What a finale!
“Twilight of the Apprentice” was a game-changer on many levels and impacted many of our beloved characters in vastly unexpected ways. The series opened strong and much like The Clone Wars just keeps getting better as it rolls along. Before I get to my thoughts on the finale I thought I’d take a quick look back on where this season has taken us and all the wonderful things I’ve taken personally from this season. Season 1 left us with an Ezra who learned the value of family and became an inspiration and symbol to others. Kanan struggled to rediscover his Jedi training and learned to teach Ezra. Hera led her cell while fighting for a bigger cause. Sabine learned to trust in her team… and Zeb, well… Zeb learned to cope with a roommate…
Lots of spoilers below so make sure you’re caught up before taking this dive! If you’re only interested in my thoughts on the finale skip to the end!
The Siege of Lothal
Kanan and Hera’s disagreements on what they are doing with the rebellion start a wonderful new dynamic between the two and show the differences between both their ideologies and their sense of purpose. Kanan’s reservations are a wonderful insight into the ghosts of what lingers with him still since he was Caleb Dume. Ahsoka’s presence and encounter with Vader are powerful but they don’t really shine as bright as where Ezra begins to show his maturation and growth by choosing to join the bigger fight. The Rebels’ encounter with Vader leaves not only physical marks upon them but shows them the power they are dealing with. Vader’s piloting is a great touch and reminds us of the Anakin he once was.
The Lost Commanders and Relics of the Old Republic
Chances are if you have a favorite clone it’s him. Here we see how his interaction with Kanan is strained because of Kanan’s past experiences. The scene where Kanan explains to Ezra Order 66 is one of the MANY examples this season of Freddie Prinze Jr.’s stellar delivery. What I really took from this episode was the possibilities this opened up to Ezra. With the meeting of the clones, a window was opened into what the Jedi were and maybe what he could be. Kanan’s warnings, however, show the scars left on the few survivors.
Always Two There Are
Ezra is introduced to the new inquisitors on their trail and is surprised to find out that perhaps their victory at Mustafar was not as vital as he thought. Being hunted again makes Ezra question whether his path is not only dangerous to himself but his friends as well. It’s here where Ezra and Kanan begin to understand the consequences of his message of rebellion and his encounter with Vader. And that wielding lightsabers will only draw more enemies out.
Brothers of the Broken Horn
Just when Ezra begins to question his path he is presented with new possibilities… in the form of Hondo. A possibility of escaping responsibility and danger is a driving force behind Ezra here. Ultimately, Ezra decides the greater fight to protect his friends is worth the danger and he stays on his padawan path.
And Hondo? Hondo’s just awesome.
Wings of the Master
Hera’s search for a better ship takes us to the discovery of Quarrie and the Blade Wing. This is where we get another pitch-perfect performance from Vanessa Marshall. The exhilaration of her first flight, to the surprise of Kallus, when his blockade is broken, not only shows us a rebel cell struggling to stay equipped but a determined Hera doing what she does best as she takes her place as Phoenix leader.
Ezra and Sabine’s encounter with Ketsu Onyo sheds a bit of light onto who Sabine is behind the armor. Her past as a Mandalorian, imperial cadet, bounty hunter, and now rebel, shows that her path here to this family has been a long and winding one. While she is still young, her life has been full of experiences and it’s interesting to see the effect she has now on someone from her old life. Ketsu is a symbol of who Sabine was, much in the way Lando was a reminder of the Han Solo before he made his choices.
Kanan, Ezra, and Rex learning to trust in each other and bonding on a battlefield. This is a huge moment of Ezra really cementing his journey, growth, and commitment to being a rebel hero and a Jedi. Kanan finally lets go of his demons and begins to trust Rex. It’s here that Kanan also begins to trust in Ezra and his training. These are his first steps to letting go.
The Future of the Force
Another piece of the inquisitors’ mission is uncovered by our heroes. Ezra’s abilities to connect continue to grow as he protects the future force sensitives. Ahsoka’s encounter with the inquisitors shows us how far she has come. It also shows us what Vader is most interested in.
Finally discovering the truth about his parents’ death, Ezra’s last tie to his past is broken and he moves through it with surprising maturity. The boy whose anger built walls around himself to insulate him from the truth finally finds his answers with Ryder Azadi’s words. The vision at the end of his parents and the Lothal that was is a beautiful and haunting way for Ezra to move forward to become the voice his parents would be proud of.
A Princess on Lothal
Ezra’s meeting with Leia and their scene aboard the Ghost is a powerful insight into not only Leia but an example of someone as young as Ezra, from opposing circumstances, who chooses to do right for similar selfless reasons. Their meeting at a point where Ezra is still dealing with loss shows that there are others who stand to lose so much more, who still choose to fight for others. Leia and Ezra inspire each other.
The Protector of Concord Dawn
Hera gravely injured, Kanan and Sabine journey to Concord Dawn to deal with their problems in different ways. Kanan’s choice to finish Hera’s mission shows him putting his personal feelings aside to do what is best for the rebels. Sabine’s declarations and nonlethal solutions show her trust and commitment to the rebellion. I love the scene with Fenn Rau and Kanan discussing their past during the Clone Wars. The Protectors relationship with the Imperials is probably a slight glimpse into what has become of Mandalore and it’s heritage. A group from a warrior tradition who must now sell their honor to the highest bidder to make their way in the galaxy. The very makings of what could be a powerful ally for the rebels.
Legends of the Lasat
Finding other Lasat and trying to help them find their home, Zeb is forced to come to terms with his past. After belligerently belittling his traditions, it takes a mature Ezra to find that Zeb’s behavior is the result of the intense shame he feels at failing his people. The weight he runs from and is forced to face here is tragic. While his people look to him as a hero, he sees only a failure. It’s not until he decides to protect the future of his people that he finds purpose and is able to once again reclaim his honor. The final scene where Kanan and Ezra put their faith, and their Force, behind Zeb’s traditions, is one of the most beautiful scenes ever put to animation.
Another episode of the Ghost crew and their desperate search for supplies is another place where Ezra demonstrates his growing abilities. It’s important to note that the vital conflict here isn’t between the Rebels and the Empire, but between conflict itself and harmony. Ezra searches for a way to protect life in a more classic Jedi sense. In Ezra helping the Purrgil on their journey, they, in turn, help Ezra and his friends on their own. The subtext is clear and a beautiful way to illustrate the philosophies that Yoda will soon put words to.
Also, hyperspace whales is the name of my next metal band.
This is not only a huge episode for Hera, but more importantly, shows the conflict ideals and focus have on this pre-civil war. Hera left home not to escape, or abandon, but to take the ideals of her father and use them to fight for not only Ryloth but freedom for the entire galaxy. Hera’s heart and strength are brilliant even when her father betrays her. The way she is able to persuade Gobi and Numa and even her father to her cause is another example of her being the leader she was meant to be. We also see Kanan and Ezra begin to fight as a unit. Using their force powers in tandem in new ways shows their training advancing together. Just as Ezra’s power grows, so does Kanan’s. Ezra finally masters the Jedi mind trick and the Ghost crew unites to accomplish their goal despite the setbacks. The relationship between Hera and Cham is wonderful. From the heart-wrenching scene where she slips into her accent and stands her ground against Cham, to the moment he tells his daughter he is proud of her.
The Honorable Ones
The rebels arrive at an orbital construction field for recon but find only what the empire has left behind. They also find out what we learned in Marvel’s Darth Vader comics, there is no more life on Geonosis. Aside from the Kyber crystal mission in season one, this is the only other connection we have to what we know is the Death Star. Kallus and Zeb’s conversations show us how similar their ideals are even though they use them to fight for opposing forces. The warriors find common ground in their honor. Much like Lost Stars has shown us, we see once again how the empire uses honor and ideals to blind their servants to their cause. It makes us sympathetic to Kallus and opens up possibilities for where his path may lead. Zeb learns perhaps not forgiveness, but understanding, which in a way can be the first step.
Shroud of Darkness
Here is where the final seeds are sown for our three force wielders and their futures. Ahsoka comes to terms with the truth but still holds onto her guilt. Ezra tells Yoda that he will fight to protect his friends, which disappoints Yoda. Yoda’s admission of fear and the lessons he learned from the war weigh heavily on him. Yoda also says not letting fear turn to anger is a lifelong struggle. A haunting look into what it truly means to be a Jedi. Finally, Kanan’s lesson is the hardest one, and the most heartening. His fear for Ezra and his fate because of his insecurities pull at him. Confronting those fears and facing the fact that in the end, he has to let go and let Ezra walk his own path is perhaps the hardest won truth here. Kanan does what Anakin never could, let go. It’s here he proves his worth and, after running from it for so long, finally becomes the Jedi Knight he was meant to be. Our heroes have decided their paths and now they are ready to follow them.
The Forgotten Droid
Gets his own episode. It’s gotta be meaningless right?
Chopper’s greed and selfishness leave him stranded on an Imperial supply ship. There he meets AP-5. After we learn why Chop is loyal to Hera, he frees Ap-5 to choose his own destiny. While it seems stupid to contemplate what a droids destiny could entail the real meaning here is choice. Chopper gives AP-5 choice, something we all have. Something we take for granted every day. Something so mundane and common in our lives that we fail to see the weight and power of what choice is. Choice is what can change our lives. For AP-5, choice is what can take him from a forgotten abused relic from the clone wars to a vital part of a rebel cell with the power to help his friend. Choice in our lives is what can change ourselves at a whim. Sometimes it takes a droid to show us that no matter how empty your situation is, you have the power to change it. Also, he helps the rebels find a new base and avoid a trap. Cool dude.
The Mystery of Chopper Base
The calm before the storm. Pablo said it best, with the rebels getting settled and the force wielders trained for their journey, the time has come for them to bid farewell. The look on Hera’s face says it all. While she is scared of losing her family she is able to keep the bravest face she can towards the possibility of them never returning. Zeb and Ezra’s sunset is a wonderful scene. Zeb bids Ezra farewell the way a warrior should. Taking a moment to enjoy the simple things, sunset, music, friendship, is a privilege so rare in war. If they never met again, their last memories of each other would shine the brightest. Hera and Kanan’s goodbye. Kanan says “We’ll see each other again.” And finally the convor.
Twilight of the Apprentice
The 3 arrive at Malachor. As they break the surface and descend into hell they bravely walk their paths. It’s interesting to note that while they seek knowledge I’m sure they aren’t looking for the same thing. The reason they contacted Yoda was to find a solution to the inquisitors constantly on their trail, but I think that means something different to them all. Ahsoka is really only searching for Vader and perhaps thinks stopping him here will, in turn, stop the inquisitors. Kanan is looking for a way to protect Hera and her rebellion. Ezra is looking for knowledge that will give him the power to protect his friends. Yoda led them here. I wonder if Yoda foresaw these events.
I’m gonna get the happabore out of the way and address the lightsaber copter thing now. It threw me a bit and I thought it was odd. I don’t know if the gravity on this planet allows that, or if there is so much dark side energy that they can use it freely here, or what, but to me, it wasn’t important to the story except as an escape pod for the inquisitors. I wasn’t a huge fan of it, but I definitely got past it.
The dialogue here (and frankly this whole episode) is superb. Maul’s delivery shines and Ezra steps into the darkness with a demon as a guide. Maul here is much more seductive than he was during the clone wars. Often he would talk down to Savage whereas here, he gives Ezra exactly what he wants to hear. Maul’s trademark Sith honestly comes through even though he has let go of that discipline. It’s only through his trust in the demon that Ezra is able to recover the forbidden knowledge.
I love how the Sith temple mirrors the Jedi temple in a strange inverted way. Only 2 may enter, no more, no less. Maul’s dialogue often references the Sith code which is another sign that while he no longer considers himself a Sith, he still follows many of their philosophies.
Okay, here’s where I’m going to get weird for a minute. In a video game called The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask there is a temple called the Stone Tower Temple. It sits high on a mountain and once you reach it you ascend within. At its summit you activate it and the entire temple inverts then you descend to face the boss and claim your artifact or piece of heart or whatever to continue your quest.
Stay with me Matt Martin!
This reminds me of this Sith Temple on a few levels. Upon arriving they break through the surface and go below the ground. Here is where their journey through hell begins, and perhaps so does their inversion of reality. It’s interesting that while they all descend, at one point Ezra descends even further into hell and so would be the one deepest and thus closest to the demon. They then ascend the Sith temple itself in search of their knowledge. However, like the Stone Tower, once in the inverted underworld, ascending the temple actually brings them deeper into hell, which in this case may be the power that left the lost souls spread throughout the battlefield graveyard. Another reminder of Yoda’s words and perhaps the lesson he may have been trying to show them. A farfetched idea but I feel the philosophy is what’s important here.
Oh yeah, and Chopper unloads TIE lasers on an Inquisitor which is awesome. Remember that choice thing? Good one Chop.
I also find it interesting that the Inquisitor refers to Maul as a shadow. In many ways, it’s a perfect way to describe what he is. He is a shadow of his former self, a shadow of the Sith, a shadow of his perceived destiny. I think at the Q and A someone referred to a piece of the script that had been cut. I think Ezra asked about Vader and what he was, and Maul replied something to the effect of “Who I should’ve been.”
Our 3 heroes join forces with the demon to fight off the inquisitors. Maul’s true nature is revealed here as he clashes blades with the Inquisitors. Now the trap is sprung and Vader will be on his way. This is Maul’s objective. In many ways Maul is correct. Only together can they defeat Vader, but perhaps that is the way a Sith chooses to win. The unlikely alliance tests Kanan’s patience but Ezra is convinced that Maul can help them. Ahsoka trusts in Kanan’s teachings but Maul reminds Ezra that his gift may be the only way to win. Then the demon tests Ezra. To strike down his defenseless enemy. At this moment Ezra chooses the light side and doesn’t finish her. Maul kills the Seventh Sister and reminds Ezra that his choices may put his friends at risk.
Ezra ascends to the summit with the holocron and Maul joins Ahsoka and Kanan and finishes the Inquisitors. It’s here that Maul reveals himself and blinds Kanan. Ahsoka fights with Maul who now refers to Ezra as his apprentice. As Ezra activates the temple Ahsoka moves to join him, leaving Maul to Kanan himself.
“You had your chance.”
Kanan dons a temple guard mask which symbolizes his faith in the Jedi ways. Kanan’s final trial here is his trust in the Force as he faces Maul without sight. It’s interesting to note that in this fight Kanan uses his lightsaber purely for defense. He never attacks Maul and chooses to win another way.
“I don’t fear you.”
Ezra finally faces his final trial as he realizes the truth of what he has done. Instead of trying to use the weapon, he fights to keep it from the wrong hands. Even as Vader descends like the shadow of death itself, Ezra faces him without fear.
Until Ahsoka’s search comes to an end. She faces him not as a Jedi, not as an apprentice, but as a warrior and his last friend.
“I’m no Jedi.”
When Vader reveals that there is no more Anakin, she fights to avenge him. She fights not for the rebellion, not for a cause, not even for herself, but for the memory of who Anakin was. Ezra and Kanan join to remove the holocron and regain control of the forbidden knowledge. It’s here that Ezra has to come to grips with the consequences of his choices. As they escape with the holocron Death makes one last grab for them. Ahsoka strikes him down with her light and reveals the shadow inside the mask.
She pushes Ezra back to the Phantom and turns to stay and fight for that shadow, choosing death over escape. In a Jedi sense, she fails her trial, but like Luke Skywalker, she chooses to turn her attachments into something else and rejects her elders and find her own path.
The temple is destroyed and Kanan and Ezra return to the world forever changed by their journey. Their return to the rebel base is met with sadness as Hera sees what has happened. Kanan’s last words to her were “We’ll see each other again.” but it’s clear that may never happen. Rex and Ezra exchange a knowing look that tells Rex Ahsoka isn’t coming back. Ezra here faces another consequence of his choices. Maul is loosed upon the galaxy again aboard one of the inquisitors TIE’s. Vader limps from the ruins back into the galaxy and a convor takes flight. A shadow descends into the temple and Ezra opens the Sith Holocron.
This is easily the most thought-provoking Star Wars since Yoda’s Lost Missions arc. The events here are different from everyone’s predictions and bring up questions that we hadn’t even considered. The possibilities opened up here are far-reaching. Maul has returned. A wild card. Perhaps he will come searching for his apprentice. I don’t think Ezra would ever follow Maul again. Every choice Ezra made was to protect his friends but in a way, trusting Maul is what led to Kanan’s injury. Ezra may even blame himself for those consequences. Then there’s the whole “lying-about-the-temple-being-a-weapon-thing.” Although Ezra accesses the Sith holocron I believe he has made his choice clear. He hasn’t mastered fear but he doesn’t give in to his hate, at least not yet.
Kanan the blind Jedi. I can’t help but think of Zatoichi or Rahm Kota if you remember those guys. I think this is a fundamental change in who he will be. I think with this, the last of that cowboy Jedi is gone. Now he must depend on the Force more than ever. It’s a good thing he’s come to terms with it.
Ahsoka descending into the temple. She has traded places with Maul. Now she is the shadow trapped in hell until someone comes to free her. Why is she descending into the temple? we know the heart of the temple lies at the summit so does something else lie at the bottom? And the convor. The convor that flies here seems to be the same one at the end of the last episode. With such distinct coloration. So similar to The Sister from Mortis. Is there a connection there? Where does Ahsoka’s path lead from here? Her choice to remain was her own but was her sacrifice the price necessary for Kanan and Ezra to gain what they came for? Did they even find what they were looking for? Their quest was to find a solution to the inquisitors hunting them which led them here. With the inquisitors all dying maybe Yoda was right and they have finally freed themselves from being hunted. Vader also tells Ahsoka it was foreseen that they would meet there. So did Sidious also know what was going to happen? Just as Yoda sent the Jedi and the part-timer did Sidious send Vader? If the inquisitors and Vader knew about the temple why hadn’t they activated it before? Perhaps they had tried and were unable to. So many questions and so much to ponder.
I don’t know where else to go with this so I’ll wrap things up with this. Star Wars is mythology. Rebels is able to go far deeper than any two-hour movie could ever hope to. The animation is fluid and expressive and at times breathtaking. The voice acting is phenomenal week in and week out. The music this season has been on fire. Kiner has knocked it out of the park and I think has given us Star Wars themes that sit right up there with the classics from the films. The way the show builds its own niche in the galaxy’s story is what this show is about. The stories of these characters in this time.
In my humble opinion, this is the best show on television and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.