The end of Star Wars Rebels is in sight. The remaining episodes of the animated series' fourth and final season will debut on Disney XD on February 19. We'll soon know the fates of the Ghost crew, Hera, Chopper, Zeb, Kanan, Ezra, and Sabine and just why Grand Admiral Thrawn is so interested in Lothal. Because it can't only be about the TIE defenders being manufactured on the planet. And don't forget, we'll see Ahsoka Tano once again.
With the midseason premiere date announcement comes a new trailer that will make the month-long wait until new episodes fly by with theorizing and speculating. It's ominous. Watch:
A giant freaking loth-wolf. The return of Gregor and Wolffe. That Mortis relief. The convor (Ahsoka?). Emperor Palpatine, voiced by Ian McDiarmid no less. Kanan's new, attractive 'do. And is that part of the Death Star? There's a lot to process. But before the new footage flashed in front of our eyes, the trailer focused on Ezra, the character at the center of Star Wars Rebels, and his homeworld Lothal. It's where his journey and Star Wars Rebels started.
"This story is about Ezra at the end of the day," Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni told Nerdist. "No matter how much prominence other characters have risen to, which I think has been great, it ultimately is Ezra's story. And I think Ezra's story is really about his family and his home, and the people there. So when you examine it in that way, it makes sense that the story really takes place on Lothal in the end. We'll have to see what elements come into play there, but [the rest of the series] is going to play out mostly, if not all, on Lothal."
The oppression of Lothal and how the situation has worsened in the time since the premiere of Star Wars Rebels is one example of how the Empire grabs a planet and squeezes it. Thrawn is focused on carrying out his assignment there. Filoni explained, "He's found opportunity there that maybe he didn't have otherwise. I would think that Thrawn is trying to do his duty to the greatest of his ability, and he definitely has his plans with the TIE defender and what he would like it to be, and the Imperial navy, and how he thinks that they could crush this Rebellion."
Filoni continued, "Those items are still Thrawn's main focus, but he's been put into the Jedi kind of world. I think he sees the Jedi as a strategic problem where Palpatine sees them more as an outright enemy and a light that needs crushed. Thrawn, that's kind of Thrawn's strength in the whole thing, is he is able to, very calmly analyze things and proceed forward. He looks at loss as a learning experience, not necessarily a defeat, and that's what makes him a particularly difficult villain."
And speaking of villains, Palpatine's eyes are on Ezra, or at least on Lothal. He speaks Ezra's name with such a sinister tone in the trailer. Filoni said it's a couple of things that make Palpatine interested in Ezra. "One of them is Ezra's kind of persistent ability to survive. It would arch your eyebrow. I don't know that it's so specifically on Ezra to say, 'I am after that guy.' I think he's probably got a target list of Jedi he is looking for and I think that this kid has become a persistent nuisance, you know?" he said. "And Ezra definitely has been causing problems, but there are other reasons why Palpatine's gaze is directed that way that will be revealed."
Nope, no reason to be nervous at all, right?
We're concerned about Kanan, too. The trailer shows Ezra's teacher chopping off his ponytail. In fiction and in history (with samurais), cutting one's hair symbolizes life-altering change. Filoni said those types of physical changes are always purposeful. "People might think that Sabine's different hair colors at times seem somewhat frivolous, but they aren't to me. I feel like they always represent her state of mind, where she's at, how she feels expressively outward about things she can't speak about that are inside her," he said. "I think the same is true when Ezra cut his hair. It was a big symbol of how he is no longer this little mop-headed little boy. He's growing up and becoming an adult and accepting more responsibility and he has more of an edge to him."
Kanan's look is equally important. "Kanan has gone through a couple different looks. He started out one way; he was armored. It kind of speaks to him protecting himself that he's got this whole arm enshrouded in metal. Then he almost becomes very bohemian. He grows a beard and his hair is much longer, and in a way, I wanted him to feel like he had quit doing several things. That he was so torn up by what happened at the end of season two," Filoni said. "This is definitely a transitional moment for him as he goes forward, which I think is fun."
Star Wars Rebels returns to Disney XD on Monday, February 19 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. The remaining episodes will air every Monday night over the course of three weeks with two back-to-back episodes until the 90-minute series finale on March 5 (which will air at 8:30 p.m.). The episode titles, in order, are as follows: "Jedi Night," "DUME," "Wolves and a Door," "A World Between Worlds," "A Fool's Hope," and "Family Reunion and Farewell."
We're not ready. How are you feeling about the approaching end of the series? What theories do you have after seeing this final trailer? Let us know in the comments and come chat with me on Twitter.
Images: Disney XD, Lucasfilm
Amy Ratcliffe is an Associate Editor for Nerdist. She likes Star Wars a little. Follow her on Twitter.
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