Star Wars is a cinematic icon, but it is much more than its movies. Blaine and Josh dive right into the middle of Star Wars Rebels, the fantastic animated show on Disney XD, and will be reviewing the first half of Season 2. As a show aimed at kids, but also clearly for the kid in every adult Star Wars fan, they’ll also have a discussion section to talk about the themes covered in each show.
Since the beginning of Star Wars Rebels, I have been struck by the influences and similarities to Joss Whedon’s beloved and short-lived TV show, Firefly. Season 1 especially reflected the similar milieu of a tight, contained crew on a spaceship finding themselves in different, precarious situations week to week. Everyone has a unique “type” and each of them has a mysterious past we begin to uncover as the episodes progress. There is a Mal/leader-type in Kanan, but he also has a little bit of the tender, sturdy relationship of Zoe and Wash with Hera. Zeb is like Jayne in his gruffness but also has a deep bond with Kanan, much like Jayne had with Mal. Not only do all of these things fit, but the witty banter and dialogue between the characters owe it’s inspiration to Whedon’s razor-sharp writing.
All of these similarities and inspirations come to a head in a Sabine-centric storyline. She, along with Ezra and Chopper, is to meet a courier carrying vital information for the fledgling Rebellion. After an ominous warning found in some graffiti in Garel’s spaceport, Sabine is confronted with her past from fellow Imperial Academy dropout and former bounty hunting partner, Ketsu Onyo. She is after the same information as Sabine and Ezra, but she is out to capture it for the Black Sun Crime Syndicate. Ketsu is intimidating, tough, and boasts similar armor, but non-Mandalorian, to Sabine. To harken back to Firefly, her demeanor and expertise remind me a little bit of the bounty hunter Jubal Early. Even more intriguing is Whedon has said Jubal Early was based on Boba Fett. And to come full circle, Ketsu is voiced by Firefly actress Gina Torres, who played Zoe Washburne, Mal’s first mate.
The significance of Ketsu’s appearance serves to reveal a bit more about Sabine’s background as a bounty hunter and her combat training at the Imperial Academy. Also, it mirrors Ezra’s journey two episodes ago in “Brothers of the Broken Horn.” Just like Ezra, Sabine was out for herself. Being a bounty hunter allowed her to seek her own personal gain, albeit with a partner in Ketsu, but she still lived for herself and gave no thought to the greater good. Ketsu, as she is now, is Sabine’s look into an alternate reality where she is still on her own, much the same way Hondo was a look into an alternate reality for Ezra as a swindler and self-absorbed pirate. However, unlike Ezra, Sabine doesn’t flinch at returning to the way things used to be. In fact, as a member of the Ghost crew and the Rebellion, Sabine functions like an evangelist for the cause. When the Imperials threaten both “sisters”, they work as a team once again but Sabine is used to it, Ketsu is not.
Amazingly, once again, Filoni, Kinberg, and episode writer Kevin Hopps show themselves to be heavily influenced by Whedon’s Firefly. While the Asian-influenced Western music dances with the action, another tip to Firefly, the “bad guy” and “good guy” end up working together against a common enemy. The Imperials function like the Alliance in Whedon’s TV show, coming in at the least opportune moment to force both sides to work together. What this episode and the crew of the Serenity taught us was the value of community on a common mission. By the end of the episode, Sabine has almost convinced Ketsu to join up with the Rebellion. If you’ve seen later episodes, this thread will come up again rather abruptly. Until then, Sabine has learned, like Ezra before her, the Ghost has given her purpose and a community to call home.
Star Wars Rebels is a family show. Parents love watching as much as their kids. Infusing the spiritual with the fantastic and adventurous, Rebels continues the spirit of what makes Star Wars great. In order to foster the young minds and hearts of your Reel World Theologians, each week there are questions you can use during or after the show to talk about with your kids. Enjoy the show and then enjoy conversation, but always remember that story is powerful and Star Wars Rebels is not mindless.
- Why do you think a common purpose or “mission” is so compelling? How does a group of people on a mission look even more attractive?
- When you work with someone else to achieve a goal, like on a sports team, how do you feel when you win or succeed? What does this episode teach us about winning like a team? Is it easier to work alone or work together?
- What do you think is the common purpose of the Ghost crew? How is the crew of the Ghost like the Church? What is the Church’s mission? Can we achieve that mission all on our own?
- While the Black Sun were canonized in Star Wars: The Clone Wars during the Shadow Collective story arc in Season 5, we now know the Black Sun Crime Syndicate is still active during the reign of the Empire. Who knows, Prince Xizor may still be canon!
- While it is not RX-24, nicknamed “Rex”, and he is not voiced by Paul Reubens, the Star Tours droid is back! This time, he is voiced by Stephen Stanton and is a tad more hapless. This is the second appearance by the model RX pilot droid and the first since the Season 1 episode “Droids in Distress,” which also introduced C-3PO and R2-D2 to Rebels.
- The pistol shaped gun used by Ketsu in this episode is very similar to the pistol used by Nathan Fillion’s character, Mal, in the cult classic TV show, Firefly. Another reference to Joss Whedon’s fantastic show!