Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find all of my Star Wars Rebels reviews here.
Is Star Wars Rebels setting up what we’re all thinking?
Yes. I’m pretty sure it is.
If there’s one thing Dave Filoni and the Rebels crew have mastered, it’s the ability to take ideas that seem like a fan’s wild imaginings and bring them to life in ways that make sense within the story. A duel between Darth Sidious, Maul, and Savage Opress in the middle of a Mandalorian civil war? You got it. The emotional showdown between Ahsoka and Darth Vader? No trouble at all.
The final rematch between old Ben Kenobi and Darth Maul on Tatooine…? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.
Aside from the exciting possibilities it was setting up, “Holocrons of Fate” was a very strong episode in its own right. The return of Darth Maul spelled trouble for the Ghost crew, sending Kanan and Ezra on a mission to retrieve the Sith holocron from Bendu. Meanwhile, he searched the Ghost for Kanan’s Jedi holocron, seeking to combine both in order to gain knowledge he seeks.
If I were to have one criticism of the episode, it’s that it didn’t very clearly explain this strange new feature of the holocrons. But then again, holocrons are often used as “whatever the hell the plot wants” devices. They’re mystical enough that I’m willing to forgive it. Plus, it’s not the intricacies of the plot device that matter, but how it affects the story.
Balance appears to be a central theme of this season. It can be seen in the act of joining the Sith and Jedi holocrons to obtain great knowledge. It can be seen in Bendu, who is master of both light side and dark, possessing great wisdom. It can be seen in Ezra, who is trained in the Jedi ways but is not afraid to tap into the dark side.
True to that, Kanan and Ezra’s mission to find the Sith holocron was, according to Bendu, about them rediscovering their balance. It was a nice little adventure that allowed them to regain the bond between them that had weakened over the last 6 months. And it had the air of a Yoda lesson, which are always great. But unlike Yoda, Bendu is a completely neutral being. “Perhaps master and apprentice will rediscover their balance,” he says, “Or perhaps they’ll be eaten.” The episode’s funniest line, but it says a lot about Bendu as well. Because, after all, “such is the way of things”.
The rest of the Ghost crew were held captive by Maul, and though they gave him a fair bit of trouble, they ultimately didn’t succeed in escaping his grasp. Not much happened on that front, but there was a cool scene in which Maul fought the crew upside down after the crew attempted to use his robotic legs against him. Not to mention Maul referencing his short-lived rule over Mandalore to Sabine, reminding us that the young Mandalorian is already familiar with the former Sith.
The episode’s standout scene was the climax, in which Maul and Ezra succeeded in combining the holocrons. It was a visually impressive sequence, but more importantly, it gave us a deeper glimpse of Maul as a character.
While Ezra sought knowledge of how to defeat the Sith, Maul was simply searching for hope. And in return, he saw… oblivion. Maul’s twisted nature notwithstanding, it was actually rather sad. And when faced with oblivion, Maul lashed out in anger—as his is instinct. And the holocrons responded to that anger by showing him… the target of his rage for decades, Obi-Wan Kenobi?
Meanwhile, Ezra saw visions, locations. “Twin suns,” he said. Probably referring to Tatooine. The question is, did he see Tatooine because Maul was thinking of Kenobi? Thus giving Maul and Ezra two pieces of the puzzle—the person and the location? Or was Tatooine the answer to Ezra’s question on the key to defeating the Sith, which we know is Luke?
All will be answered in due time, I’m sure. Right now, I’m just impressed by the mere possibility that Star Wars Rebels might actually feature Obi-Wan and Luke without even stepping out of its own scope. Ideas we brushed off as too far-fetched when the show began are now looking feasible. And that’s good storytelling.