Disney XD has been the place to be for Star Wars action on the small screen thanks to animated series Star Wars Rebels for the past few years. Set in the final years of the timeline before the action of the original trilogy picks up, Rebels is getting pretty close to when the main plot of Rogue One begins. Now, showrunner Dave Filoni has revealed the ways in which Rebels is changing now that it's approaching Rogue One in the timeline, saying this:
Now that Rogue One is out, it opens up a lot of possibilities for us to tell these stories. We can go to Yavin now. We can start to deal with the way things worked out in the film and include ideas that are happening prior to that. The look of the background rebels really shifts to being more of the kind of drab military colors that you see in Rogue One. The Phoenix group of rebel soldiers are kind of petering out. They were more brightly colored, kind of in blues and oranges and yellows. Well, they all got wiped out for the most part, so they're redistributed into Mon Mothma's group on Yavin and Dodonna's group. You see a restructuring of certain cells and certain cells get destroyed and that's true of the ships as well. There's lots of little neat detail-level things that happen when our characters are kind of heading into Season 4 and absorbed into the kind of pre-Rogue One era.
Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels began to incorporate some major elements from Rogue One and the original trilogy, so it was clear that the Ghost family was pretty close to catching up to the movies. The Season 3 finale went even further in setting the stage, as Thrawn and the Empire managed to wipe out the majority of Phoenix Squadron, preventing them from making their strike on Lothal. Dave Filoni's comments to IGN indicate that Season 4 will be dispersing the survivors of the Phoenix rebels into the wider Rebel Alliance.
Of course, those of us who remember the opening crawl from A New Hope knew that Phoenix Squadron couldn't score a major victory over the Empire so close to the events of the original trilogy. The successful theft of the Death Star plans was to be the Alliance's first major victory; the attempt to liberate Lothal was never going to work if the animated series wasn't going to contradict decades-old continuity. Even if Dave Filoni and Co. kind of have their hands tied by the events of the original trilogy about how many wins they can give the Rebels rebels, it's clear that he's using the movie events to further develop the background of Rebels.
Given that Season 4 will be the final season of Rebels, we may get to see episodes get very close to the events of Rogue One and A New Hope. Dave Filoni has already revealed that the Battle of Scarif won't be depicted in Season 4, so at least that element of Rogue One won't be animated for Disney XD. We do know that we'll get to see Saw Gerrera and Mon Mothma again to discover what happened to drive their factions as far apart as they were in Rogue One. For Rogue One fans, Rebels Season 4 could be a treasure trove of Easter eggs. After all, it's not like we're getting a Rogue One sequel with the whole happy crew back together again! (Too soon?)
It has been confirmed that at least Hera, Chopper, and the Ghost will survive the end of Rebels and into the action of Rogue One. In fact, Hera herself will still be alive and fighting circa Return of the Jedi. As for the rest of the Ghost crew... well, I'd say we start crossing our fingers for a limited amount of heartbreak. Poor Kanan is probably a goner, but there's still hope, right? The trailer isn't entirely full of doom and gloom.
Star Wars Rebels returns to Disney XD -- likely with Ahsoka in tow at some point -- for its final season this fall. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest in TV news, and don't forget to check out our midseason TV premiere guide and our summer TV premiere schedule to discover all your viewing options now and in the coming weeks. Be sure to drop by our rundowns for cable/streaming and broadcast TV renewals and cancellations.