Star Wars is a cinematic icon, but it is much more than its movies. Blaine and Josh dive deep into the universe of Star Wars Rebels, the fantastic animated show on Disney XD, with reviews of the third season of this fantastic show. As a show aimed at kids, but also clearly for the kid in every adult Star Wars fan, they’ll also have a discussion section to talk about the themes covered in each show.
Even after an action-packed season premiere, the second episode of season 3 refuses to give us (or Ghost crew) any respite. Instead, The Holocrons of Fate is a deep dive into both the history and future of theStar Wars universe; it’s a big narrative that also keeps its characters at the center of all the action, which is by this point a beloved signature characteristic of Star Wars: Rebels.
In the opening scene of The Holocrons of Fate Ezra and Kanan return to the rendezvous point to discover that their friends have been taken hostage by none other than Maul (formerly Darth, of course), who demands that the two bring him the Sith holocron if they ever want to see the rest of the crew alive. The problem for Ezra and Kanan is that they don’t actually have the holocron with them; Kanan left it in the Bendu’s possession, and so they will have to travel back to Atollon to recover it, hoping all the while that Maul’s patience does not wane.
While this is Ezra’s first encounter with Bendu, it is certainly not the first time he’s had a run in with the Krykna—the giant spider-like creatures that roam the planet. Yet young Bridger is forced to face his fears in order to recover the holocron; he must journey deep into the caves where the Krykna dwell; and, since Kanan says that it’s important for his padawan to solve problems without his weapon, Ezra must make this journey alone. Kanan’s guidance here is especially interesting insofar as it sets up a contrasting parallel to the advice given by Maul in the finale of season two. Maul espouses a kind of shoot first mentality where weapons and violence are the first and immediate solution to a problem. (We see this most clearly when Maul encourages Ezra to mercilessly kill one of the Inquisitors on Malachor.) And since Ezra is still being torn between two masters in some sense, the advice Kanan gives him here to face the Krykna without a weapon affords Ezra the opportunity to choose the path of the Jedi over and above the path that leads to the dark side.
However, things don’t go according to plan, and Kanan is forced to make the journey into the caves, without his sight, to rescue Ezra. This sets up a second contrasting parallel to the stratagems of Maul. Back on Malachor last season, Maul feigned weakness and physical infirmity in order to goad Ezra into helping him, but here we see Kanan—who has a very real physical disability—selflessly journeying into the depths in order to save his friend. This act of love seems to make an impact on Ezra, and the two share a friendly embrace and frank conversation that helps heal strife between them. But we will see that Ezra’s struggle between light and dark is far from over. Before they depart Atollon, Bendu warns of Maul’s plan to join both holocrons together to see into the future, and in order to do so he will need a Jedi to unlock the Jedi holocron.
Meanwhile, Maul bides his time by tormenting the Ghost crew. He confronts Hera about Kanan’s life prior to joining Phoenix Squadron, even using his birth name, Caleb Dume, as leverage, and he reminds Sabine that he once ruled over the people of Mandalore (a reference to the events depicted in the Death Watch and Shadow Collective story arcs from The Clone Wars).
Kanan and Ezra make it to Maul’s base with the holocron. In order to keep his friends from being killed, Ezra must go with Maul to open up the Jedi holocrons and peer into the future. Here The Holocrons of Fate reaches its apotheosis. While Kanan attempts to rescue Hera, Sabine, Zeb, and Chopper, Ezra and Maul struggle to see anything through the blinding light of the two combined holocrons. Then Ezra sees something. “Twin suns,” he says. At the same time, Maul has a clarity of vision that shakes him to his core. He exclaims, “He lives,” and then frantically flees the base in his ship, leaving the Ghost crew to fight another day.
Maul’s vision is one fueled by doom and vengeance. We are left to assume that from this point on his primary mission will be to find and kill Obi-Wan Kenobi, the man who took his legs and with them his position as Sidious’s apprentice. This could be the start of a journey that ultimately sees Obi-Wan, Ahsoka (She may be hunting Maul after the events of season two), and Maul face off on Tatooine. And speaking of Tatooine, Ezra’s vision of the planet’s the twin suns is one of hope—hope that from that lowly planet, the Nazareth of the galaxy, one will come who can liberate universe from the Empire’s clutches.
Star Wars Rebels is a family show. Parents love watching as much as their kids. Infusing the spiritual with the fantastic and adventurous, Rebels continues the spirit of what makes Star Wars great. In order to foster the young minds and hearts of your Reel World Theologians, each week there are questions you can use during or after the show to talk about with your kids. Enjoy the show and then enjoy conversation, but always remember that story is powerful and Star Wars Rebels is not mindless.
What does Ezra do in this episode that suggest he may still be struggling with the pull to the dark side?
Why is it possible to see Ezra’s vision as one of hope and not despair?
What are some other strategies Maul uses to get what he wants? Where do we see Kanan modeling the opposite kind of leadership?
- Kanan and Ezra fly an A-wing to Maul’s base. We later see the Rebellion using A-wings in Return of the Jedi.
- Prior to this episode, we haven’t seen Maul’s base on film. But it does make an appearance in the Son of Dathomir comic series.
Nice article, Blaine! I especially like the contrast you draw between Maul and Kanan’s styles of leading. I also liked how Kanan modeled forgiveness toward Ezra in this episode.
Nitpick: The Rebellion didn’t use A-Wings to ensare the AT-ATs on Hoth; they used snowspeeders. A-Wings didn’t show up, IIRC, until Return of the Jedi.
Mike, thanks very much for reading and for the kind words! And you’re 100% correct. For some reason, I always confuse A-wings and T-47s. I’ll make the changes in the article. Thanks for pointing that out!