The key with “Star Wars: Rebels” has always been connection the emotional impact and nostalgia of the old series, bridging the mythology of the prequels and leading them towards the new films. If there is one thing that Disney knows, it is synergy. But what really seems to be working well here is integrating also the lifeline of “The Clone Wars” animated series with the new storylines. As dense and political as that series became, what it did do was immensely humanize Anakin Skywalker, specifically his relationship with his Padewan Ahsoka. The first episodes of season 2 of “Rebels” adequately pushes that.
There is a great reveal moment in the premiere episode but is interesting in that the series gives the audience a leg up on the proceedings that the main characters in the series do not possess. It creates a interesting quagmire for this season, one that unfortunately can only end in tragedy. That said, it creates stakes for the series and gives it more dynamic perspective. Strangely enough, the series is on XD which is more tween oriented and this is definitely a multi generational show through and through. The balance of force between Ezra and Kanan continues to work well especially in a face off with a certain Sith. The different consequences of actions though ring in eerie parallel, especially the burning of a place called Tarkin Town and the aspect of the Sith using “compassion” as a rebel weakness to his advantage.
The concluding showdown of the episode brings to mind the inherent strategy of thinking outside the box as in the original trilogy. At certain points you do feel it veering into military and political turmoil but the key in this series is always to bring it back to the main characters and with this season specifically: Ahsoka. “Rebels” has found a great crux of perception but needs to keep building. But with supervising director Dave Filoni as usual at the helm (like he was with “Clone Wars”), the course is in good hands.
With his ongoing interaction with George Lucas and Star Wars, Seth Green and his cronies at “Robot Chicken” have been put in the envious position of both admiring the Star Wars pantheon but also being able to make fun of it. With “Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III”, the balance becomes more dynamic with the aspect that while the spoof element are distinctly in play, some more dramatic elements of sorts are being explored. Situated almost as a biopic in reverse with the Emperor in addition to the manic channel change progression thrown in, there is more a narrative progression to the proceedings than ever before.
Beginning with the song “Teenage Wasteland” as Palpatine is being thrown to his death, the episode takes on a vast gamut. The great homages are there. One particularly reverse engineered one is a take off from “A New Hope” where Ben informs Luke after his Aunt and Uncle died that he has a new Sandcrawler. It cuts to the Crawler jumping a chasm just like the Ferrari jumped a hill to John Williams’ music in “Ferris Buellar’s Day Off”. Another that definitely works to this aspect is when Vader gets his suit at the end of Episode III. Instead of becoming melodramatic, it turns into a disco across the Death Star with some new music cues which plays undeniably funny.
Some of the more dry and dark somber comedic tones plays in three separate sets. One involves two Stormtroopers accidently setting fire to Owen & Beru’s place on Tatooine. Luke’s relatives come out engulfed in fire, screaming while the guilty stormtroopers try to sneak away. Another is when Luke is filling up at a space gas station. The person pulling in next to him is the Ice Creature whose arm he cut off during the Hoth Excursion. The use of moving cameras and POV is the most advanced element of technical work yet. It is also very Stephen King-ish in its delivery with some actual emotional connotations. The last segment of note in this pantheon is when a Stormtrooper accidentally kills an Ewok in the forest. When he tries to put the bear out of its misery, he causes it more pain. It turns out all his friends walk in on the violence. Again very interesting dynamic which hopefully translates to the “Star Wars” project Green and Lucas are developing for future production.
At nearly an hour long, the project is undeniably ambitious. The addition of actual Star Wars cast members like Billy Dee Williams and Ahmed Best obviously adds credence in addition to Seth McFarlane (who creates his own odes on “Family Guy”) who voices The Emperor with a bit of Stewie to boot. The third special of Robot Chicken in its ode to “Star Wars” is both interesting and flawed in a great way which makes its intent all the more realized.