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.
My girls (6 and 10) absolutely love Sabine. They think she is the best. We were recently in Target and there were a bunch of $10 Sabine masks and self-control almost failed me and cost me $20 (I’ll probably still go back and get them). In fact, more than any recent Star Wars costume besides Princess Leia, I have seen girls dressed as Sabine Wren for Halloween and loving her sharp wit, expertise in warfare, and her super rad graffiti art. Disney set out from the beginning of Rebels to make sure little girls connected with Sabine and wanted to be the purple-haired Mandalorian warrior.
However, most fans have been unable to connect with Sabine beyond the superficial details of her background and cool design. I do not say this with out a lot of discussions to back it up, either. She has not earned a lot of the reputation built around her within the show and has demonstrated a vast array of skills and a significant story without much of it being built in to by the creators of the show. She kicks some serious butt in the show and has flashes of attitude but where does it come from? Why is she jumping around like a Jedi and easily dispatching a whole squad of rocket troopers all on her own?
I take back most of my complaints after this episode of Rebels, which instantly vaults into my favorite episodes of the show ever. After the ancient Mandalorian weapon of House Vizsla, the Darksaber, was found by Sabine on Dathomir, apparently she gave it to Kanan. Kanan shares this discovery with Fenn Rau and Rau gives a brief history of the Darksaber, is connections to House Vizsla and to the history of Mandalore. Rau’s narration is visualized by a really cool 2D animated sequence that reminds he viewer of Disney’s multiple uses of such an animation technique in some of its features films.
After sharing this info, Rau, Kanan, and the rest of the Ghost crew convince Sabine to train with the Darksaber. She is well aware of its symbolic importance to her family and Mandalore and hesitantly agrees to train with Kanan. However, she is openly vocal about her opposition to confronting her past. So much so, she snaps more harshly at Ezra than she normally would. In fact, as the training begins, it is easy to tell this training and Kanan’s urgency are digging at an open wound Sabine carries with her. As Kanan vents to Hera a handful of days into the training, “she’s closed off…and stubborn,” to which Hera replies, “a Mandalorian.” Sabine’s warrior ways have made her a tough, capable warrior but the double-edged nature of her hardened exterior is an inability to deal with the loss she has experienced. Her unwillingness to talk about her past leaves her unable to progress in training and truly wielding the Darksaber of House Viszla.
This ancient lightsaber, passed down as an important symbol of the leader of House Vizsla, functions within the episode as an important item symbolizing Sabine’s resistance to confronting her family and her Mandalorian history. At Hera’s insistence, Kanan brings the training to a head by offering Sabine the chance to train with the Darksaber and grapple with both Kanan in combat and the specter of her past. As their training intensifies, she begins to move nimbly and the weight of the blade lightens , to which Kanan admits she is beginning to connect with the Darksaber. The Jedi have always said a kyber crystal seeks out the person it is meant for and a lightsaber is an important connection with a Jedi. The principle must seem to apply on some level with a weapon of significance like the Darksaber. Sabine is connecting with it through the Force in some way, furthering the spiritual aspects of the Force put forth in Rebels and in Rogue One. She may not be a Force-user, but she is able to channel the Force when using the blade.
However, as the Jedi would say, your weapon is only a tool, albeit a special one, and one’s connection to the Force is mediated more from inside to outside. Sabine is unable to successfully challenge Kanan since she is unwilling to come face-to-face with what troubles her spirit. What Kanan does in the final moments of the episode is goad her into speaking about it. He channels a little bit of James the brother of Jesus in Chapter 5 of the Book of James and confessing before one each other and finding healing. Biblically, confession lays bare a part of our inner selves and opens us up to receive healing and grace. This is why confession of sins and guilt often precede the mercy and forgiveness of God and also baptism in the New Testament, a symbol of God’s grace.
Sabine opens up and confesses the true nature of her relationship with her family, Clan Vizsla, and Mandalore. The Empire has wounded her more than she can imagine, but unlike Ezra who holds the Empire and the Sith fully responsible for the death of his family and the spoiling of Lothal, Sabine has kept in bottled up and blames herself. When she finally unleashes the emotional barrage on Kanan, both verbally and in combat, it is her catharsis and confession. When she is done, she is left vulnerable, but instead of being cast away as she was by her family, Rau, Ezra, and Kanan kneel in front of her. It is a beautiful sign of a family sticking together and a demonstration of grace, this episode had me crying by the end.
A quick, semi-related note. It would be foolish to pass up taking a moment to praise Kevin Kiner’s score in this episode. It is, by far, the best music I have heard this season. Make sure to check out the track on StarWars.com.
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 Kanan is hesitant to train Sabine with the Darksaber? Why do you think that?
- Is training and discipline really what Sabine needed? Or was it to talk about her family and her past?
- While the reference is not explained in any fashion, Kanan referring to the war between Mandalorians and Jedi is the first explicit mention of the Mandalorian Wars from Knights of the Old Republic lore.
- Bendu makes a short appearance in the episode that seems completely out of place. However, in the original plans for the episode, it was supposed to be Bendu who would convince Kanan to let Sabine train with he Darksaber. However, eventually the decision was made to have Hera convince Kanan. It seems like this quick appearance are the leftovers of the original concept.