SWNN Review: Star Wars Rebels – Shroud of Darkness!
Well, for those who’ve been calling “filler” for weeks concerning Star Wars: Rebels, the tastiest of morsels has finally dropped. The latest episode went all kinds of Forcey and had a major twist (albeit one some saw coming … check out the Can(on)tina Chatter podcast). This episode was amazing and certainly worthy of an immediate re-watch. In addition to the Force lore, we also get the return of everyone’s favorite green Jedi Master, Yoda. Read on for more and as always, beware of SPOILERS …
Things start off right in the thick of a lightsaber duel between the two would be Jedi and the Inquistors. The two Jedi are holding their own, yet seem to be perhaps slightly outmatched. They do continue to work well in tandem, using the Force to launch each other into aerial attacks, whereas the Inquisitors don’t seem to utilize any kind of teamwork. Ezra nearly gets launched off of a cliff face before Kanan manages to catch hold of him. As the young padawan dangles precariously over a long drop, he reaches out into the Force, calling on the assistance of some winged creatures nearby. Kanan is able to hurtle Ezra towards the Inquisitors and the two continue their battle with the 5th Brother and 7th Sister. Soon after, the flying stingray-like creatures arrive and the two Jedi jump onto their backs, escaping to the Phantom (with Chopper piloting).
Now safely aboard the Phantom, Kanan and Ezra discuss their failed mission to locate a suitable base of operations for their rebel cell. Kanan is disturbed by the fact that the Inquisitors always seem to find them wherever they go. Concerned that the presence of the two Force-users is putting the rest of Phoenix Squadron in jeopardy, Kanan expresses a need for answers.
In order to find those answers, Kanan sets up a meeting with Ahsoka aboard the Ghost, far away from the fleet. Hera asks him why he wanted the meeting so isolated from the rest of Phoenix Squadron and he says it’s safer this way. Ezra walks in on Ahsoka mediatating, while a holo of Anakin Skywalker giving lightsaber training tips is playing. After Ezra states that he’s been using this holo to help with his own lightsaber training, Ahsoka talks about her former master lovingly. She states that not only was he a powerful warrior, but also incredibly kind and caring. Kanan enters and they begin discussing the Inquisitor problem. Ahsoka mentions that when she was young, she always had the benefit of Master Yoda’s or Obi-Wan’s knowledge. An idea pops into Kanan’s mind as he realizes they could also benefit from the Grand Jedi Master’s knowledge.
The trio of Force-users travel to Lothal, seeking out the Jedi Temple located there. Ahsoka states that she can’t (won’t?) open up the doors to the Temple because she is no longer a Jedi, adding that it was her choice not to be. Kanan and Ezra once again call the structure up out of the ground via the Force, though this time a second door appears. Upon entering, the three sit down to meditate. Suddenly a door of light appears in the wall. Kanan decides that like the last time they communicated with Yoda, it might be better for each of them to be alone and enters the doorway.
Inside he finds the Force apparition of a Jedi Temple guard. The guard repeatedly makes references to Ezra’s inevitable fall to the Darkside and that the boy must be destroyed before he becomes a force for evil. Stating that he won’t let that happen, Kanan ignites his lightsaber and engages in a duel with the guard.
Meanwhile, Ahsoka and Ezra palaver regarding Master Yoda. Ezra noted earlier that he’s never seen Yoda and only heard his voice during their last visit to the Temple, though Kanan did describe his appearance to him. Ahsoka mentions that Master Yoda seemed very happy when she was a youngling, yet appeared to carry a great weight on his shoulders during the Clone Wars, almost as if he knew that the Jedi Order’s peak was coming to an end. Ahsoka opens her eyes to find herself now alone.
Ezra, has been transported to some kind of astral plane. He’s surprised to see Master Yoda in the flesh. The two engage in a discussion about the right way for a Jedi to win a conflict after Ezra asks if it’s wrong to fight to protect his friends. Yoda admits to actually having harboured fear during the Clone Wars and the difficulty in not allowing fear to turn into anger. Ezra tells the ancient Jedi Master that he’s chosen to fight the enemy and asks how to defeat them. A sudden rumble shakes the Temple. The Inquisitors have found our heroes and are using the Force to open up the ancient structure. Yoda sighs at hearing the padawan’s decision and says that he must find Malachor.
Kanan continues to battle the Jedi Temple guard, though now he’s taking on a few. The lead guard continues to persist that Ezra’s fall to the Darkside cannot be stopped by Kanan. The would-be Jedi finally accepts that he can’t protect his young padawan forever and can only advise him on the right path to follow. The rest is up to Ezra. Kanan refuses to continue the fight and the guard hesitates in delivering a final blow, instead knighting Kanan via the will of the Force. The guard unmasks himself, revealing the fact that the Grand Inquisitor was a former Jedi.
Ahsoka begins to hear Anakin’s voice through an apparation of the former Jedi, asking her why she abandoned him and chastising her for not being there when he needed her the most. He asks her if she knows what he’s become and suddenly his apparition transforms into one of Darth Vader. Finally having the truth fully sink in, Ahsoka screams and sheds a tear before whirling around, pure white lightsaber ignited in a slash. However, there’s no one there. Ahsoka gets up while stating that “there’s still a way”.
The three Force-users meet up as they flee the Temple, which appears to be crumbling. On their way out, Ahsoka senses something and turns around to see Yoda, who waves goodbye to her. Meanwhile the Inquisitors are held up by the apparitions of the Temple guards, surprised to see the former Grand Inquisitor among their ranks. The apparitioons close in and then there’s a flash of brilliant light as their circle makes contact with the Inquisitors.
In the aftermath, Darth Vader arrives with a group of stormtroopers. The Inquisitors lament the Jedi’s growing power. However, Vader hardly seems concerned with this and notes how pleased his master will be to hear about the discovery of the Jedi Temple.
The Light Side
Mysteries of the Force.
Though the Force isn’t the only key component to Star Wars, it’s one that is the most important for many fans. This episode had everything a Force-obsessed fan could want. Jedi Temple visits always seem to involve intriguing visions and this time was no different. We got some insight into the background of the Grand Inquisitor, another astral moment with Master Yoda and references to the Sith-connected world of Malachor. This reference alone is sure to excite fans of Knights of the Old Republic. The question now is how much more of this game will become canon?
The Temple almost works like a nexus of the Force and the Jedi are able to use this place of strong Force energy to communicate with a far, far away Yoda. This is also possible due to Yoda’s growing knowledge in the Force. I’m not sure this connection would be enough to communicate with just any old Force-user.
Jedi win when they don’t fight.
There was a nice callback to Luke’s victory by refusing to fight when Kanan also “defeated” his opponent, doing the same. Much like the tree-cave from The Empire Strikes Back, it seems that the Temple also seeks to expose Kanan’s fear during his “test”. It turns out this test was Kanan’s final trial in becoming a full-fledged Jedi. This does increase the chance that he won’t make it through the series alive. First off, the Temple guard explicitly stated that Ezra would turn to the Darkside and Kanan would perish if they chose to fight. Also, the more Kanan is established as a true Jedi, the more Tarkin’s words in A New Hope resonate in one’s mind.
Connecting PT and OT Yoda.
After watching the PT, many lamented the fact that the Yoda we got there stood in stark contrast to the one we had in the OT. It has been argued that Yoda, in Episodes 5 and 6 seemed like a sage who preferred to avoid fighting, not the war general we got in episodes 1 – 3. I’ve always felt that it was a nice character arc for the Jedi Master. After the Clone Wars, Yoda spent his time in isolation on Dagobah, reflecting on the mistakes both he and the Jedi Order as a whole had made during its own destruction and the demise of the Republic. The Yoda who we see there is one who’s realized the error of his ways and is in a better position to help Luke defeat Vader and the Emperor because of the lessons he’s learned.
We also get to see the results of Yoda’s growing power from his Force Ghost 101 training. It was revealed on Rebels Recon that Yoda was behind the apparition that our three Force-using heroes interracted with. We’d already seen him be able to communicate as a disembodied voice through the Temple’s Force connection. Now we also witness him still being the wise teacher he’s always been, creating and controlling Force illusions. This reminds me a lot of the power used by the Adepts of the White Current in Legends, only taken to an even higher level of skill.
In this episode we get to hear Yoda actually state this, highlighting his mistakes. It’s a nice bridge, connecting his nature in both trilogies.
Having Ahsoka hear Anakin’s voice in her head and have it suddenly change into Vader was a nice touch. It really helped to drive home the powerful emotions of the moment. Ahsoka now has no doubt who the Sith Lord is. She also seems to have an idea on how to deal with this threat. I’m looking forward to hearing what exactlu that is. Like Padme beleived and Luke came to realize, she senses there is still good in him.
Also, the last time we saw Ahsoka and Anakin together was on the steps of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, right before she walked away from the Jedi Order. Here, we got a mention that the last time she saw her former master was right before he was running off to save the Chancellor (note that Ahsoka also doesn’t know that Palpatine is a Sith Lord as well). This implies that master and apprentice actually encountered each other again after that fateful parting in season 5 of The Clone Wars. I’m interested in seeing if (when?) this story is ever expanded upon.
It was great to have Matt Lanter back doing the voice of Anakin. He’s amazing in this role.
The Dark Side
Inquisitors always finding the rebels?
To be honest, this episode was so amazing that anything I could put here would be a minor, minor nitpick. It was a bit strange hearing that the Inquisitors always seem to run into the rebels considering the fact that we haven’t seen them for several weeks. Sure, this could have happened off-screen, but it still just seemed a bit off. I think a montage showing encounters on multiple worlds would have worked, also serving to take a more extensive look at the rebel search for a base.
What happened after the Temple guard apparitions enclose the Inquisitors?
The Temple guard apparition promised Kanan to hold off the enemy and in doing so they surrounded the Inquisitors and eventually overtook them in a flash of light. What did this action actually do? The Inquisitors didn’t seem to be any worse for wear after the encounter. Did they simply knock the Inquisitors unconscious? This could have been explained better, but again really a minor nitpick.
Even though I’ve enjoyed this season as a whole so far and am not so bothered by so-called “filler” episodes, it was nice to get a major story arc-driving episode in. The implications from this one are staggering and though we got a few answers, so many more questions were raised. Why did the Grand Inquisitor turn to the Darkside? What will the Emperor do with the Jedi Temple now that it’s in his possession? In what ways will he use it to further his dark plans? At the beginning of season 2, Minister Tua mentioned that the Emperor had had another purpose in being on Lothal besides just an industrial one. It appears this was it.
How will the rebels find Malachor? Does Ahsoka already know where it is? Was that a map to the Sith planet that we saw highlighted in red when the Inquisitors raised the Jedi Temple? What purpose did Yoda have in sending Ezra there? What might they find to defeat the Sith and their attack dogs?
Some didn’t like the way Yoda looked. While I can see the reasoning, it actually didn’t bother me so much. It was a nice call back to the old Yoda action figure I owned as a child. Filoni and co. did decide against adding the snake that came with it, though.
With so much happening, we’re eager to hear your thoughts on this one … sound off below or at the Cantina and may the Force be with you.