[NEWS] Rebels Day at Celebration

SWR SEASON 2 KEY ARTSaturday was Rebels Day at Star Wars Celebration. From start to finish, attendees had the chance to completely immerse themselves in the show that had such a well received first season. Fans queued for hours upon hours for a chance to get into first the 11am panel in the Arena and then later the Season Two premiere. If anyone had doubts about how much fans have taken to this show, all they had to do was take a look around the convention center not just Saturday but the entire weekend.

James Arnold Taylor hosted the panel spotlighting the voice acting cast and show runners with his usual poise and flair. In the hot seats for the afternoon were Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, Freddie Prinze Jr, Vanessa Marshall, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar, and Taylor Gray. The dynamics between the cast both on and off the screen are readily apparent. The cast acts like a family and having the crew of the Ghost become a family was definitely the intention of Filoni and Kinberg who wanted to explore a family dynamic with this new show.

It was entertaining to watch the cast banter amongst themselves and then discuss how much of a Star Wars fan they were in the past as opposed to now. (Needless to say, Vanessa Marshall is the Fan Supreme.) On the production side, Rebels was casting was done in a week when that’s a process which normally takes months and lightsabers were oh so cleverly called “sun swords” in the audition scripts.

Want to watch a bunch of Star Wars fans completely lose it? Show them the first trailer for Rebels Season 2. From the return of Ahsoka and Vader after their appearances to the first sightings of fan favorites Hondo and Rex, the high levels of excitement and emotion in the room were almost tangible from both the audience and the cast (who were also seeing the trailer for the first time) alike.

After they showed the trailer for a second time, JAT brought out Dee Bradley Baker (voice of the clones) and Ashley Eckstein (voice of Ahsoka). The big topic of conversation was Captain Rex whose fate was previously uncertain. A Disney press release later confirmed that the three clones in the trailer are Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor. Filoni wouldn’t tell fans how Rex survived Order 66 claiming it would take too much time but did hint that Rex is the sort who would’ve remembered Fives’ last words and taken them to heart. Filoni also teased that while the audience loves Rex, Kanan’s memories of the clones aren’t nearly as fond.

Filoni and Kinberg both noted that they’re going to be very careful with how they use legacy characters in this show as the focus is and should remain on the crew of the Ghost. In other words, Ahsoka won’t be in every episode and not everyone who survived the Clone Wars will pop up.

The absolute highlight of the panel though was a little girl seated on the stage asking who voiced Chopper who is always credited as himself. Filoni went over, whispered quietly in her ear, and then swore to the crowd that he told her the truth which instantly made her the #1 most wanted interview subject of the con.

After the panel concluded, select members of the press were invited to attend a press conference with the original panelists. The very first thing confirmed was that James Earl Jones is indeed voicing Darth Vader in Season 2. Filoni later acknowledged that legacy characters like Vader were a big challenge to work with as you don’t want to undermine the mythology of Vader and the impact of his character. The animation team meticulously studied his fighting style in the Original Trilogy to accurately capture it in the show. When asked about whether or not there was any added pressure for Season Two, Filoni shook his head and said he’d been doing this for ten years now while Kinberg noted that writing for Star Wars alone is pressure.

We did learn a few things! Zeb is a secret Disney Princess and Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a wookiee on Rebels. And also that Steve Blum and Freddie Prinze Jr. enjoy cracking jokes and Freddie especially can run with one for a while given the chance. As for any real secrets, Filoni spoke carefully saying that the story of Ezra’s parents would be addressed to some degree and viewers might get more of the crews’ backstories in Season Two. (Tiya Sircar carefully noted here that Season Two would explore more pairings in the crew whom we hadn’t seen previous team up.) Oddly, Filoni wouldn’t give any sort of confirmation as to whether the two new Inquisitor characters seen in the trailer were a male and a female. Jek Porkins won’t be showing up any time soon though.

One of the most intriguing discussions during the press conference was when a member of the press asked about all of the names having Biblical origins. Kinberg said that there was definitely a Biblical sense and purpose although it was news to him that all of the names were from the Bible. Filoni added that the names were purposeful as names are something that have power. Someone pointed out that Ezra Bridger helps bridge the Prequel and Original Trilogies and the creators have decided to run with it.

In case anyone was concerned, George Lucas gave his stamp of approval to the first episode of Rebels and called it terrific. Lucas had also previously spoken with Filoni what happens to Vader and Ahsoka and what might happen if they do actually meet. Again though, the new characters are definitely the focus of the show.

Finally, later that day, some attendees and members of the press were treated to the world premiere of Rebels Season Two. In the completely packed Digital Stage, viewers watched first the Season One Finale and were then shown the two-part premiere. If any are concerned about whether this show could continue at the same storytelling quality, rest assured that those worries seem to be unfounded.

If you’re most interested in spoilers, there are probably detailed down to the minute recaps of the two episodes. This will only talk spoilers on a plot summary level. The episode opens a little after Fire Across the Galaxy. The crew of the Ghost has hooked up with other ships in the fledgling Rebel Alliance and carry out missions in tandem. Unfortunately, the Empire is still hellbent on catching those insurgents who caused so much trouble back on Lothal, regardless of the tactic. All of the characters have clearly changed a little bit since we last saw them and it’s most evident in how they interact with one another. As teased in the finale (to thunderous applause, mind you,) both Ahsoka Tano and Darth Vader are back in this episode. Unsurprisingly, they both have meaningful parts to play here even though the story is still firmly centered on the Ghost Family. Vader has a handful of awe-inspiring moments in the episode, reminding viewers why he’s the most feared man by any who know of him.

Much like the Season One premiere, the Season Two premiere does a fantastic job of setting the stage for now and what we might expect in the days to come.

While there has yet to be an official release date announcement, rumors indicate that everyone will get the chance to watch the episode sometime this summer; probably June.

Interested in some more of the details from the panel? You can find my livetweets under the cut.