Tag Archives: Jedi Master Depa Billaba

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’ First “Spark of Rebellion”

Hey there, Star Wars fans!  Strap into your X-wings, grab your blasters, and hang on to your lightsabers, because today’s subject is Disney’s animated series Star Wars Rebels!

I had intended to write a post about this series not long after it aired. But, with so few episodes played on television, I feared that doing so would be premature. I still wanted to write about the series, but I thought it best to see the first season through before I said anything in favor of – or in protest against – Star Wars Rebels.

Now that the first season of the show has run its course, I am free to unleash my opinions about it. To start this post off, if you have not seen the series, here is the main cast of Rebels:

Ezra Bridger: Ezra is a street boy from the capitol city of Lathol, an Outer Rim planet, who is also Force-sensitive. Physically designed to look like Aladdin, but somewhat younger (fourteen at the beginning of the show, fifteen from the middle of the first season onward), he makes his living as a minor pickpocket who is not averse to stealing bits and pieces from Imperial officers. He is particularly fond of stealing Stormtrooper helmets, and is quite willing to pull pranks on the Imperials – when there is no chance of their realizing that he is behind the prank, that is.

In Rebels’ first episodes/introductory film, Ezra falls in with a small band (you can count their number on one hand) of rebels who regularly cause trouble for the Empire. Though Ezra at first has no intention of staying with the crew for very long, he soon becomes fond of them and joins the gang permanently.

 

Kanan Jarrus: Originally called Caleb Dume, he took on the name Kanan Jarrus after the fall of the Jedi, probably because his real name was on the roll of Jedi known to have been in the Order at the time of the Clone Wars.

Kanan was the apprentice of Jedi Master Depa Billaba, but his training was cut short when Order 66 was implemented. He was fourteen when he saw his Master killed by Clone troopers. Following her order to “Run,” he disappeared into the galaxy, letting his Force skills atrophy to nearly nothing and burying his past as a Jedi in the same drawer where he kept his lightsaber, becoming a fair shot with a blaster as a result.

Joining up with the pilot of the Rebels’ band, Kanan became the gang’s leader. Smart, cocky, and ready with a snappy comeback or piece of battle banter, Kanan’s Jedi history was a secret known only to his crew. Until the group had to save a band of Wookies in the opening film for the series, the Imperials were none the wiser of his existence, let alone his heritage.

Kanan’s past as a Jedi meant that he recognized Ezra’s Force-sensitivity fairly quickly. Knowing that sooner or later the kid could get caught and what the Empire would do to him once they discovered his connection to the Force, Kanan offered to train Ezra in the ways of the Jedi. This left him uneasy, however, since his own training was incomplete and he had avoided being a Jedi for some time. Now, he and Ezra are learning about the Force in concert, and Kanan has been told that this is his last chance to be a Jedi. If he fails now, he and Ezra are both toast.

 

Hera Syndulla: A Twi’lek and pilot of the rebels’ ship, the Ghost, Hera is the mother figure for the crew. Down-to-earth, firm, but also warm and kind, Hera keeps the rebels centered. She rarely loses her temper, but when she does, duck. She has a good right hook, and should not be underestimated in hand-to-hand combat. Hera’s friendship with Kanan may be more than a friendship, as she will refer to him as either “dear” or “love” from time to time. She seconds for him in almost every situation and he backs up her motherly discipline or decisions, as well as taking her advice on how he should deal with Ezra. Her piloting skills are just below Han’s as far as I can tell. Hera is the first member of the Ghost’s crew to take a real shine to Ezra.

Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios: A former Lasat honor guard from Lasan, Zeb is one of the few Lasats left in the galaxy, since the Empire forcibly “cleared” his homeworld for colonization. Gruff and grumpy, but a loyal friend once you earn his respect, Zeb is the team’s muscle. He is not your average heavy-hitter; he thinks when he gets into a fight and can come up with lots of clever maneuvers in battle. He hates the Empire for killing most of his people and forcing the survivors off Lasan. On a lighter note, though, Zeb also enjoys beating up Stormtroopers. Every chance he gets, Zeb smacks their heads together. He says something about the feel of their helmets just makes it more fun.

 

Sabine Wren: A sixteen year old girl from Mandalore, Sabine has some serious fighting skills for her age. She also enjoys blowing things up. Just how she joined up with the rebels we do not yet know, but apparently she went to the Imperial Academy on Mandalore and “it was a nightmare.”

Sabine seems to fill the daughter role in the crew, as both Hera and Kanan treat her more gently than they do Zeb and Ezra. Zeb usually partners with her in a fight, acting in an older brotherly-fashion toward her and making her safety his priority. Ezra has a crush on her. (Don’t laugh; it worked for Anakin and Padmé!) Sabine is also an artist. She is especially good at graffiti. She regularly spray paints Imperial hardware, and the phoenix symbol the rebels occasionally leave behind after a mission is her specialty. Her Mandalorian armor and even her blasters are painted as well.

Chopper: Chopper is Hera’s cranky C1-10P astromech droid. Cantankerous and a grumbler, Chopper is willing to pull pranks on every male member of the crew. Kanan is rarely the butt of his mischief; for the most part, that is directed toward Zeb and Ezra. Chopper is almost always in a bad mood; he only lowers his grumbling for Hera and Sabine. The guys get it with force, enthusiasm and, when the situation calls for it, volume. Chopper is not the friendliest astromech you are ever going to meet; the creators have apparently said that, “If R2- D2 is your favorite dog, then Chopper’s a cat.” He’s the grumpy grandpa of the gang. Where you can make a fuss over R2, Chopper would probably zap you for almost no reason at all.

 –

Okay, with the character list out of the way, we can get to the really important stuff. Initially, I was not sure I was going to like Rebels. I had skipped out on the Clone Wars series because I could not stand the prequel Star Wars films. Plus, I thought the animation for the series stank. Besides, it was not as if the Clone Wars cartoon actually tied into the bigger Star Wars saga, right?

Eh, wrong, as I have discovered. Turns out the Clone Wars series IS part of the larger Star Wars story’s history. Star Wars Rebels is like the Clone Wars in that vein, being set in the five years prior to A New Hope. In fact, both animated series are so far the only tie-in stories for the new Star Wars timeline coming out with Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. All the previous books and stories from the past thirty years no longer relate to the films’ timeline, according to Lucasfilm. For us Mara Jade Skywalker, Solo children, and all-around Expanded Universe fans, that is a very lousy turn of events. I am not happy that thirty years of stories, especially the great ones written before this year, just got erased.

But what can you do, other than go on living? Maybe the writers will keep Mara and the Solo kids in the Star Wars epic after all. It is a big maybe, but unless they want a full-fledged riot on their hands, doing that seems more sensible than outright nullifying everything fans have had time to enjoy between the original Star Wars trilogy and the less-than-satisfactory prequel trilogy. Oh, well, c’est la vie!

Back to the topic at hand. Despite my initial misgivings, I can say I fully enjoyed Rebels’ first season. Mostly, this is due to the fact that we finally get to meet a Jedi in the same era as Luke and the gang! As you may have guessed, this was the part of the first season which really impressed me. The prequels had Jedi all over the place, I know, but hardly any of them got introduced to the audience in a meaningful way. Mace Windu, Ki Adi Mundi, Luminara Unduli – we hardly got to know any of them in the films or The Clone Wars TV series. They showed up for an episode or two and then they left.

Oh, yeah, and in Revenge of the Sith most of them were murdered by the clone troopers on the Emperor’s command. There is not much point introducing the audience to expendable characters, now is there?

So while the prequel Star Wars films, books, and The Clone Wars TV series are swarming with Jedi, most of them have about the same amount of screen time as unimportant background scenery does. If they get more time on screen than that, it is a rather pointless exercise because most of them die in Revenge of the Sith. How are you supposed to get to know characters that expendable and underwritten?

But in Star Wars Rebels, we have Kanan Jarrus. True, he is not your conventional Jedi. His training is incomplete (he does not even understand Yoda’s dictum “Do, or do not. There is no try,” until the third episode of the series) and he is more into the whole “I’m-the-guy-who-makes-the-plans-and-wisecracks” role. But if anything, that is what makes Kanan interesting. He is not some cardboard copy of Obi-Wan Kenobi or Yoda. He is a character who stands on his own two feet and has his own style. It is really nice to have a “cowboy Jedi” who is willing to take risks, make minor mistakes, and crack wise for a change.

Yes, really important Jedi are and should be “one-with-the-Force-all-the-time.” But we had that with Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Mace Windu. If all Jedi were like that, then the audience would lose interest in them pretty fast. It is one of the reasons why I never liked the prequels; hardly any of the Jedi in those movies had personalities more interesting than brittle wood. Kanan may have a dry wit but he certainly does not have a dry personality (in this writer’s/viewer’s opinion, anyway).

The other great thing about Kanan is watching him connect with Ezra.   I always thought that Obi-Wan and Anakin never quite managed to jive properly with each other in the prequels. Jedi Knights or Masters are practically the only parents their apprentices ever know, but this did not work out with Obi-Wan and Anakin. Anakin already had a mother, and Qui-Gon Jinn seemed to be the only man he viewed as a father-figure. I always thought he was uncomfortable and aloof with Obi-Wan, while Obi-Wan got as attached to him as any older brother would get attached to a younger brother.

So it is fun for me to watch Ezra and Kanan learn to get along in Rebels. It takes a while, of course. Like Anakin, Ezra was born and raised outside the Jedi Order. He knew his parents until he was seven, when the Empire took the Bridger couple into custody and left Ezra to spend the next eight years of his life on the city streets. Kanan saw his Master, the closest thing he had to a mother, gunned down by clone troopers. The last thing either of them wants is to get attached to someone again. Both have been hurt emotionally, and neither of them wants to suffer through losing someone they care about again.

Despite that, Ezra’s better instincts (and maybe the Force) prod him to join the rebel crew, while Kanan feels the need to protect another Force-sensitive – and maybe set about making sure that the Jedi do not completely die out. Of course, the Force may have had something to do with that, too. 🙂

Slowly, the two work out a Master/apprentice friendship that is a somewhat brotherly friendship, part father-son relationship, and a sort of teacher/student partnership. This is one of the things which make the Jedi so darn fascinating. Lightsabers, telekinesis, mind manipulation – that is all secondary; those are frills. The way the Jedi mesh is the interesting part. And in a way, Kanan and Ezra’s friendship is what Obi-Wan and Anakin’s should have – and could have – been. I am very interested in seeing where these two Jedi go from here.

Random observations/questions from here on, readers: first and foremost, the tone of Rebels’ first season is very reminiscent of A New Hope. Do not expect it to last; the creators have warned that season two is more akin to The Empire Strikes Back than A New Hope. So it is probably safe to say that season two sees the Rebels going up against greater odds and getting into even more dangerous situations. “How typical!” to quote C-3PO.

Oh, and Ahsoka Tano fans…she’s baaack!!!  That is all I am telling you.

Also, season one ended with the BEST lightsaber duel I have seen since Return of the Jedi! (I know some of you like other lightsaber duels more than that one, but I am a nostalgic Star Wars fan. I really cannot stand the prequels even long enough to admire the lightsaber duels in them. Sorry.)

Now for the questions: we saw very little of Hera’s, Zeb’s, and Sabine’s back stories in season one. And even though we saw a lot of our two new Jedi, there are hints that we have yet to learn everything about them. The creators have lamented that fact as well, and they are eager to explore the Rebels further. In which case, here is what I want to know:

What happened to Sabine’s family and why was her experience at the Imperial Academy on Mandalore “a nightmare”? I know we are dealing with the Empire’s brutality here, but specifics would be nice. Does Sabine have any family she can whistle up to help the crew, or are they dead? If they are not dead, can she ask them for help for the rebel crew, or do they disapprove of her anti-Imperial activities? Does she have any contacts on Mandalore?

Also, what does she think of Boba Fett? And what would happen if the two crossed paths – perhaps in a fight? It would be very interesting to see Sabine go up against Boba Fett. He is Star Wars’ most dangerous bounty hunter, and she is still green in some respects. She is not Boba’s equal, but could she still find a way to duke it out with him? And where exactly is Ezra’s crush on her going to go? I think I see an Anakin/Padmé romance somewhere in this series’ future. We can hope it will be a less sappy romance, but I am pretty sure an Ezra/Sabine love story is in the pipes for Rebels somewhere down the line.

Has Zeb got any family left? The Empire killed most of the Lasats when they took their homeworld. Zeb is one of the very few who escaped Lasan. Does he know where the other Lasats are? Does he know any of them personally? How many of those surviving Lasats are in the rebellion – and how many are Imperial spies, lowlifes, and who knows what else? Heck – does Zeb have a girlfriend out there somewhere? That would certainly be an interesting future episode!

Where did Hera come from? How did she get involved with the rebellion? Where is her family? If you saw The Clone Wars series, then you probably recognized Hera’s last name: Syndulla. Yes, according to everything I have hunted up, she is Cham Syndulla’s daughter. But that means very nearly nothing to me since I did not watch the Clone Wars series. Of the entire crew, the member we know the least about is Hera. We have at least a sliver of back story on everyone except for her. If the creators could explore her history in the next season, I would be interested to see it play out.

Where are Ezra’s parents? It has been teased that they may not be dead. If they are not dead, then where are they? In hiding? In Imperial custody? With the rebellion? The fact that his parents could be alive has been hinted at, so there has to be an answer for these questions somewhere in future episodes.

What else has not yet been revealed about Kanan? So far his real name has only been revealed in the Rebels’ prequel book Star Wars: A New Dawn. Did he make any enemies as a Jedi apprentice? Did these enemies survive the Jedi Purge, maybe to join the Empire as Inquisitors? Will he meet/find other Jedi? Is he going to be able to keep Ezra from falling to the Dark Side of the Force – not to mention himself? He never finished his training; he is risking falling into darkness as much as Ezra is by trusting him for training. What will Kanan do when/if the crew finds/meets Ezra’s parents? That could be an awkward meeting, to say the least!

Also, does Kanan have a family he does not know about? Jedi are taken into the Order as infants. They almost never know their blood family. What if Kanan has family members in the rebellion – or the Empire? What will he do if he finds out he does have family in either – or both – factions? Those are some interesting possibilities to think about…

So Star Wars Rebels writers, please do not keep us waiting too long for the answers to these – and other – questions!!!

And, readers –

May the Force be with you!

The Mithril Guardian

References:

http://borg.com/2014/09/02/book-review-the-new-expanded-star-wars-universe-begins-today-with-a-new-dawn/

http://borg.com/2014/09/29/star-wars-rebels-and-big-hero-6-disneys-next-animated-sci-fi/

http://borg.com/2014/10/04/star-wars-rebels-premiere-lays-foundation-for-a-new-universe/

http://borg.com/2014/05/05/first-look-trailer-for-disneys-star-wars-rebels/

http://borg.com/2014/03/09/first-look-star-wars-in-the-hands-of-disney/

http://borg.com/tag/star-wars-a-new-dawn/

http://borg.com/2015/03/25/binge-watch-many-great-high-points-to-be-found-in-season-one-of-star-wars-rebels/