Saw Gerrera is back, and you’d best not stand between him and his enemies. His return to Star Wars Rebels this week was the epitome of yet another strong installment to the TV show’s final season. The episode, “In the Name of the Rebellion,” brought our favorite heroes to Yavin 4 for the first time, and it also offered some of the series’ most mesmerizing connections to Rogue One and the original Star Wars trilogy yet. Here are five of the ways that Rebels strengthened its links to Rogue One.
(Robert Mitchell also contributed to this article.)
The most special moment of “In the Name of the Rebellion” was easily the series debut of Yavin 4. The rebel headquarters, Base One, holds so much history. It represents the culmination of A New Hope, since it was the site of the rebels’ near-hopeless attack on the Death Star. It’s also the place where Jyn Erso tried (and failed) to stir hope in the Rebel Alliance’s leaders to attack Scarif in Rogue One.
Seeing Sabine, Ezra, and Kanan arrive on Yavin 4 gave us chills — even more so than a similar moment in last season’s “Secret Cargo,” when Mon Mothma assembled the Rebel Fleet for the first time in Star Wars history. It’s yet another example of how Rebels is solidifying its connections to the movies.
If you’re wondering why Mon Mothma wasn’t in A New Hope despite her prior appearance in Rogue One, check out “Contingency Plan,” one of the 40 short stories in the recent anniversary anthology, From a Certain Point of View.
“In the Name of the Rebellion” helps us understand the role that the Spectres team — Ezra, Sabine, Hera, Kanan, Zeb, and Chopper — plays in the larger Rebellion. They serve as one of the Rebel Alliance’s primary strike teams, as evinced by the important tasks that Mon Mothma entrusts to them. Compared to the other rebel cells, Ezra and his friends seem to be turning into the first among equals. One can only wonder where the final season of Rebels will take them.
It was hard to miss the biggest, greenest nod to Rogue One. The massive kyber crystal stashed in the hold of Freighter 2716 shows just how much power the Empire needs to complete its dire project. Kyber crystals are special to Star Wars, for they are the heart of every lightsaber. And we know because in Rogue One and its tie-in novel, Catalyst, it is revealed that the Death Star and its weapon are also powered by kyber crystals. Many are strip-mined from the temples and caverns of the moon Jedha from Rogue One, which also got a mention this episode.
We’ve seen kyber crystals before, not just in Rogue One, but also in the Rebels Season 1 episode “Breaking Ranks,” when Kanan and Hera destroyed a kyber crystal bound for the Empire. Even more importantly, another giant kyber crystal served as the MacGuffin for an unfinished story arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, entitled “Crystal Crisis on Utapau,” which is available to watch on StarWars.com. That crystal met the same fate as the one in “In the Name of the Rebellion,” but not before Master Yoda revealed that in ancient times, the Jedi and Sith both used kyber crystals to develop massive superweapons. The Death Star’s superlaser thus perpetuates that deadly history.
In the trailer for Season 4, the rebels stumble on a mention of Stardust, the code name for the Death Star plans. We’re probably not done with nods to the Star Wars cinematic niverse, but don’t expect the Spectres to rescue a captive princess from the detention block of the dreaded superweapon, or to even steal plans for it. As he reveals in this week’s Rebels Recon commentary, series executive producer Dave Filoni is trying to balance the need to show the events occurring in the rest of the galaxy with the private struggles of the Ghost crew. He doesn’t want Ezra, Hera, Sabine and the rest to be a “footnote on the journey of another character.” No matter the outcome, the stakes are going to be high for our heroes.
After their first appearance in Rogue One, many viewers were confused as to the true nature of the Death Troopers. With their garbled speech and inscrutable black armor, many assumed they were droids. Turns out these automatons are human, or at least humanoid, after all. This episode, we got to meet DT-F16, who may have the most hardcore-sounding trooper designation ever put forth in Star Wars media, the commander of the squad guarding the large kyber crystal. She and her squad prove to be cunning adversaries, though Ezra, Sabine, and Saw manage to best them through some clever tricks of their own.
It’s unlikely that Death Troopers are guarding every shipment of kyber crystals making their way to the Empire. Rather than being just Director Krennic’s personal guard, these troopers are more in-line with special forces troopers, the clone commandos of the Empire. We’ve seen them once before in Rebels, when series arch-antagonist Grand Admiral Thrawn assaulted Chopper Base at the end of Season 3. As the show’s paths come together, the Rebel Alliance may have to contend with a formidable number of Death Troopers in the near future.
Saw Gerrera: Should Ezra and Sabine Have Trusted Him?
Another visible connection to Rogue One took the form of Saw Gerrera’s return to Rebels. He still hasn’t lost his leg or sustained his life-threatening injuries yet, but he’s even more damaged than when we last saw him in “Ghosts of Geonosis” last season. As always, the iconic Forest Whitaker delivered a solid performance as Gerrera. The episode brought out his tenuous balance between determination and brokenness, which clashed spectacularly with Ezra’s and Sabine’s own morals.
To say that Saw Gerrera is a troubled character would be an understatement. He has none of the principles of his fellow rebel leader and rival, Mon Mothma. Whereas Mothma holds out hope for a peaceful resolution with the Empire, Gerrera scoffs at democracy and takes swift action against the Empire — which, on its own, isn’t necessarily bad. But Gerrera’s no-holds-barred, Machiavellian tactics rival those of a certain Imperial weapons director (who was briefly name-dropped in dialogue during the episode).
Unlike Ezra and Sabine, Gerrera cared nothing for the imprisoned technicians whom they found on the Imperial freighter. Had he gotten his way, Gerrera would have sacrificed the prisoners along with the ship’s Imperial crew. By expanding on Gerrera’s lack of morality, Rebels shows us something that Rogue One didn’t quite have enough time to do: that some rebels aren’t afraid to become like the Empire in order to defeat it.
Since Rebels will be returning its focus to Lothal, this is probably the last time we’ll see Saw Gerrera in the series. Thanks to that sly reference to the Jedha system from Rogue One in this week’s episode, Gerrera will soon be headed there, in time for the YA novel Guardians of the Whills and Rogue One proper. Still, after what Gerrera did in Rebels this week, the question remains of whether Ezra and Sabine will ever trust him again. If you ask us, they shouldn’t.
Why We Don’t Want Director Krennic in Rebels
To clarify, yes, it was Director Orson Krennic who was name-dropped during “In the Name of the Rebellion” — but that doesn’t mean we want him to appear in Rebels. Quite the opposite, in fact. Prior tie-in material has already fleshed out Krennic’s story, to the point where any future appearances would be unnecessary.
Author James Luceno crafted a brilliant origin story for Krennic in the aforementioned Rogue One prequel novel Catalyst, focusing on Krennic’s Machiavellian mentality and how he exploited his friendship with Galen Erso to set the Death Star’s superlaser in motion. With Catalyst already out, having Krennic appear in Rebels as a lead-in to Rogue One would simply dampen the novel’s impact. Between Krennic and his arch-nemesis, Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, there’s only room for one of their huge personalities on Rebels — and Tarkin is already here.
Next week, Rebels returns to Lothal for some proper catch-up with Grand Admiral Thrawn. (And based on the preview clips, #Kanera fans will also have something to talk about.) Catch “The Occupation” and “Flight of the Defender,” and come back next week as we break down our favorite moments!