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 exciting series. 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 episode.
Visions and Voices is the last we’ll see of Rebels until the new year (Of course, we can’t really complain since we get Rogue One in the meantime.), and this episode certainly does not disappoint, as it successfully creates one of the most unsettling and creepy tones we’ve seen in the show to-date.
As Hera briefs the crew on their next mission to do more reconnaissance work on Lothal, Ezra is plagued by visions of Maul. He hears the former Sith calling his name and sees him walking among the the crew on Atollon. These disturbing visions result in Ezra collapsing, thus putting a temporary halt on the crew’s Lothal mission. They have to find help for Ezra—and fast. Kanan takes Ezra to visit Bendu, hoping that the mysterious creature can help deliver young Bridger from his malady. Unfortunately, Bendu is of little assistance, and soon Maul shows up in the flesh. It turns out, the former Sith explains, that the two—Maul and Ezra—became connected by the partial vision they received when unlocking the holocrons together. The only way for Ezra to cure his affliction is to join with Maul to complete the vision they started. Together, they set off for Dathomir, where Maul hopes to use the magick of the Nightsisters to unlock the knowledge he seeks. Unbeknownst to Ezra and Maul, however, Kanan and Sabine put a tracker on Ezra and are following him to Dathomir. Inside Maul’s cave, the former Sith and his would-be apprentice tap into the Nighsister’s magick to conjure a vision. This time, Maul learns that Obi-Wan is on Tatooine (“where it all began”), while Ezra learns for the first time that Obi-Wan is alive and is the key to destroying the Sith. The visions they once began by unlocking the holocrons is now complete.
Shortly thereafter, things reach a crescendo. Kanan and Sabine make their presence known, and the specters of the Nightsisters emerge, demanding payment for the use of their magick. Maul quickly deserts, and the ghostly Nightsisters possess Kanan and Sabine. The Nightsister-controlled Sabine battles with the darksaber, which was one artifact among many in the cave, but Ezra is ultimately able to save both Sabine and Kanan from the clutches of the enemy. And the crew live to fight another day.
This episode is jam-packed full of narrative significance and fun easter eggs, but the most immediately significant takeaway is that the events in Visions and Voices seem to set everyone on a collision course for Tatooine. Since he has been there before, Maul knows the planet well and should have no trouble finding it, but things are a little different for the Lothal rebels. Sabine mentions that “a planet with twin suns” doesn’t really narrow down the list in any meaningful way. Kanan makes it clear that they need to get to this planet before Maul does, but it’s currently unclear as to how they can accomplish this task. It seems like Maul has an insurmountable advantage, and it is going to be very interesting to see how it all plays out in the end. I suspect that Bo-Katan, whom we know shows up this season from the trailer released earlier this year, has something to do with helping the Lothal crew track down Obi-Wan.
Speaking of Bo-Katan, this episode has some significant tie-ins to Mandalore. Maul’s cave is littered with artifacts and heirlooms, and one of the objects is a cubist painting of Duchess Satine—the pacifist leader of Mandalore whom Maul beheaded. And below this paining is the darksaber, the weapon with which Maul killed her. Could this weapon speak, it would have a very interesting story to tell. Originally the darksaber belonged to the Jedi Order, but it was stolen by the Mandalorians at some point during the fall of the Old Republic. This black bladed lightsaber became a symbol of Mandalorian might, strength, and of their warrior heritage. Fans of The Clone Wars TV series will no doubt recognize the darksaber as the weapon of Pre Vizla, enemy of Satine and would-be ruler of Mandalore. But Maul stole the weapon from Pre Vizla when he betrayed him after the coup. Since then, the darksaber has been out of Mandalorian hands. This makes the final shots of the film—in which Sabine picks up the darksaber as she leaves Maul’s cave—highly significant. Whether she knows it or not, she has just reclaimed a priceless piece of her Mandalorian heritage.
I have written before about how the Rebels creative team seems very interested in breaking down binary understandings of the Force that always make darkness and light mutually exclusive. Visions and Voices makes that even more readily apparent. Consider, if you will, all of the different interpretations of the Force that come together in this episode. We have the Jedi. We have Bendu, who studies both Ashla and Bogan and lives somewhere in the middle. Then, there’s Maul, who is very much a dark side user, even as he is no longer Sith. Finally, we see the Nightsisters, who are once again familiar to fans of The Clone Wars. This clan interacts with the Force in an even more unusual way, wielding magick that comes from the planet itself. It is interesting, then, that the Nighsisters are ultimately able to be defeated only when Ezra offers himself up as a sacrifice instead of Kanan. It’s something very reminiscent of the Deep Magic described in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. “A long time ago” indeed.
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.
- Why do you think Ezra is willing to go with Maul to Dathomir? Is he still being tempted to join with Maul?
- Ezra and Maul both want to destroy the Sith, but how are their motives different?
- Why do you think Maul keeps a picture of someone he killed in his cave? What does this tell us about him?
- On the wall in Maul’s cave there is a word written in Sith script. It translates to “Obi-Wan.”
- There’s a B1 battle droid head in Maul’s cave as well.
- This marks the first canonical appearance of the darkasber since The Clone Wars.