Star Wars Rebels continues to excel in its amazing storytelling through Season 3. As a fan of a galaxy far, far away, I’m always looking for different avenues that might be acceptable for my kids to watch (either now or once they’re a little older). The third season of Rebels drives home some valuable lessons that anyone can take away, which continues to expand upon why #StoriesMatter for all ages. Beyond the idea of connecting with characters and seeing oneself in similar situations, Star Wars excels at conveying positive messages and, honestly, really bad “bad guys.”
As a parent, I find it easier to help explain certain aspects of life when they can see it in animation. Perhaps having that as a buffer is just a way to disguise the reality of things, but, for me, it helps to have my kids watch and then ask questions from what they’ve seen. Or in a lot of cases, they’ll form judgments based on what they know to be true when it comes to right and wrong. Star Wars Rebels: Season 3 does a phenomenal job at exploring good versus evil, while also highlighting that the path to good might not always be as easy as one might expect. Above all else, this show represents what it means to have family, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with bloodlines.
If you have not watched any of Star Wars Rebels or aren’t caught up through Season 3, please go and watch the season and come back. If you are caught up on Rebels, don’t forget that you can also catch our Season 1 and Season 2 coverage.
SPOILERS BELOW for Star Wars Rebels: Season 3
MAKING A CASE FOR THE WORST BAD GUY
Grand Admiral Thrawn: Oh, where to start? Despite appearances, because you can never judge a book by its cover, Thrawn is the worst. Star Wars Rebels and its creators have been able to generate a villain who seems to have all of the answers. Topped with a twisted sense of honor, letting rebels escape after achieving a small victory, Thrawn relishes his plans and savors letting people know that he’s the reason for their suffering and defeat.
Case 1: The creators have generated an analytic Grand Admiral who meticulously picks apart the rebels and all of their plans. If there is a qualification for naming someone “Evil Genius,” Thrawn just might take the cake. There’s reasoning behind his decisions, which is terrifying for characters and for viewers wondering what will happen next and where Thrawn might show up again to thwart the heroes.
Case 2: Thrawn enjoys seeing others lose and, in this case, that also involves death. If it’s a means to control others with fear, he undoubtedly will use these tactics to maintain power over everyone else – minus the Emperor, of course. One clear and obvious moment is in episode 10, “An Inside Man,” when he knowingly puts a technician on a faulty Imperial speeder bike. Thrawn knew that there was a problem with the bikes once they reached a certain speed, so he put a technician on it and did not let him shut the bike down. The charred remnants of the tech’s helmet after the explosion were a stark reminder of what kind of person Thrawn truly is.
Case 3: Thrawn is just creepy. His soft, monotone voice does not alter in temperament, generally. There are times when he has boiled over, but his thrill of mapping out the destruction of the rebel alliance carries this calm confidence. It is unnerving, and if you want your kids to understand what cruelty looks like – and possibly learn to hate a character – Thrawn definitely falls into that category. Although, if hate does come out of your kid’s mouth, then perhaps a subtle quote will calm them down: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
COMPASSION THROUGH AND THROUGH
In the span of many years, whether in The Clone Wars or Rebels, we have witnessed Maul go to great lengths to achieve greatness and ultimate power. In his mind, “the end [will] justify the means.” It doesn’t matter who gets harmed in his path, as long as he can get his revenge and take his “rightful” spot as leader of the galaxy.
Not only is Maul a phenomenal character for kids to understand how duplicitous one can be, especially when they have ulterior motives, but Maul’s ability to be persuasive has the ability to disarm one’s logic. Maul has used Ezra time and time again, but after a while, Ezra has to learn for himself who to trust in the end. Despite the torment Maul has caused, and using Ezra to find Obi-Wan to seek his revenge in episode 20, “Twin Suns,” the moment is not lost on Obi-Wan when they come face to face.
In one of the greatest Star Wars scenes, we see the moment Maul has been waiting years for. Back on the planet with twin suns, a long-awaited encounter ends almost as quickly as it begins. Despite a few strokes of their lightsabers, Obi-Wan stands as Maul crumples to the ground. Yet, despite Maul’s animosity, Obi-Wan catches him before he completely falls to the ground. He holds him and lets him speak his last words. Not only is this a stunning and enlightening moment as a viewer, it does much more for younger viewers who might wonder what it means to have heart – to be so compassionate to give your enemy such grace.
FAMILY IS FAMILY
As a parent, I want nothing more than to show my kids that they are loved unconditionally. Star Wars Rebels: Season 3 highlights that this doesn’t have to be in the conventional sense. Family comes in many shapes and sizes, and they do not have to be strictly defined as parents and siblings. The truest of friendships equate to such familial bonds, and I want that for my kids, as well.
Such bonds have never been clearer in “Trials of the Darksaber,” episode 15, when Sabine has to face her Mandalorian past and her potential future. Kanan wants nothing but the best for her, as he tries to train her, but he admittedly tries to change his teaching style in the hopes of being a better teacher than he was with Ezra. Being part of a family is about caring for one another, and it’s also about being willing to listen to others when things are uncertain. Plus, being able to say, “I’m sorry,” is something that requires thoughtfulness and humility that’s genuine. So, when Hera offers advice, Kanan listens.
Sabine taking hold of the Darksaber to wield it as an instrument for good is a product of her making a choice – one that pains her, but helps her rebel family. It’s not lost on the crew and it provides another phenomenal sequence in the Star Wars lore. After a training session, her family honors her with a simple gesture and kinds words to show her how important she is to them.
“You’ve come a long way in a very short time. Where you go from here is up to you. But know, this family will stand by you no matter what you choose.”
This level of trust and loyalty is the type of life lesson kids and parents can take away from this episode – and the series as a whole – knowing that there are such wonderful people out there. And as my own kids grow up, I hope they’ll find those bonds to hold onto. I hope they’ll find that sense of family wherever they land in the future, so they will know that wherever they are, their family will always be there for them.
What do you think of Star Wars Rebels: Season 3? What are some of your favorite moments? Does this show rank towards the top of the Star Wars franchise? Start a conversation with your friends on social media, and don’t forget to tag the GPG on Facebook and Twitter. If you like this article and would like to see more Star Wars coverage, don’t forget to like and share this with all of your geeky friends.
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.