Let’s Take a Look at Star Wars Rebels

SPOILERS AHEAD

 

Rebels has kicked off and…overall, I liked it.  Last week we had the one-hour premiere with a movie on the Disney Channel.  This week the season officially got underway with its first episode on Monday night.

I loved the movie.  I thought it was exactly what Star Wars should be and how they should approach the series.  They stayed away from any characters we knew and the only glimpse we got of a familiar character was a hologram recording of Obi-Wan Kenobi.  The recording was the one he released in ROTS, warning all Jedi to stay away from the temple and that the Jedi are no longer safe.

Other than that – we were introduced to a completely new band of characters.  We have Hera the Twi’lek pilot who commands their ship Ghost, Kanan the undercover Jedi, Zeb is the Lasat who is really the tough guy of the operation (and his species is based on original concept drawings of Chewbacca!), Sabine the Mandolorian who is kind of a pyro and graffiti artist, and finally we have a newcomer named Ezra.  A kid of the streets who gets pulled into this little clan and decides to stay to do some Jedi training with Kanan.  Oh, and we can’t forget Chopper: the little astromech droid who helps run the ship.  They did a great job on making him seem pretty different from Artoo, a fear I had.

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The opposition to this team on a larger scale is, obviously, the Empire.  Specifically, at this point we know of two beings: Agent Kallus, an official of the Imperial Security Bureau and The Inquisitor, a Pau’an male who hunts down remaining Jedi.  We have not seen much of him yet – only saw him at the end of the movie when Kallus reported that he had found a Jedi (Kanan).

What I liked most about the movie is that we were introduced to new areas, new people, new ships and my imagination was opened to a part of Star Wars I didn’t know, but there was “something familiar about this place”.  Ralph McQuarrie’s touch was extremely obvious and some of the landscape shots were ripped right off of what he had done for the OT.  Not saying that’s bad, in fact, it gave us the OT feel.

I was most surprised at the time period of Rebels.  Apparently it takes place 5 years BBY.  I completely missed this somehow.  That means that Luke and Leia are 14 and the Jedi have been written off the galaxy for 14 years.  What made me question this time period is that the need to have an Inquisitor means that there are still quite a few Jedi throughout the galaxy.

I don’t like that.  Jedi shouldn’t be that prevalent still, right?  Han Solo was really skeptical of the Force and Luke barely knew anything about Jedi.  If Luke and Leia are 14 at this point, and Han would be older, wouldn’t it mean that the knowledge of Jedi would be a little more common?

Also, they are making this group of misfits look like the beginning of the Rebellion.  The Rebellion should have been pretty much established by this point in the game, even if they are not completely rebellious (pun intended ha!) yet.  The crew on Ghost are smart; I think they would have heard about the Rebellion through their travels across the galaxy and at this point either joined them or aided them in some way.

Which brings me to the first episode of the TV series.  After coming off of a successful premiere movie, I cringed and got angry when I saw C-3PO and R2-D2 appear in the first official episode.  UGH.  Really?? I know that other people have no problems with this but I do.  I was hoping that Rebels would stay away from that trap of bringing in familiar characters to satisfy all audiences.

Seeing Threepio and Artoo made the galaxy seem smaller than it actually is.  Do you really think they would run into these two droids?  Really?artoo threepio star wars rebels  It was completely fine in TCW, because they had every single PT character running around that why not bring in everyone we know?  In fact, I got used to that in TCW.  But Rebels clearly seems to be reminding us that this is a new band of characters on new planets and in new situations.  The cherry on the cake was when they drop off the droids at, of all ships, the Tantive IV with Bail Organa.  (bangs head against wall)  I was expecting a teenage Leia to just stroll in and talk with her father.  Thankfully that did not happen and I was spared, but if we are going to introduce Organa this early in the series, maybe I should just brace myself and expect it to happen at some point.

The only interesting thing about the situation was that Artoo had recorded some of the conversations on Ghost and had brought it back to Organa who noted that they should keep an eye on them.  I still think they could have used other droids and a different character for this, but maybe by the time the series ends it will tie back to bringing the crew of Ghost into the Rebellion.  And, by the way, shouldn’t the droids be pushed off onto Captain Antilles at some point?  They’ve really been with Organa for 14 years?

bail organa rebels

Other than my major grievance with the droids, Tantive IV, and Organa – I think the first episode was pretty cool.  They stuck it to the Empire by stealing their prized weapons that were supposed to be illegal throughout the galaxy, and then later destroying them.  It spoke to an interesting larger lesson: the Empire can do what they want, regardless if weapons are illegal or not.  In the hands of the Empire, those laws are conveniently forgotten if it will further their cause.

Ezra showed us some of his Force powers…he has more than I thought.  But they came into action when he was angry and scared.  Not very Jedi-like, eh?  So Kanan will have to curb that and teach him how to use the Force in a calmer state.  Or will Kanan change the rules a bit and not follow the strict Jedi Code?  Speaking of Kanan…I couldn’t really figure out how old he was.  I was guessing late 20s or early 30’s.  Oh – nevermind, Wookiepedia says he’s 28 and was 14 when Order 66 happened.

Lastly, I wanted to touch briefly upon the tone and style of the series.  I enjoyed the style and the banter between the characters, but my good friend Mr. Reticent pointed out that it was a lot lighter than TCW.  Not only with the situations and how they talked with each other, but also the animation style.  When you contrast the animation, there is a big difference.  TCW was more angular, sharp and it felt like watching a video game sometimes.  Rebels is smooth, almost more “cartoony”, which makes sense considering that it comes from Disney.  The tone of the episodes seemed to play more for a Disney crowd as well…I’m not sure if any of you guys watch The Disney Channel/Disney X D or Cartoon Network – but they are two very different styles and draw in two different crowds.  Both focus more on drawing in boys than girls, but CN is a lot cruder in my opinion.  I find CN to grate on me often and I watch the shows with disbelief that kids watch that channel as it can feel gritty.  Disney X D still seems unfathomable to me at times, but at least I can somewhat relate and understand why a boy would watch a show on the channel.  X D plays it a little safer and perhaps that’s why Rebels also seems to reflect that. (apparently I can’t write X.D. without WP changing it to a gigantic smiley face)

I find it hard to decide whether or not I will like the series based on what I’ve seen.  I loved the movie, giving it an 8.5/10, but felt the first TV show would come in at a 6/10.

 

Okay, I’m almost done, I swear.  Two side notes!

  1. Greg Weisman has left Rebels. I am most sad about this as he was the one person I was really pumped to have part of the show and thought would lead it in a smart, good direction.  But why did he leave?  I can’t find anything online so if anyone has information on this, please let me know to satiate my curiosity.
  2. Kiri Hart. I can’t go further without mentioning her.  You guys know how often I have talked about my unusual name and how I’ve never met anyone else with my name.  Well, guess what?  She is the VP of development at LFL and oversees a lot of the Star Wars content produced by Disney…including Rebels.  Look for her name at the end credits of Rebels.  SUPER WEIRD.  SUPER, SUPER WEIRD.  But I’m loving it.  I would not wish anyone else to have my name but someone at LFL.  It’s a sign.  I’m not sure of what, but it’s a sign.

The Jedi Code Absolutes

I’ve always had some strange difficulties understanding the Jedi Code – this weird mantra that we actually never hear uttered in the movies, but somehow most average fans know about it.  Well, maybe that’s not true, but I know I ran into it when I was in middle school so it’s been around for over 10 years.  I’ve been trying to research where it first came about, and Wookiepedia is saying Dark Apprentice by Kevin J. Anderson and also the video game Knights of the Old Republic.  If anyone can figure out where this first came about, please let me know. [see update at end of blog post]

My main problem with this code is that it seems to set them up for failure and if we suppose this Code was in place during the Prequels, it definitely put too many limitations on the Jedi as a body.

Here is the entirety of the code as I learned it in middle school, and the one Jedi Code that most people know about (you’ll find a Jedi Code on Wookiepedia that was supposedly established 32 BBY but I’m not acknowledging it):

the jedi code

There is no emotion; there is peace.

Many have argued that the Jedi set this up not to be taken as the Jedi are robots and completely lacking of emotion, but rather that they should not experience strong emotions because strong emotion inhibits rational thinking.  But this code implies that the lack of strong emotion will bring you peace and I think that’s ridiculous.  As you notice in the movies and even The Clone Wars, we see some Jedi struggle to gain this peace that they think they should have.  The only Jedi that mastered it pretty well was Yoda, and he had almost 900 years to reach that level of clear, rational thinking in all situations.  Then again, if he had listened to stronger emotions, or his gut feeling, would he have realized that there was something fishy going on with Palpatine?  And that Palpatine’s constant meetings with Anakin were actually a strategic move he was making to gain control of the galaxy?  The only way to gain peace is to have that contrasting strong emotion because then you know what real peace feels like.

I have always thought that Qui-Gon Jinn has been the “perfect” Jedi.  I say this qui gon obi wan sunset coruscantbecause though he is flawed by Jedi standards, he follows that gut feeling that he has to do what he must, regardless of if the Council agrees.  He consistently defies the Council by following his stronger emotions and in turn, through his actions, we get Luke.  Without Qui-Gon picking up Anakin from the desolate rock of Tatooine and insisting he be trained as a Jedi, we would not have the arching story of Anakin’s demise and in turn his redemption through his son.

There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.

I understand this, for the most part.  Constantly learning and evolving as an organization is the only way to stay in synch with each other and understand the galaxy around you.  The problem comes about when you know so much pong krellthat you consider yourself superior to other people/races.  Take a look at Pong Krell (my favorite episode arc of TCW) and the battle he oversaw on Umbara.  His thirst for knowledge made him a formidable Jedi General, so much so that he sought success no matter what.  He refused to listen to his clone troopers and viewed them as dispensable units, so that the troopers were dying in large numbers.  Under Captain Rex, his troops showed that not only were they individuals with the ability to feel and think through problems themselves, they also understood more about the current battle than Krell did.  His thirst for knowledge and success, led to his thirst for power, which in turn led to him turning to the Dark Side.

There is no passion; there is serenity.

I’ve talked about this numerous times in other blog posts, but this is perhaps the most frustrating of all the lines in the Jedi Code.  I believe that this was the downfall of the Jedi Council and the rise of Darth Vader.  Because of their refusal to let Anakin “miss” his mother, it amplified his fear of losing her.  Later, with his love for Padmé burning inside of him, he had to hide his marriage from the Jedi Council.  Rather than acknowledging these feelings and working through them, it is pushed aside under the guise that passion brings a Jedi to recklessness.  In my opinion, it’s a good concept, but horrible in reality.  One of those “easier said than done,” moments.

But passion is essential to the reason for why Luke was able to turn Anakin luke vader rotjback to the Light Side of the Force.  When Obi-Wan and Yoda were telling Luke to destroy Vader, Luke held onto the notion that there was good in him.  His love, or passion, for his father is what tipped the favor once more to the Light Side of the force (or you could say he brought balance to the Force but I now hold that notion in check since I read this Tor article).  The refusal to allow passion caused Anakin to turn to the Dark Side, but Luke’s refusal to accept this rule brought Anakin back to the Light Side.

And a life without passion is not serenity.  It’s boring.

There is no chaos; there is harmony.

First question that rises to my mind: are they referring to inward/emotional chaos or are they talking physical/galactic chaos?  If they are referring to the former, then I’ve already gone into this enough so I won’t barrage you guys again.

If they are talking about chaos within the galaxy, then they are striving for a grand goal, but perhaps they are overreaching a bit.  Sometimes their need to create harmony within the galaxy ended up making them look like the enemies and they were seen as creating more chaos, as was explored in TCW TV series.  The Jedi are seen as guardians of the peace in the galaxy, so this line is understandable.  Also, the more harmony there is in the galaxy, and then I’m sure there is more harmony within the Force, which leads to more harmony within themselves.  Out of all the doctrines in the Code, I find this one to be the best only because I can see the overreaching effects.

There is no death; there is the Force.

This makes sense.  I don’t find much fault with this.  When a Jedi dies, they believe they become one with the Force, so death does not exist.  It’s only aforce ghosts real anakin reunion and as Dumbledore said, “Death is but the next great adventure,” so I feel the Jedi took on the same viewpoint.  Questions only arise when I start thinking too hard about Force ghosts.  According to the Star Wars Encyclopedia, a Force ghost was the “soul and essence of a deceased Force-sensitive who denied the will of the Force upon death, yet was able to interact with the living, albeit not physically.”  You are denying the will of the Force by becoming a Force ghost?  Hmmm, interesting.  A Jedi works with the Force their entire life, why would they all of a sudden decide to go against the grain?  Maybe I’m just too hung up on that once word…

Overall, can you see my frustrations with the Code?  I understand that though they have monk-like attributes, the Jedi were not made to be sitting around on a planet humming and chanting, while they try to find serenity and peace internally.  The problem I have is with the absolutes that are within this code.  When you have absolutes, there are extremes because of the limitations.  When you do not fit into this absolute of “no passion”, “no chaos”, “no ignorance”, etc., then you are setting yourself up for failure.

[Update: I tweeted to Pablo Hidalgo to see if he knew where the first instance of the Jedi Code appears.  He replied telling me that it “first appeared in the first edition RPG rule book by Greg Costikyan, West End Games, 1987.”  Sure enough – he was right.  Page 69.  Amazing how something like the RPG rule book has now made this simple EU Code almost omnipresent in the Star Wars universe.]

January 10th Calendar Fact

This post is clearly written because I’m procrastinating…

I still haven’t written my self review and it’s due tomorrow…I need the motivation I have for writing about Star Wars for my self review.

Every year, I own the 365 day-at-a-time Star Wars calendar.  Last year it was all scenes from the movies, this year, it’s facts from Star Wars.  Most of the facts have been pretty lame, like “Luke Skywalker and other rebels road Tauntauns on the ice planet of Hoth” or around those lines.

Today though, the fact is “If a Jedi ignites his lightsaber, he must be ready to take a life.” –The Jedi Code.  This is the first non-movie based/EU fact they’ve thrown out there.

Took this photo at my desk as proof lol

Took this photo at my desk as proof lol

It’s interesting that this comes up right when I was so curious after writing about last week’s Scene it on Friday.  I have been thinking a lot of about Jedi and never attacking first with their lightsaber.  I also was curious as to whether igniting your lightsaber immediately invites an attack and if so, does it count as an attack?

So of course, I travel to my handy dandy Wookiepedia and I find this fact in there, but guess where it comes from???   The 2013 Star Wars day-at-a-time calendar, so someone must have just added that in today.   This calendar is telling me lies because the rest of the information on the Jedi Code seems to contradict it.

This one section in Wookiepedia says “A sizable number of Jedi, in training, confused the meanings of attack, defense and aggression. Thus Younglings were taught that it was possible for a Jedi to strike without aggression, so long as they acted without recklessness, hatred or anger. A Jedi was permitted to kill in self-defense—only if there was no other option. However, Jedi instructors taught their students that killing, no matter what the circumstances, was not to become commonplace. To conquer aggression, even in combat, a Jedi must have explored every other option, including surrender, before resorting to using lethal force.”

Conclusion: this Star Wars calendar made up a fact in the Jedi Code that I don’t think should be in there.  Stupid thing for me to get worked up about, I know, but really Lucasfilm??  If you are going to make this calendar, please try to be consistent with the EU (or you could argue – even the movies).  There are always deeper meanings one could argue in favor of the calendar Jedi Code quote, but I’m not buying them.

Rant over.

In other news, because I was on the Jedi Code Wookiepedia page, I found out that an exception was made for Ki-Adi-Mundi in terms of marriage and he had several wives!  Why didn’t I find that when I was doing research for my “Love Within the Jedi” post?  I guess he was allowed to marry several of his species because of low birth rate, but he tried to avoid emotional attachment to them.

I really have to write my self review and stop procrastinating.