The Rebels Season 2 finale was a very well done episode and perhaps the best of the entire series so far.
I’ve had a few days to think about this episode after having seen it twice. There’s really a lot going in it and there’s so much to like.
From the perspective of the overall story within Rebels, this episode seems like it could be an inflection point. Whereas with Seige of Lothal was really a kick in the butt to the story (get them off Lothal and show more about how the Rebellion is forming), Twilight of the Apprentice really changes the playing field.
Rebels has a way of conveying a story in a way that glosses over the important plot elements if you’re not important. It’s these elements that really make this episode great for me.
Allusions to The Original Trilogy
It was fun to see so many allusions to the Original Trilogy, especially in Maul’s interaction with Ezra. Maul repeats Yoda throughout the episode – a fascinating juxtaposition given how different those two characters appear to be. “Always two there are… no more. No less.” “I mean you no harm”. “Perhaps I can be of help”. These were great touch points that gave a lot more weight to those moments.
The Way of the Sith
Perhaps the most significant takeaway of this story is getting to see the contrast between the way of the Jedi and the way of the Sith.
Maul gives us a lesson in the use of anger as a source of power. He describes Ezra’s adherence to the Jedi path as “chains” that will ultimately limit him. This is perhaps the most instruction on Sith principals that we’ve gotten at one time. It it many ways mirrors Yoda’s instruction to Luke on Hoth. It’s a fascinating perspective.
Lastly, how ostentatious was that Sith temple? The Jedi temple was, by contrast, much more humble, though perhaps more powerful. The Jedi temple provided insight to its visitors while the Sith served to only test the power of its visitors.
Perhaps my favorite element of this episode is the evolution of Maul from an old man to a youthful warrior. He starts by saying “I was once a force wielder” to turning coat on Kanan and Ahsoka. It was fascinating that though his story and physical appearance changed, Ezra seemed to trust him more. It’s this manipulation that is the most intriguing. He gains Ezra’s trust by appearing harmless, but later shows how powerful he is (killing the 7th Sister in front of Ezra). He sees Ezra’s strength – and anger – and wants to use it to his advantage.
This is perhaps, the most interesting parts of this story. The Sith temple is designed for two – Master and Apprentice – to have to work together in order to gain the holocron. Each challenge (seemingly inspired by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) was designed to both test their strength and their teamwork – something that the Sith don’t do very well. They must cooperate. It is only through using Ezra’s trusting nature that Maul is able to gain the holocron. But it is Ezra’s strength that he ultimately values, perhaps, just as much. We see this in the scene where Ezra is falling to his death and Maul has grabbed him. He could easily have taken the Holocron and let Ezra die. But he saves him. This is very telling of Maul’s intentions (and an awesome way to illustrate it).
This episode came with some consequences for these characters. In fact, every character in this episode was impacted.
Kanan – Kanan is blind now. This is significant for his character going forwards (there have been blind characters in Star Wars including Rahm Kota from The Force Unleashed and Donnie Yen’s character in Rogue One – a clear call-back to Zatoichi). Though it feel pretty tragic as a story element, it touches on our individual fears of blindness. But for Kanan, it’s going to fundamentally change how he interacts with the world around him. As we saw in his short fight with Maul, Kanan needed to be fully connected to the Force in order to fight. This is significant. Kanan is a character who, until encountering Ezra, avoided his Jedi abilities. With being blind, Kanan may (finally?) be forced to go all-in on the Force. That could be very telling – especially if and when Kanan dies.
Ezra – It’s been clear that Ezra has been heading towards the Dark Side. Throughout this episode I just though Ezra was just stupid. When Maul was killing inquisitors, Ezra never said “I thought you were old?” But Ezra’s just a kid. And kids do stupid things often. What we’re left with is that Ezra has both a Jedi and Sith Holocron. With Kanan’s blindness to be a significant challenge for him (and Ahsoka… missing), it’s not clear that Ezra will continue to look to Kanan for guidance. That could be significant this season.
The Inquisitors – all of them were killed. Maul got two. Kanan kinda got one.
Maul – Maul escapes and, we know, he’ll factor in significantly in the coming season. As we’ve seen with the Clone Wars, things can get harry really quickly with Maul around. He took over Black Sun very quickly last time. And Black Sun is still around (as we know from Katsu Onyo). So there may be another Maul-Mandalorian-Jedi theme in the future as well.
Lastly, some additional videos:
Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Finale event: panel with cast & crew
Collider Jedi Council had a great episode featuring Freddie Prince Jr () and Sam Whitwer (Maul). They discuss this episode and Rebels in general. It’s definitely a must watch.