At Star Wars Celebration 2017, creator/producer Dave Filoni made the surprise announcement that Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels will be the show's final season. As sad as it is to see it go away, there's an extraordinary satisfaction in knowing that this story has a definitive ending, and fans are going to get to see it.
There's an awful lot of story left to wrap up in just one season, but most important to fans is how the story of the Ghost crew will end. It's long been assumed by many fans that Kanan and Ezra can't possibly survive because Luke Skywalker is referred to as "the last of the Jedi" by Yoda - who knew of Kanan and Ezra - in Return of the Jedi. But Dave Filoni has proven many times how much he loves to throw a good curveball, and how effective the payoff of that curveball can be.
So how should Star Wars Rebels end?
The show has always been anchored to the planet Lothal, and ultimately, that's where its ending would be most appropriate. Lothal is under Imperial control these days, so a big battle for Lothal's freedom is definitely in the cards. Scenes glimpsed in the Season 4 trailer confirmed this, with imagery of Grand Admiral Thrawn, his new lackey Rukh (voiced by Warwick Davis), and loads of explosions happening on Lothal.
But there's much more to the show than that one planet. We know for sure that the Rebellion will be based on Yavin in Season 4, which brings things closer than ever to the time of Rogue One and A New Hope. A quick look in the trailer at the white hair of Saw Gerrera and Kallus' longer hair indicate that there will be a time-jump at some point, either before Season 4 begins, or somewhere within the season itself. With the third season set only two years before the battles of Scarif and Yavin, this means the final season will occur much closer to the original trilogy's starting point.
Filoni has suggested in the past that he has a plan for the Battle of Scarif — and the Ghost was visible both on Yavin and in the big space battle in Rogue One — as seen from the Ghost crew's point of view, so it seems likely that will happen at some point, but according to Filoni, it won't be in season 4. Additional animated projects, comics, or books may very well one day tackle that story from the perspective of the characters we know and love from Rebels, but it's a story that won't be told as a part of Rebels' 4 season arc.
Elsewhere, things have been left very unresolved where Mandalore is concerned, and the trailer confirmed that this war-torn world will be a big part of Season 4. Sabine and her allies have been on the hunt for a leader worthy of wielding the Darksaber and uniting Mandalore against the Empire; the trailer showed the long-awaited arrival of The Clone Wars' Bo-Katan Kryze (voiced by Katee Sackhoff) with the Darksaber in hand, so it's pretty clear where that storyline is headed. A good guess is that Sabine might install Bo-Katan as leader just in time for Mandalore to show up as reinforcements in the final battle for Lothal.
Another dangling plot thread fans are positively dying to see wrapped up is the fate of Ahsoka Tano. Did she bite the big one on Malachor, or did she somehow survive? Since Dave Filoni has promised to reveal what happened to her at some point (and has already teased the answer to some extent), there are two possibilities for when and how that will happen.
The first and most obvious is to have Ahsoka's fate revealed before the end of Rebels. Whether that means she shows up at a key moment, alive and well, or Kanan and Ezra find evidence of her demise, it has to be a definitive answer for fans to buy it.
The second option is found in something Filoni stated at the Season 4 Rebels panel at Star Wars Celebration: "The end of Rebels in no way represents the end of what we're doing at Lucasfilm Animation." It's been rumored that a third animated series is already underway at Lucasfilm, and some reports have that mysterious new show set in the 30-year gap between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. When Filoni promised to reveal Ahsoka's fate, might he have been sneakily referring to events from this new animated series? Only time will tell, but until then, Filoni may be the only person in the entire world that actually knows the answer.
So that leaves us with how and where our favorite characters will end in Rebels' story. Aside from the main five, there are side characters that the Rebellion has picked up along the way like Rex, Kallus, Fenn Rau, Ketsu Onyo, Ryder Azadi, and more. It's all but confirmed at this point that Rex will survive to become one of the soldiers on Endor in Return of the Jedi. As for the rest, it's anybody's guess. And what about Thrawn? Now that he's been canonized, it's hard to imagine that Lucasfilm would ditch him so quickly, so he could live to tell another story - or even make the jump to live-action!
For the shippers out there, there's still hope that the unspoken feelings between Kanan and Hera will finally come to fruition. A tender moment in the trailer suggests as much. There was a possibility for romance between Ezra and Sabine at the show's beginning, but considering the sibling-like relationship they've formed over the years, that feels wrong now. And don't worry, the Kallus/Zeb "bromance" is already confirmed for season 4.
As for who lives and who dies, Star Wars has never killed off characters lightly, so don't assume that death is the only logical end for Rebels' cast. Don't forget that most fans assumed Ahsoka would die at the end of The Clone Wars to explain her absence from the films, but Filoni and his crew came up with a more creative solution that allowed her to survive in a way that made sense.
Then again, Rebels is a very different show than Clone Wars, so death could be in the offing for our heroes. But the smart move is to assume nothing. From a purely cynical point of view, killing off major characters is bad for business. It limits the opportunities for how those characters might be utilized in future productions. Filoni seems to have full creative freedom to do what he wants on Rebels, but it's hard to believe he wouldn't want at least some of these characters to show up in his next animated series.
Will Rebels end at the battle for Lothal, or some other major defeat? While that might work out for the larger context of Star Wars, Rebels is ultimately a kids show on Disney XD, so something that dark might not be in the cards. But what if the characters live and the Ghost goes on to participate on the sidelines of other major events? Seeing their role diminished that way would be less than satisfying, so probably not. Regardless, knowing that there is a plan and it's in very capable hands is a reassuring thought.
What do you think? Can Star Wars Rebels avoid any major deaths and still have a satisfying finale? Where will the Ghost make its last stand? And what will the next animated Star Wars series bring?