Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find all of my Star Wars Rebels reviews here.
Star Wars Rebels has not lost a step. “Steps Into Shadow” was a highly enjoyable encapsulation of the show’s strengths, and one that set up a very promising third season.
In the time between the phenomenal Season 2 finale, a lot has changed—much to my delight. I love it when characters evolve, and when events have consequences. And the consequences of “Twilight of the Apprentice”, which saw Kanan blinded and Ezra having a brush with the dark side, continued to resonate all these months later.
Ezra continued down a darker path, egged on by the Sith holocron he brought back from Malachor. I appreciate that Rebels isn’t rushing headlong into a dark turn for Ezra, as many feared would happen last season. His steps into darkness (pun intended) are slow and gradual. This makes his state of mind realistic, and any potential transformation earned. It also helps that this is all motivated by a desire to protect his friends from harm. Yes, his behaviour this episode was frustrating, but that was in line with his state of mind and growth as a character.
The holocron’s teachings helped Ezra in his missions for the Rebellion for a long time. But in “Steps Into Shadow”, his reckless, aggressive attitude finally hit a wall. His mission to recover a set of Y-wings from the clutches of the Empire went horribly wrong, proving Kanan’s warnings right.
And so Ezra’s growing darkness was put on pause thanks to this lesson learned… but we all know that “once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” I doubt we’re done with that storyline yet.
Kanan, meanwhile, was in a grim state of his own, with his eyesight lost and his connection to the Force shaken. He distanced himself from the rest of the rebels, including his padawan, which only pushed the Ezra further towards his anger.
This led Kanan to his—and our—first encounter with the mysterious Bendu, who helped him refocus and rediscover his purpose. The Bendu’s appearance was brief but impactful, serving as another window into the deeper, more ancient mythology of Star Wars. I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this intriguing and visually arresting character.
The other major “new” character, of course, was Grand Admiral Thrawn. Unlike “Siege of Lothal”, which showcased Vader in all his glory, “Steps Into Shadow” gave us just a taste of Thrawn. It was enough to cement him as a worthy and cerebral opponent for the season while leaving us wanting more. It’s clear that Thrawn will be a slow burn, his impact as understated as his cold, low voice—and just as deadly. I look forward to seeing him outsmart and block our heroes at every turn. And I’m especially anticipating the inevitable episode that brings him to the forefront and showcases what a devastating enemy he is sure to be.
“Steps Into Shadow” was absolutely packed, and that’s not even mentioning the stellar action sequences, character interactions, and humour that have become trademarks of the show. And it’s without mentioning the return of the ever-hilarious Hondo Ohnaka, or the long-awaited introduction of Governor Pryce, who made a strong first impression for her short screentime.
It’s so great to have Star Wars Rebels back. It’s a show that only gets better and better, and between all the seeds planted in “Steps Into Shadow” and the threats lying in wait—such as Maul—Season 3 promises to be the best one yet.
Rating: 4/5 (Great)
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