Star Wars Rebels premiered on Disney XD on October 3, 2014. It takes place five years before the events in Episode IV: A New Hope, and 15 years after the Galactic Republic and Jedi Council had fallen. The first episode is called "Spark of Rebellion." It was divided into two episodes when it aired, and runs at around 45 minutes. It serves as an introduction to the characters and events that will set up the rest of the show. Here's what happened.
"Spark of Rebellion" starts off on the Outer Rim planet of Lothal. From an abandoned communications tower that he resides in, Ezra Bridger gazes out at the landscape. The young orphan is interrupted by the arrival of an Imperial Star Destroyer passing overhead. He follows the Star Destroyer into the Capital City, where we can see Imperial officers and Stormtroopers harass the citizens of Lothal. One local vendor is asked to provide registration with the Empire, and when he talks back he is arrested for treason. It's here that we get to see how sneaky and gifted Ezra is, as he provides a distraction by bumping into an Imperial Officer and steals a comlink without him noticing. Using the comlink, he calls in a fake Code Red emergency and draws the imperials away from the merchant. While the merchant thanks Ezra, Ezra takes some jogans as payment, showing that Ezra watches out for himself.
It's then that Ezra's attention gets drawn to a stranger in the street, and that stranger senses Ezra as well. That stranger is Kanan Jarrus (voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr.). Kanan moved through the crowd and signals two others — a towering Lasat male named Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios, and a female Mandalorian ins orange and pink painted Mandalorian armor named Sabine Wren. She approaches an Imperial combat driver, puts a timed explosive onto the speeder bike, and blows it up. The Imperials are guarding crates that Kanan and his team want. Since the crates have value, Ezra hops on a speeder bike carrying a few crates and speeds away. Kanan chases Ezra and takes out Stormtroopers along the way, but Ezra shows impressive driving. Though Ezra eludes Kanan, a TIE fighter follows him and shoots the speeder. When it circles back to finish him off, Ezra is saved by Kanan's starship, the Ghost. Ezra refuses to leave behind the valuable crate and manage to make an impossible jump with the crate onto the Ghost, taking Kanan by surprise. Needless to say, the crew of the Ghost isn't pleased with the trouble Ezra has caused.
After being pursued by TIE fighters and introduced to the Ghost's Twi'lek pilot, Hera (who is brought up to speed on the events), the Ghost escapes. The show cuts to Agent Kallus of the Imperial Security Bureau, who thinks that the theft follows a pattern and could spark a rebellion. As much as the crew of the Ghost wants to drop off Ezra, and he wants to return as well, they can't as they have more pressing matters. They land on the planet's outskirts in a slum called Tarkintown, because Grand Moff Tarkin kicked its population off of their farmlands owned by the Empire. There, they distribute food; one of the recipients thanks Ezra, to which Ezra replies he didn't do anything and feels conflicted. During this, Kanan and Hera meet with a Lothal crime lord named Cikatro Vizago who they do business with. The contents of the stolen cargo, Imperial blasters, is sold to him and sells them intel on Wookiees being held as slaves.
Ezra goes back to the Ghost alone, and starts hearing a sound and sensing something. He's drawn to a room, which he breaks into. In that room, he finds a strange cube artifact and a hilt of what looks like a lightsaber. Indeed, it is a lightsaber, which Ezra ignites. Kanan appears and tells him to give it back before he hurts himself, but Ezra leaves with the cube. During a meeting Kanan and his crew are having, Ezra is being watched by Hera's astromech droid, Chopper. Ezra escapes, crawls through a vent, and hears the plan to rescue the Wookiees from the labor camp. Then he falls from the shaft. Zeb wants to get rid of Ezra because he’s nothing but trouble.
In the ship’s cockpit, Hera talks to Ezra until reaching an Imperial cruiser. She tells them they have a Wookiee they’ve collected a bounty on, and they were told to deliver the prisoner. After trying to convince two Stormtroopers that Zeb is a hairless Wookiee, Zeb knocks them out, and he, Kanan and Sabine board the cruiser. On the coast, Hera notices that their communications gets jammed. Ezra senses that something is coming, and a second later a Star Destroyer emerges from hyperspace. It’s a trap! Ezra tries to convince Hera that he doesn’t care about anyone and they should just escape, but they runs off to go rescue the others onboard the cruiser. Agent Kallus and Stormtrooper board the cruiser and seek out Kanan and the crew, but Ezra has reached them and warned them of the trap. Sabine and Chopper shut down the gravity generator, which buys them time to get back to the Ghost. Zeb pushes Ezra and rushes ahead, leaving Ezra to get grabbed by Kallus. Zeb sees, says he’s sorry, and leaves Ezra behind. The Ghost takes off. When the Ghost’s crew asks where Ezra is, Zeb admits he got taken and didn’t get him back. They’re unsure of what to do next.
Meanwhile, Ezra is being held in a cell. He’s visited by Kallus who tells Ezra that he’s being held as bait when his friends come back for him. Ezra tells him that he just met them and they have no reason to come back. When Kallus leaves him, Ezra plays with the cube artifact that he managed to keep hidden. He throws it to the floor. After calming himself, the artifact opens and plays a message from Obi-Wan Kenobi. The artifact is a Jedi holocron. Ezra tricks the Stormtroopers and escapes, locking them in the cell. He makes his way to an equipment room, takes an Imperial combat driver helmet, picks up a frequency and learns that the Wookiees are being taken to the spice mines of Kessel. Ezra also learns that the Ghost crew snuck onboard and came to rescue him. Ezra meets up with Kana, Sabine and Zeb. Because of the helmet, Zeb hits Ezra. Kallus arrives with Stormtroopers, notices spray paint of a symbol (Sabine’s calling card) on the ground, and it explodes. Emergency shields are activated before Kallus gets sucked out of the ship.
On the Ghost, Ezra tells the crew where the Wookiees are. Kessel is basically a death sentence. Ezra and the others agree to go rescue them. They arrive at Kessel and blast the Imperials. Kanan, Ezra, Zeb and Sabine start freeing the Wookiees from their binders while Imperial troops and TIE fighters arrive. Hera is forced to take off, and Kallus arrives, ready to fight. During the battle, a young Wookiee, Kitwarr, is cut off from his family and runs away, being chased by Stormtroopers. Ezra sees this but can’t help because of the barrage of blaster fire. Kanan decides it’s time to reveal a secret. He emerges from cover, assembles his lightsaber and ignites it. Kanan is a Jedi, and a shocked Kallus says to attack him. Kanan deflect all incoming blasters while Ezra runs to go get Kitwarr. Kallus sees him and follows in pursuit.
Ezra finds Kitwarr and takes out a Stormtrooper with his energy slingshot. Kallus says it’s rare to find a Jedi and his apprentice. He’s ready to shoot Ezra when the Ghost arrives. Kallus fires at Kanan, who’s standing on the exterior. The shot gets deflected by Kanan and hits Kallus, who falls over the railing and holds onto a support beam.
The battle over and the Ghost leaving, the Wookiees promise that if the Ghost ever needs help, they’ll be there. The Ghost returns to the planet Lothal and returns Ezra to his home, but they’re all unsure whether they want to separate. Before Ezra departs, he steals Kanan’s lightsaber. When he leaves the ship, Kanan tells Ezra that he has something that belongs to him. Ezra returns the holocron, opened, and leaves. Hera says to Kanan that he passed the test and opened it. In his home, Ezra takes out the lightsaber and senses something behind him. He asks, “What’s the force?” Kanan emerges from the doorway and tells him that the Force is everywhere, it surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together. He tells Ezra that the Force is strong with him, otherwise he couldn’t have opened the holocron. He offers Ezra a choice: he can keep the lightsaber he stole and let it become just another dusty souvenir, or he can return it, come with Kanan, and be trained in the ways of the Force. He could learn what it means to be a Jedi. Kanan reveals that the Empire didn’t wipe out all of the Jedi.
Back on the Ghost, Kanan opens the holocron. He listens to Obi-Wan’s message that serves as motivation for their cause. At the conclusion of the episode, Ezra returns the lightsaber to Kanan and accepts the invitation. It ends with Kallus informing a mysterious figure of the Jedi he encountered, and we finally see the Inquisitor.
I was very impressed with the first episode of Star Wars Rebels. I love the animation, the characters they’ve created, and the legitimate Star Wars feel of it. The only thing I wasn’t impressed with was how the Wookiees looked. When Kanan revealed himself to be a Jedi, I got goosebumps. What helped is the use of all of the original Star Wars music.
It does well to set up the season, and I see no reason why Star Wars Rebels can’t be a great success. Not only did my five-year-old son, who has watched every Star Wars movie and is obsessed with them, love Rebels, but I did as well. There’s something for every age. And even if you don’t know much about Star Wars or your young children have never watched them, there’s enough humor in there to charm kids and capture their attention. Ezra and Chopper definitely help. The animation is warm and inviting. And the storyline and where character arcs will go are intriguing.
Overall, “Spark of Rebellion” is a great and promising first episode.