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STAR WARS REBELS: What’s Next for the Empire and the Rebellion

STAR WARS REBELS: What’s Next for the Empire and the Rebellion

Warning: This recap contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels season three finale. Make the jump into hyperspace and away from this page if you haven’t watched the episode yet.

Well, it happened. Grand Admiral Thrawn discovered Agent Kallus’ Fulcrum secret and used Kallus’ carelessness to pinpoint the Phoenix Squadron’s secret base on Atollon in the Star Wars Rebels season three finale, “Zero Hour.” He attacked in a battle that played out with similar beats to the Battle of Hoth. The rebels had almost no warning and had to fight to get out of the base and off the surface in ships, and the Empire dealt a serious blow to the Rebellion but didn’t quite accomplish their primary goal.

In this case, Thrawn was confident he’d capture the Ghost crew and learn all the necessary information from them. He thought it would be the end of the Rebellion. While he claimed a win in the category of numbers, I see the battle as a draw because the primary objective wasn’t achieved. I imagine Thrawn, with his careful orchestration and foresight, also sees what happened on Atollon as a loss.

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So, where do the events of “Zero Hour” leave us? Happily, we still have a very much alive Thrawn to continue to loom as a threat to the Rebellion. He is bigger than a single season villain, and I know he’ll examine all the information from the battle at Chopper Base to come back stronger and scarier. As for the rebels, they lost Commander Sato and so much more. While I would have been okay/not okay with losing a member of the Ghost team, it wasn’t entirely necessary to communicate the stakes.

We know the stakes. We know what’s at risk. It needs to be pushed in season four.

I want season four to put us on a path straight into Rogue One. That looks like where we’re heading. But what else is there to explore in the two years between now and then? I’m skeptical about how many more small skirmishes the rebels will find themselves in. On the other hand, look at how much territory Star Wars: The Clones Wars covered in the three years between Episodes II and III.

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These are the stories I want to see addressed in season four: the Mandalorian civil war, what happens to Ezra and Kanan, how/when Hera gets promoted to the rank of general, and the Thrawn of it all. Without other longer threads dangling, I’m fine with the thought of Rebels taking a jump forward in time and wrapping with the fourth season.

Though I can see a case for fans finding the finale underwhelming—and certainly respect any and all opinions in that regard—I think it was an important note to hit as we head in season four and get closer to Rogue One. The Battle of Scarif becomes even more of a fist pump victory when you’ve watched how the rebels have suffered and then picked themselves up to continue fighting. As far as I can tell, Scarif is their first large-scale attack.

The Ghost crew was poised to launch an attack on the Imperials established on Lothal. Tarkin expressed disbelief at the notion. Remember how he did the same thing in Rogue One? The Rebel Alliance had been an official thing for a couple of years at that point, but Tarkin wasn’t worried. Part of his scorn is likely arrogance and because he knows the might of the Empire, but he also has no historical proof of the organization being capable of coordinating a major battle.

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Thrawn’s ambush of Chopper Base not only threw a wrench into the rebels’ plans, it prevented them from regrouping. The Empire inflicted damage to personnel, ships, and resources. We’ve spent much of the last two seasons of Star Wars Rebels watching the Ghost crew and Phoenix Squadron cobble together equipment however and whenever they can. The’ve scrapped for everything they had. And now? It’s largely gone. They can’t bounce back for any sort of battle in the immediate future.

The finale ended with our rebels on the way to Yavin. It’s happening. I’m looking forward to seeing how the little family we’ve come to know and love (or in the case of Ezra, tolerate) will fit in at Yavin. We know at least Hera and Chopper make it until the Battle of Scarif, but who else will remain standing? Which established characters are they going to run into next season? I’m hoping for Cassian Andor and K-2SO.

What are your hopes for season four of Star Wars Rebels? Share them in the comments or come talk to me on Twitter.

Who is Woody Harrelson in the Han Solo Film, though?

Images: Disney XD/Lucasfilm

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