The Season Two premiere of "Star Wars: Rebels" was screened for a sold-out audience last night, and I was fortunate enough to be among those who were able to witness it.
It was introduced in an understated manner by producers Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg, and they talked of their love of "Star Wars" before rolling a three part story that consisted of the last episode of Season One, and the first two episodes of Season Two.
After the events of the finale, we're left to wonder how the dynamic of the show would change. Would the introduction of Darth Vader and Ahsoka Tano overpower everything else in the show, taking the spotlight off the crew of the Ghost? Would Vader and Ahsoka get their knowing moment? Would the balance of the show be spoiled?
After watching the first two episodes of the premiere, I can say happily that the balance of the show is not only intact, but never better. The Ghost crew are given their moments to shine, yes, and Ahsoka is placed appropriately as well, but more than anything this two part arc serves to show that Darth Vader is perhaps the most menacing villain the galaxy has ever known.
And that's what I loved most about it.
It's difficult to discuss this without significant spoilers and it's something I'm loathe to do since there's still no solid release date for these episodes of the show.
So I will say this: This is the scariest I've ever seen Darth Vader on screen.
This is him at his absolute prime, at his most rage-fueled, at his peak as a Dark Lord of the Sith. He is a one-man wrecking crew. In a one man fighter he is able to disassemble an entire fleet. By himself, using only one hand on his saber, he's able to take Kanan and Ezra and the rest of the Ghost crew apart. He's not a man, but a menacing force of nature.
And the echoes of what he does in his fighter, as they're juxtaposed to the impossible odds of what Luke is capable of accomplishing in his fighter, is a wonderful tie to the classic trilogy.
But the moment everyone will be talking about has a direct parallel to the ending of "The Empire Strikes Back." When Vader has confronted Luke and is reaching out to him in the Force and the shots intercut between the two of them, we get a direct parallel to that here in a way that made me shed tears.
The writers of the story are careful here. They weave a tale that is surprising but inevitable for the show to go on as we need it to. By the end, new pieces are in place and the showdown between Ahsoka and Vader seems less urgent to get to. In fact, we don't want it to get there at all because seeing this version of Vader makes me fear for the life of the apprentice that lived. This story was satisfying to that end, set the table for raised stakes for the rest of the season, and makes the mind reel with possibilities of what is to come.
And more than that, it actually forces us to rethink Vader's arc in "A New Hope" and forward. Through the prequels we're shown Anakin right at the beginning moments of his transformation. We've never seen this side of him. As we're introduced to him in the classic trilogy is on the verge of quelling the fire and rage in his heart and finding something positive to live for. In these episodes, he's years away from that and fueled by nothing more than self-hatred and obedience.
It's truly terrifying.
When this premiere finally goes public, I think people will be more excited for this new era of "Star Wars" than they've ever been. This is just great storytelling and great "Star Wars," and I can't wait to see what comes next, especially since the trailer for the season promises us two more things that I want: Captain Rex and Hondo Ohnaka.
It should also be noted that most of the moments from the trailer at the top of the article are from the first two episodes of the season. Rex and Hondo are about the only things in it that aren't shown right off the bat.
There's still no release date for the season.