While the full second season of “Star Wars Rebels” won”t hit Disney XD until later this year, the benevolent overlords at Lucasfilm graciously gave fans a gift: a one-hour special that moves the rebels from an independent freedom fighting cell to part of the overreaching rebellion against the Empire.
It also set up the pins nicely for the ultimate showdown…eventually.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR “STAR WARS REBELS” SEASON 2 PREMIERE BEYOND THIS POINT!
Time for a bold statement: The “Rebels” premiere was some of the best work Lucasfilm has ever put out into the Star Wars universe. Between Kanan”s nuanced feelings on joining a political movement to Ezra realizing their actions will cost innocent people their lives and livelihoods, the show got pretty dark for a Disney XD cartoon.
But nothing held a candle to many acts of Darth Vader. Over a decade after the events of “Revenge of the Sith,” every piece of Anakin Skywalker has been scrubbed away. In his place is a monster who will kill his own Imperial officer to bait a trap, who will order the razing of a town to send a message to a few, and who will play with his foes like the children they are. Vader”s blasé attitude about dispatching Kanan and nearly killing Ezra with his own lightsaber is the casual cruelness fans of the original trilogy remember. Vader”s vague annoyance at being buried in a ton of burning AT-ST is terrifying. And his TIE piloting skills finally live up to expectations.
The most tantalizing moment though comes near the end of the episode. Reaching out through the Force, Ahsoka Tano makes a terrible revelation: the monster in the mask is her former Master. And now he knows she”s alive.
There are many – myself included – who believe Darth Vader will eventually kill his former apprentice. But there was another future story hinted at in the final moments of “Star Wars Rebels.” Vader seems less focused on Ahsoka”s survival than on the possibility that she could lead him to other Jedi…like Obi-Wan Kenobi.
In “A New Hope,” Obi-Wan tells Luke that Darth Vader killed his father. Now, we all know this was creative omission: Kenobi knows the truth. But when and how did he acquire this information about Vader”s true identity? By the end of the prequels, Obi-Wan still assumes he left Anakin for dead in the pits of Mustafar. Yet when the old Jedi steals aboard the Death Star, Vader says, “I sense something. A presence I”ve not felt since…”
For years now audiences have supplied in their own “…Mustafar,” to end that thought. But now “Rebels” tips that theory on its head. Vader”s rage at even saying Obi-Wan”s name indicates he very much remember his former Master cutting off his limbs and leaving him for dead. A hate like that doesn”t sit around and wait; it hunts down and destroys. How it will come to pass is still up for debate. But if Obi-Wan doesn”t battle Darth Vader before the end of “Star Wars Rebels,” I will eat my hat.