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.
After weeks of waiting, fans were rewarded this week with an incredible finale to season 2 of Star Wars: Rebels. Ahsoka, Kanan, Ezra, and Chopper arrive on Malachor. Knowing that they are not alone and leaving Chopper behind, the three set out on a quest to find and defeat the Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister. What they initially find, however, is an enormous Sith temple. Due to a failed attempt to unlock the temple, Ezra finds himself stranded underground, isolated from the rest of the group, where he encounters a mysterious hooded figure who goes by the name of Old Master.
Above ground, Kanan and Ahsoka encounter a new Inquisitor, the Eighth Brother, who proves to be quite a challenge. Ezra and Old Master, meanwhile, travel to the temple, hoping to unlock its mysteries, power, and knowledge; and here, the hooded mentor reveals that he was formerly known by another name: Darth Maul. After opening an elaborate series of doors while being coached by Maul to harness the power of his anger and rage, Ezra locates the Sith Holocron. To unlock this treasury of dark knowledge, however, one must either be a Sith or “think like one,” Maul informs his would-be apprentice. Still the device has other uses—most notably, the ability to power a weapon that sits atop the temple.
As the episode races toward its climax, Ezra and Maul meet up with Kanan and Ahsoka, who are rightfully skeptical about the latter’s allegiances, while the Eighth Brother is joined by the other two Inquisitors. Battling his way to the top of the Sith temple, Ezra inserts the Holocron into the obelisk, unknowingly activating a destructive weapon. Thus, Maul’s plan to exact revenge on the Empire (and anyone else who has wronged him) is exposed; he turns on the Rebels and ends up blinding Kanan in battle.
The real zenith of “Twilight of the Apprentice,” however, comes when Ahsoka is forced to face her former master, Darth Vader himself. The two battle as the temple begins to explode and the rest of the rebels crew flees to the Phantom and safety. The episode’s closing montage shows us a surviving Vader (of course) and Maul, and it hits at the possibility that Ahsoka lives as well. Kanan is left blind from his duel with Maul, and—right before season 2 fades to black—Ezra opens the Sith Holocron.
Since this is such an important episode, we’re going to do something different this week. Instead of analyzing the show in a more traditional way, I’ve brought in Joshua Crabb to share some of his thoughts on the finale. Our conversation will, then, be presented in a Q & A style.
What was your favorite part of the episode?
Blaine: I’ve been an Ahsoka fan for a long time, so I enjoyed seeing her character come full-circle in her confrontation with Vader. It was very interesting and emotional to watch her struggling to realize that her former master has given himself so fully to the dark side. Moreover, I am continually thankful that Filoni and company are gutsy enough to deal with these kinds dark and complex ideas in a show that is primarily aimed at kids. Ahsoka’s final confrontation with Vader opens a number of great conversations about grief, loss, and coping.
Josh: Maul and Ezra’s interaction. Clearly, this episode, and the whole second half of Season 2 to a certain extent, is Ezra’s “tree of evil” moment mirroring Luke’s temptation and confrontation with the Dark Side on Dagobah. Likewise, Ezra is being confronted with trying to defeat evil in order to rescue his friends, a major dark side temptation Luke almost gave into on the Second Death Star under the influence of The Emperor. Maul, always one given to chaos–think of the end of Part 1 when he laughs gleefully at the confrontation between the inquisitors and our heroes–seizes the smallest opportunity for power and realizes Ezra’s fragile state. He uses Kanan’s trust of Ezra to try and tempt Ezra as his new apprentice. While ultimately his mission fails, he is left alive to return as a potential major bad guy in Season 3 and a source of constant temptation for Ezra. I can’t wait to see what insane power grabs Maul tries for and it hopefully will lead to a confrontation with the man he should have been, Darth Vader. Also, it offers the tantalizing possibility of seeking revenge on the Emperor and the man who nearly took his life in Episode I, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
There is a very quick shot right at the end of the episode that suggests Ahsoka could still be alive. What do you think this means for her character arc and the series as a whole?
Blaine: It sounds weird to say this because I’m such an Ahsoka fan, but a part of me almost hopes she didn’t make it. What I mean is that her character, as I mentioned earlier, seems to have come full-circle. It seems like it will be difficult to continue to develop her as a character after this episode, and I am scared of seeing one of my favorite characters become a mere plot contrivance. That being said, this creative team have proven themselves time and time again, so I trust them. By the way, a forthcoming Ahsoka novel was recently announced, and that’s exciting.
Josh: What immediately comes to mind is Luke’s conversation with Yoda during the Jedi Master’s final moments on Dagobah in Return of the Jedi. Yoda casually remarks in the course of their discussion is when Yoda dies, “the last of the Jedi will [Luke] be.” Taken on pure semantics and point of view, a common rhetorical trope used in the movies and TV show, Yoda is not lying. Even though Leia still has Force potential, Luke is the last person to be trained and initiated into the Jedi Order by a Jedi Master. Taking that logic even further, in Ahsoka’s confrontation with Vader, she specifically mentions she is not a Jedi and Maul even calls her, “a part-timer.” The fact that she might not be dead gives us hope Ahsoka has some part to play in the continuing story of Rebels and the burgeoning Rebellion. While I have no idea where her story could go from here, the mere fact they have teased the possibility of her surviving shows a commitment to telling a good story and a respect for a character Star Wars fans have come to have a passion for.
Ezra opens the Sith Holocron in the episode’s final moments. What does this suggest about his journey in season 3?
Blaine: It certainly seems like Ezra isn’t done being tempted by the dark side. I’m curious to see whether he will separate himself from the Rebels to a certain extent, or try to keep his temptations secret and handle this on his own.
Josh: I feel like the answer to this question may be the biggest mystery. He clearly is being tempted by the dark side and a lot of fans seem to think his arc leads to either his destruction or an embracing of the dark side and he becomes Snoke or a Knight of Ren or something. I don’t but into either of these conclusions. I see small cracks in the arguments that the end game for all the Rebels cast is death before the start of A New Hope. What will happen, I have no idea, but I am hopeful Ezra and Kanan can survive to eventually meet the other Skywalker.
Kanan is now blind. How is that going to play into his growth as a character?
Blaine: Pablo Hidalgo specifically said that Kanan’s blindness is meant to evoke some similarities to Zatoichi, a blind samurai in a series of Japanese films and TV shows. I expect that this misfortune will make Kanan, who tends to be a loner, more dependent on the force and others. It should be interesting to watch.
Josh: As one of the last Jedi to be trained at the Jedi Academy, Kanan learned from a young age to trust his senses. I do not think it will affect his combat skills or his powers but will only enhance them. Being denied his ability to physically see, Kanan will become a more powerful Jedi in greater communion with the Force as he has to rely on it at all times, even to walk and sense the world around him. He will only become wiser and more cognizant of the Jedi Way. Also, he could get the romantic arc with Hera that has been hinted at pretty much since the beginning of the show. I think he will realize how much Hera cares for him but will remain distant to avoid the hurt of attachment and possibly he losing her or vice versa.
Did you notice any interesting tie-ins to the larger universe?
Josh: Well, there is the most obvious one of the crossguard lightsaber. Apparently, creator and executive producer of Rebels, Dave Filoni, added that touch as a tip of the cap to JJ Abrams and the team who made The Force Awakens happen. It was a super cool moment and shed some light on Kylo Ren as a student of ancient Jedi and Sith history. Is it something he took up on his own? Was it Snoke who taught him about Malachor, or someone else from the Knights of Ren? The biggest revelation from this episode may not have come from this episode, but from previous episodes that built up to the finale and to Season 3. I’m thinking Rebels bridges to Rogue One. The Ghost crew will do something critical in Season 3 to present the opportunity to steal the Death Star plans in Rogue One. They almost did find the plans to the Death Star when they visited the Death Star construction vessel orbiting Geonosis.
- Ahsoka, Ezra, and Kanan each undergo trials, a test of their faith, in this episode. Can you think of some people in the Bible who have had their faith tested?
- What does the Bible say about suffering? Read James 5:10–11 and Romans 5: 3–10. Discuss.
- Some scholars believe the Apostle Paul was blind. Can you think of any other similarities between Kanan and Paul?
- The lightsaber that Ezra finds with a crossguard blade is reminiscent of the lightsaber Kylo Ren uses in The Force Awakens.
- According to the Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, this lightsaber design can be traced back to an event known as The Great Scourge of Malachor.
- While Malachor has been mentioned several times in The Clone Wars and Rebels, this is the first time we have actually seen it.