Last weekend was Star Wars Celebration, one of the biggest events on Lucasfilm's calendar. While the Rogue One panel offered us teasers galore, it was Star Wars: Rebels that really stole the show, and the glimpse we got of Season 3 definitely set it up to be the best season yet — and not just because of Thrawn's reintroduction to the canon.
Star Wars: Rebels is a fascinating addition to the Star Wars franchise — flying close to Rogue One and A New Hope, Rebels charts the humble beginnings of the budding Rebel Alliance, following one rebel cell as they slowly join up with other rebel factions, under the guidance of the mysterious Fulcrum, who of course turned out to be Ahsoka Tano.
Season 2 established key connections to A New Hope by incorporating Leia and Bail Organa, while echoing back to Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith through Ahsoka's final fight with Darth Vader. Now, it's time to push forward — Season 3 will introduce a few new characters while continuing to develop longtime fan faves such as Maul. And one of the new characters could establish a connection to Star Wars Episode VIII... thematically, at least.
More Ancient Than The Jedi
There's a lot going on in the Rebels Season 3 trailer — we've got Ezra tempted by the Dark Side, Thrawn's imposing entrance, and that little cameo from Wedge Antilles (personally, I'm hugely excited about seeing more from Luke's hotshot pilot buddy). But towards the end of the trailer a new character was introduced: Voiced by Tom Baker, Bendu is an immense creature the likes of which we've never seen before. And his introduction could propel Rebels deep into ancient Force lore.
Attendees of the Rebels panel were treated to the double-length premiere episode of Season 3, in which Bendu plays a vital role. I won't spoil anything for you, but suffice to say that he is a fascinating addition to the Rebels cast, and thanks to Baker's skill in voice acting, Bendu has all the resonance and gravitas that you'd expect for a character compared to JRR Tolkien's Tom Bombadil.
At the press conference later, Dave Filoni gave some insights into Bendu, and how he is something of a throwback to a mysterious time in galactic history.
"Beyond the Jedi and the Sith, there is another way of using the Force, there is an even older way of thought."
Filoni reminded us that the original Jedi were called the Jedi-Bendu, and hinted that this could be a part of Bendu's backstory:
"Maybe that's why Bendu seems to know a lot about them [Kanan and Ezra]."
Clearly, Bendu is a strong Force user, but what is interesting is that he is not aligned strictly with the Dark or the Light Side — as he says in the trailer, he's somewhere in between. The history of the Jedi is something many fans have wondered about, as although we've gleaned bits and pieces from allusions in Clone Wars and Legends (the Expanded Universe), the origins of the Force haven't been explored in depth by any of the shows or films. Until now that is.
The Origins Of The Force
Here's where things start to get speculative, so bear with us. Of course we don't know much, if anything, about the plot of Star Wars 8 yet, but rumors have naturally been flying ever since The Force Awakens was released. Most are just hearsay, but there's one that caught our attention — according to Star Wars set scout Stormtrooper Larry, Episode 8 will explore the origins of the Force itself... and Rey's own ancient heritage.
The rumor states that Rey is actually the reincarnation of the Chosen One, one of two children who first encountered the Force via a Force sensitive tree. Oddly enough, it's the tree that has us thinking there might be some veracity to this rumor, as we already saw the branches of such a tree in the canon comic Shattered Empire.
So, if Star Wars 8 really is going to explore some Force lore, then what better way to introduce viewers to these ancient concepts than in Star Wars: Rebels? It's just a thematic link, but one that could prove crucial to building a wider narrative — beady eyed fans have already pointed out the similarities between this rumor and the Gods of Mortis in Clone Wars, who, incidentally, were name-dropped by Filoni in the press conference.
It's too early to tell what any of this means for sure, but it'll be exciting to learn more about the history of the Force thanks to Bendu's inclusion in Rebels. And who knows — maybe all of this will lead into an exploration of the origins of the Jedi in Star Wars Episode 8, shining some light on the corners of Star Wars' vast narrative. It's all coming together.
Would you like to see the origins of the Force explored in Rebels or Star Wars Episode VIII?
[Header source: Disney XD]