“We’re doomed.” C-3PO’s classic Star Wars line was sort of a joke—but it could be literally true, when it comes to the heroes of Star Wars Rebels. Because there’s no way that all of these people can all still be alive by the end of the series. Right?
Ever since the Star Wars universe started adding canon characters beyond the main films, speculation has run rampant as to who would live or die. Star Wars: The Clone Wars introduced Ashoka Tano, the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker. Obviously, Anakin getting his own Padawan is not something that’s referenced in the movies, which suggests the worst for the character.
And now with Star Wars Rebels, the Disney XD show that follows a group of heroes in the time period after Revenge of the Sith and before A New Hope, Ahsoka’s been joined by several more key characters whose fates don’t look too promising. Especially the Jedi, Kanan, and his apprentice, Ezra.
It comes down to this. The five main, living characters on Rebels are comprised of two Jedi and three great warriors. And when you look at the Star Wars universe as a whole, the warrior characters—Hera, Sabine and Zeb—seem to have a much brighter future. These three could quite easily be inserted into upcoming, or even old, Star Wars stories with a comic or book. Who is to say Hera wasn’t flying an A-Wing at the Battle of Endor? That Sabine didn’t fight on Hoth? There were lots of characters in those scenes, and books like Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars have already added context and side characters to massive Star Wars events. So, at some point, it’s very possible one or more of these three characters could show up beyond the end of the series, whenever that may be.
But Kanan and Ezra add a huge complication to the Star Wars mythos. On the show, we know for a fact that Yoda is aware of the duo. We also know that, a few years later, when Luke Skywalker’s leaves Dagobah and Obi-Wan Kenobi says “That boy is our last hope.” Yoda replies, “No, there is another.” For years we thought he was referring to Leia—and, in Return of the Jedi, that’s more or less confirmed. But, in The Force Awakens, we found out Leia didn’t become a Jedi, making her brother, Luke, the last Jedi. That means even if Kanan or Ezra was alive during The Empire Strikes Back, they’re not any more.
So what happens? Well, one of the main storylines on Star Wars Rebels is Darth Vader, under the direction of Emperor Palpatine, hunting down and killing the remaining Jedi. To do so, he employs mysterious characters called Inquistors who have been chasing Ezra and Kanan throughout the second season. It’s obvious that Palpatine and Vader see the extermination of the Jedi as a priority. And since we later find out that their failure to kill Obi-Wan and Yoda proved to be a crucial mistake, they’re right to prioritize this.
By the time Star Wars Rebels intersects with A New Hope (and again, we still don’t know if that’s the series’ end game), if Ezra and Kanan are still alive, something is seriously wrong. Why wouldn’t they be using their abilities to battle the number one force of evil in the galaxy, alongside not just the Rebellion they’re already a part of but, eventually, another Jedi? So either they’re dead, trapped or cowards. And I refuse to believe the last one.
And yet, can a show that’s on a Disney network meant for children kill two of its major characters? And if not, would it just end and let the storyline wrap up in another medium? The last animated Star Wars show, The Clone Wars, had the similar issue of being forced to tie into existing movies, and it left most of its major characters alive. Most of them have since come back in Rebels, though, and maybe that’s the answer: Kanan and Ezra live to star in another series. At the same time, that might leave Rebels without a real ending.
The thing is, we don’t know when that ending will come. We know Star Wars Rebels season two has a few episodes left, there’s already a season three in the works, and that the Rebels time period will be seen in live-action form this December in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. That film shares a writer with Rebels, Gary Whitta, suggesting there could be a crossover—but that’s probably not likely. In fact, the opposite is happening: Rogue One is taking one major potential storyline off the table for Rebels.
When the idea for Star Wars Rebels was first announced, a show about the birth of the Rebel Alliance almost certainly felt like it would end with the characters stealing the Death Star plans. What better way to wrap up than to dramatize that piece of Star Wars mythology? But Rogue One is telling that story instead. And since the show started, we’ve realized it’s about so much more. The Rebellion is a part of the show, but the most important part is our bond with these characters. Since we’re going to see the Death Star plans stolen in a movie, it seems like Rebels could have something bigger in mind: fixing the biggest mistake of the prequels.
One huge fault of the Star Wars prequels was how they made Darth Vader less intimidating. Seeing him as a little boy, then a whiny teen, then screaming “Nooooo” completely undercuts the impact of his first appearance in the original film. But Rebels can course-correct that. If the show eventually shows how Darth Vader and the Emperor succeeded in hunting down and destroying two (and potentially three) characters that we’ve come to know and love, it would fill the viewers with hatred. A hatred that’s vital to Darth Vader’s character.
Kanan, Ezra and Ashoka are almost certainly doomed. But their doom could do wonders for Star Wars as a whole.