The episode was screened in July 2014 at San Diego Comic Con and on September 27, 2014 at Century City. It was released on September 26, 2014 on WatchDisneyXD.com, before making its television debut on October 3, 2014 on Disney Channel. The episode was made available for purchase as a DVD on October 14, 2014. A version of the episode featuring an extended prologue debuted on October 26, 2014 on ABC.
It is a dark time. The Jedi are no more, and the Empire rules the galaxy with an iron fist -- bringing tyranny to the Outer Rim world of Lothal. Their ominous presence is a cloud over the planet, squashing any hope of freedom or a better life, especially for 14-year-old orphan Ezra Bridger. But the young con artist soon finds that destiny has other plans for him, as he encounters a small band of rebels who dare to strike back against the Empire.
Fourteen years after the end of the Clone Wars, the Jedi and the Republic has fallen with the rise of the Galactic Empire. However the Emperor "has foreseen a new threat rising against him: The Children of The Force". Fear of them becoming Jedi, the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader tasks the Empire's Inquisitor to "hunt down this new enemy [and] eliminate them along with any surviving Jedi who [may have attempted to] train them". Among these children who are one with the Force is an orphan boy named Ezra Bridger who lives on the planet Lothal.
One day in the Capital City, Commandant Aresko and Taskmaster Grint are harassing a local merchant to show his identification. When the merchant openly expresses his disagreement with the Empire, saying that the Imperials ruin Lothal and the rest of the galaxy, Aresko places him under arrest for treason. Ezra casually bumps into the Imperials and swipes Aresko's communicator, which he used to impersonate as an Imperial officer and lure Aresko and Grint towards a supposed emergency in the city's main square. The merchant is thankful for Ezra's help, who helps himself to some jogan fruits so he could have something to eat.
Ezra climbs onto the rooftops where he finds his way towards the square and overlooks Aresko and Grint, who learn that there was no emergency after all. While watching the Imperials, Ezra unknowingly through the Force senses the presence of Kanan Jarrus, a former Jedi Padawan who survived the destruction of the Jedi Order. He stays hidden as he watches him and two others known as Garazeb Orrelios, a Lasat, and Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian, attack and steal a small supply of Imperial crates. But most of their stolen goods got stolen by Ezra who jumps onto a speeder and speeds away through the streets with Kanan and Zeb in pursuit. The chase leads to a roadway outside the city, where Ezra and the two Rebels are spotted and chased by Imperial troops. The Rebels fight off the troops and Kanan intercepts Ezra. However, before Kanan can regain possession of the crates, a TIE fighter fires on their position, destroying his speeder. Ezra continues to speed back towards his tower with the TIE fighter on his tail. The fighter fires on him and destroyes his speeder, leaving him defenseless until the fighter is shot down by a ship known as the Ghost. The Rebels help him aboard with the crate he stole and head for space with additional TIE fighters in pursuit.
Kanan makes his way to the cockpit, where the Twi'lek Hera Syndulla is piloting the ship. While explaining what happened, Zeb and Sabine keep an eye on Ezra and after making a complaint about Zeb's smell, he throws Ezra into a small, closet-sized room, but manages to escape through the air vents and make his way through the bowels of the ship. Hera, meanwhile, is impressed by what she's heard from Kanan, and thinks Ezra could be a useful member of the crew which Kanan, at first, disagrees with. Ezra falls through the ventilation shafts and into one of the ship's gun turrets, where he realizes that for the first time in his life he was in space, and in a battle. Kanan and Sabine man the two gun turrets, and hold off the TIE fighters, giving Hera a chance to jump the Ghost into hyperspace.
Back on Lothal, the incident has brought the attention of ISB Agent Kallus who is not at all surprised as this was not the first time the Empire's operations have been attacked by these Rebels. He explains to Aresko when their operations are targeted in a ongoing basis, it could signify the start of a full-scale rebellion against the Empire. Kallus intends to find these Rebels and ensure that the Spark of Rebellion doesn't get the possible chance to spread.
The Rebels return from hyperspace and with the use of the Ghost's ability to scramble its signal, they safely land on Lothal, near a small town known as Tarkintown, named after Grand Moff Tarkin and home to many farmers who have their farmlands taken away by the Empire. While Zeb, Sabine and Ezra deliver the food they stole for the locals, Kanan and Hera deliver the blasters to criminal-lord Cikatro Vizago who gives them some information on Wookiee prisoners who are enslaved by the Empire. Ezra returns to the Ghost where, through the Force, finds his way to Kanan's quarters where he discovers a Holocron and a Lightsaber. Kanan and Hera catch him with the weapon, having been alerted by Chopper. Ezra hands over the Lightsaber but Kanan allows him keep the Holocron, knowing that if he could open it, then the boy could use the Force and could be trained as a Jedi.
After leaving Kanan's quarters, Ezra meets up with Sabine where she tells him about their crew and how they came together after losing everything to the Empire. Just then, Zeb interrupts their conversation to tell Sabine that Kanan wants them all together for a meeting and leaves Chopper to watch Ezra. In the common room, Kanan briefs the crew on their next mission: to rescue a group of Wookiees, who were being transported to a unknown slave labor camp.
The Rebels come out of hyperspace where they meet up with the Imperial Transport Ship carrying the Wookiees. Hera contacts the transport saying they have an additional Wookiee prisoner to hand over, under orders from Governor Tarkin. The commander of the transport allows them to dock, and Kanan and Sabine board the ship with Zeb pretending to be a "Hairless Wookiee". Unfortunately, the Imperials don't buy it, only because Zeb doesn't give them a chance. As a result, they take out two Stormtroopers with a single punch against their helmets. Once aboard, the Rebels begin their search for the Wookiees, but began to notice that the whole thing appeares too easy. The security aboard the ship is soft and there is no sign of any more troopers. Suddenly, the Lawbringer drops out of hyperspace and captures both the transport and the Ghost in its docking bay, springing a trap set by Agent Kallus to capture the Rebels. Knowing the others were in danger, Hera tells Ezra to board the transport and warn them since the comlinks are jammed. At first Ezra refuses to risk his life for others, but, with some encouragement, boards the transport just in time to warn Kanan and Zeb as Agent Kallus and a squadron of Stormtroopers come aboard. They make a run for it back to the Ghost and manage to escape but, thanks to Zeb, Ezra is captured by Agent Kallus and left behind.
While imprisoned on the Star Destroyer, Ezra is stripped of his gear with only the Holocron he stole from Kanan's quarters. Through the Force, he unexpectedly opens it, revealing a holographic message from Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, warning any surviving Jedi about the rise of the Empire.
Ezra manages to escape from his prison by tricking the Stormtroopers guarding him to enter the cell, giving him the opportunity to slip out and lock them inside. He makes his way to a storage room, where he picks up his gear and an Imperial helmet, which he uses to listen to communications throughout the ship. He also learns the Wookiee prisoners are being taken to the spice mines of Kessel and the Rebels have come back for him. He meets up with them in the docking bay and the group head back to the Ghost and escapes, leaving behind an explosion that nearly sucks Kallus into the vacuum of space.
After jumping to hyperspace, Ezra shares his findings with the Rebels on where the Wookiees were being taken. Knowing very well that they would not survive in the harsh mining environment, the Rebels, including Ezra, set course for Kessel to rescue them.
The Rebels arrives at the Spice Mines of Kessel, and opened fire on the Imperials giving them a chance to land. Kanan, Zeb and Sabine move in and fight off the Stormtroopers, giving Ezra the opportunity to sneak past them and release the Wookiees from captivity. With the Wookiees free, they fight alongside against their captors just as three TIE fighters emerge and fire on the Ghost. The Ghost leads the fighters away while Kallus leads more Stormtroopers into battle, forcing the Rebels and the Wookiees to take cover. With the Rebels surrounded and pinned down under heavy fire, Kanan tells Hera to lure the TIE fighters away and then come back to perform a 22 pickup, a maneuver where the crew and the Wookiees would hide inside a cargo container and be picked up by the Ghost. In order to give them more time, Kanan comes out from cover and ignites his Lightsaber, revealing his Jedi identity to Ezra, the Wookiees and the Imperials. While fighting off the Stormtroopers, Ezra goes after a young Wookiee named Kitwarr, who fled from the TIE fighters and was being chased by a Stormtrooper. He manages to rescue him and remove his binders. But they are cornered by Agent Kallus, until the Rebels show up just in time to rescue them and escape.
They depart from Kessel and after sending the Wookiees on their way, they head back to Lothal and return Ezra home. Upon returning to his tower, Kanan tells Ezra about the Force and offered him a choice to join their crew and be trained in the ways of the Force and become a Jedi.
Meanwhile, Agent Kallus contacts the Inquisitor via Hologram and reports his findings about Kanan and Ezra, which the Inquisitor is pleased to hear about.
An early screening of the episode was held at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con. Less than a week before its official debut, the episode was made available to WatchDisneyXD.com members on September 26, 2014, after being moved up from its original date of September 20, 2014.
On September 27, a premiere screening of the episode took place at Century City, CA. The event featured life-size replicas of the rebels, as well as several Rebels-themed characters.
The episode officially aired on Disney Channel on October 3, 2014, before debuting on Disney XD on October 6, 2014. On October 26, 2014, the episode aired on ABC, featuring an exclusive clip of Darth Vader.
The episode was released exclusively at Walmart on October 3, 2014, in DVD format, and was released digitally on October 4, 2014.
The episode has received mostly positive reception from critics, and currently holds an average of 8/10 on IMDb. The first review came from IGN's Eric Goldman, who published his thoughts on the episode a week prior to its Disney Channel debut. Goldman gave the episode an 8.7/10, praising it for "expertly capturing the classic Star Wars vibe", including "fun, engaging characters", and for its "well done action sequences". However, Goldman also criticized the episode for its sometimes lacking CGI, particularly in the Wookiee effects.
- This is the first two-part episode of the series.
- During the sequence where Kanan and Zeb board the Imperial Freighter, the two eventually reach a door which they believe contains the Wookiees. On the door, a strange sign can be seen. This sign is a reference to a deleted scene from The Empire Strikes Back, in which the same sign appears on a door.
- The episode doesn't open with the typical Star Wars opening crawl. Instead, the Star Wars Rebels logo is shown almost a minute into the episode.
- Kanan's description of the Force to Ezra pays homage to the original speech made by Ben Kenobi in A New Hope.
- In the scene where Ezra warns Kanan and Zeb aboard the Imperial Freighter, he yells out Admiral Gial Ackbar's famous line "It's a trap!".
- The working titles for "Spark of Rebellion" were "Ezra, Part One" and "Ezra, Part Two".
- The original draft for the beginning of the episode included a foot-chase, as seen in some early concept footage.
- In the first draft of the script, the beginning of the episode is significantly different. In the initial draft, Ezra is chased off by Imperials after faking the code red emergency, and steals a speeder bike. Returning to his tower roost, Ezra opens a stolen crate, only to discover that it is full of electronic leaflets of Imperial propaganda. He would not meet Kanan until the next day.
- When Grint and Aresko meet up with Lyste, they are standing in front of an Imperial billboard, first revealed on the Sienar Flight Systems website.
- In the scene where Ezra sees Kanan for the first time, a high-pitched mysterious tone is heard. This was added in to create a benevolent feeling of the Force, in contrast to a dark rumble usually associated with the Dark Side.
- While the planet Kessel was first mentioned in A New Hope, its first appearance was in "Spark of Rebellion". George Lucas also added some points he wanted for the look of the planet.
- The name of Tarkintown is a reference to the real-world Hoovervilles, which were created during the Great Depression.
- Hera refers to the Wookiee cargo as an oversized "monong". The first draft script called it an ape. It was Star Wars-ified to "momong", a Trandoshan monkey, before evolving into a "monong", a new creature.
- The Stormtrooper Ezra zaps over the railing on Kessel lets out a Wilhelm scream, an Easter egg found in a variety of films, TV shows, and video games.
- The design of the Wookiee gunship seen at the end of the episode is based on the same ones used during the Battle of Kashyyyk in Revenge of the Sith.
- Steven Blum, who voices Zeb, also did some voicework for several Stormtroopers.