Star Wars Rebels: When Failure Is Not an Option

How The Hit Series Reminds Us Of the Importance Of Faith

This past month, my girlfriend and I were able to watch the entirety of Star Wars Rebels. While I personally had only seen chunks of the show, I learned just how much I was missing after completing the 75 episode series. Since its release, the show has a semi-bad rap in some circles due to it being a follow up to The Clone Wars; however, I found that Rebels is easily the best series to watch if you are looking for some of the most important themes that the franchise has to offer. Rebels has a little something for every type of Star Wars fan, from spirituality to the importance of strategy and family.

As we follow Ghost Squadron’s adventures, we see that each member offers an aspect of Star Wars that viewers can relate to. With the Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus, we see a window of what the Republic and the Jedi Order used to be like; in many ways, he is our outlet to a time lost in the franchise. With his apprentice, Ezra Bridger, we see someone learning the ropes of being a Jedi but having a strong spiritual connection to not just the force but all living things that it embodies. With the pilot and captain, Hera Syndulla, and her trusty droid, Chopper, we are treated to a view of Star Wars that we all love, the feeling of freedom and adventure balanced with the never quit attitude of so many of its heroes. Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian, shows viewers the pros and cons that come with having a duty and the stress that can put on family (a word all too prevalent in franchise). Finally, Zeb shows us that while he may be the strongest, he also carries the heart needed to see our heroes through their darkest times. Put them together, and you have the makings of a great family that will never abandon each other and fight for a cause greater than themselves.

With 75 episodes in total (not counting the shorts that were also released), it is safe to say that I took a lot of themes and lessons from the show. However, for this write-up, I wanted to focus on one theme, particularly the lesson of faith and never giving up. As we know, Star Wars is nothing without a large war or looming conflict acting as the background of the franchise. That being said, with Rebels placing itself in the earlier years of the rebellion, leading up to the events of Rogue One, we get to see how something small is tempered by the fires of conflict to become something great. Throughout the series, our heroes also face a host of wildly intimidating villains that test every facet of their beliefs and strength.

The first season sees Ghost Squadron doing what they can to aid the planet of Lothal and its neighboring planets on their crusade against the Empire. Their acts yield huge results and usher in new threats such as the Grand Inquisitor, a Jedi who turned to the dark side acting as a sith police force. Had their plans gone exactly as they’d hoped, Ghost Squadron would have buckled under the stress and power of the Grand Inquisitor; instead, they struck their first major blow to the Empire and showed us that no matter what goliath we face, there is always a way to take him down.

The show’s second season brings in many familiar faces from the era of the clone wars, including Ashoka Tano and Darth Maul. We are also introduced to a couple of new Inquisitors and Darth Vader himself, who becomes the show’s central antagonist for this season. With his Inquisitors, we see how the Empire’s strength has continued to grow, and as the rebels continue to prove them wrong, more allies join their side. With the conclusion of this season, the show’s tone shifts to much more serious topics, as tensions between the various rebel sects and the Empire begin to rise.

Leading into season three, we see the show’s newest enemy, Grand Admiral Thrawn. He is not just a master tactician, he is also the greatest threat that the newly formed rebel alliance will face thus far. From this point until the end of the series, things begin to feel direr as the rebels and the Empire are at a constant tug of war to have the competitive edge in the galaxy. This takes us directly to the final season, which sees Ghost Squadron back where it began, on Lothal, outgunned and outmanned, as they typically are, but willing to do whatever it takes to drive the Empire off of the planet. This is where the topic of never giving up really came to me during my viewing.

Thinking back on the series and moments like when Kanan was knighted or when Sabine trained with the dark saber, I noticed that these characters were all up against a personal wall of doubt, opposition, or overwhelming odds. Not only did they realize that these odds could be overcome as a family, but they also required unflinching optimism in the face of danger and knowing that no matter what, failure is not an option. This really comes to a head in the series finale when Ezra is faced with an impossible task. In the moment, Hera tells him that there is always another way, and while the episode would lead you to believe there was only one option, Ezra shows us that so long as you are clever enough and have the will to get back up, there is a way to succeed so long as you know where to look for it.

The final season of the series shows faith in all of its forms and is also the most spiritual season (however, that is a different post altogether). As Ezra and the Ghost Squadron decide to take the fight to the Empire and take back Lothal, they realize they are doing it with barely any support from the Rebel Alliance. Even so, they manage to find a way to mount a substantial offensive, even if it is in the strangest of ways. The final episode of the season is a testament to what makes the Rebel Alliance so special, not because of who is in charge of it but because of the people on the ground who take a chance against all odds to save countless others, even when they are told they shouldn’t.

So what exactly does this have to do with the show itself? Well, if the final season has anything to say, the Siege of Lothal not only signifies that the war against the Empire is officially happening; it also exemplifies the power a few people or one person can have when times are at their most dire. Rebels is about people who didn’t like the odds they were given, so they decided to make their own, much like the heroes of the Apollo 13 disaster. Ghost Squadron is also more than just a team of Rebels, they are a family with their own personal hang-ups and their own personal walls they have to overcome, but because they each knew that they couldn’t fail, they were able to overcome everything together, even if it meant making the greatest sacrifice of all. Star Wars Rebels has a lot to teach us, and if there is one thing to take away from this post, it’s this: Never give up, even when it looks like the odds aren’t in your favor. Failure is not an option.

Thank you so much for reading and feel free to spread the word and follow me on my social media!

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