• Beyond The Blast Doors

Star Wars Rebels Mid-Season Premiere Strikes Fierce Blow to Ghost Crew | SPOILERS

"It was a simple story, about a boy who was lost and a girl who was broken. They fought alongside a survivor, a war veteran, and a fallen Knight....We fought for each other and for those who could not, but we never imagined it would end like this" -Hera Syndulla

Loss felt inevitable.

Star Wars Rebels Season 4 kicked back in with its mid-season premiere of back-to-back episodes Monday. This final season needed to tackle death and loss to fit with canon continuity. The question among fans was would Disney XD allow possible events to appear on screen or event occur. Excutive Director Dave Filoni and crew have proven what began as a "child's show," in 2014 takes on some of the heaviest human emotion an animated show has ever attempted.

Fair warning, spoilers ahead.

In the first of two episodes, "Jedi Night" the Ghost crew has to rescue Hera who is imprisoned by the Empire in Lothal's capital city. Ezra leads the mission at the request of Kanan who is compromised by his feelings for Captain Syndulla. However, Kanan is still the one to save Hera and in a moment where they should be running desperately for their lives, they take a moment to admit they love each other. (This is where we get that line from Hera from the trailer about Kanan's hair).

Here's where our Rebels run out of luck. Sabine and Ezra spin around an Imperial Security ship atop the Empire's fuel reserves to extract Kanan and Hera. It's here Governor Pryce who was tipped off about the Rebels location, attacks the reserves triggering a massive explosion.

Kanan uses the force to contain the explosion for his friends to board the escape gunship. Hera tries to run after him but with a wave of his other hand, she freezes. Their eyes lock and Hera begins to fight what Kanan has just accepted. She is thrust back into Ezra's arms and Kanan is consumed by the explosion as he uses the force in his last seconds to push his friends away from the blast.

Kanan is dead. The day is lost. All hope for our crew exists in this moment.

It's a sequence fueled with emotion, propelled by the score of Kevin Kiner. The Jedi's sacrifice is made complete with one last close up revealing Kanan's eyes regain sight in time for his final image seen to be those he cares for the most.

In the followup episode, "Dume" the Ghost crew returns to base mourning the loss of their friend. While our heroes struggle with the loss of Kanan, the Empire plans a celebration in light of its recent victory. It's not an outright victory for the Empire. Yes, the explosion killed Kanan Jarius but it destruction of the fuel pods stopped the production of the TIE Defender. That's Thrawn's new weapon that has shields to allow the ship to slaughter many rebel ships with ease.

Rukh, Thrawn's personal bodyguard, is on the hunt for the remaining members of The Ghost crew. He tracks down Zeb and Sabine and the three enter hand-to-hand combat.

Meanwhile Ezra enters a force dream or vision where he speaks with a massive loth wolf. The wolf can talk and its first word is "Dume," Kanan's real name. As the conversation unfolds, we learn Ezra blames himself for Kanan's death and is scared of a future without his master. The conversation leads Ezra to learn there is knowledge within the Jedi temple on Lothal and the temple itself is in danger which sets up the Rebels' next mission.

My thoughts: It's damn good! The writing, the editing, the music - it all factors into feeling real loss as Kanan creates the ultimate sacrifice. Dave Filoni gets to end this series on his own terms. A lot of people had money Kanan would not make it out of the series alive but I think few people saw the Jedi taking an exit in the first episode of this final slate.

A positive for me is the effort made to connect this series to the events of Rogue One. Krennic gets a shout out from Grand Moff Tarken because project "Stardust" is draining resources. The referenced excess investment is why Tarken tells Thrawn he must speak to the Emporer in person to continue the TIE Defender program. I dig this a lot because it reflects Thrawn's relationship with Sheev Palpatine that we see in Timothy Zahn's 2017 novel. Very few people could gain an audience by the Sith and few would address him as an equal.

My only negative is forced humor. The rebels are feeling pressure from the Empire from the very first seconds of the start of the premiere. Hera makes a joke about Kanan's hair and the two confess their love for each other. This seems a bit out place. I can get over it. Still, I can appreciate these two characters gaining some form of joy and closure. - - - Who would have thought Kanan would die before Zeb? No offense, Steven Blum.

Star Wars Rebels returns with episodes "Wolves and a Door" and "A World Between Worlds" on Monday February 26th on Disney XD.