Wars Celebration on the Digital Stage, thousands of Star Wars Rebels fans, celebrities and press got to witness the world premiere of Star Wars Rebels Season Two. The premiere is structured in a similar way to Season One’s Spark of Rebellion in that it is two 22 minute episodes joined together to form a short movie.
While no official premiere date has been released, Disney has said that it will air this “summer.” At the screening they were very clear to make sure that no one recorded the episode. It is with this in mind that the following review will be as spoiler free as I can keep it. Scenes from the premiere shown in the Season Two trailer are fair game and will be discussed.
I find it interesting that in terms of first impressions in both Spark of Rebellion and The Siege of Lothal, the beginning of the episodes was the weakest part of the respective premieres for me. In Season Two’s premiere we open in space which is awesome except that the way the movement is animated didn’t seem fast enough. I couldn’t tell for the first 30 seconds whether I was watching a training exercise or actual combat. It is odd that this criticism isn’t one I can say about space combat later in the episode which felt faster and more intense to me.
We quickly get introduced to where our characters are now, as part of Phoenix Squadron and it is clear that some not insignificant time has passed. It feels a bit like a coming back from summer vacation to a new school year and having to catch up on what everybody did over the break.
It is clear that while the familial bond among the crew of the Ghost is still strong, they have new roles and responsibilities and new pressures on them as part of a larger Rebel cell. The one character that seems to struggle most with this change is Kanan, though this should not be surprising given his childhood trauma. As you would expect Hera seems to be the most adaptable and character that is thriving most in this new environment.
If you have watched the trailer then you know that Darth Vader who appeared in the Season One finale features heavily in the Season Two premiere. I absolutely love how Vader was handled in this episode. There is a weight, ruthlessness and intelligence to the character that rings very true. This is Darth Vader at the height of his villainy, there is no hint of a son softening his heart at this point. I don’t know how he did it but Keith Kellogg and his animation team did an incredible job animating Vader in his fight with Ezra and Kanan. You can actually feel the weight of Vader’s movement and the power he possesses as he swings his lightsaber.
The Season Two premiere really is Vader’s moment in the animated spotlight but also has some very nice moments for Ahsoka and our heroes. The conclusion of the episode sets up Season Two in a way that makes storytelling sense for why we won’t be seeing Vader as the villain every week and allows us for the introduction of new adversaries for our crew of heroes to encounter.
One of the things that had me most excited in this premiere was the promise that it makes to the audience, that we are going to be vastly expanding the universe in Star Wars Rebels, traveling to new planets and meeting new people and not being stuck in Lothal’s orbit.
There are at least three moments in the episode that left my jaw hanging and I can’t wait until everyone sees it and we can really dig into the discussion. Season Two promises to be even more action packed and exciting than Season One, so you better strap in.