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Defining Moments: A Chance Meeting

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The Interaction of Characters Sets a Story in Motion

“Defining Moments” is a continuing series exploring key scenes or sequences from Lucasfilm’s many productions. It examines storytelling craft, behind-the-scenes insights, and cultural legacies from each selection. Revisit an old favorite or discover something brand new…

Production: Star Wars Rebels (2014-18)

A common ingredient for a Lucasfilm story is the chance meeting of characters unfamiliar with each other. In Star Wars it might occur at a dusty cantina or a messy junkshop on a desert world. In Willow it could happen at a peaceful riverside or a foreboding crossroads. For archaeologist Indiana Jones, it seems bound to take place at a downtown nightclub or faraway marketplace. And in American Graffiti it is a frequent occasion on the nighttime streets near the favorite drive-in restaurant. These meetings could lead to friendship, rivalry, and sometimes both at the same time!

Star Wars Rebels was Lucasfilm’s first major production after its acquisition by the Walt Disney Company in 2012. Supervising director Dave Filoni and the crew at Lucasfilm Animation chose to introduce a small but central cast of characters through a seemingly happenstance meeting at an urban market.

Occupying the peaceful world of Lothal, Imperial forces roam the streets to maintain their own corrupt version of law and order. As oppressed citizens endure the harsh treatment, a few attempt to undermine their occupier’s authority. Teenaged Ezra Bridger breaks the rules for selfish reasons, helping rid a street vendor of Imperials only to steal some fruit for himself. He may be headstrong, but the orphan also shows a keen sense of observation.

Making off with his prize, Ezra climbs the rooftops only to be caught off guard by an unusual feeling, a sense of something familiar yet unknown. A man standing below on the street inexplicably draws his attention. Ezra quickly ducks out of sight as he turns and looks his way. It would appear the man feels something too.

The curious teenager watches as the man walks the streets, signaling a pair of collaborators, a hulking Lasat and a youthful Mandalorian. Wearing colorful armor, the latter drops an explosive near a group of Imperials, and chaos ensues. Ezra waits as the trio dispenses with their foe, then swoops in to steal their prize of valued cargo. After a daring speeder chase, he’s cornered by an Imperial TIE fighter overhead, only to be rescued in the nick of time by the same band of rebels in their trusty freighter, the Ghost.

The self-assured Bridger will discover that this peculiar group works for selfless ends, and over time, he might even be welcomed into their unconventional but loving family. In particular, his relationship with Kanan Jarrus, the man who first caught his attention, will awaken an untapped source of both wisdom and power within the young boy.

Star Wars is full of enigmatic references to “the will of the Force.” These hints of destiny seem at once inevitable yet also uncertain. Every character has a choice, and their decisions can help shape the destinies of friends and enemies alike. And as we’ve seen, it can so often begin with the chance meeting of strangers under unusual circumstances.

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