The third season of “Star Wars Rebels” wrapped up with an explosive hour long finale on Saturday. It was a season full of revelations and returns for the Disney XD animated series. As the series barrels forward towards the events of “Rogue One” and “A New Hope” more connections were made to characters and events from those films. We also saw character development for the returning characters, resolution to the story arc of Maul and a shift in focus onto Sabine as a much more important character in the series.
In this list, we look across the 22 episodes of “Star Wars Rebels” season 3 and pick out 15 of the best moments; some highs, some lows and some strange.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the third season of “Star Wars Rebels!”
15. YULAREN DEBUTS
In the 17th episode of the season “Through Imperial Eyes,” Grand Admiral Thrawn continues his hunt for the traitor among the Imperial forces. To help Thrawn with his search, Colonel Wulff Yularen of the Imperial Security Bureau arrives. Yularn’s inclusion is particularly cool because he is one of the biggest retcons made to “A New Hope.” Yularen appears in “A New Hope” as an unnamed Imperial officer in the conference room scene and didn’t get his name and rank until a 1995 card game.
George Lucas and Dave Filoni brought Yularen into “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” in the role of an Admiral in the Republic Navy. Yularen appeared in the series premiere movie and continued to appear as the commanding officer aboard the ship or group of ships assigned to Jedi General Anakin Skywalker. Given his relationship with Anakin, if anyone outside of the Emperor and Tarkin knows who Vader really is, then this is your man. In this episode, Yularen is also portrayed as a mentor to Kallus which adds nice depth to both characters backstories.
14. RETURN TO THE CLONE WARS
In the sixth episode of the season “The Last Battle,” we see two veterans of the Clone Wars face off one last time. The antagonist of the episode is the droid Kalani, a Separatist super tactical droid who served as a droid general during the Clone Wars. Kalani was the super tactical droid featured in the Onderon story arc of “The Clone Wars,” an arc which also introduced Saw Gerrera. In the episode Rex, Kanan, Ezra and Zeb land on the planet Agamar looking for resources they can scavenge for the Rebels. They are surprised and captured by Kalani and his droid forces and convinced to participate in a battle simulation to prove whether the Separatist or Republic forces were superior.
While Rex, Kanan, and Ezra win the mock battle, it is largely as the result of the degraded state of the droid forces. Ultimately both sides are forced to unite when Imperial forces arrive and attack. The Rebels escape and both Rex and Kalani are able to find personal closure to their experiences in the Clone Wars with the help of some wisdom from Ezra, a small comfort for a character in Rex who has lost so much.
13. SABINE’S HOMECOMING
In the 16th epsiode of the season, “Legacy of Mandalore,” Sabine returns home to Krownest, the Mandalorian planet controlled by Clan Wren. We have seen bits and pieces of Sabine’s backstory in previous episodes of the series, but it isn’t until this episode that we learn just how important a person she is and how important her family is to Mandalorian society at large. We get to meet the leader of Clan Wren who is Sabine’s mother, the Countess Ursa Wren, Sabine’s brother Tristan Wren, and learn about her father who is being held hostage by the Imperial aligned Governor of Mandalore, Gar Saxon.
This is one of the most important episodes for “Star Wars Rebels” going forward as it set up a key event in the season three finale but it also sets up future storytelling around the civil war currently engulfing Mandalore. In Lucasfilm’s online aftershow “Rebels Recon” they shared concept art for season four which featured the Mandalroian helmets of Clan Wren and Fenn Rau scattered across what looks like a battle-torn wasteland promising even more stories involving Sabine and her family in season four.
12. THE DEFECTION OF WEDGE AND HOBBIE
The fourth episode of the season “The Antilles Extraction,” brought two more big-screen characters into “Star Wars Rebels” in Wedge Antilles and Hobbie Klivian. As Rebel pilots, Wedge Antilles appeared in all three of the original trilogy films while Hobbie appeared “The Empire Strikes Back.” Both characters became frequently used fan favorites in the Legends line of books and comics, featuring significantly in the X-Wing series of novels. In the new canon books Wedge has been used as part of Chuck Wendig’s “Aftermath” series of novels as a New Republic operative.
In this episode Sabine goes undercover to the Imperial Skystrike Academy and helps Wedge and Hobbie defect to the Rebels. This is a great way of connecting the series to the original trilogy of films without getting too close to the central characters of those films. Wedge is an important Rebel pilot but one without a canon backstory, this gives us a little glimpse into that backstory. The idea of many Rebels joining from the ranks of Imperial forces or Imperial Academies is something that goes back to the earliest of “Star Wars” stories with Biggs Darklighter and the aspirations of Luke Skywalker.
11. THE SPIRITS OF THE NIGHTSISTERS
In the 11th episode of the season, “Visions and Voices,” we return to Dathomir where Maul has set up his home within the former village of the Nightsister clan. He lures Ezra hear in order to perform a Nightsister ritual that he hopes will allow him to pull the location of Obi-Wan Kenobi out of Ezra’s mind. The cost of accessing the magic that the Nightsisters is a high one and Maul, unbeknownst to Ezra, promised living flesh to the spirits of the Nightsisters so that they could rebuild their clan.
The Nightsisters’ spirits are able to possess Sabine and Kanan and control their bodies leading to a brief battle with Ezra. Ultimately Ezra is able to free his friends from their possession and seemingly destroy the spirits by destroying the Nightsisters’ ritual altar. This is the first time we have really seen this sort of magic in “Star Wars Rebels” and the green magic mist and possession effects provided some of the coolest visuals of the season.
10. JETPACK BATTLE
In the seventh episode of the season, “Imperial Super Commandos,” we see one of the most innovative fights we have seen in Star Wars. Returning to the planet Concord Dawn, Ezra, Sabine and Hera are pursued by Mandalorian Governor Gar Saxon and his Imperial Super Commandos. These white-armored Mandalorians are based off of the early Ralph McQuarrie Boba Fett concept art. The Super Commandos chase after Sabine, Ezra, and Chopper as they attempt to escape to their ship. Sabine with her jetpack and Chopper with his rocket have a distinct advantage over Ezra who has neither during this case.
What is novel about this battle is that it is very similar to starfighter chases we have seen through canyons before, but instead of starships, it is individuals with jetpacks that heightens the tension and excitement. Exchanging blaster bolts back and forth, Ezra shielding with his lightsaber and Sabine throwing detonators as they fly was exciting enough to begin with, but it gets even further elevated as Ezra goes from holding onto Sabine to surfing on the top of Chopper.
9. IMPERIAL JUMPTROOPERS ON GEONOSIS
The 12th & 13th episodes of the season “Ghosts of Geonosis,” brought us back to the planet Geonosis and introduced Saw Gerrera into the series. While the introduction of Saw was cool, the highlight of the episode was the introduction of the Imperial jumptroopers. The jumptroopers are specialized stormtroopers equipped with jetpacks, who were first created for video games. In this episode, they are deployed by Imperial Captain Brunson once she has the Ghost ship and crew trapped in an underground cavern. Attempting to capture them, Brunson sends the jumptroopers down the cavern, while her ship blocks the mouth of the cavern.
The flying troopers have a tactical advantage over the Rebels until Sabine emerges from the ship with her own jet pack and has an action hero sequence in which she takes out jumptroopers left and right. This conflict forces the Ghost deeper under the planets surface to avoid fire from Brunson’s light cruiser. This fight once again shows Sabine’s battlefield skill against opponents with a jetpack and armor; that she has become a formidable warrior.
8. AP-5’S MOMENT OF BLISS
The 19th episode of the season, “Double Agent Droid,” provides one of the most absurd and enjoyable moments of the season, a brief musical number. Droids in “Star Wars” come in a variety of shapes and sizes and with a variety of programmed personalities. While droids seem ever present, there are a few that make a memorable impact and that is largely due to their personalities. Examples of this are R2-D2 who has a large range of emotions but ever loyal, C-3PO who is anxious, K-2SO who was humorous, and Chopper who is cranky and argumentative. For AP-5 he is a protocol droid dating back to the Clone Wars, his personality is very much that of a grumpy old man who believes in rules and order. Unfortunately, AP-5 droids don’t really get to retire; they operate until they are obsolete.
After saving the day and preventing a reprogrammed Chopper from dooming the Ghost’s crew, AP-5 is lost in space and drifting. He is surrounded by a small flock of the space flying creatures and he finds a bit of bliss in the peace and quiet of space and the company of the flying neebrays. AP-5 is so happy being alone in space that he breaks out in a brief song, only to have his revere interrupted by a rescue by the Ghost which he objects to rather loudly.
7. HERA WRECKS THE HOUSE
In the fifth episode of the season, “Hera’s Heroes,” Hera returns home to the Twi’lek homeworld of Ryloth and is reunited with her father Cham Syndulla. Cham and one of his chief lieutenants Numa are characters that were first introduced in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” Cham was a freedom fighter who allied with the Republic to fight off Separatist occupiers, while Numa was a young girl during the war who was rescued by a pair of clone troopers.
The episode centers on Hera’s facing her past and trying to get a family heirloom known as a Kalikori. This is one of the few times in the series that we see Hera act selfishly, putting her interests before the interests of the Rebellion. Hera is a dedicated Rebel similar to Leia, they are true believers in the cause and some might even say zealots. At the end of the episode, Hera blows up her family house as a distraction to allow for the rebels to escape. This act is pivotal in showing just how far Hera is ready to go in putting her family, crew and the Rebellion before herself.
6. INTRODUCING GRAND ADMIRAL THRAWN
The two-part season premiere episode “Steps Into Shadows,” marked an important milestone for both the series and for the new canon of “Star Wars.” With Disney’s purchase of the “Star Wars” franchise, the tie-in narrative material that had been known as the Expanded Universe was converted into “Legends.” This meant that decades of storytelling and thousands of characters that fans grew attached to over the years were no longer considered part of the canonical “Star Wars” universe.
The resurrection of Grand Admiral Thrawn represents the canonization of one of the two most popular Expanded Universe characters of all time, the other being Mara Jade. In this episode, Lothal’s Governor Arihnda Pryce requests more military assistance from Governor Tarkin. She specifically requests and receives Grand Admiral Thrawn and his fleet. Fans were treated to a small amount of the Grand Admiral in this episode but it was a huge moment ably performed by Lars Mikkelsen.
5. SABINE’S MONOLOGUE
In the 15th episode of the season “Trials of the Darksaber,” we see a intimate episode focused on the training of Sabine by Kanan in the use of the Darksaber. The Darksaber is a unique lightsaber created by a Mandalorian Jedi named Tor Vizsla and then stolen from the Jedi Temple by Mandalorians after his death. The Darksaber became a symbol of leadership for Mandalorians and was introduces in “The Clone Wars” as the weapon of Pre Vizsla the leader of the Death Watch.
Sabine took the Darksaber from Maul’s lair following the events of “Visions and Voices” and now had the responsibility of wielding it. Kanan trains her in an extremely harsh fashion in order to try to break down the emotional walls she had built up to protect herself, these walls were inhibiting her ability to connect with the blade. The episode culminates with Sabine finally letting go and talking about her past in a cathartic monologue while dueling Kanan. Actress Tiya Sircar’s performance in this monologue is some of the best acting in the entire series.
4. THRAWN ATTACKS A STORM CLOUD
The “Star Wars Rebels” crew may have saved the strangest for last in Season 3 with the revelation of a new ability for Bendu in the season finale, “Zero Hour.” Introduced in the season premiere, Bendu is a powerful Force-using creature who lives on Atollon, the planet the Rebels had set up their base on. With the ability to blend in with the natural environment and an ability to touch both the dark and light sides of the Force, Bendu who claimed to represent a middle ground between the two aspects is an incredibly powerful being.
Kanan and the Rebels disturbed his rest by coming to Atollon, but it wasn’t until they drew the Imperial war machine to the planet that he got really angry and turned into a giant storm cloud spitting lightening at both Imperial and Rebel forces. What was Thrawn’s response to seeing glowing eyes in a giant storm cloud? Blast it out of the sky with AT-AT’s and then going in for the kill with his personal blaster, only to have Bendu predict Thrawn’s demise and then disappear.
3. OBI-WAN STANDS WATCH
The 20th episode of the season “Twin Suns,” presented fans with the rematch years in the making. Obi-Wan avenged his master and dealt a seemingly killing bisecting blow to Darth Maul on Naboo in “The Phantom Menace.” To Obi-Wan and everyone else’s surprise, George Lucas decided to resurrect the Sith Lord for “The Clone Wars,” robbing Obi-Wan of his justice and letting a wildcard villain loose on the galaxy. In this episode, Maul finally tracks Obi-Wan to Tatooine and draws him out using Ezra. Unfortunately for Maul, he is no match for Obi-Wan in a duel that only lasts seconds. While this duel was the selling point for the episode, the coolest part of it was the very end.
We see Obi-Wan riding a dewback on a bluff, looking down upon the Lars homestead as Aunt Beru calls teenage Luke home for the night. We see a shadow on the horizon of Luke running home to the safety as Obi-Wan resumes his solitary watch. The importance of Obi-Wan’s new mission and the self-sacrifice necessary to carry it out have become the real focus of his life.
2. REBEL FLEET ASSEMBLES
In the 18th episode of the season, “Secret Cargo” we see Mon Mothma’s debut on the series as the secret cargo being transported away from Imperial pursuers after delivering a scathing speech against Palpatine. When the Imperials arrive and interrupt the Ghost’s mission to escort Mothma’s ship, Mothma and her escort are forced aboard the Ghost to escape.
The Imperials pursue the Rebels and the Gold squadron of Y-Wings that accompany them through the Archeon Nebula. Fighting off the newly deployed TIE Defenders along with Admiral Konstatine’s capital ships, the rebels are forced to use the innovative tactic of launching torpedoes into the nebulae to cause it to erupt and destroy the Imperial ships. The episode ends on a triumphant note above Dantooine as Mon Mothma sends out a message across the holonet, a call to arms for Rebels. As the message ends, a few seconds pass and then a one by one a large assembly of ships appear and we see the first major collection of Rebel cells.
1. INTERDICTOR BATTLE
The two-part season finale, “Zero Hour,” featured one of the longest and most elaborate space battles of the series that happened over two separate engagements. Thrawn arrives just after Rebels get word of the impending attack with a fleet of Star Destroyers and a couple Interdictor cruisers. The Interdictors are specialized ships that possess gravity well generators, a technology that allows the ships to either pull other ships from hyperspace or prevent them from entering hyperspace.
The action in this battle centers around the rebels’ efforts to take out two interdictors. The first rebel assault is a suicide attack by Commander Sato flying his carrier into Admiral Konstatine’s interdictor destroying both ships. This sacrifice allow Ezra to escape and recruit Sabine and other members of Clan Wren to aid the rebels. The second attack features the Mandalorians led by Ezra staging a combined starfighter and boarding party assault on the surface of the second interdictor, leading to its destruction. The destruction of the second ship allowed the remaining rebel forces to escape Thrawn’s clutches, bringing this two-stage space battle to a close.
What do you feel were the best moments of “Star Wars Rebels” Season 3? Be sure to tell us in the comments!