reviewing "A Spark of Rebellion." Overall, the show is getting much, much better. The characterizations, story arcs, and animation have all improved.
There's one change in particular that has elevated Rebels from kiddy fare to real Star Wars. In my original review, I'd complained that Ezra Bridger came across as too cocksure for a young teenager facing the Empire. The episode "Gathering Forces" shook Ezra's confidence, but did so in an important way. Ezra used the Force to compel a giant creature to attack the Inquisitor. After the attack, Ezra seems shaken by his actions, especially by the fact that he had touched the Dark Side. Ezra isn't a character who struggles to defeat external opponents, but rather one who must confront internal demons.
"Path of the Jedi" continues Ezra's journey as he confronts illusions in an abandoned Jedi temple on Lothal. Ezra admits that he fears being alone and not being accepted by the crew of the Ghost. I love the scene in which he overhears phantom versions of Hera, Sabine, and Zeb expressing doubts about him. Their comments reflect Ezra's deepest insecurities (Sabine pities him. Ouch!). When the episode ends, Ezra hasn't completely overcome his fears; he admits to the phantom Inquisitor that he fears letting his friends down.
In these two episodes, we finally see Ezra become vulnerable. Yet, he doesn't fear the Empire because confronting the Empire simply puts his life and liberty at risk. Rather, Ezra becomes afraid of himself when other characters start to depend on him. Ezra still has a certain brashness, but he's becoming a much deeper character. This character is maturing.
I don't think my initial impressions of Ezra were wrong. Filoni's storytelling modus operandus seems to rely upon creating a relatively unsympathetic archetype and allow him or her to change dramatically over the course of the series. Think of how annoying Ahsoka was in Season 1 of The Clone Wars compared to how wise she'd become by Season 5. I'm just pleasantly surprised we've seen so much growth from Ezra so early in Rebels!