Tag Archives: darkness

Spotlight: Star Wars Rebels – Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus

Kanan

I have always been fascinated by stories of Jedi Knights or Masters who survived the Great Purge in the Star Wars universe. Light-side Force-users who were recruited to the Rebellion around the time of the original trilogy and who rose to prominence in the new Jedi Order afterward also intrigue me.

I do not know why I find them so interesting. But when I read the character profiles of Corran Horn, Kyle Katarn, and Kam Solusar, I was fascinated. I wanted to get to know these guys, to see more of their adventures with Luke and his new Jedi Order. Reading Jude Watson’s Last of the Jedi series also introduced me to an intriguing straggler from the Jedi Purge: Ferus Olin.

Of these four, though, I know only Ferus Olin really well. Corran Horn has starred in a couple of Timothy Zahn novels which have fallen into my hands, so I have ‘seen’ enough for me to decide I enjoy him. But Katarn and Solusar I have not yet been able to track down. I intend to read the books they have a part in sooner or later. Later just looks to be a more likely time than sooner! 😉

Anyway, this fascination with Jedi closer to the original trilogy in part explains my affection for the lone Jedi Knight in Disney’s Star Wars Rebels. Kanan Jarrus – formerly known as Jedi apprentice Caleb Dume – survived the Jedi Purge. That immediately turned my head. Another Jedi survivor of the Clone Wars fighting in the fledgling Rebellion, I thought. This is interesting. Where did he come from? How did he survive? Who was his master? What is he like? …. Etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum.

Rebels and the stories in the paraphernalia attached to it have done an admirable job of answering some of those questions, but I am still eager to learn more. Hopefully the writers will not keep us waiting too long on that score!

But let us begin with what we know. Despite being raised by the old Jedi Order, it is clear Kanan does not keep with all of their customs. His relationship with Hera blatantly breaks with the Jedi ban on romance. And, counter to the stereotypical Jedi of old, he is also cocky, a smart alec, and rather cynical.

As I said before in other posts, this is what makes him interesting. In part, Kanan’s cynicism is due to the fact that he has seen so many hopes and dreams destroyed, as well as many fears realized. He has also suffered a great deal, first when his master was killed and the Jedi Order he knew and loved was obliterated, then in surviving in an unfriendly galaxy under Imperial rule for fifteen years. And this from the time he was fourteen!

That tends to take the rose glasses off of someone’s eyes in a hurry, does it not?

As for his cocky attitude and tendency to throw wisecracks around, that is also partly due to past bad experience. In addition it is, initially, a shield that keeps people away. It makes the snoopy Imperials write him off as a brash, riff-raff space ranger. Meanwhile it keeps the nice, kinder people in the galaxy from getting too close and becoming friends – friends he could later lose as he lost his master.

This shield does and does not change at the beginning of the Rebels TV series. Though his crew knows he is a Jedi, Kanan keeps his heritage hidden to protect them, rarely using his Force abilities even when there is no apparent danger of his being discovered. It is dangerous enough that they are going up against the big, bad Empire – if the Imperials found out Kanan was a Jedi, then the hunt for the Ghost crew would be redoubled.

Kanan and Ezra

This, as we know, changes when he meets Ezra Bridger. I have often wondered just what it would take to make a Jedi in hiding accept a Force-sensitive youth as an apprentice. From my perspective, the Rebels series answers this question well. Through the events of the first season, Kanan is brought to the realization that he is not hiding simply to protect his friends. He is hiding because he is afraid, and this means he is denying the Force’s guidance of the galaxy and his life. Avoiding being murdered is one thing; refusing his Jedi heritage, as he had been doing, is something else entirely.

At the beginning of the first season he runs into Ezra, a boy who can touch the Force. Although he does not want to admit it, Kanan is instantly drawn to Ezra by the age-old compulsion of the Jedi to train an apprentice. He fights the instinct for a while, not because he dislikes Ezra but because he is afraid of revealing what he is himself.

However, leaving Ezra untrained puts the youth in more danger. Eventually, his sensitivity to the Force would be recognized and the Empire would catch him. Then they would either turn him to the Dark Side or kill him.

Kanan cannot sit by and allow that to happen. To do such a thing is criminal, and despite his spiritual injuries, Kanan remains too good at heart and too morally-minded to abandon the boy. Over seasons one and two, their master/apprentice rapport strengthens into a fraternal relationship. By now, it is not quite a brotherly bond, from this writer’s point of view. Kanan has grown beyond that and is now experiencing being a true Jedi master governing an apprentice. In many ways, he has become Ezra’s surrogate father.

Up until Twilight of the Apprentice, Ezra responds to him in a duly relatable, filial manner. But in the second season finale, he is “feeling his oats,” as it were. This convinces him that Kanan is trying to keep him from growing up, when in actuality the older Jedi is trying to prevent Ezra from walking off a cliff the boy does not even realize he is heading toward.

Sabine has a similar understanding with Kanan, albeit less firmly established, since she is not Force-sensitive. Part of the strength of Kanan’s connection with Ezra is that they are bound together through the Force as teacher and student. Ahsoka and Anakin had a similar friendship in The Clone Wars TV series.

In the case of Rebels’ star Mandalorian, Sabine lacks that particular link with Kanan. Their friendship is all too similar to the one some real fathers and daughters share. After a point, they can only understand so much about each other, before giving up and simply trusting that the other one has a plan. This means their relationship can get a little stormy, as we saw in The Protector of Concord Dawn. Still, Sabine is loyal to Kanan, else she could not have controlled her warrior instincts in that same episode to satisfy and please her father figure. As she said, she has “been raised right.”

It is hard to quantify Kanan and Zeb’s friendship. The simplest way to explain it is to relate it to Cap and Thor’s rapport. Zeb follows Kanan out of respect for the cowboy Jedi, while Kanan chooses a mission and delegates how it is to be accomplished; with emphasis on the way the Lasat is to play his part. Even when the two disagree, as they did in Droids in Distress, they tend to do it quietly. Zeb rarely loses his temper with Kanan the way he will with Ezra or Chopper. He will grumble, fuss, and snarl, but he will give his all to the plan just the same.

Chopper’s friendship with Kanan, at times, seems to be non-existent. Kanan appears to find the cranky astromech unit an annoyance best gotten rid of, while Chopper takes any and all opportunities to snipe at him in binary – or with his tazer appendage. Still, the two seem to have some sort of esteem for each other. Though Chopper annoys him, Kanan relies on the droid as much as the rest of the crew does. And the fact that C1-10p was good enough to quietly see a blinded Kanan to Ezra’s side in the Sith temple on Malachor hints the independent bucket of bolts places some value on Kanan.

Kanan and Hera

As I said above, it is noteworthy to me that Kanan and Hera are “together.” Put aside for a minute the fact that they are totally different species, Kanan definitely knows the Jedi were never supposed to marry or get romantically attached to someone. Perhaps part of the reason he broke with this tradition is, well, there is no Jedi Order to enforce the rule any more.

Besides which, he and Hera are not starry-eyed kids, as Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala were. If things go wrong and either of them is hurt or killed in the fight against the Empire, those are the fortunes of war. No matter how much pain that is going to cause them, they have still accepted the possibility that it will happen. From what I remember, Anakin did not intend to do that – which sort of led to the Empire being established in the first place, right?

This is something I have admitted before, but I shall say it again: I enjoy Kanan’s wisecracking abilities a lot. And this is not just because I always like it when the good guy scores a couple (or several dozen) verbal hits on the bad guy. Kanan’s quips are usually funny remarks or spot-on points which echo what the audience is thinking. Not only are they amusing, but this witty banter is also a good distraction or a way of prodding the villain to admit something. A well-phrased, well-placed verbal jab can upend a baddy’s plot in a snap. Just ask Spider-Man. Or Hawkeye. Or Tony Stark. Or Mara Jade Skywalker. Or Han Solo.

A good number of other Jedi from the prequels were characters which I never really saw. I did not watch the Clone Wars TV series, but it struck me that most of the Jedi in it had very little which distinguished their personalities from those of their peers’. Ahsoka had a sense of humor and fun, of course, which made her stand out to me when I looked up the series later on.

And yes, I know Anakin had a sense of humor. It was rather hard to miss! But his quips were often tainted by the Dark Side’s influence, and they therefore left me feeling uncomfortable more often than not. Obi-Wan’s wit in the films was rare and dry – not really worth an audience response of loud laughter or grins and giggles. The Jedi of the old Order all seemed too serious and expressionless, for the most part, to this writer.

Kanan is definitely not like that. Even when he is being serious he can be amusing, such as when he tells Darth Maul that he and Ezra “come as a set.” We see the situation in Twilight of the Apprentice just as clearly as Kanan does. Ezra is in danger of being corrupted to the Dark Side by Maul. The guy is treacherous, no doubt about it. But Kanan’s snappy “we’re a set” comment eases the tension and makes the audience smile or grin.

Because with that retort, we understand Kanan is not going to roll over to the former Sith Lord without a fight. If Maul wants Ezra, he will have to go through Kanan to get him. Even though becoming a Jedi or becoming one with the Dark Side is ultimately Ezra’s choice, Kanan is not going to give up on his apprentice. In a situation like this, that is a comfort.

Most of what I like about Kanan, however, is how he got to be in Rebels at all. After the downfall of the Jedi Order and the Old Republic, Kanan had to work hard to get by while hiding what he is. Everything looked grim and sad to him during this time – and even after he joined Hera on the Ghost, he was not prone to an overly hopeful outlook on the future of the galaxy. They were five individuals against the Empire. Those are pretty rotten odds!

And he was also constantly reminded of who and what he lost. Kanan admitted at the end of the first season that he literally wakes up every morning remembering his master’s last order: Run. Jedi are not supposed to run and hide. That was not what Master Depa Billaba was training him to do. But she told him to do it.

And he did run. More to the point, Kanan did not stop running, despite joining the Rebellion as part of Hera’s crew.

Forget the prestige and power he may have wielded as an adult Jedi in the Old Republic. Kanan lost not only his friends and that future during the Purge; he lost his purpose. There can be no Jedi serving the Light side of the Force under a Sith controlled Galactic Empire. A Jedi works to protect all life in the galaxy, and if the Empire kills a Jedi as soon as he shows his face, the Jedi can hardly do his job, now can he?

So Kanan was reduced to hiding. He is, at the beginning of Rebels, the scraps of the person he once was. He has to hide in the galaxy’s underworld fringe lest he be caught and murdered. Hiding and running are not the way of the Jedi…. but neither is getting oneself killed for no reason. In between this rock and hard place, the only thing Kanan thinks he has left to do is to find a way to survive as something he is not.

Then Kanan senses that the tide has begun to change as the Rebellion against the Empire grows and gains more strength. Suddenly, the future of the galaxy does not seem so dark and bleak anymore. The Dark Side looks like it can be defeated. Finally, the hope to become a servant of the Light side of the Force again returns.

Kanan’s first inkling of this comes when he figures out that Ezra is Force-sensitive. All at once, he sees hope again, even though it takes a while for him to admit it. This kid can touch the Force. And, like Kanan, his devil-may-care attitude is just a shield he uses to protect himself. They are more similar than they first realize.

This is what helps Kanan make his decision to step out of the shadows and ignite his lightsaber again. Yeah, it is going to make life for him and his friends tough in the days ahead. But all of a sudden, the future really is worth fighting for, no matter how harsh the battle becomes. The future actually is something to look forward to, for once. The Force has not changed. Kanan can still fight. He can still be a Jedi. Not the one he would have been under the Old Republic, but a Jedi all the same.

Kanan realizes in Spark of Rebellion that the Jedi do not have to die out, that they can be brought back. That he can still fight for the Light. He does not have to hide anymore – from himself or from the Empire. And Ezra does not have to hide or steal to survive, either. They can both be more than what the Dark Side-controlled Empire thinks they are.

And that is something worth fighting to achieve, no matter the cost.

Kanan knows Jar'Kai

This is a good part of why I like Kanan so much. He is not fighting to prove a point. He is fighting for his freedom, the freedom of his friends, and his apprentice’s freedom. Not their freedom from economic tyranny, but their freedom to choose who and what they want to be. The Empire is trying to control those choices through its power over the galactic economy and the planets the galaxy’s inhabitants call home.

The whole point of being a Rebel is to tell the Empire to butt out of the minds and hearts of the people of the galaxy, and to continue telling the Leviathan to keep its grubby fingers to itself rather than retaliate in anger. Governments do not have free will; people have free will. And when the Empire takes that away, it commits a very serious crime against the inhabitants of the galaxy. Kanan decided he was not going to stand for this when Rebels started. He was going to fight the Empire the best way he could – as a Jedi.

I am really hoping Kanan survives to be part of the celebration in the end of Return of the Jedi. If the writers of Star Wars Rebels do not reveal his fate within the series, though, it may be some time before I know what happens to him. Still, I am rather hopeful that he and Ezra will live to hear from Luke when he begins to rebuild the Jedi Order.

In the non-canon novels, Ferus Olin did not make it. But others did. If Kam Solusar, Corran Horn, and Kyle Katarn could be Force-users during the height of the Rebellion who later became new Jedi Knights, then I see no reason why Ezra could not follow suit. A handful of stragglers from the Jedi Purge also lived to see the rise of the new Order in the novels. So I think Kanan could still make it to the shindig at Endor.

But that, of course, is up to Lucasfilm/Disney, not me. I would hate to believe they wasted all this time and money just to kill Kanan and Ezra off at the end of Rebels. Wouldn’t you, readers?

The Force will be with you, always!

The Mithril Guardian

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Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Review

 

SPOILER ALERT!!! MEGA SPOILERS FOLLOW! READ ON AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Season two of Star Wars Rebels ended March 30, readers. Whoa!! It was an amazing ending!!! Ahsoka managed to walk away from a battle with Darth Vader (though she was limping), Ezra was bewitched by Maul (yes, that nasty dude has returned to plague us again), and Kanan was blinded. I have to admit, that punch hit harder than I would have thought – but at least he is still alive.

Obviously, this cannot simply be a review of Twilight of the Apprentice. It has to be a review of the whole season. Season two was much longer than season one, in part because the characters needed to stretch their wings more. So that is where we will begin.

We will look at Sabine Wren first. Of the Rebels cast, Sabine’s history will probably have the most impact going forward. It was revealed in season two that she is “Clan Wren, House Vizsla.” Yep, you read that right. Sabine’s mother was Death Watch, and this has led many to suspect that her mother could be Bo-Katan, Duchess Satine Kryze’s sister. While this is certainly possible, I looked up Pre Vizsla’s death scene and found there were several female Death Watch Mandalorians present when he was killed. So Sabine’s mother could have been any one of them.

Throughout this season, Sabine’s greatest growth has been with regard to Ketsu Onyo, Hera, Kanan, and perhaps Ezra. In Blood Sisters, Sabine forgave Ketsu for leaving her to die some time prior to the beginning of the series. It is no mean feat to forgive an injury, especially one as terrible as being left to die. But Sabine did it.

She also seems to be friendlier with Ezra now, looking at him as something of a kid brother. He still has a blatant crush on her, but so far she has not openly reciprocated. Given that she will have a greater role in season three, “putting her on a level with Ezra,” there is certainly potential for a romance between the two to kick into gear. Call me optimistic, sentimental, whatever – I actually would not mind it if they fell for each other.

With regard to Hera, Sabine’s daughterly love for the Twi’lek was a prime motivator for her actions in her star episode. In The Protector of Concord Dawn, Sabine and Hera visit Concord Dawn, a Mandalorian colony whose people Hera hopes to recruit as allies. But as things turn out, the Protectors living on the moon already agreed to work for the Empire. Hera’s fighter is nearly destroyed as she buys Sabine and the rest of her fighter squadron time to escape. Sabine takes this turn of events very personally. It is extremely frustrating, but we still do not know precisely what happened to her real family. The fact that Sabine shows such strong daughterly attachment to Hera, though, suggests that her real mother may be dead.

In the same episode, Kanan and Sabine get some great interaction time. Kanan is suffering as much anguish over Hera’s injuries as Sabine is, but he holds the pain in check. Their father/daughter relationship is shown to be strong in this episode. Interestingly, when Hera comments that Sabine is “sounding more like a Jedi than a Mandolorian” at the end of the show, Sabine comes back with: “Well, I guess I’ve just been raised right.” For a girl who is so competent and self-sufficient, she has an extraordinarily emotional reliance on these two characters. Clearly, Sabine considers Kanan and Hera to be parental figures.

Sabine Wren is a very interesting character, and I cannot wait to see what she will be doing in the next season. It will also be interesting to see how she reacts to Kanan’s blindness. We have already seen how she responded to Hera’s injuries earlier in season two; it would be odd if she did not have some sort of negative reaction to what Maul did to Kanan.

Next we will look at Captain Hera Syndulla. Hera’s episodes revealing her back story were rather…um, serene, in my book. Wings of the Master, where we see her love of flying, really did not have any emotional kick to it. Homecoming had more pep, but the writers lost me at the end. Something about Hera’s speech to her father just did not hit home with me, which is unfortunate.

These disappointments aside, there was a lot more for Hera to do this season. She helped liberate (at least temporarily) her homeworld of Ryloth, became Captain of Phoenix Squadron’s starfighter pilots, and piloted the first B-Wing into battle. As a side note, I think it is safe to say now that her relationship with Kanan is definitely more than friendly.

People have complained about their relationship a fair bit, which I find a little strange. There are viewers who apparently want Hera and Kanan to come out and say, “I love you,” to each other publicly. Quite frankly, I am beginning to suspect Hera and Kanan have moved beyond admitting that in public – they have already admitted it privately, or so it seems. Most of the way they show their love for each other is in little moments, or through snappy banter – not to mention arguments! They do not need to gush in front of everybody, and they are certainly not being coy with each other. They are simply being discreet and sensible.

Next we have Zeb. The big bruiser got two episodes to himself this season. The first was Legends of the Lasat, where the Rebels rescue two Lasat refugees trying to reach their species’ fabled new world, Lira San. The show had a great music score and revealed that Zeb held the rank of captain in the Lasat Honor Guard before the fall of his homeworld. He was also responsible for protecting the royal family of Lasan, and his failure in that area is one of the reasons he is so bitter towards the Empire.

The second Zeb-centered episode was The Honorable Ones. In this show, Agent Kallus and Zeb end up stranded on one of Geonosis’ ice moons and have to work together to survive. Typical plot device, it is true. But the episode is still ripe with exciting possibilities, the biggest of which is: Will Kallus turn against the Empire?

I think it is likely. In fact, I have thought so from the beginning of the series. Kallus is not a clean-cut Imperial. He has a strong sense of honor – even if he keeps it under wraps more often than not, in order to maintain his allegiance to the Empire. The fact is, though, that the Empire values honor about as much as it values the Jedi. This is something Kallus will eventually have to recognize. And the friendship Zeb and Kallus develop in this episode opens the door for that recognition and character expansion on Kallus’ part in later shows.

This episode also reinforces Zeb’s place in the pecking order of the Ghost crew. Sabine and Ezra look up to the Lasat brawler as an older brother – in separate ways, of course. Sabine has known Zeb longer than Ezra has, but in the end, the two youths make it clear they would be devastated if they lost the big guy.

Kallus has no sort of family group in the Empire. He was expecting a warm welcome back after the Empire rescued him from the Geonosian moon. What he got was a distracted acknowledgement – basically, “I’m working right now; see you when you’re being all nasty and scary again later on.”

Yeah, the Empire is so much better than the Rebellion. Let’s see how long Kallus keeps thinking that, shall we? I bet by season three’s finale he will seriously be considering how honorable the Empire really is…. and whether or not it deserves his undying allegiance.

I will get to our three Jedi momentarily, but first I want to make an honorable mention. Captain Rex, Anakin Skywalker’s clone captain in the Clone Wars TV series, returned as a grizzled veteran in the first episodes of Rebels’ second season. Having never seen The Clone Wars, the second season of Rebels managed to introduce him very well.

But his presence actually caused some friction in the Ghost crew at first. Kanan, remembering his master’s death at the hands of her clone troopers, was none too pleased about finding and adding Rex to the rebel cell. This hostility between the two would occasionally blow up into explosive arguments, irritating Ezra so much that he did whatever he could to get away from the two until things had quieted down (hence his meeting with Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister).

This antagonism from Kanan ended, however, in the episode Stealth Strike. When Rex was captured and tortured during a rescue mission, Kanan went back to get him. That was a very powerful scene, and I really enjoyed it. Rex’s faith in the Jedi and the Ghost crew has never faltered, though with Ahsoka’s disappearance at the end of this season, he might be the one who becomes aggressive toward Kanan for part of season three. Maybe. We will have to wait and see.

Now we come to our Jedi. Well, sort of. Ahsoka is no longer a Jedi – she has not been since she left the Order in The Clone Wars. Ahsoka was not around the Ghost crew 24/7 through season two, and so there is little to see of her. But it is clear that she likes the crew, especially their resident Jedi. While Kanan defers to her greater experience and knowledge, Ahsoka is much less formal toward him than he is to her.

Her friendship with Ezra is like looking in a mirror. She looks at him and she can see some of herself when she was Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice. Ezra is impetuous, brash, and does not always think before he acts – or speaks. She was like that, once upon a time, before age and experience tempered her recklessness. Well, mostly tempered her recklessness….

Ahsoka, it appears, survived her battle with Vader on Malachor. Though they both came out of it the worse for wear; Vader was noticeably limping and having a hard time even standing up, let alone putting one foot in front of the other. According to some reports, Ahsoka was also limping badly. We may see her again in Rebels, or we may only see her in the Star Wars comics. Her story, from what Dave Filoni says, is not the story of the Ghost crew. Even though she is still alive, she may not appear again on screen.

Now we come to Ezra. I have been worried about our street-urchin-turned-Jedi-apprentice since A Princess on Lothal. Losing his parents was a blow, especially when he learned that his transmission in Call to Action – a first season episode – inspired their prisoner revolt… which led to their deaths. The loss hurt, and pain often leads to anger. “Anger, fear, aggression – the Dark Side of the Force are they…”

Master Yoda’s warnings fell on predictably deaf ears. Up until facing Vader on Lothal, the Ghost crew’s missions were largely fun and games. Get in, get the merchandise, cut things close, then escape the Empire and make the Imperials look bad in the process. This, naturally, could not last forever. In the folly of youth, Ezra did not put two and two together. Or if he did, he somehow managed not to come up with four.

More to the point, his ability in the Force has been growing all season. He has learned he has a real talent for sensing life and communicating with animal life forms through the Force. As Spider-Man knows, with great power comes great responsibility. Winning all the time means that the first loss stings one’s pride. And when stung pride is added to grief, which can snowball into anger, you have a problem.

Ezra’s talents have clearly gone to his head. But that is not how Maul got his talons in him during Twilight. He took a different tack, going after something which made the young apprentice much more vulnerable: Ezra’s grief over his parents’ deaths and his fear that he will lose his “second family,” the Ghost crew, to the Empire.

As of Twilight of the Apprentice, Ezra is skirting dangerously close to the Dark Side. The next season, it has been hinted, he will be fighting with that lure a whole lot more. With Maul scheduled to reappear as the main Dark Side antagonist in season three, that is not going to be an easy battle.

Maul and Kanan are both going to be tugging on Ezra’s loyalties, and Ezra will be drifting through dangerous waters by his own volition. This will also lend the show a darker air – which some fans have been all but begging the writers for since the series started. (Be careful what you wish for, guys.) Season three may be more The Empire Strikes Back than season two was.

Lastly, we come to Kanan. I have to admit that Kanan Jarrus has been my favorite character since Rebels hit the airwaves. I enjoy watching him, so seeing Maul blind him hurt. It hurt a lot. Luke lost a hand in The Empire Strikes Back; so of course, someone in Rebels had to lose something. Eventually. Everyone would have been expecting a hand. For cryin’ out loud, Marvel made that a shtick of their Phase Two films!

But still…hitting him in the eyes… That bites. It bites badly.

Going back briefly to happier times, Kanan has grown quite a bit since season one. Over season two he had to learn to accept Rex as a member of Phoenix Squadron. He watched clones kill his master – and then try to kill him. Those memories made him hostile to Rex and his fellow clones, Wolffe and Gregor, in the early episodes. It was a great moment to see him turn and go back for Rex in Stealth Strike, while admitting to Ezra that he considers the old clone a friend.

The most notable thing to happen to Kanan in season two was his Knighting by the spirit of the Grand Inquisitor in Shroud of Darkness. You probably recall that slapped-together post I did about the episode the day after it aired, readers. I covered a lot of things in it, but missed a few others. For instance, although the Grand Inquisitor is “saved” – that is, he is within the Light side of the Force – he had not yet become one with the Force as of Shroud. Not completely, anyway. His statement to Kanan, “I wondered when you would return,” implies that he had been waiting in the Lothal temple for the cowboy Jedi’s arrival for some time.

This suggested to a friend of mine (and, belatedly, to me), that the Grand Inquisitor is in a sort of Purgatory. Other writers on the Internet also made this connection. He is still paying for abandoning the Jedi path – the show producers and directors confirmed the Grand Inquisitor was a former Jedi Knight. In fact, they say that he is one of the Temple Guards who helped arrest Ahsoka and Barriss Offee in The Clone Wars. Apparently, Barriss’ little speech at the trial made him reconsider the Jedi Order’s position. At some point after this he fell to the Dark Side and became the Grand Inquisitor.

This makes Kanan groping around and eventually putting on a Temple Guard’s mask in Twilight of the Apprentice very interesting. I know there is some kind of symbolism or hint in this scene, but I have no idea what it could be.

With his sight reft from him, Kanan is going to have to make some changes to his tactics. He is still a capable lightsaber fighter, as he proved when he bested Maul and threw him down the side of the Sith Temple. (Seriously, somebody kill this guy already!!! Or let someone attach a bomb to his body so that – wait for it – BOOM!! No more Maul! I would be unbelievably happy to see the back of that devilish jerk once and for all!!!) As hard as it is going to be for him to adjust, it will be almost as hard on those who love him – Hera, Ezra, Sabine, and Zeb. Chopper, too, will have to think about how much grumbling he wants to do about Kanan now….

Nah.

Kanan’s blindness may not be permanent. But even if it is, it will not stop him from worrying about Ezra. At the end of Twilight, he cocks and turns his head as if he has heard something. That is when Ezra opens the Sith holocron.

Whuh-oh.

So, readers, this is my (sort of) review of Star Wars Rebels’ second season. With that in mind, I would like to ask the show writers a few questions. If any of you happen to have a Twitter account and wish to forward these queries to @STARWARS #REBELSRECON, feel free to do so.

First and foremost, I would really like to know more about Kanan. He is going to have an interesting character arc in season three, to be sure. But I would still really like to know if he has any family in the wider galaxy which he does not know about. He said he never knew his parents in Legacy, which is true – most Jedi never knew their parents, since they were taken into the Order as infants. I would think it would be interesting to see where Kanan came from, and that it would add more emotion to the coming conflicts. What if his family is loyal to the Empire? What if the Dume family is split – one faction has Imperial ties, while the others are staunch rebels? It just seems like a good plot avenue to me.

Can we please stop beating around the bush and find out about Sabine’s past? What happened to her parents? Were they killed? Is that why she is so attached to Hera and Kanan? And is it at all possible for her to tangle with Boba Fett? And by the way, it would be nice to see a little more of Ketsu, too!

What about Agent Kallus? How much longer will he remain loyal to the Empire? What would it take to make him switch sides – or at the very least abandon the Empire? I do not think he cares much about what happened to the Geonosians, and he has a grudge against the Lasat, even if it has softened a little since he met and befriended Zeb. Just what will it take to break his allegiance to the Empire?

Can we get a few more episodes with Hera that are less…serene? Wings of the Master and Homecoming were important episodes. But maybe there could be an episode or two with just her and Kanan in the future? Those would be pretty cool – and they may satisfy the fans who still are unsure about the nature of their relationship!

Can we stop dancing around the Maypole with Sabine and Ezra? Are they going to become a couple or not? If Ezra manages to wrench himself away from the Dark Side, getting Sabine as a girlfriend would be a neat reward. If Ezra needs to be pulled away from the Dark Side, then Sabine has the next best shot at accomplishing that feat after Kanan. Ezra has a crush on her, after all.

As a final note, I am still hoping that Kanan and Ezra – along with the rest of the crew – can survive to see Return of the Jedi’s big “the Emperor is dead!” party. Other Jedi in the “Legends” comics and books did it. (Remember Kam Solusar? Master Ikrit? Vima Da-Boda? They lived to see the post-Jedi galaxy, didn’t they? And Ahsoka may yet survive that long as well – as she said herself: “I am no Jedi!”)

It just seems so POINTLESS to spend all this time and money telling the crew’s story only to kill everybody in the final season. That is a cop out, not an ending!!

Anyway, readers, this is my take on season two of Star Wars Rebels. I can handle season three getting darker and more dangerous. At least as long as there is still that glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel…

And as long as the core Ghost crew makes it out alive.

May the Force be with you, readers!

The Mithril Guardian

Star Wars Rebels: Shroud of Darkness – A Review

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SPOILER ALERT!!! SPOILER ALERT!!! READ FURTHER AT YOUR OWN PERIL!!!

WHAT AN EPISODE!!!!   From the lightsaber duel at the beginning, to our heroes’ return to the Jedi temple on Lothal, to the arrival of Darth Vader at the end of the show – WHOO!! This episode was great!!!

I am going to begin this review in reverse, readers. Please bear with me.

Kanan’s vision trial in the Lothal temple is the talk of the Internet – among other features of the episode. Searching for a way to defeat Vader and the Imperial Inquisitors, Kanan faces off against a Temple Guard (from the main Jedi Temple on Coruscant) in his vision. The Sentinel warns him that he cannot protect Ezra forever, and that if he tries to fight, he will die and the boy will fall to the Dark Side.

He and Kanan end up in a duel, which ends when Kanan admits the Sentinel is right: he cannot protect Ezra from everything, least of all can he protect Ezra against himself. He can only do what he has done – train Ezra as best he could. Bowing his head, Kanan clearly expects to be struck down….

Instead, the vision Sentinel knights him!

If this news was not enough of a surprise, Kanan gets a second shock when the guard removes his ceremonial mask/helmet – to reveal the face of the Grand Inquisitor, the Dark Side Adept who was hunting him and Ezra in Rebels’ first season!

I think my jaw actually dropped when the Pau’an took his mask off. Certainly, Kanan was not the only one left speechless with surprise! The astonishment is still reverberating through the ethereal currents of the Internet. Boy, did the writers keep this bombshell well-hidden under their hats!! (Or would that be “under their storm trooper helmets”?)

This scene is flabbergasting. The last time we saw the Grand Inquisitor, he was falling into an exploding reactor core. How in the galaxy did his spirit end up helping Kanan on a vision quest in a Jedi temple?!? He was a Dark Side Adept, one of the bad guys!

Well, according to the Grand Inquisitor’s own admission, he did not start out as a Dark Side user. He started life as a Jedi, specifically a Knight – and considering his ceremonial garb and lightsabers in this episode, it seems safe to think he was originally a Sentinel Jedi, one who took time to play Temple Guard at some point. This would explain why he and the other Inquisitors use double-bladed lightsabers. If the Grand Inquisitor was a fallen Sentinel Jedi, then it makes sense that he would train the rest of the Inquisitors in the lightsaber skills he was accustomed to using. And double-bladed lightsabers are very effective weapons!

It also explains how he figured out who Kanan’s master was. The Grand Inquisitor probably dueled with Depa Billaba a few times during training sessions while he was a Jedi Knight. He would recognize her influence on Kanan’s sparring skills after a few blows and make a mention of it to throw Kanan off-balance. (The tactic worked pretty well, too.)

A lot of viewers who saw Shroud of Darkness are a bit puzzled by the Grand Inquisitor’s appearance as a Sentinel spirit in Lothal’s Jedi temple. We knew that after falling to his death in the reactor core in Fire Across the Galaxy last season, he had become one with the Force. But most of us figured he had become one with the Dark Side.

Now, we know he became one with the Light-side of the Force!

This leads us to an interesting question: How did he pull that trick off? I have been racking my brain since viewing the episode, trying to remember the details of the Grand Inquisitor’s death from the final show of season one. From what I can remember, Kanan could have killed the guy while he was clinging to the catwalk. As a Jedi, of course, Kanan was not going to do that.

However, I seem to recall that I could not place the expression on the Grand Inquisitor’s face. He looked afraid, yes – who would not be in that situation? There just seemed to be more to it. Watching that scene several times since season one’s conclusion (the lightsaber duel really was amazing!), I got the impression that there was more to what the Grand Inquisitor was feeling than met the eye.

It has bothered me ever since, on and off. For a start, there seemed to be some remorse in the Grand Inquisitor’s features, as if he was sorry for wasting his life in service to the Empire. And what Dark Side Adept would so politely – almost sadly –state that Kanan and his apprentice were in for a harder time of it, now that they had defeated him, blown up Governor Tarkin’s Star Destroyer, and sent a message that would ignite a galaxy-wide rebellion against the Sith Emperor?

That speech seemed especially out of place. It would hardly have been surprising if the Pau’an had cursed Kanan and the other rebels, sneering that they were now in for more trouble than they could possibly imagine. Instead, he seemed almost sorry that they were going to face worse odds in the future.

That scene was very complex. Even with the adrenaline flowing through my system after seeing the Grand Inquisitor get his fanny handed to him on a platter by Kanan, I thought, “Wait. There’s something more to this. Something doesn’t feel like it should.”

Now I know why I felt that. Somewhere on his way down the reactor core – heck, maybe before he had even let go of the catwalk – the Grand Inquisitor returned to the Jedi path. It is the only explanation that logically answers why he was able to test Kanan in the Lothal temple. No Dark Side user – whether they were flesh or spirit – could hope to enter a Jedi temple without having a nasty greeting waiting for them.

Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister found that out the hard way. From what I remember of the Star Wars novels (now non-canon “Legends”), anyone entering a Jedi temple would run into visions and illusions. For Jedi, this was a testing ground. A place where they had to overcome their fears, or could get answers to important questions – as well as gain insight on a variety of issues, theirs or another’s. Non-Force users entering Jedi temples would be disoriented by such visions. I doubt they would survive very long after entering a temple, unless they were good people who had become seriously lost. Or very desperate.

A Jedi temple infiltrated by Dark Side Adepts or a Sith would react with extreme prejudice toward them, if not to protect itself, then to protect the Jedi inside it. This is what happened in Shroud of Darkness. One of the reasons the Grand Inquisitor’s spirit was waiting for Kanan in the Lothal temple, I think, is because his ghost would scare the daylights out of Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister.

The two Inquisitors had to know they were facing visions which could not really hurt them when the phantom Jedi Sentinels appeared. So the sight of their old master’s ghost – dressed in a ceremonial Temple Guard costume and wielding a Sentinel’s blades – had to have been a shock. It certainly seemed to discombobulate Fifth Brother! That gave the temple the edge it needed to buy Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka the time to escape Imperial pursuit. It seems the temple could not really hurt the Inquisitors – it could only stall them. The Grand Inquisitor’s ghost was certainly an effective presence on that account!

There is something this writer has to admit here, readers. Seeing the Grand Inquisitor again was a shock for me. No question. But at the same time, it was also a hopeful scene which kind of gave me the warm and fuzzies.

It reminded me that we never really know what is in another person’s heart. Kanan and the rest of us assumed the Grand Inquisitor was lost to the Dark Side completely. Then he pops up in the Jedi temple, not as an enemy but as a friend!

Who are we to say where someone should or should not be after they die? Who are we to say, upon the death of another person, whether they made it to eternal reward or were sent to eternal punishment? “Consumed by the Dark Side were the Jedi,” Yoda said in Shroud. Depa Billaba, Mace Windu, and other Jedi of the old order probably became one with the Light-side of the Force after Order 66.

But it is doubtful that all the Jedi killed in the Purge earned that reward. Some probably fell to the Dark Side before – or at the moment of – their deaths. Just as the Pau’an Grand Inquisitor became one with the Light-side of the Force before – or at the moment of – his death in the reactor core on Tarkin’s ship.

Certainly, this is no excuse for going over to the Dark Side in the first place. The remorse-filled expression on the Grand Inquisitor’s face as he tells an astounded Kanan that the other is now an official Jedi Knight says it all. The Pau’an is looking at what he once was when he looks at Kanan. He is seeing a Jedi filled with the light of the Force. And he is remembering how he, who once had the same light in his soul, turned his own back on the Jedi way, walking in darkness in service to the Sith. Until a young man, who only had the training of a Padawan, bested him in a lightsaber duel aboard an Imperial ship.

*Sniff.* It really was a beautiful scene, readers. Can we have a round of applause for Rebels’ writers here?

Thank you.

*Deep breath.* Okay, on to the rest of the episode! Ahsoka has finally accepted the fact that her beloved master, Anakin Skywalker, became the black-armored terror Darth Vader. But she seems unwilling to give up on him, muttering, “There is still a way,” before racing out of the temple. It is hard not to think that she will try to turn him back to the light. Why in the name of the Force would she not try to do that?

We know her attempt will fail. It is Luke who will save his father’s soul, not Ahsoka.   Most everyone is saying Tano will bite the bullet in season two’s finale: Twilight of the Apprentice, Part 1 & 2. These episodes will play back-to-back on March 30, and while I agree that the odds are not in Ahsoka’s favor, I am not sure the writers will kill her off in these episodes. They could still get a lot of mileage out of a long, drawn-out conflict over season three between Vader and Ahsoka. That she will die before A New Hope I am sure. Will she die in the season two finale of Star Wars Rebels…? Eh, I am unconvinced. It could happen, though.

Of greater concern to me is Ezra’s fate in the season two finale. He is the only other apprentice in Rebels. Kanan just got knighted; he no longer counts as a Padawan. There have been hints that Ezra is skating near the Dark Side throughout the series so far. The first was at Fort Anaxes in season one.   And in Shroud of Darkness, it is shown that Ezra has begun to get cocky as his Force abilities have grown. He practically brushes off his and Kanan’s encounter with Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister at the start of the show, kicking back and relaxing as his teacher mulls over the Inquisitors’ apparent power to track them.

This probably would have happened to Ezra even if the Jedi Order had not been exterminated. Kids get cocky. It happens.

It also means that when they get knocked off their high horses, their first reaction is anger. Ezra is human, and anger is one of our big problems. As a Jedi apprentice, the risks to Ezra’s soul are even greater. Twilight of the Apprentice may not refer to Ahsoka at all. It may in fact refer to Ezra.

The Grand Inquisitor’s statements in Kanan’s vision quest, and the fact that Darth Maul will return in Apprentice, have done nothing to ease my mind about the question. Kanan, while not knowing about Maul, is doubtless worried as well. As the newly minted Jedi Knight pointed out, though, he cannot protect Ezra from everything for all eternity. Ezra has to grow up – and if he falls on his face in the process, well, that is what is going to happen. And it could have the wonderful effect of making him a better Jedi.

It could also, of course, have the undesirable effect of driving him toward the Dark Side – and Darth Maul. It is a good thing I have no nails to bite. My fingers would be bleeding otherwise!

As for Ahsoka’s inability to help Kanan open the temple on Lothal, it makes sense. She is no longer a Jedi. Though still a Force-user, her blade color – white – marks her as a neutral party/retired Jedi. She is not of the Dark Side, but neither does she serve the light as the Jedi did/do. It would be improper for her to enter a Jedi temple like the one on Lothal without permission – something Kanan apparently knew, as he was unsurprised when Ahsoka told Ezra she could not help open the temple.

Finally, readers, I have to say that I am rather fed up with people saying Kanan and Ezra have to die before the time of the original trilogy arrives. Seriously, does no one remember the novels?! Yes, they are no longer canon storylines (thanks so much, Disney/Lucasfilm …grrr). Nevertheless, in these novels there were other Jedi who lived to see the Rebellion arise. Some of these were new Jedi, like Kyle Katarn and Corran Horn. Others were survivors of the Jedi Purge: Quinlan Vos, Ferus Olin, and Kam Solusar.

It is true that Ferus Olin died before Return of the Jedi. But, in the books, he did cross paths with Luke and Leia before Vader killed him. Kam Solusar escaped to wild space at the time of the Purge, returning later on – where the resurrected Palpatine caught him and enslaved him. Luke was able to turn him, and Solusar became one of his best Knights in the new Jedi Order afterward. Quinlan Vos, a Jedi whose story was unfinished as of the advent of The Force Awakens and its new timeline (to the best of this writer’s knowledge), may have also lived to run into Luke Skywalker.

Kyle Katarn and Corran Horn were both Force-sensitive men who joined the Rebellion at the time of the original trilogy. Katarn joined up somewhere between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, while Corran appeared either between Empire and Return of the Jedi, or after the latter.

And then there is Mara Jade, Emperor’s Hand. Her official appearance was five years after Jedi, but books written prior to The Force Awakens showed her running around the galaxy on missions for Palpatine during the original trilogy. Each time, she and Luke almost met, but never quite managed to actually come face-to-face. This strategy of writing kept the timeline of the original trilogy intact, while adding to Mara’s history in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

I do not see why Kanan and Ezra could not have fates similar to Solusar, Vos, Katarn, and Horn. Admittedly there is nothing to prevent them from dying, as Ferus Olin did. In his case, though, he had the same problem Ahsoka does: Ferus knew Anakin Skywalker personally before he became Darth Vader. The writers could not resist ditching him to ensure Luke would never know his heritage before The Empire Strikes Back.

Of course, those who think Kanan and Ezra have to die will cite Yoda’s line from Return of the Jedi: “When gone am I, last of the Jedi you will be.” Well, pardon me, but what about the five guys I just listed here? According to these other writers’ logic, Kam Solusar, Kyle Katarn, Corran Horn, and Quinlan Vos should all have died to make Yoda’s statement a hundred percent true.

There are reasons why Yoda would say this to Luke. 1) Back when Return of the Jedi was released, there were probably not that many novels focusing on other Force-sensitives in the same time-frame as Luke. This makes Yoda’s statement in the film a hundred percent true.

2) With all the new stories that have come out since Jedi, we need another explanation as to why Yoda would say this. The fact is, Yoda was nine hundred years old, sick, and dying in Return of the Jedi. He died hours after Luke returned to Dagobah to finish his training. Who says that he was still able to see and sense the other Jedi or Light-side Force-sensitives running around the galaxy? I mean, Yoda was strong with the Force, but he was hardly omniscient! It stands to reason he might miss somebody – or several somebodies – fighting for the Rebellion by using the Force as a Jedi would.

3) Solusar and Vos would not have been considered true Jedi by Yoda. Vos married a woman and had a son with her. He was going to leave the Jedi Order once the Clone Wars had ended. Order 66 did that job for him. Solusar, the son of a Jedi Knight who had wed against the Jedi Order’s strict ban, would not have been considered a real Jedi by Yoda either. While I doubt Yoda was a very prejudiced person, the fact is that there would be ample reason for him to consider Kam Solusar a non-Jedi Force-user. Kam became an official Jedi only after training at Luke’s Jedi Academy, anyway.

4) As for Corran and Kyle, who were both Force-sensitive, if I remember correctly they had some guidance from Jedi spirits on how to serve the Light-side of the Force. This was not, however, a substitute for real master-apprentice training, which Obi-Wan and Yoda had given Luke. At best, Yoda would have considered the two men maverick Force-users. They would not have qualified as Jedi in his opinion – though I doubt he thought they were evil.

5) Of course, Ferus Olin was dead by Return of the Jedi in the old canon order of the novels. He Yoda would definitely have considered a Jedi. Even though Ferus pulled an Ahsoka, leaving the Jedi Order after a mishap that ended with the death of another apprentice, he remained a Jedi at heart. Ahsoka did not. This would have been enough for Yoda to consider Ferus – and other stragglers from the Purge like him – as real Jedi. With Ferus and most of the other survivors of Order 66 dead, Yoda would have considered Luke the last of the rightly trained Jedi Knights in the galaxy.

I know this makes Yoda sound a little heartless, not to mention senile, mean, and bigoted. But by all the standards of the Old Jedi Order, this is probably what he would have thought. The main reason for this diatribe, readers, is to point out that Kanan and Ezra could very well survive to see the original Star Wars trilogy. Neither of them have to die – and unless the third season of Rebels will be the series’ last, there is no reason for the writers to kill either of them.

Ezra is the main protagonist of Star Wars Rebels. Killing him at the end of the series would be bad taste – killing him in season two’s finale would be a suicidal writing device. Kanan is not much more expendable; at the moment, as Ezra needs a mentor. And, when Ezra finally graduates to Jedi Knight, I still see no reason for the writers to eliminate him or Kanan.

Kyle Katarn and Luke Skywalker crossed paths at least a couple of times between the original films in the Expanded Universe novels without interrupting the saga’s timeline. Ezra could do the same thing. Ferus met Luke several times without revealing his true heritage to him. And Ferus knew Anakin was Darth Vader. If Kanan were to cross paths with Luke, I see no reason for him to let the young Jedi in on his heritage – especially since even Ahsoka never figured out that Padmé and Anakin were married. If she could not figure it out, how the heck would Kanan?

At most, Kanan could honestly repeat what Obi-Wan told Luke in A New Hope: Anakin Skywalker was a great Jedi Knight and, however improbably (from Kanan’s point of view), he was Luke’s father. That is all Kanan is ever going to know about the subject. Why in the galaxy would Ahsoka ruin his opinion of Anakin by revealing her former master had become Darth Vader? There is no logic there.

This is not much protection for Kanan, after a point, but there is even less excuse for the writers to kill Ezra. He is Luke and Leia’s age, born the same day they were. He has been a rebel on the front lines for years longer than either of them by A New Hope. When Return of the Jedi rolled around, he could be on Luke’s short list for recruits for Knights for the new Jedi Order. If Kanan survived the Rebellion as well, then he would be invaluable to Luke as an instructor for the new order of Jedi. The Force Awakens says Luke trained a new generation of Jedi.

It never said he didn’t have help doing it.

Besides, even if Kanan and Ezra refused to join or help found the new Jedi Order, that hardly means they would have to die. If Disney follows through on a rumor I heard a while ago, they will probably make a TV series based on the new Star Wars film trilogy. Doing that would be a great way to reintroduce us at least to Ezra and Sabine, with flashbacks to Rebels thrown in for good measure.

I really see no reason for Kanan or Ezra to bite the dust. That does not protect them being killed – I am simply saying that, from these arguments, it appears foolish to talk about the writers killing them. The people out there spreading rumors of Kanan or Ezra’s demise might want to take their foot off the gas pedal long enough to think things through a little more.

That being said, I have no crystal ball. We will know nothing until March 30. So, until then…

May the Force be with you, readers!

The Mithril Guardian

 Gargoyles: “We are Defenders of the Night….”

The Manhattan Clan

Heigh-ho, DiNozzo!

DAY FIVE of Torture Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, coming at you!  How’s your week been so far, Tony?

Miserable?  Huh.  That’s strange.  I’ve been having fun this whole time.

Hah-ha!  You missed!  Try to head slap me again, and I’ll call Gibbs down on you!

Easy, easy!  If you’re that desperate for me to start talking then I’ll just skip the pleasantries and jump right in.

You are?

All right, here we go!

Back in the 1990’s, Disney had an interesting animated series called Gargoyles.  It starts out one night in New York City.  A storm is moving in.  People are walking along the streets when they hear loud explosions from the top of a nearby skyscraper.  Looking up, they’re in time to notice falling debris.  Everyone jumps out of the way as huge blocks of stone crash to the street below.

The police arrive and push the curious crowd away from the scene.  One detective, Elisa Maza, gets close enough to the stones to notice one block has huge claw marks in it.

Her musing is cut off as more blocks fall and she has to pull back.  But what could leave claw marks like those in solid stone?

The answer?  Gargoyles.

Gargoyles, as a series, technically begins in 994 A.D. at Castle Wyvern in Scotland.  Vikings are attacking the castle.  It is almost nightfall, and the Viking soldiers are nervous.  They say it is insanity to attack a castle with gargoyles near night time.

But their leader, Hakon, intends to take Wyvern at all costs.  Declaring that the gargoyles “are no more than carven stone” he leads his men in climbing the walls.  He reaches the top of the tower, where the biggest gargoyle sits in a thoughtful pose. The sun sets….

And the gargoyles, starting with the one nearest Hakon, shed a skin of stone and spring to life!

Hakon is shocked, but still attacks the huge gargoyle (6ft, 10 inches tall) above him.  The gargoyle is called Goliath by the residents of the castle for his size and strength.  He blocks the Viking’s stroke but has his hand cut in the process.  Hakon urges his men to fight the gargoyles since they can be hurt.

The attack is pitiful as the gargoyles almost playfully drive the Vikings away.  Goliath throws Hakon after his men, and the Viking leader swears vengeance for the humiliating defeat the gargoyles have handed him before he, too, retreats.

At a feast in the hall later that night the teenage Princess Katherine, ruler of Castle Wyvern, offers the Captain of the Guard her thanks for such a brave defense.  The Captain replies that it was Goliath and the gargoyles who really won the night.  Princess Katherine frostily requests that he avoid mentioning “that monster’s name in my presence!”  No sooner does she utter these words than the doors to hall are thrown open and Goliath and his mate enter.  The Captain hastily explains that he asked them in so they could be thanked for their bravery.

The entire castle court, present for the feast, is affronted by the gargoyles ‘daring’ to enter their company.  Both the Princess and her magician, known only as the Magus, describe the gargoyles as beasts to their faces.  Goliath’s mate (voiced by Mirina Sirtis, a.k.a. Deana Troi) hisses angrily at the insults but Goliath pulls her back and excuses the two of them from the party before trouble can erupt.

Outside on the walls, the Captain apologizes for the insults but Goliath brushes them off.  She does not, accusing her mate of having neither a sense of justice nor of pride.  Goliath responds that it is the nature of humans to fear what they don’t understand and seemingly calms her down.  Later on, the Magus is shown flipping through his book of spells in search of something.

At dawn the gargoyles return to the walls where the rising sun again turns them to stone statues.  Just after the sun has risen, a lone rider leaves the castle.

In the camp of the Vikings, he speaks to Hakon.  “You seek to take Castle Wyvern,” says the traitor.

Hakon is skeptical until the man mentions a way may be opened for the Vikings to get in.

That night Goliath, his mate, and the Captain talk about the threat the Vikings still pose to the castle.  The Captain suggests Goliath take his clan of gargoyles and hunt down the Vikings so they cannot attack the castle again.  Goliath’s mate seconds the plan, but Goliath himself is leery of the idea of leaving the castle defenseless.  He also reasons that the plan puts too many gargoyles at risk.

However, he’s not averse to chasing down the Vikings himself.  Because of his size and strength, he feels he can “scare those cowards away without any help.”  His mate begs to go with him but Goliath refuses.  As his second-in-command, she will have to remain at the castle to keep order among the other gargoyles.  Still, he promises that he won’t go after the Vikings completely alone.

With this plan settled, Goliath goes to find his traveling companion.  His mate flies off to another section of the castle and watches two younger gargoyles play with the castle gargoyle ‘watchdog.’

A young human boy named Tom, curious about the gargoyles, approaches the two and asks their names.  They reply that only Goliath has a name; traditionally gargoyles don’t take names.  The budding friendship is halted by Tom’s mother as she pulls him away from the gargoyles in fear.  One gargoyle with red skin tries to assure her that they would never hurt the boy but her response is to throw an old bone at him, catching him in the beak.

Angered, Goliath’s mate enters the situation, reprimanding the scared woman for her behavior.  Things get further out of hand when the two gargoyles start ‘teasing’ the woman and a few other peasants attracted to the noise.  Before things totally spiral out of control, Goliath and an older, one-eyed gargoyle drop down between the gargoyles and humans.  Goliath chastises the two gargoyles and a third (who was eating during the fuss but arrived on the scene in time to be mistaken as a partner in the mischief).  He sentences the three and the ‘watchdog’ to a night in the rookery, the part of the castle where the gargoyles keep their eggs.

Goliath’s mate defends the three, claiming it was the humans who started the fight.  Goliath, although he cannot permit fighting between gargoyles and humans, promises that he will make amends with the three punished gargoyles the next night.  Then he and his mentor take off to find the Vikings.

It takes the two all night to catch up with the Norsemen.  When they do, they find only a handful of Vikings leading the band’s horses as a distraction.  Turning back to get to the castle, Goliath and his mentor are too late.  The sun rises and both transform into their ‘stone sleep’ for the day’s duration.

That day Hakon attacks the castle.  Though the human defenders fight, they are betrayed.  The archers’ bowstrings snap and someone opens the portcullis.  The Vikings rush into the castle and begin a slaughter.

Running to get to her commander, Princess Katherine meets the traitorous Captain of the guard who grabs her wrist and leads her away with a snarl.  The castle is soon sacked and the Vikings have carried the day.

On the walls at dusk, Hakon and the Captain discuss their deal.  Then Hakon turns to a nearby stone gargoyle and raises his mace.  The Captain tries to stop him but when the Viking leader threatens his own life; the traitor sits back and watches as Hakon begins smashing the defenseless gargoyles to pieces.

That night, Goliath and his mentor return to find the castle burning and their clan rubble.  Goliath is especially distraught when he finds his mate’s perch.  Mourning his ‘Angel of the Night,’ Goliath finds the punished trio and ‘watchdog’ are the only survivors of the Wyvern massacre.  The five unanimously decide to rescue the inhabitants of the castle and then get revenge on whoever betrayed them.

In the camp of the Vikings, Princess Katherine vows to see both Hakon and the Captain hang for what they’ve done.  When the Magus suggests what he would do if he had his book of spells in hand, Hakon contemptuously rips a page from the book and burns it.  The little chat is interrupted by a gargoyle roar.  Terrified, Hakon orders his men to attack while the Princess seizes her opportunity and makes a run for it.  Hakon and the Captain pursue her with the intention of killing her while the forgotten Magus attempts to free himself.

The three young gargoyles, the watchdog, and Goliath’s mentor quickly chase off the Viking band.  But the round of congratulations is cut short when the Magus, having freed himself, spots them.  The last he saw of the Princess, she was running for her life from Hakon and the Captain.  Thinking she’s been killed and in a blind fury, he casts a spell on the bewildered gargoyles.

Meanwhile Goliath, who saw the escaping Princess, has arrived to help her.  She and her two captors are backed up against a cliff and Goliath is furious when he recognizes the Captain.  The Captain begs his old friend for mercy, saying that if he had only taken the whole clan with him they would still be alive.  When Hakon attempts to divert Goliath’s wrath solely onto the Captain, he becomes enraged and attacks the Viking.  In the struggle the two fall off the cliff, knocking the Princess off as well.

Forgetting his rage, Goliath rushes forward in time to catch and rescue Katherine.  He is too late to do anything with Hakon and the Captain, who tumble into darkness.  But Goliath has little time to mourn his lost revenge as Tom, taken captive by the Vikings with his mother during the day, rushes up to him and the Princess with bad news.

Returning to the Viking camp, Goliath finds his remaining gargoyles turned to stone at night.  The Magus is about to do the same to him when he spies Princess Katherine.  Goliath orders the magician to restore his friends but the Magus cannot.  The counter spell was on the page Hakon burned earlier in the evening.

However, the terms of the spell are that the gargoyles “shall sleep until the castle rises above the clouds.”  So there is hope, albeit faint and thin.

Restoring his friends to their places in the castle, Goliath accepts the apologies of both the Princess and the Magus who have changed their opinions of him and his species.  He then asks that they each do something for him: he requests that the Princess guard and care for the gargoyle eggs in the rookery since they will soon hatch.  On receiving her promise, Goliath then asks the Magus to cast the spell he put upon the other gargoyles on him as well.

As dawn breaks over the silent castle, the audience spots Goliath in his accustomed place atop the tower of Wyvern castle.

Whew, that is one of the longest descriptions I have ever had to write!  And this is for the first two episodes of a five part opening!

Aw, come on, DiNozzo!  I’m almost out of breath here!  All right, tell you what: there’s too much detail in the next three episodes, so I’ll attempt to sum them up.

Castle Wyvern stands in its exact place for a thousand years.  Then, in 1994, a millionaire named David Xanatos arrives and buys the castle lock, stock, and barrel.  (Interestingly, Xanatos is drawn to resemble Jonathan Frakes, who voices the character throughout the run of the series.)  He transports the castle to the top of his newest skyscraper, high above the clouds.

This fulfills the terms of the spell and awakens Goliath and the other gargoyles.  Xanatos tries to make friends with them, and an attack on the castle seems to help reinforce his claim of friendship.

Still, once bitten is twice shy.  Goliath’s trust is no longer easily given to whoever asks for it.  Xanatos finds the huge gargoyle hard to bring around, and he doesn’t seem to like it.

Later, Elisa Maza arrives at the castle atop the skyscraper to ask about the noise she heard, the fire of automatic weapons.  Xanatos shows her around after telling her that his “multi-million dollar company” is threatened on all sides and he has a right to the arms he keeps on hand to protect his assets.  After the tour he asks his butler, Owen Burnett, to show Elisa out.  On the way Elisa spots one of the gargoyles but doesn’t realize he’s not made of stone.  Owen tells her he gets the creeps around the old castle at night, too.  He puts her in the elevator and leaves.

But Elisa doesn’t.  Stopping the elevator, she proceeds to poke around the castle.  The watchdog and Goliath surprise her and Goliath has to rescue her when she accidentally falls off the parapet.  Taking her back to the castle, he explains the gargoyles’ history and she explains what a detective is.  Curious about this new human (who is equally curious about the gargoyles), Goliath agrees to meet Elisa the next night a few rooftops away.  As the NYPD detective leaves, Goliath is summoned to Xanatos’s office.

Xanatos tells Goliath the attackers stole important ‘talismen’ (computer disks) from him.  He asks Goliath if he and the others would be willing to go and get the disks back.  Though he is grateful for Xanatos’s awakening the clan, Goliath draws back from doing this.  He is unwilling to send his entire clan into open battle when they don’t know the risks.  Xanatos lets the subject go and Goliath leaves, as it is nearly dawn and he will have to sleep soon.  But it’s obvious that Xanatos wants Goliath to go after those disks.

So the day passes and Goliath goes to meet Elisa.  His mentor drops in almost as soon as the two meet, having come to make sure Goliath wasn’t walking into an ambush.  Elisa’s response is that the two gargoyles are “paranoid even for New York!”  She then offers to give Goliath a tour of the city and asks what to call his friend.  When it’s revealed that Goliath’s mentor has no name, a debate between Elisa and the older gargoyle ensues.  In the end, the old warrior agrees to take a name honoring the Hudson River in order to satisfy Elisa (the Hudson part, not the river part, you goose!).

To get from place to place, Goliath has to carry Elisa since she can’t fly and he would attract attention by walking down the street.  This leads to an awkward moment that hints Goliath and Elisa have begun a romance; a hint the newly named Hudson sees right off the bat.

Oh, gee wiz, it’s not an impossible plot twist, Tony!  Remember the series Beauty and the Beast?  It even happens in real life!  Have you married Ziva yet?  No, but you’re giving each other the look.

Whoa!  Hey, no head slapping here!  That’s Gibbs’s department!  Do you want me to call him?!

Then sit down and let me finish.  Thank you.

Anyway, Elisa and Goliath’s night is going fine when the same people who attacked the castle come after Goliath.  They manage to sting him with a tranquilizer dart but it has very little effect on the giant gargoyle, merely making him unable to take off and somewhat drowsy.  Elisa soon discovers how the mercenaries found them; someone planted a bug on Goliath.  Taking it off, the savvy detective attaches the device to a stray dog and helps Goliath farther into the park.

But the pursuit continues until dawn, when Goliath must again transform to stone.  With the renegades closing in, Elisa takes action.  She leads the band to the lake in Central Park and manages to lose them there, returning to the spot where Goliath is sleeping to guard him through the day.  As night falls Goliath sheds his stone skin and stretches.  Elisa is as surprised by this as by his sudden change to stone during the day.  The two agree to meet later that night and then part ways amicably after shaking hands.

Back at the castle, the trio learns from a returned Goliath that Hudson took a name.  Inspired, the three then name themselves: the red gargoyle calls himself Brooklyn; the large (bordering on fat) gargoyle takes the name Broadway, appropriately enough; and the smallest calls himself Lexington (thereafter called ‘Lex’ for short).  Brooklyn then names the watchdog Bronx, though the creature seems less than enthusiastic about the new name.

After the round of name-giving, Xanatos calls Goliath to his office yet again.  This time, however, he has a surprise.  A door in his office opens to reveal Goliath’s ‘Angel of the Night,’ alive and physically unchanged by the centuries!

Their reunion is happy enough but something is off, or at least it is to the audience.  Goliath’s mate spins a story about begging to be frozen like the rest of the clan and that Xanatos bought her before purchasing and moving the castle.  He then brought her to the castle to see if she was also under a spell, at which time she awoke as well.  She next suggests that the clan go after the stolen disks, hidden in three facilities belonging to a rival company, as a thank you for Xanatos’s awakening them.

Can you say ‘set up’?

Overjoyed to have her back, though, Goliath agrees to the plan.  He sends Hudson and Bronx after one facility and the trio after a second.  The third, a floating fortress, is his and his mate’s to attack.

The two other teams accomplish their missions easily enough, retrieving the disks but hurting no one.  At least, they hurt no one very seriously.

The fortress battle is another matter.  Goliath and his mate easily knock down a few guards, but then Goliath’s mate prepares to drop one of the unconscious men out of an open hatch.  Goliath is horrified by this attempt at murder and prevents it.  Because they’re in a battle, Goliath has to concentrate more on the task at hand then on his mate’s sudden change in behavior.  The two soon retrieve the disk and Goliath is prepared to simply leave.

His mate, however, has other ideas.  She rips a power cord out of a console and sets it to the control systems of the fortress.  This wrecks the fortress’s ability to stay aloft and it starts to plummet into the bay.  Goliath is forced to avoid telling his mate off so they can instead focus on escaping the sinking ‘ship.’

On a pier below, Elisa arrives as the fortress crashes into the bay.  She catches sight of two gargoyles gliding away from the scene and recognizes one of them as Goliath.

At the castle, the clan gives the disks to Xanatos and goes outside.  Remembering his promise to meet Elisa, Goliath tells the others he has to meet a friend.  His mate becomes angry, saying that the clan has no friend other than Xanatos.  Because of her behavior aboard the fortress and her outburst here, Goliath doesn’t name Elisa and remarks that while his mate says the centuries have changed him, they seemed to have changed her more.  He leaves the castle, and his ‘Angel of the Night’ goes in to see Xanatos.

Meeting Elisa on a rooftop some distance away, Goliath is surprised to find her angry and somewhat hurt.  She reports about the break-ins and admits to seeing Goliath and another gargoyle leaving the doomed fortress.  When Goliath replies that they were merely taking back items stolen from Xanatos a few nights ago, Elisa proceeds to give him proof that nothing was stolen but the disks he and his clan took, which belong to the other company.  Xanatos has used the gargoyles to do his dirty work for him this whole time!

No, this does not make Goliath happy.  And an unhappy gargoyle, especially one of Goliath’s size and strength, is not a good thing.

Goliath returns to the castle in time to help his clan fend off an attack by robotic gargoyles built by Xanatos.  Programmed with the information from the stolen disks, the so called ‘Steel Clan’ is nevertheless trashed by the more adaptable gargoyles.

Xanatos then resorts to hand-held weapons.  Goliath receives yet another brutal betrayal when he sees his mate side with the villain.  This leads to an angry argument between the two.  Goliath’s mate finally reveals that she was in on the plan to sack Castle Wyvern in 994.  Though the Captain had said that he would protect the gargoyles while the Vikings were in the castle, she hadn’t trusted him and had spent the day elsewhere.  “I’ve stayed alive this long because I don’t trust anyone!” she tells Goliath.

She then proceeds to lay the blame for the gargoyle slaughter on Goliath because he didn’t take the entire clan with him to chase down the Vikings, instead leaving them behind to protect the humans.  Goliath responds that there are evil humans but also evil gargoyles; he tells her the massacre would never have happened if she and the Captain hadn’t betrayed the castle in the first place.

Finding she can’t turn Goliath, his former mate fires her RPG (she likes big guns) at him.  Goliath, though blinded by tears of pain, manages to dodge the shot but is knocked over.  His mate then points the RPG directly at him and tells him she was also named by humans.  “I am Demona,” she says as she pulls the trigger.

Her shot is sent awry, though, as Elisa slams into her to save Goliath, having arrived to help the clan fight Xanatos.  The wild missile streaks into a stone tower which tilts over in the direction of the two disoriented females.  Xanatos is knocked out by falling debris as the tower crashes onto the parapet, breaking it and sending Elisa and Demona falling.

Because Elisa cannot fly, Goliath swoops after her.  He manages to rescue her but cannot go after Demona, who is hammered by falling stones and continues to fall until she’s out of sight.

Yeah, unless I heard or saw her go splat, I wouldn’t buy that she was dead either.  Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be completely sure she was toast even after the splat.

But this is off topic.  Still wounded by this unexpected treachery, Goliath grabs Xanatos and threatens to drop him over the castle wall, too.  Elisa and Hudson turn him against the tempting idea by stating that if he drops Xanatos he’ll be no better than Demona.  Goliath relents and instead lets Elisa arrest the billionaire, who smiles smugly because he’ll be out of jail by dawn.

Speaking of which, the sun is about to rise at this point.  As the gargoyles prepare to sleep, Elisa and Goliath chat for a few minutes.  Goliath’s face is quite a picture when Elisa suggests that they could go and catch a Giants game the next night.  Goliath, of course, suspects she means real giants.  As he freezes in stone sleep Elisa muses to herself about whether or not New York is ready to have the gargoyles flying over it.  On this note, the episode concludes….and the series begins.

Okay, yeah, that was a little more than a short summing up of the introduction to Gargoyles.

Now I’ll tie up the loose ends.

While Gargoyles is an undeniably fascinating series, it does suffer somewhat from dark themes and plot arcs.  I find that these types of stories were prevalent in the ‘nineties as writers somehow decided upbeat stories were no longer the ‘trend.’

The series also ends up, in my opinion, overplaying its hand with both the magic characteristics of the gargoyles’ history and Xanatos’s wanton dabbling in scientific matters (he didn’t stop with robots but went so far as to clone Goliath as well as mutating four humans into humanoid cats with giant bat wings, one of which was Elisa’s younger brother Derek).  Though the magic aspect causes its own problems, the series’ dive into berserk science is equally heavy throughout the series’ three seasons.

Despite these darker viewpoints, the series’ exploration into the gargoyles as individuals makes it very intriguing.  The romantic hints that often showed up in situations with Elisa and Goliath were also a fun angle to the show.  In essence, one could argue, this odd romance was the driving theme behind the entire series.

All in all, I think it’s a real pity that the show was left with a cliff-hanger ending in the third season.  Although Gargoyles continued in comic book form for some time, in a decade where an animated TV series could run for years (witness the 90’s X-Men and Amazing Spider-Man shows, which each ran for about seven years), this series didn’t deserve such a brief send off.

If they ever decide to revive the show, I’d be happy to take a look at it.  Though I will add that I would hope they could drop the darker features of the original series.

What is tomorrow’s note about?  You don’t really expect me to tell you what I have in mind, do you, DiNozzo?

Well, all right.  One hint.  I may be talking about something related to Disney tomorrow.

Ah, that’s all you get!  Nothing else!  Nada! Zip!

Later,

Mithril