Rating: ★★★★☆

Star Wars Rebels is finally back! Well, sorta.

Last night Disney aired The Siege of Lothal, a two part opener to the second season of Rebels. Much like the first season opener, A Spark of Rebellion, The Siege of Lothal is an hour long television ‘movie’ kicking off the upcoming season. Unlike with the first season, though, regular episodes will not be starting up any time soon. All we know so far as that the upcoming season will start ‘Fall 2015’ and according to Freddie Prinze, Jr. they’ve recorded almost twice as many episodes as last season.

From the beginning it’s clear that The Siege of Lothal is setting up a very different second season. When we last left our rebels they were being rescued by Bail Organa’s forces and Ahsoka Tano. Now they are working alongside the larger Rebellion. The Ghost even has a support squadron of fighters now coming along for raiding missions against the Empire.

Hera has always known that they were part of a larger movement and she’s an idealist – she’s always supported the Rebellion. But Kanan never signed on to be a soldier again and he’s not interested in fighting another war. This puts the whole team at odds and things are beginning to become very tense.

When Minister Tua passes on a message that she’s willing to defect the team finds themselves returning to Lothal on a mission that feels almost like old times. Things on Lothal have, unfortunately, only gotten worse. Tarkin is coming down hard on the planet and Agent Kallus is more than happy to follow his orders and use this increasing tyranny to his own advantage. That’s why Tua is willing to defect and pass on Imperial secrets – with Kallus on her tail and Tarkin (and Vader) on Lothal her life in danger.

Unfortunately she’s right.

When the rebels show up to rescue her she is instead killed by a bomb rigged by Kallus to frame the rebels and turn public opinion against them. They end up going to ground again, but everywhere they go the Empire seems to be able to find them. They even trace them back to Ezra’s parents’ home and destroy it. Desperate times call for desperate measures and they sneak into the Imperial stronghold to steal a shuttle hoping to get out of the city.

But Darth Vader has foreseen much of this happening and he’s there waiting for Kanan and Ezra. All throughout the mission Ezra had been feeling something cold and ominous and Kana comes to the realization that they now have a fully fledged Sith Lord on their tails. After a disastrous showdown that leaves Kanan shaken, they are able to escape. With a little help from Lando Calrissian they even manage to get off world where the team votes against Kanan to stay with the Rebellion in order to help Lothal more later.

Unfortunately, the Imperials track them down and scatter the rebel forces they find. When the command ship is destroyed Ahsoka Tano comes aboard the Ghost. At some point she apparently told Kanan she too was a former Padawan because the two of them reach out to Vader flying in his TIE fighter to try and figure out his strength and perhaps his identity. Unfortunately for Ahsoka, she figures out the latter and it’s a huge blow.

Thanks to Hera’s flying the team manages to escape and give the rebel fleet time to getaway. But there will be a reckoning. Ahsoka doesn’t just know that Anakin Skywalker is Vader but he knows that she’s alive. It won’t only be another Inquisitor after them now but Vader and the whole Empire.

If Siege of Lothal is anything to judge by the rest of this season is going to taken a much darker, more focused direction that the first season. Darth Vader is not a man to be crossed and now he knows that it’s not just two wayward Jedi out there, but his own former apprentice.

As cool as it was to get to see all of this, it is a little peek at next season, we still have no idea when Season 2 is starting in earnest. With all the Star Wars hype going on leading up to The Force Awakens, I get why they want to string it out some. But c’mon. Now it just feels like Disney is teasing us. Admittedly A Spark of Rebellion had limited theater screenings and aired online a few weeks before it’s official debut. But those were all within a few weeks of each other. We’re probably looking at October before we get new Rebels episodes.

For now, though, check out the behind the scenes footage over on the Star Wars Youtube channel:

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