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Star Wars Rebels

Spark of Rebellion (Star Wars Rebels - S01 Pilot) - Television

Series: Star Wars Rebels

Title: Spark of Rebellion

Season: One

Episode: Pilot

Original Air Date: October 3, 2014

Runtime: 43 minutes

The latest expansion of the Star Wars saga has arrived! Star Wars Rebels premiered this past Friday with the TV movie Spark of Rebellion. But is it worth your time? SPOILERS.

In all honesty, the promotional materials and previews for Star Wars Rebels hadn’t gotten me very excited about the show. But the premiere, while far from perfect, was a promising start for the series and exceeded my expectations. I don’t want to spend too much time on the story because this is the series premiere and I’d rather focus on the characters and what did or didn’t work. The series begins on the planet Lothal with Ezra, a teenage orphan and thief who shows potential with the Force, encountering the crew of the Ghost as they attempt to steal supplies from the Imperial forces stationed on Lothal. It turns out the stolen Imperial cargo consisted of blasters and food. Kanan and Hera give the blasters to a Devaronian arms dealers in exchange for credits and information about a group of missing Wookiees taken by the Empire for slave labor. Meanwhile Zeb, Ezra, and Sabine deliver the food to the citizens of Tarkintown, a Lothal slum named after Grand Moff Tarkin. Based on information from the arms dealer, Ezra and the crew of the Ghost board an Imperial shuttle to rescue the Wookiees but quickly discover it was a trap set by Agent Kallus. Ezra is left behind but is quickly rescued. Based on new information, the rebels travel to space mines of Kessel to rescue the Wookiee slaves. When the group becomes outnumbered by Imperial forces, Kanan is forced to reveal himself as a Jedi. With his help, the imperials are defeated and the Wookiees are rescued. At the end of the episode, Ezra decides to join the crew of the Ghost and learn the ways of the Force from Kanan.

   

Unlike Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the cast of Rebels is made up of entirely new characters. Spark of Rebellion is told mostly from Ezra’s point of view. The danger in having your main character be a kid is that they’ll come off as annoying or bratty, and Rebels doesn’t completely avoid that trap. Between the Aladdin comparisons many have brought up and cheesy dialogue that will eventually feel dated like “pretty cool” and “seriously”, Ezra had his share of annoying moments in the premiere. Did I find Ezra to be annoying in this first episode? Yes. Could it have been a lot worse? Yes. Based on the previews, I was expecting to like him a lot less than I actually did. Cut back on the cheesy dialogue and don’t have him outsmart everyone he meets, he tricked Imperial officers on two separate occasions by simply telling them to go somewhere else over a communicator, and Ezra could end up being a decent character. Given time to grow Ahoska Tano became one of the bright spots of The Clone Wars. Maybe the same will happen for Ezra, but for now he’s the weakest character. One character I was very worried about before I watched Spark of Rebellion was Sabine. She was being introduced to us as a rebellious graffiti artist who happens to be a Mandalorian. Thankfully, the graffiti artist aspect of her character was toned down and she was a likable character who had some good scenes throughout the episode. The astromech droid Chopper didn’t have much to do but he seems like a fun character. Kanan, one of the last surviving Jedi, had some standout moments even though he did have a somewhat bland personality. Kanan’s “I am a Jedi” moment was great but him silently sitting in his cabin listening to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s message might be my favorite moment in the episode. Hera is the Twi’lek captain and pilot of the Ghost. Her maternal nature and strong convictions made Hera one of the most likable characters we were introduced too. Zeb, the muscle of the group, is one of my favorite characters that has been introduced so far. His enjoyment of smashing Stormtroopers was fun to watch and the scene where he left Ezra behind was well done. Most of the characters left a good impression, so that’s a good start.

   

One of my biggest complaints about Rebels so far is the portrayal of the Imperials. They may not have been the most competent fighting force in the Original Trilogy but the Imperials in Star Wars Rebels make the Battle Droids in Star Wars: The Clone Wars look intelligent. I know our heroes have to survive but Agent Kallus and his forces posed no threat. The Inquisitor’s brief introduction at the end was very effective and I’m glad we didn’t see him in action right away. Hopefully his proper introduction will provide an actual threat for our heroes. In addition to not liking the portrayal of the Empire, I found the animation really lacking. For those who have grown accustomed to highly detailed and beautiful animation of Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ later seasons, don’t expect that from this series. The animation on Star Wars Rebels is simplistic and sparse. The Wookiees that were featured in this episode were almost laughable.

   

The return of James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi was probably the highlight of the episode for me. It was great to hear him in that role again and Kenobi’s appearance didn’t feel forced at all, no pun intended. Kenobi’s appearance in a Holocron message that belonged to Kanan worked incredibly well and his voiceover at the end of the episode was perfect. Another one of my favorite scenes was the visit to Tarkintown. Tarkintown perfectly illustrated how the Empire has ruined the lives of so many and how much power Tarkin wields during this time period. Even though Agent Kallus was wildly ineffective, the idea of the Imperial Security Bureau is an intriguing one. While I’m not a huge fan of the animation style, the Ralph McQuarrie inspired visuals provided a unique look that felt like classic Star Wars. In fact, one of the best things Star Wars Rebels has going for it is the Original Trilogy connections.

What Worked

  • Most of the characters left a good impression, particularly Hera and Zeb
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi appearance and Tarkintown
  • The Ralph McQuarrie inspired designs and Original Trilogy connections
  • Ezra wasn’t as annoying as I thought he would be…

What Didn’t Work

  • ... but Ezra was still annoying
  • The Imperials are ridiculously incompetent
  • The animation style was a big step down from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Just look at the Wookiees.
External Links:
Added: October 7, 2014
Category: Star Wars Rebels
Reviewer: Mike Taber
Score:
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