Well, this was interesting. I was already anticipating the release of this, and the forty minutes of greatness has finally arrived. What we have here is two episodes put together to form a season opener, or a conjoined arc, if you will.
The first half gives all the main characters time in the spotlight. The second half expands on them. I'll try not to go into that much detail on plots this time, but it should still be a decent review.
The very first shot is of Ezra looking out from his home to see a Star Destroyer in the sky. This Destroyer is significant of one thing. The Empire has set foot on this planet. Ezra is a thief, and we see that clearly in the first half of the first episode. From when he diverts Imperials away from arresting a jogan fruit salesman, only to steal some of the jogans himself, we can tell that if he sees something of interest, he'll try to get it. He spies the Imperials, but more importantly, the crew of the Ghost. They're out to steal from the Imperials, but don't count on Ezra stealing from them.
The chase that ensues is a good one, calling back to the speeder bike chase on Endor with a number of cues. Though the heroes don't crash their speeders and end up as hostages to tiny bears. Instead, the Ghost crew save Ezra and the real journey begins. Callbacks to the original trilogy of films are numerous, though some could be less obvious to some people. The designs of the characters are all good though. There aren't really that many bad spots (though the Wookiees are a different matter), and the character building, especially of Ezra - or should that be how Ezra begins to think - are really good.
Ezra and Zeb get off to a bad start, but we can tell, when Zeb does something rash about Ezra, that he feels it was not right. We can see his conflict for what he's done. And as Ezra finds out about this group he now finds himself with, we can see why this band is so united in a cause. The Empire has done something to everyone within the group, even Ezra, and only now is he finding out that there are better ways to get back at them than just stealing bits and pieces from them.
The second episode involves the Wookiees, and in their actions, we know that the rebels would do anything to help anyone. And it is here where Kanan reveals himself as a Jedi. The weight of the scene, the realisation of both Ezra and Agent Kallus of what they are seeing, and what that means for both of them.
Ezra wants to help though, and gets a bit of action of his own, where he essentially acts on what he's discovered. The Empire breaks families - would he watch one break up before his eyes? He succeeds, thanks to perfect timing from Kanan and the Ghost crew, and the two groups split in neutral space, before Ezra finds himself being taken back home.
There is plenty of weight, that sense of never-ending odds, within the show. We see Kanan blast up Stormtroopers, yes. But Stormtroopers are nothing really. Not in a fight. It’s what they do elsewhere, and how that affects the actions of others, that really matters. Setting traps, for example, and hoping to catch the rebels off guard. There's also the weight created by the show knowing when to take itself seriously.
Scenes that effect the characters deeply, building of the characters, and a certain key moment at the beginning and end of the second half, really give off that feeling of you caring for these characters.
Touching up on a last few things, the music knows where it is meant to be. Just like the original trilogy, it knows when having no music can cause more tension than having even the slightest sound. It also knows where to place itself for maximum impact, and we also get some masterful themes with nods to the original films. The pacing is also very much original trilogy style.
It seemed a bit fast at first, but watching it again - the pace is exactly right. It knows where to take things fast and where to slow them down, and that's the thing that catches you off guard. All three original trilogy films start slow for maximum effect. Spark of Rebellion starts at a faster pace, still manages to cover all it needs without glossing over anything, and then slows down where the original trilogy films start getting into the bigger action.
And so, I really would recommend watching this series. I can guarantee it's going to be a good one. And without spoiling the next episode too much, we really are getting some other familiar faces and hints to other material. I loved episode three as much as one and two, and all of the things said in this review carry over to episode three, and I'd guess the entire series as well.
Yes, The Clone Wars has finished - but its stories are still being continued and added to the new canon. Yes, everything Legends has no place in canon, but its ideas are still being brought into the canon. From that third episode, I can already see some Force Unleashed vibes. In fact, the Inquisitor sort of reminds me of Starkiller, and apart from trailers we haven't even really seen him in action yet.
So yes, this is a series to watch, and I have faith that down the line we'll be getting even deeper stories. And a reminder that being deep doesn't necessarily mean being dark.
While I don't do TV reviews that often, I make the odd exception where I feel it counts. And I hope another TV series can win me over just like this one has come the beginning of next month. Yes, the UK is getting screwed by not having Sonic Boom for an entire year, but I'm hoping for a livestream just so I can watch the opening episode.