Star Wars is a cinematic icon, but it is much more than its movies. Blaine and Josh dive right into the middle of Star Wars Rebels, the fantastic animated show on Disney XD, and will be reviewing Season 2 as it progresses. 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.
Now we’re getting somewhere in Star Wars Rebels! After a half dozen capsule episodes, slowly unfurling different aspects of characters and the fledgling rebellion, we’re back to the main storyline as we count down to the end of Season 2. This week some accounts were closed, others were opened, but clearly the creators of Rebels are investing significant time and energy into telling a compelling story with great callbacks and magnificent tie-ins to both Star Wars past and future. If you aren’t excited for the rest of this season, you might as well stop watching because if this episode didn’t do it for you nothing will.
“Shroud of Darkness” kicks off in high gear from the cold opening with Kanan and Ezra battling the Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister on the planet of Oosalon. Another super cool artistic set piece, our heroes are scouting for a new base and this planet will obviously not be the place. They barely escape with their lives thanks to quick thinking from Ezra and meet back up with the Ghost crew away from the rebel fleet. Kanan is worried they could possibly be jeopardizing their rebel friends with their presence, so Kanan and Ezra meet with Ahsoka to seek the counsel of Jedi Master Yoda. In an unexpected move, the trio return to Lothal and the hidden Jedi Temple there to see if they can once again reach the powerful master, as Ezra and Kanan did in Season 1.
After arriving at the temple and finding a new entrance, the three are confronted with different visions that reveal important information for all three of them. First, Kanan enters a vision of a training dojo from the old Jedi Temple on Coruscant and is confronted by a Temple Guard bent on destroying Ezra before he can be seduced by the Dark Side. It is only after Kanan is willing to accept he can only do the best he can to train Ezra that the temple guard calls off his attack and knights Kanan as a Knight of the Jedi Order. He then reveals himself to be a vision of the Grand Inquisitor, who met his end at the conclusion of Season 1. It is a long-awaited reveal that was teased by Dave Filoni that we had seen the Grand Inquisitor before in Star Wars. The reveal is quite interesting as we see these guards in late episodes of The Clone Wars and the Grand Inquisitor might have even been the guard who arrested Barris Offee after she betrayed Ahsoka and the Jedi Order in Season 5.
Meanwhile, Ahsoka is given a vision of her former master, Anakin Skywalker, and he rebukes Ahsoka for having abandoned the Jedi Order and Anakin in his time of need. Then, behind her, Anakin appears and the apparition changes to that of Darth Vader as Anakin reveals who he has become. Clearly, this is new information for Ahsoka and she is overcome with emotion, wheeling around with her lightsaber drawn swinging at the air.
Lastly, Ezra returns to the same starry space he was with Yoda in Season 1, but this time, he sees the tiny, green master himself. Yoda reveals Ezra has grown in his power but with his power comes danger; fear, hatred, the Dark Side. Ezra has come seeking a solution to destroy the inquisitors and Vader. Yoda offers a lesson in the Jedi’s arrogance and fear in fighting the Clone Wars. Yoda, as Ahsoka had said earlier, carried a sorrow of knowing one time was beginning and another was ending. Yoda sees now that even he, a Jedi Master, gave in to fear and it let to the downfall of the Jedi. When Ezra reaffirms their commitment to fight, Yoda tells him to find Malachor.
After a narrow escape from the inquisitors, who had tracked them to Lothal, the three heroes debrief on their visions. Ezra says they need to find Malachor and asks who that is. Ahsoka responds it is not a person but a place. The episode concludes with Darth Vader appearing at the temple on Lothal and encouraging the inquisitors, who had been thwarted in capturing out three heroes by the apparitions of Jedi Temple guards, that the growing power of Kanan and Ezra would be their undoing. Things just got interesting.
What I love so much about Dave Filoni, Pablo Hidalgo, and the whole Rebels team is how resoundingly in tune they are with the original Star Wars trilogy and how they have kept this in view when analyzing the prequel trilogy, The Clone Wars, and Rebels. I’ve always felt Yoda and Obi-Wan knew the Jedi had taken a grave misstep in fighting in the Clone Wars, and their fear led to a lust for power in the name of justice and peace. Anakin Skywalker was partially right in his assessment the Jedi Order had grown arrogant and power hungry.
In keeping with these historical and spiritual lessons, Yoda speaks to Ezra about how the Jedi choose to win their battles. Much like I talked about last year in my series on The Force, Luke Skywalker showed the true Jedi way when he choose to throw himself into the bowels of Cloud City instead of joining his father or killing him. Then, in Return of the Jedi, he believed in the redemption of Vader and refused to fight to save his friends, but to, again, lay down his life for them and in the process show his father the true way of a Jedi. In this episode, Yoda is challenging Ezra the way of the Jedi is not to fight, but to choose a different way. When Ezra says they have chosen to fight, he implores Ezra to go to Malachor.
Malachor, in the Star Wars universe, is the equivalent of hell. In The Clone Wars, it used multiple times as a hell-like expletive. Malachor is another name for the Expanded Universe planet of Malachor V. This planet was a part of the Knights of the Old Republic video game and was the site of a battle during the Mandalorian Wars that wiped out the planet and left it a lifeless, perilous wasteland. Not only are the Rebels team making KOTOR canon, but where they have Yoda sending Ezra is similar to the tree of evil Luke went to in The Empire Strikes Back. Clearly, Yoda is sending Ezra to his dark side trial and to be confronted with his aggressive desire to destroy the inquisitors and Vader.
And Kanan and Ahsoka’s visions likewise set them in their directions. Filoni revealed in a follow-up interview to this episode that Yoda was the one responsible for all three visions. He uses Kanan’s vision to impart the reassurance that Kanan is truly a Jedi Knight and his training he started during the Clone Wars is complete. Also, Yoda revealed to Ahsoka the terrible news her master has become a Dark Lord of the Sith. When she leaves the temple she states, “there is still a way,” and it leaves us believing she thinks she might be able to confront Vader and bring Anakin back to the light. While I do not think it will end so happily for Ahsoka, it remains to be seen exactly what will become of the relationship between “Snips” and “Sky Guy”.
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 Yoda says how Jedi win battles might be different from what Ezra thinks?
- Why do you think Ezra is surprised even Yoda was afraid? Do you think adults or people you trust are ever afraid?
- What do you think the reasons are the Jedi were arrogant? Read Proverbs 16:18 together. How does our pride and arrogance set us up to fail? Why did the Jedi’s pride to fight in the Clone Wars lead to their destruction?
- If you listen closely, when Yoda says to go to Malachor, the intro to Rey’s theme from The Force Awakens plays. Are you geeking out now, too?
- Kylo Ren’s crossguard lightsaber, according to The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary, is from a design from the time of the Great Scourge of Malachor, a thousand years before the events of TFA. We now know why Ezra might be holding a crossguard lightsaber in the mid-season trailer when visiting Malachor.
- The lightsabers in the background of the Jedi dojo are repurposed designs from The Clone Wars and include the lightsaber hilts of Kit Fisto, Ki-Adi-Mundi, and Luminara Unduli, who we saw briefly as a faked apparition in Season 1.