The third day of Star Wars Celebration kicked off with a 90-minute panel devoted to the hit Disney XD series, Star Wars Rebels. Writer/Creator Dave Filoni brought cast members to the stage in the biggest venue of the convention center for a presentation that would be streamed all over the world for fans of the series. The talent present included Freddy Prince Jr. (Kanan), Tiya Sircar (Sabine), Vanessa Marshall (Hera), Steve Blum (Zeb) and Taylor Gray (Ezra).
The panel stayed largely focused on season three, which has already aired. What was revealed about the upcoming season was very vague. Things like “Zeb gets 20% better at not loosing Chopper” made fans laugh, but you could feel the audience getting a little restless at just how little was being said. As the panel approached an hour, a few teasers were revealed.
Season four’s primary storyline is about Ezra discovering what kind of Jedi he will be. Filoni made fans aware that both Mon Mothma and Saw Gerrera will be back for more episodes. And there will be more Thrawn, whose assassin bodyguard Rukh will debut this season, voiced by Warwick Davis.
As the panel began to wind down after an hour, Dave Filoni grew somber as he announced that season four will be the end of Star Wars Rebels. During his explanation, he cited the way The Clone Wars ended abruptly (A decision Disney made quickly after acquiring Lucasfilm) and how he knows what it’s like to not have an opportunity to wrap things up the way they should be. He also discussed how close the events in the series are getting to Rogue One, and also confirmed that Hera will be a general by the end of the series (the character’s name can be heard over an intercom in Rogue One referring to her as “General Hera Sandula”).
The presentation ended with a debut of the first episode of season four, which will be an hour long premiere, but guests in attendance only got to see the first 21 minutes, which is the only episode that’s “in the can.” It followed Sabine on a mission to rescue her father, who had been taken hostage by Storm Troopers.
Immediately following the panel, a press conference was held for media to interview Filoni and some members of the cast regarding the shocking announcement. “We’ve known for a little while and we weren’t sure when you guys would find out,” revealed Tiya Sircar, voice of Sabine Wren. “We’re heartbroken that it’s ending, but Dave [Filoni] told us something similar to what he told you guys, which is that we’ve told the story we wanted to tell and we’ve gotten to end it on our own terms in a way that we all feel good about.”
As the final season, Filoni promised some emotional highs and lows, but the ending should be uplifting and inspirational “Star Wars represents a happy thing, a thing that exhilarates people, a thing that gives you hope, a thing that makes you feel like you can attack the day better, a thing that inspires you, inspires kids. That’s always been the goal that Simon [Kinberg] and I had with this show is to inspire all you guys and especially the kids in the audience, so I’m working towards that end. It doesn’t mean there won’t be tragic things and difficult things along the way, but that’s the journey of the hero and the journey of us all.”
For Dave Filoni, he’s always strived to capture the same energy of the original films in Star Wars Rebels and hopes that audiences who catch the show in it’s final season will connect with it. “When Star Wars is successful, I think it’s always hitting all the demographics. It’s something from the very beginning that shocked people because you could go watch Star Wars in ‘77 in theaters and whether you liked fantasy or sci-fi or not, you enjoyed it. And part of that is the humor that Harrison brings to it, the intensity that Carries Fisher brings and the Luke Skywalker that’s in everybody. That just resonates with everybody… So even though now we’re in the fourth season, if you check it out I hope you’re engaged by the dynamics of these characters. That you laugh, that you’re worried for them, and if you haven’t seen the previous seasons you might not know everything that’s going on, but you’ll still hopefully enjoy it.”
While Star Wars Rebels may be ending, this certainly isn’t the end of Star Wars animated series. Dave Filoni already promised fans that Lucasfilm Animation is at work on a brand new series and more information will likely be released as Rebels draws to a close. Personally, I would love to see something that takes place closer to the timeline of the current films. We’ve already spend a lot of time in the prequels via The Clone Wars and Battlefront II will help connect episodes VI and VII, but somewhere in that range are lots of untold stories that could be a lot of fun to watch. But regardless, I’m excited to see how the adventures of the Ghost crew come to a conclusion and am eagerly anticipating the start of season four this fall.