Star Wars Celebration in Orlando has been a massive source of news for Star Wars fans, from major reveals, from the first look at The Last Jedi to more fun news, like the letter 11-year-old Warwick Davis sent to George Lucas asking him for Star Wars toys, there's no shortage of enticing information for any lover of the franchise.
Obviously, this means Star Wars Rebels also got some attention, including some big news about the show's fourth season. While it’s hard to match the hype coming off of last year’s panel and the announcement that Thrawn would be coming to the show, there were still a few huge announcements and teases about what we can expect. Here’s everything we learned about Rebels season 4.
Going back to her introduction in the novel A New Dawn, Hera was a bit of a loner, conducting her own personal war against the Empire. It isn’t until she comes across Kanan that the crew of her ship, The Ghost, really starts to grow into the family we know and love from the first few seasons of Rebels. Over that time, the Ghost Crew joins up with a Rebel cell, Phoenix Squadron, where Hera becomes a captain and is eventually promoted to Phoenix Leader.
During the Rebels panel at Star Wars Celebration, Vanessa Marshall, the voice of Hera, teased a little of what can be expected from her in season 4, where Hera has been "really impacted by the losses the group experienced in season 3," making her "more focused and committed than ever to get the job done." As we know from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Hera eventually becomes a General in the Rebellion, so it's likely that her leadership and drive to "really get it done" will be more evident than ever.
Zeb didn't get as much attention as many other characters at the start of the show, playing the role of a sort of cantankerous uncle, but that saw a major change in season 2 with the episode 'Legends of the Lasat', where he helps his exiled people find a new home, and 'The Honorable Ones', where he finds common ground with the man he thought was his biggest enemy, the Imperial Security Bureau's Agent Kallus. This shift not only introduced the seeds of a Zeb and Kallus season 4 "bromance" teased during the Rebels panel, but also started a shift in Zeb's character. While he was still cranky, he became far less aloof and was shown bonding more with crew mates, including Ezra, who he'd previously treated more like an annoying child.
That shift is set to proceed into season 4, where Zeb's voice actor, Steve Blum says Zeb is becoming “an uncle more than a brother. He’s becoming more of a responsible citizen instead of a tough musclehead.” After seeing him work with Chopper and AP-5 to defend Chopper Base from an Infiltrator Droid in season 3, it'll definitely be exciting to see him progress more down that path in season 4.
Sabine may have seen some of the biggest steps forward as a character in Rebels season 3. Between inheriting the darksaber and coming to face her family and own up to her Mandalorian heritage, a lot has changed from her early days of graffiti and explosions (not that she's left all that behind).
Going into season 4, Sabine's story will open a door into a side of Star Wars we've only briefly glimpsed in The Clone Wars: Mandalorians. After the death of Gar Saxon, the Mandalorians are on the verge of civil war, and Sabine is in the middle of it with the darksaber, a symbol of Mandalorian authority.
Sabine voice actor, Tiya Sircar, teased more of Sabine's arc in season 4, saying that it took until part way through season 3 for Sabine to finally address her trust issues and find her place with her "family" on The Ghost, but now she has to go do the same with her real family, where the stakes are much higher. She also teased “Some familiar faces, some new faces, all Mandalorian", which sounds like something all fans can look forward to.
Chopper is different from the rest of the characters in Rebels in the fact that he doesn't have an apparent character arc. He seems to be just a grumpy droid that wants to pick fights and cause trouble, but Dave Filoni calls that into question. The Rebels executive producer talked about Chopper's emotion, saying "he has a bigger heart than you realize because when the chips are really down he likes these guys”, saying that's something we'll see more of in season 4 as well.
Kanan has been a huge mystery since his introduction. Does he die before A New Hope? Why haven't we heard of him before? We've seen him slowly transition from someone that wanted to hide his Jedi past to a thoughtful master, more in tune with the Force than many Jedi we've seen before. As Kanan's voice actor, Freddie Prinze Jr., says "He’s still blind, but he sees more than he has ever seen before."
Freddie says that 'Trials of the Darksaber' is the episode that can be pinpointed as a pivotal moment in Kanan's arc "because that sort of defined for me a lot of who Kanan was and who he needs to be." What Kanan has learned from the beginning is the virtue of patience. The Bendu also taught him how he can see, literally and figuratively, the road in front of him if he's just patient and quiets his mind.
In season 4, Prinze Jr. says "he knows what path these Rebels need to be on" and "the stuff Kanan goes through is very adult" because he has to learn that "the good guys don’t always win.” That's a lesson Star Wars fans may have already learned from other stories, but in the context of this particular crew of Rebels, it has an obviously ominous tone, and will likely be the cause of a lot of speculation until we know the ultimate fate of these characters.
Over the last 3 seasons of Rebels, we've seen Ezra Bridger evolve into a young Jedi who's power could even rival his master's at this point. Freddie Prinze Jr. talked about Ezra for a moment, describing the Padawan's journey to adulthood: “he sort of steps out of that Jedi Padawan relationship and says ‘I’m not talking about the Force, I’m talking about family, I have so much more to learn from you’ so in that regard he’s still a young man, he’ll still deal with issues of anger the way young men deal with them, but he has a good teacher”
Adding to Freddie's comments, Taylor Gray, the voice of Ezra, said Ezra's arc puts him on a quest to discover “what kind of Jedi, and transcending that, what kind of person he wants to be”. After seeing him struggle with the dark side in seasons 2 and 3, it'll definitely be interesting to see how he progresses now that he's met both Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi and moved beyond Maul.
One of the biggest moments of last season was when Mon Mothma finally showed up, signaling the beginning of the formation of the larger Rebel Alliance. Unfortunately, this change wasn't everything the Ghost Crew may have expected when Mon denied Phoenix Squadron any support during Thrawn's attack of Chopper Base on Atollon. While it may have been the most strategically sound decision - preventing Thrawn from tracking them to other Rebel bases - it was definitely a tough call.
Mon Mothma, who will be voiced once again by Genevieve O'Reilly (who also played the character in Rogue One and in a deleted scene for Revenge of the Sith) is going to continue that trend to show just what she's capable of as the head of the Rebel Alliance. As Dave Filoni says: “you might see Mon Mothma get a little firy for once. She’s a leader for a reason.”
It was a huge treat for Star Wars fans to not only see Saw Gerrera make the jump from The Clone Wars to Rogue One but then also to Star Wars Rebels, where he was also voiced by Forrest Whitaker. Last season we saw the more extremist side of Saw, who wasn't concerned with any collateral damage or innocent death so long as it helped bring down the Empire, and, while he was ultimately talked down by the Ghost crew, we know he's not done with his extreme measures, due to his appearance in Rogue One, so we can expect his season 2 inclusion to send him farther down that path that eventually leads to the Rebel Alliance choosing to alienate itself from his efforts.
Season 4 will “Bridge the Gap" to Rogue One
One of the main criticisms against the Star Wars prequels was the divergence from the well-worn aesthetic of the original trilogy. In the prequels, everything seemed new and shiny, but the original trilogy had this worn down, lived in, second-hand feel. Thanks to the work being done outside the movies, particularly in animation, that gap is closing as story details have established a changing galaxy and the different levels of technology across different civilizations and cultures.
Dave Filoni promised that season 4 would continue to "bridge the gap," leading up to Rogue One, and likewise, A New Hope. One of the biggest ways this will happen is by the Rebels finally going to Yavin 4, where the old Massassi temples are obviously far more fitting of that classic aesthetic than the shield protected landing pads on Atollon. Obviously, this will also serve to connect the story to Rogue One, where we see the Ghost sitting outside Rebel base on Yavin 4.
Between the Ghost, Chopper, and "General Syndulla", there were already a number of other Rebels Easter eggs in Rogue One, but season 4 is set to make even more connections, with U-Wings, Saw's soldier, Edrio Two Tubes, and more Saw and Mon Mothma. It sounds like fans will want to watch Rogue One all over again just to see if they can find even more newly revealed Rebels easter eggs when it's all said and done.
Last year's announcement that Thrawn would be joining Rebels season 3 drew a huge reaction from fans at Celebration - and nearly broke the internet for those that weren't - and the character really paid off, playing out in animation as if he had stepped directly off the pages of Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire. While Thrawn was initially the only character to be lifted from non-canonical Star Wars Legends content, that's about to change with the introduction of Thrawn's Noghri bodyguard, Rukh, played by none other than the Star Wars great, Warwick Davis.
This name has huge implications for a number of reasons, the most primary of which is the fact that in the books, Rukh is the one that actually assassinates Thrawn in the end in the Legends material. Obviously, that doesn't have to play out the same way here, but that detail will definitely loom over all of season 4 as a potential conclusion to Thrawn's story.
Fans were thrilled when it was revealed that Ahsoka Tano had survived the Clone Wars and would be appearing regularly in the second season of Star Wars Rebels. It was a sweet reunion until she inevitably had to confront Darth Vader, resulting in a somewhat cryptic resolution prompting the hashtag #AhsokaLives.
Dave Filoni has a history of playing coy on panels and interviews, so it should hardly be a surprise when he showed up wearing a black shirt bearing the words "Ahsoka Lives?" In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it trick, when the lights came up after the screening of the season 4 trailer, the text on the shirt had been changed to "Ahsoka Lives!" (notice the punctuation change), prompting rampant speculation about her likely return in season 4.
Rebels is Ending With Season 4
Despite 3 amazing seasons, season 4 will be that end of Rebels. It makes sense, though - the show was always meant to fill in a narrow gap in the Star Wars timeline. Now that they're running out of road, the stories of these characters will all be wrapped up as Lucasfilm Animation moves on to an as yet unnamed project.
In his announcement that Rebels would end with season 4, Dave Filoni pointed out that he much prefers to end a show on his terms, unlike The Clone Wars, which was canceled in mid-production at the height of its quality, leaving many great stories untold. By bringing Rebels to its ultimate conclusion at this point, we can have confidence that the show will exist as a complete story, looking forward to whatever Lucasfilm Animation is planning next.
Star Wars Rebels will return to Disney XD this fall.