By Zach Nichols

Star Wars Rebels returned this weekend with a double sized season premiere, and they doubled more than just the length of the episode. The premiere has twice the excitement, twice the cameos and twice the adventure as the previous season. If this is any sign of things to come, Season 2 is not to be missed.

(Spoilers to follow)

A lot has happened since we last saw our band of rebels. They’ve joined up with the Phoenix Squadron and several other ships to form the beginnings of what will one day become the Rebel Alliance. The Ghost crew is now part of a larger whole of dissidents that stand to take down the Empire. This changes the dynamic of the show immensely. Previously our characters were off on their own pulling small time jobs to get by and cause disarray along the way when possible. The show was enjoyable, but outside of rare cameos and occasional musical cues, the show felt as if it was just inside the Star Wars universe without ever really feeling connected to the franchise itself. Now that they have joined with the pre-alliance faction, the show truly feels like Star Wars and the shapings of the original trilogy are much more apparent.

The episode itself is an exciting line up of battles and chases from beginning to end. It never lets up from the fun and excitement. Never does the pace slow down for more than it needs to establish the next scene of adventure with some of the best battle scenes since the Clone Wars cartoon, most notably the lightsaber battle and finale space skirmish.

The stand out of the episode is the presence of our feared Lord Vader, voiced so appropriately by the man himself, James Earl Jones. Even before Vader appears, the episode does wonders of setting the tone by Kanan and Ezra’s reactions to “the cold.” Their interactions with the Sith Lord, or just to his emoting feelings of hate, anger and fear before they ever even see him, are foreboding and powerful. The battle sequences, be they lightsaber or space dogfighting, are the most thrilling this show has produced so far. It should stand as no surprise that the appearance of the key villain of the franchise, serves as the catalyst for the show’s increase in quality.

However, Ahsoka Tano’s presence is utterly wasted. When she arrived at the end of the Season 1 finale, fans were filled with hope that she will be an important character in the series going forward. Unfortunately, she has virtually no real importance in this episode. Her character is relegated to standing in the background with her arm scrossed while the Ghost Crew does all the work, and in a way that felt very forced, only joined them so that she may have a very brief interaction with her former master. Vader sensing her presence felt predictable, forced and utterly wasted. Perhaps if she had an actual importance to the episode before that it would not have felt as wasted, or if they had saved it for another time where their interaction felt more natural it would have been more suited. Long have we waited to see how the two would react when brought back together. Unfortunately the episode wasted this potentially incredible moment too early by forcing it too hard on us.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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