By: Dominic Jones
We're two episodes into the third season of the animated series Star Wars Rebels and already the show has tackled some intriguing ideas. The first episode saw the introduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the most popular characters from the Legends books, and Bendu, and ancient Force wielder who doesn't use the light side or the dark side. The second episode saw the return of Darth Maul and set the stage for another thrilling showdown fans have been wondering about for years. And that's just the first two episodes! It looks like the season is on the right track and one of the people we have to thank is executive producer Dave Filoni, who sat down recently with Empire Magazine to talk about what else is to come this season,
On the evolution of the series since Season Two, Filoni said,
I always look at the evolution of these characters and their journey kind of like a child growing up. There's that moment that you realize your parents are people. They're not these magical beings that have always been, and that they were young once and that they had flaws. I try to put perspectives like that on these characters. We thought it would be interesting for Ezra to face some of the bigger consequential characters like Vader; to become aware of them and aware that as he's got these abilities, and that's wonderful, that there's also great responsibility that's going to come with them if he's going to defend the freedom of people and the justice of people with them.
He also addressed potential connections between Rebels and the upcoming film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, saying,
"I would say that there will be things that definitely have influenced each other and have been definitely accounted for. Something that I've been interested in, is I've been aware of kind of the look of the film and the characters in the film for a while. If you look at Rogue One, it's a much more gritty and very realistic-looking world and Rebels is a much more, when it starts out, colorful world. I've been slowly adapting, because I've been in the know, so that as we get closer to each other, things are going to naturally line up. I think our show will always be a bit more colorful, but it's meant to be able to ingest the look of certain things that are happening in the film. I think that will be a lot of fun for people."
On bringing Thrawn into the series, Filoni told Empire,
"Talk to anybody from Star Wars. Thrawn is a symbol of an era when there was nothing happening in Star Wars and then Thrawn happened. Everybody read Heir To The Empire by Timothy Zahn. In Thrawn we really have a villain, and this is why I loved him in the book, because he was completely different than villains I'd seen before. He is not a lightsaber-wielding guy, he doesn't use the Force, he's just incredibly intelligent and very difficult to beat in the chess game of war. He's kind of like the Empire's Sherlock Holmes. That's going to be a huge obstacle for the Ghost crew this whole season. We've gone to a lot of care to make sure our version of Thrawn is, I think, accurate to what people liked about him in the book.
We've talked with Timothy Zahn, the author who created Thrawn. Obviously at Celebration people went nuts, because he was in the trailer, and it was like a standing ovation for this character. Just a validation. He became real to them again, because now he's back in the canon, I suppose. Everyone's excited about. That's, I think, a big deal and we're going to see how he affects the crew. He's a different kind of villain for them."
He also discusses the process behind the decision to blind Kanan at the end of last season and the introduction of Bendu, saying,
That was a hotly debated thing. I was pretty resolute on it and so was Henry Gilroy and Simon Kinberg. We just felt that this was something that needed to happen to the character. You'll see the change it makes in him. I think it's for the best. You see it in different ways, where Luke lost a hand. There are these symbolic concepts of loss, but what does it really mean? I think we handle it in the right way for Kanan. That's going to correspond with the introduction of another new character named Bendu, played by Tom Baker, who is famous, you know, for the Fourth Doctor. Tom comes in and plays this being, the Bendu, who is kind of the middle way of the Force and deals with a lot of things George and I used to talk about on Clone Wars when we dealt with things like the Mortis gods and these other strange Force beings that aren't Jedi or Sith. There's everything else in the galaxy in the living Force. That's going to be a fun intersection. In some ways Bendu's like a version of our Yoda. He's a person that comes and brings knowledge. Forget him being a Jedi. He's just a person that has vastly more knowledge than any of our current Jedi characters. Rather than a little guy, we made a really big guy, which is kind of fun. Then you go get Tom Baker, which, you know, you can't go wrong there.
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