Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous Star Wars Rebels episode here.
The decision to use Ahsoka sparingly on Star Wars Rebels has been a wise one. Not only does it avoid the risk of her overshadowing the show’s actual protagonists, but it makes episodes where she does appear, like "The Future of the Force", really special.
Ahsoka was the ace in the hole this week, and "The Future of the Force" absolutely knew it. The buildup to her arrival and her actual entrance were perfect. And I loved how it was a perfect mirror of Darth Maul’s entrance in The Phantom Menace. In the latter’s case, the doors slid open to reveal a figure shrouded in darkness, accompanied by a dark choir chanting "Duel of the Fates", before he engaged in a one-on-two duel with the Jedi. In this episode, doors slid open to reveal a figure surrounded by a brilliant glow while a light choir chanted Ahsoka’s theme, before she engaged in a one-on-two duel with the Inquisitors. I had genuine chills.
It was wonderful to finally see Ahsoka in a lightsaber duel again. Last week, I noted that Ezra impressed me with how skilled he’d become, but there have been concerns that he was perhaps too powerful considering his lack of proper Jedi training. Those worries should be put to rest now, if only by seeing just how stronger Ahsoka was. She handled two Inquisitors where Kanan had struggled with just one. She even disarmed the Seventh Sister with her bare hands! And that giant Force leap onto the Phantom really reminded me that we hadn’t seen these sorts of Jedi acrobatics since The Clone Wars. It really was a blast from the past, which still feels like a strange way to refer to the prequel era, but that’s how it is now. "The Future of the Force" indeed.
The main plot of "The Future of the Force" involved the Inquisitors hunting down Force-sensitive children—reminiscent of a Clone Wars arc from its second season. That correlation is pretty poignant if you consider that the Inquisitors themselves were likely kidnapped as children in the same way. It adds a dark twist to the Seventh Sister’s comment about being a mother, raising a child just like she had been raised.
Child kidnapping and mass murder are pretty dark themes, but "The Future of the Force" had its share of light moments. A good chunk of them didn’t work for me as well as they usually do, probably because they were juxtaposed against the darkness in a way that made the disparity pretty blatant. For example, the scene in which Ahsoka investigated the first site of the Inquisitors’ attack was haunting, but it was followed by a jarring cut to the sound of John Williams’s playful droids theme from Return of the Jedi, as we followed a bickering Zeb and Chopper. It was a very quick tonal shift on a show that usually handles them smoothly. Plus, the babysitting humour was mostly fun (no Rotta the Hutt gags here), but I wish it had been dialed back in some parts. It undercut the tension of the Inquisitors chasing our heroes in that creepy horror movie-like way.
Another small thing that annoyed me was Ezra saying the name "Garel" to the baby in front of the Seventh Sister’s probe droid. It was a very unnatural scene and obviously only there as a plot contrivance. Moments where I can practically see the writers poking a finger into the episode to nudge the narrative along take me out of the story. At least a good showdown will come out of it, but I’m sure they could have come up with a more organic way to bring it about.
Finally, Hera and Sabine were completely absent this week. There was a story reason for it, but it’s unfortunate to keep sidelining them like this.
Those flaws were pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. "The Future of the Force" was a very strong episode throughout, propelled even higher by Ahsoka’s presence.
Rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)
Notes and Observations
- Chopper, our favourite murder machine, wanted to blow up a TIE with a baby still inside. And then they let that psychopath play peekaboo with it.
- Ezra eavesdropping on Kanan and Ahsoka’s conversation was one of those funny moments that genuinely worked.
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