Star Wars Rebels
Fifty shades Darth- er…
Unless you’ve been rotting in Jabba’s dungeon the past few months, you’ll know that Rebels has stopped teasing and wheeled out Star Wars’ biggest bad: a whole season after his Spark Of Rebellion cameo, Lord Vader has arrived. It’s enough to overshadow the return of another fan favourite, but rest assured, season two premiere “The Siege Of Lothal” suggests there’s plenty of arc in store for Anakin’s former Padawan Ashoka Tano.
And what about our core heroes, the Empire- fighting crew of the Ghost? Starting the season with a “We’re baaaack!” bang, the all- action episode doesn’t leave much room for character- building. Chuck in the ( entertaining) distraction of another SW icon’s appearance ( card player, gambler, scoundrel, you’d like him) and the likes of Sabine, Zeb and Hera are largely reduced to ballast.
Happily, there’s no shortage of dramatic weight for Kanan and Ezra to shoulder, including a showdown with a tall, dark antagonist – which oddly thrills all the more for being completely one- sided. With James Earl Jones back in the recording booth and a heavily Ralph McQuarrie- ified look ( it’s like he’s stepped off the cover of the original ’ 76 novelisation), this is the Sith bigwig at his most old- school unstoppable.
“TSOL” is effectively a Vader Greatest Hits: Force- throwing great lumps of scenery; flexing his zero- tolerance managerial style; ’ sabering in classical, no- rush fashion… there’s even the nearest thing to an “I am your father” moment, one that fortifies Rebels’ links to Clone Wars and teases a mouth- watering future stand- off. How long it’ll be before we get there remains to be seen; the show will likely hold back Vader as a secret weapon, to be used sparingly for maximum impact. But with such a heavyweight looming in the background, you can’t help feeling Rebels will need to double some of its characterisation efforts to maintain a healthy Force balance. Matthew Leyland
Is that Dave Prowse under there…?