Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Today's Star Wars Rebels panel at Celebration was bittersweet. Dave Filoni took the stage to announce that this upcoming fourth season is indeed the final season of the hit show. He said he knew what it was like to not be able to complete a show and wanted to make sure that the overall arc he had in mind was wrapped up and that the story of this season naturally led to the ending he wanted.
He was quick to say that Lucasfilm Animation is still going strong, but wouldn't elaborate on what the next show will be. After dropping that bombshell on the two-thousand fans in attendance he made them feel a little better about the whole thing when he screened the first episode of Season 4 waaaaaaaay early.
Before I talk about my feelings on that episode (and on the series as a whole), here's the S.4 trailer:
We pick up with our team (minus Hera and Zeb, who are busy with the Rebellion) staging a rescue on Mandalor as Sabine attempts to free her captured father. This show is at its best when it lets all its likable characters loose in a mini-adventure, especially if that gets them to play in different genres. This one was a straight up heist adventure that plays out like the truck chase from Raiders of the Lost Ark as Sabine's Mandalorian warriors team up with Ezra, Kanan and Chopper.
You get the comedy of the series as Ezra doesn't quite know how to work his Mandalorian jet pack, you get the thrill of the series as the team has to change up their plans on the fly as the mission starts going wrong and you get a hint at the darkness that has to be in store as this series wraps up.
From the beginning we knew that this show, taking place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, was either going to end very sadly or would be a huge cop out. Knowing Dave Filoni's passion for this universe and his history of solid storytelling there was little doubt in my mind that it was going to be a bit of a bummer.
There's only so many times previously unheard of Jedi can just “go into hiding” during the events of the original trilogy, so I don't have much hope for things ending well for Kanan and Ezra.
We know from Rogue One that Chopper, Hera and The Ghost make it to that battle and I suppose there's nothing saying Zeb, Rex and Sabine can't be out there doing their thing while Luke, Han and Leia undergo their arc, but you start getting into contradictory territory if the Jedi are around. Remember Yoda does call Luke the last Jedi and that dude would know, I guess.
It's heavy for a cartoon to just up and kill off everybody, but if this is indeed the final season I have a feeling Filoni is going all out. I don't anticipate whatever he does next to be playing in this specific time period so he'll be wanting to bring out all the big guns he can.
Speaking of, I'd bet you some money that Ahsoka comes back. Filoni hinted at this in a really fun way on the panel. He came out wearing a shirt that said “Ahsoka Lives?” He showed the Rebels S4 trailer and when the lights came back up his shirt subtly had a different punctuation. It read “Ahsoka Lives!” Some of the audience obviously saw this and responded, but I think it went over a lot of their heads. (Note: he denied, playfully, that anything changed on his shirt at the press conference afterwards).
Theorizing a bit here, but that probably means we'll get one more round of Darth Vader. Even if that was him just playing with the fans and Ahsoka absolutely didn't survive her previous encounter with her former master this is probably Filoni's last chance to play around with this character.
I've grown quite attached to this family. It'll be sad to see them go, whether permanently for the character or just with the overall series ending. I do like a series made predominantly for children is brave enough to go into this darker territory, much like the Potter books for instance, and I'll always be first in line to see whatever story Dave Filoni and his core crew want to tell me.