Robert Towne writes about Catholic parallels in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Robert Towne writes about Catholic parallels in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Tangled is one of the best films that Disney has ever made. But for some odd reason, they have decided to turn it into a television series.
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the idea – I thought the movie ended things perfectly and, as a viewer, I was quite willing to leave it there. But Disney has decided to make it a television series and at this point, there is no use arguing with them about it.
It’s not all bad news, though. The series comes with some cute perks, especially its Tangled: Short Cuts. These short episodes fill in time between the series’ events and they have been a hoot so far. More are sure to come, but here are the ones that I have seen and enjoyed. As a bonus, the short Tangled Ever After is included at the bottom of the post.
Make Me Smile
Tangled Ever After
Hey, readers! Yes, this is another fan fiction story by yours truly. This one, however, is set in the Star Wars universe. Specifically, it is supposed to take place in the timeline of the animated TV series Star Wars Rebels.
I know not everyone likes the series, but the thing is that it has managed to catch and hold my interest for roughly two years. One of the things about the previous season which I liked was the daughter/father relationship exhibited by Sabine Wren and Kanan Jarrus in the episode “The Protector of Concord Dawn.”
It was so interesting and fun that I am hoping the writers give us another episode (or more) showing their relationship and strengthening it. But with Kanan getting blinded at the end of season two, I began thinking of what Sabine’s reaction to his injury would be. This little story is the result.
It is highly unlikely that this story will quite fit into the series’ line-up. But since when did fan fiction have to actually fit the narrative?
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little jaunt into the Star Wars galaxy, readers!
The Force will be with you, always!
The Mithril Guardian
Sight in the Dark
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
With a gasp, Kanan Jarrus sat bolt upright in his bed, shivering. Ahsoka’s horrified shout, ringing through his dream into his waking consciousness, faded and died as he blinked to chase the nightmare away.
Or tried to blink. Ever since Maul had blinded him, even closing his eyes could be a bothersome movement. On the rare occasions his nightmares did not feature Malachor, Maul, or the Empire’s Inquisitors, they showed the last thing he had ever seen – a red haze, the blazing red of Maul’s lightsaber as it filled his vision and wiped it away. It had been the only thing he could ‘see’ for the first few days after the battle.
Now, all he ‘saw’ was darkness.
Throwing his legs over the side of the bed, Kanan sat up and tried to get the shudders under control. It’s lucky I don’t have much furniture, he thought, now I can’t trip on my way out of the cabin. It was also fortunate that Hera had decided they should begin living on the Ghost again, if only for a little while. Even without his sight, Kanan knew the ship so well he hardly needed help getting around. On Atollan, he would have needed a guide to navigate the Rebel base. Especially since it was still being built.
Rebel… The word bounced around in his mind. Did he even qualify as a Rebel fighter anymore? Despite his Jedi senses, a blind Rebel could never lead a mission into enemy territory.
He couldn’t see. Although he could rely on the Force to get around, and to fight, didn’t Kanan need his eyes to assess a situation and make a plan? Thanks to Maul, he would never be able to do that again.
Without consciously thinking about it, Kanan drew his knees up to his chest and hugged them, trying to chase away the chill which suddenly assaulted him. How could he lead Ezra, Zeb, Sabine, and Hera on missions for the Rebels now? What use was he? He could barely copilot the Ghost these days.
Would he ever be able to pilot a ship on his own again?
They were the questions which plagued him day and night, making it hard for him to focus: on the Force, on learning to get around by touch and hearing, on his friends.
The principles of relying on the Force which Master Yoda had taught him and the other younglings years ago in the Temple – adding helmets with the blast shields down as an extra challenge – only carried him so far. Master Yoda had never taught them how to eat or plan a battle without being able to use their eyes.
Those REALLY should have been part of the curriculum, he thought sourly. It would have saved him so much trouble now.
With a sigh, Kanan realized he was giving into his fears. Again. Slowly, he fought to release the pain, fear, and self-pity frothing in his chest, threatening to swallow him up. He was beginning to notice a cycle in this: nightmares, then fears crowding in on his mind, followed by paralytic indecision as those worries overwhelmed him. As if I don’t have enough on my plate already, he growled to himself. Now he was trying to add to his troubles by chasing his worries in circles every day.
It was in that moment when a voice, gentle and serene, came into his mind out of the past: A Jedi acts when he is calm, at peace.
The familiar reminder from Master Yoda rose in his memory unbidden, but more than welcome. Kanan felt his negative emotions begin to subside, giving way to quiet and calm. “Thank you, Master,” he said softly. Despite being separated as they were by light years, the Empire, and ever present danger, the Ancient Jedi master still managed to have a word of comfort him.
Yes, his questions were valid concerns. But worrying needlessly about them would not solve them. If anything, his anxiety was bound to make things worse. What he needed to do was figure out how to deal with being blind. It was a limiting factor, certainly.
But Kanan had an asset others in his position rarely possessed. He had the Force.
He shivered again. The cabin still felt a little too cold. Maybe now’s a good time for an exercise, he thought suddenly.
Reaching out with the Force, Kanan searched for and found the barometer for his cabin. He located the switch easily thereafter and, counting quietly under his breath, turned the temperature up three degrees. It should warm him up without making him – or the cabin – uncomfortable.
As the temperature rose, the chill abated and faded away. Kanan released his hold on his legs and even let one dangle over the side of his bed, though he didn’t put his foot down on the floor. He chewed thoughtfully on his lower lip, pondering his options. If Hera was willing, and if they could find an asteroid belt where the Empire wasn’t likely to discover them, maybe he could get in some target practice on the gun turrets….
It would be tricky. The asteroids weren’t going to shoot back. Still, Kanan had no intention of becoming a passenger aboard the Ghost. He couldn’t afford to do that. The others still needed him; the Rebellion needed him. And to give up now would be to grant Maul victory.
Kanan’s hand balled into a fist without his conscious will. Maul had intended to kill him on Malachor, but Ahsoka had stopped him. Failing that initial attempt, the former Sith Lord would be quite happy to see Kanan a broken and defeated man.
Which meant that Kanan had to keep himself in one piece. So he was blind. That was just battle damage. “Okay, it’s rather significant battle damage,” he admitted aloud. And it was going to make fighting for the Rebellion hard. But if he gave up now, he would never be able to pull himself back together. If that happened, then Maul could waltz in at his leisure and finish him off, leaving Ezra in even worse straits.
He swallowed, his mouth having suddenly gone dry. Kanan had no idea why Maul had chosen Ezra as his Dark Side apprentice. The fact that the boy was convenient at the time was a deciding factor, of course. None of them knew how long Maul had been on Malachor, but it seemed that until landing on the desolate planet, the former Sith had not realized he needed – or wanted – an apprentice.
That wasn’t the case anymore.
There had been a darkness hovering over Ezra ever since they had left the dead world. Part of it was the fact that they had lost Ahsoka. Kanan wasn’t as sure now as he had been that she was dead. She wasn’t a Jedi anymore, but neither was she of the Dark Side. He wasn’t certain that her light had gone out, exactly…. But if she was alive, Kanan knew she had her reasons for staying away from the Rebellion. From all accounts, Vader wanted her captured pretty badly. If the Inquisitors had been able to track him and Ezra, Vader might have had a similar method that allowed him to follow Ahsoka. Of course, she might also be staying away to pull Vader’s attention from the two of them.
He brought his fist up and pressed it against his forehead, trying to think against the ache which was building behind his eyes. Whether Ahsoka was alive or dead, Ezra had been treading perilously close to the Dark Side since they returned to Atollan. Although he did his best to keep the boy from noticing his recurring nightmares, Kanan knew the youth should still have been able to pick up on them at least vaguely. If he had, he hadn’t mentioned it. Not to Kanan, anyway.
This was what worried Kanan most, along with his apprentice’s renewed, almost single-minded dedication to his training in the Force. It had been bleeding over into his desire to fight on behalf of the Rebellion, too, and that was becoming cause for concern.
Ezra had lost his lightsaber on Malachor and was currently building a new one. But aside from the few lessons he had been able to squeeze into their time together, Ezra had been working on his Force abilities alone. And when Kanan did manage to get a session in with him, he could sense anger in his apprentice. Anger the youth was doing little to hide – or to control.
Kanan figured that was due to a combination of things: Maul’s influence, his own blindness, and Ahsoka’s apparent death. Unlike Kanan, Ezra was convinced that Ahsoka was dead. Though he had not yet managed to corral the teenager long enough to quiz him, Kanan was beginning to wonder if the former street thief would listen to any questions he asked – whether they were for directions, or simply to make him think about his position.
Try to fight, and you will die, the vision Sentinel in the Lothal Temple had said. The Rebellion will fail, and your apprentice will become a servant of evil.
I will not let that happen. Kanan frowned at the memory, transferring his fist from his forehead to the top of his knee. He had admitted that he couldn’t protect Ezra from everything during that vision, including his own folly or choices. But he had fought on Malachor, hadn’t he? And he had lost at least his eyes. What if he had also lost the Rebellion – and Ezra?
He had tried meditating on the matter. So far, he had had no luck in finding an answer. Probably because the very thought was more frightening than the idea of being useless to the Rebellion. It was too hard to meditate while swimming in his own fear.
Kanan hit his mattress with his other hand. He had lost so much already!! His master, the Jedi Order, the Republic – and now, his eyes… He might yet be able to survive being blind, but if he lost Ezra to the Dark Side, he would break. Down in the deepest recesses of his being, Kanan knew that was true.
I can’t lose him. I can’t! The thought had been a constant refrain since he had come to understand the full implications of Ezra’s danger. It never banished the fear, only heightened it. If he fought to protect Ezra and keep him as his apprentice, he might just lose him – and the Rebellion as well.
Before meeting Ezra, he had been a shadow. He had known it, but only in a vague way. It was during his time training him that Kanan had learned just how much he had been denying about himself. He was a Rebel, a space ranger, and Hera’s… copilot. That was true.
But he was, primarily, a Jedi. And up until Ezra had dropped into his lap on Lothal, he had been rejecting that fact out of fear. Without Ezra, he would still be living less than a half-life, because he would not have been living the truth. He would have been living a fear-filled lie.
Shaking his head, Kanan realized he had just torn down his Jedi calm for the second time since waking up. With a heavy sigh, he began the process of releasing his fears again.
He had just managed that feat when he sensed her headed down the hall. She was being quiet. Since the others were all supposed to be asleep, that made sense. Letting his feet fall quietly to the floor, he reached out to the door controls with the Force. He already had this technique down pat. It had been one of the first things he had practiced. And at this hour, it was better that he let her in without making her ask permission to enter.
As soon as she was in front of the door, he opened it. “Kanan?” Sabine whispered tentatively.
He gestured slightly and she stepped inside. “You’re up late,” he admonished mildly, shutting the door as he spoke.
“I was finishing up a project,” she said softly as she sat in the chair across from his bed.
Without thinking, Kanan raised one eyebrow. It pulled the skin above his eyes, which was uncomfortable. He could sense that was part of why Sabine was here – and whatever the project was, it had something to do with him. Otherwise, she would have countered with the obvious fact that, despite the late hour, he was also awake.
But there was something else in the back of her mind, too. An uneasiness she didn’t want to share with anyone else. Or which she felt she couldn’t share with anyone else. “What’s so important you couldn’t do it in the morning?” he asked quietly. “Did you paint your armor again?”
The giggle and the flash of mirth happened at the same time, and he nearly missed the first for the force of the latter. Kanan allowed a small smile to show itself. Getting a giggle out of Sabine was always a triumph, especially since they had returned from Malachor. She hadn’t quite been avoiding him, but she had been keeping him at arm’s length. Kanan supposed it was because she was absolutely determined not to pity or patronize him. If they were alone together for too long these days, she started to get nervous and ran out of things to say in minutes.
That was the case now. “I’m going to repaint it soon,” she answered. She paused awkwardly for a few seconds. “And my hair. I haven’t decided on a color yet.”
“As long as it’s not Imperial gray, I think we’ll survive the change.”
That got another giggle out of her. Then she again fell silent.
Kanan waited. Sabine would tell him what she had come for when she was ready. That was the way she always did things like this.
After a few moments’ silence, there was the slightest rustle of movement. She was too well trained to let her armor make contact with itself and raise a clatter. “I made you these,” she said.
Without thinking, Kanan put his hands out. Some sort of material landed in his outstretched hands and he fingered it. It didn’t take him long to figure out what it was. “Gloves?” he asked, frowning. There was something different about these; they weren’t smooth, but seemed to have some sort of raised material attached to the palms and the underside of the fingers.
“Here.” Sabine took them back and carefully put them over each of his hands. Kanan flexed one hand, then the other. There was a tingle along his palms and fingers as he moved.
“I didn’t want to interfere with your Jedi senses, or…retraining,” Sabine began. He could tell she had prepared this speech in her head for a bit, and that she was trying not to rush through it.
Mandalorians, he thought, stifling an exasperated sigh. They placed high esteem on strength, courage, and honor, which was admirable. But they weren’t that comfortable with open displays of kindness or charity in circumstances like his. To them, it seemed too much like pity. And to the warriors of Mandalore, pity was a weakness.
“But I added some sensors in the palms and fingers of the gloves,” she continued. “And I covered them with a thicker material that would help you grip things. Like you lightsaber, or a drinking glass, or even the controls for the gun turrets. Once you’re used to – to how you have to do things now,” he felt mild embarrassment emanate from her, “you can take them off, because they’ll have helped you build up muscle memory you can use instead.”
Kanan smiled. “They’re great, Sabine. Thanks. You know, I was just thinking about asking Hera to find us a nice, quiet asteroid field where I could get in some target practice.”
“Why do that? I can reprogram some remotes, let them out of the Ghost, and give you a more realistic workout that way.”
“That’s an idea,” he conceded. It was good to hear the excitement in her voice. “Still, if we end up in an asteroid field someday, I may be needed on the turbolasers. So both practices would be useful. How soon can you have the remotes ready – tomorrow?” he added. Sabine was already up late. He didn’t need her awake for the rest of the night.
She caught the warning, and the command, in his tone. “If we’re not too busy, I should have them done before lunch,” she replied.
“That’d be great.” He cocked his head at her. Between the position of her voice and her sense, he didn’t need sight to make sure that his face was to her. And according to Hera, he could still level an imposing, daunting gaze, even with a bandage over what was left of his eyes. “So what else is bothering you?”
He had to wait longer for her to respond to that question. “I’m worried about the kid,” she muttered.
Ezra? He thought. “Why?”
“He hasn’t been the same since you came back,” she said slowly. “It’s like – I don’t know, he won’t let us get close anymore. I think he was more friendly when we first picked him on Lothal than he is now, in some ways.”
“And then there’s Maul.”
Kanan frowned. He had had to tell Hera, Sabine, and Zeb what had occurred on Malachor after Ezra had refused to do so. He hadn’t wanted to tell Sabine about Maul at first, considering the former Sith’s involvement with Mandalore’s past. The last thing they needed was a repeat of Sabine’s performance on Concord Dawn. She had proven her capabilities in that fracas, but Maul was far more powerful than she would ever be.
And Sabine knew it. Despite the anger he could sense in her, Kanan also sensed fear, caution borne of what she knew Maul was powerful enough to do. “I don’t see how we can fight him, Kanan. I don’t think he’ll just let us go.”
“Not likely,” Kanan agreed. “We’ll be seeing him again, sooner or later.”
“I wish I could just…shoot him,” she growled.
He couldn’t suppress a smile. “Maul’s survived too much for a blaster bolt to take care of him, I’m afraid.”
“He still has to pay,” she replied fiercely. “For Mandalore, for Ahsoka, for Ezra, and – ”
She cut herself off, deep shame coloring her sense. Kanan guessed she was blushing. It felt like the kind of embarrassment that would make someone blush. Either way, it was definitely a rare emotion for Sabine Wren, daughter of a Death Watch warrior from Mandalore, to exhibit so deeply – under any circumstances.
“Nice to know I make the top four.” Unconsciously, Kanan leaned back and crossed his arms. “Maul will die one way or another, Sabine. Even if Ezra or I don’t best him, he’s not likely to last long.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“Vader,” he replied quietly. “Maul’s stronger in the Dark Side than any of the Inquisitors ever were. He’s stronger, at least at the moment, than Ezra or I. Only Ahsoka was able to hold him at bay in a duel.”
“You beat him.”
Kanan shrugged. “Not soon enough. The thing is that Maul had an Inquisitor hunting him, too. As long as Maul’s alive, he’s a direct threat to Vader’s position. While you can have a thousand Jedi and more Padawans than they know what to do with, you can only have two Sith.”
“Because those who use the Dark Side are always vying with each other for more power,” he explained. “Jedi don’t seek power for itself. The Force is our ally, not our servant. The Sith desire to be all-powerful. That’s why there can only be two Sith at a time; one master, one apprentice. Eventually, the apprentice kills the master and takes his place. Maul doesn’t fit into that equation. Not anymore, anyway.”
Sabine muttered something under her breath in Mandalorian. Kanan wasn’t sure if it was a prayer or a curse. Considering the tone it was uttered in, it could have been the former. But that didn’t guarantee it. “Sounds like a very strict type of politics.”
“It does, now that you mention it.”
They were silent again. “Is that why Ezra won’t talk about him?”
“I don’t know,” Kanan admitted. “I hope so.”
He felt apprehension touch her emotions. “You hope so?”
Kanan sighed. “Ezra’s going through a rough time right now.”
“So are you.”
He huffed out something like a chuckle. “It’s not the same, Sabine. Not for the most part. My training was more thorough than Ezra’s ever will be, even if he were to be trained by a Master. And the temptation to join the Dark Side is something we all have to face, Jedi and non-Jedi alike.” He sighed. “Ezra has to find his own way through this. I can guide him, and stay close … But he has to make his own choice.”
“About joining Maul?”
“About choosing to be a Jedi,” Kanan replied softly, “Or choosing the Dark Side. At this point, Maul hasn’t got much to do with it. Unless as the catalyst for Ezra’s journey into the light… or fall into the Dark.”
Sabine was very quiet for the next few minutes. In that hush, Kanan realized that for the moment, he was at peace. He wasn’t going to try to fight Ezra or Maul to prevent his apprentice’s fall to the Dark Side. But that didn’t mean he had to abandon the boy, either. He was never going to do that.
“Have you told Hera?” Sabine asked at last.
“We’ve talked about it, off and on.” Kanan sighed. “But you know how many supply runs we’ve had to do this week. We haven’t had time to really sit down and think it through together.”
Stillness descended on them again. Then Sabine stood up. “Is there anything I can do?”
Kanan thought about it. “Just stay his friend,” he said at last. Then, with a small smile, he added, “And if you’re up to it, how ‘bout we try out these gloves, see how well they work on the gun controls?”
Sabine laughed lightly. “Mind stopping at the galley on the way? I could use a drink.”
“Works for me,” Kanan answered, standing up and using the Force to open the cabin door. They left the cabin together. Just to see if he could, Kanan reached out and slapped at the barometer’s controls on the way out. If he had done it right, then the temperature should drop back to its previous level while he was gone.
Sabine had noticed his movement and watched him slap the controls. He sensed surprise from her as the door closed behind him. “You hit it right on the mark,” she said, sounding impressed. “How..?”
“Jedi hunch,” Kanan replied with a mock-serious shrug.
“Well, I did hit it. Somehow.”
She giggled. “I guess it’s as good an answer as any!”
Kanan chuckled, putting his arm over her shoulders and giving her a half hug. “Galley, gun turret, then sleep.”
“Deal,” she replied.
The Star Wars Rebels season three trailer is out, people!!! The Rebels will be going up against Mandalorians who work for the Empire, helping TIE fighter pilots defect, and facing Darth Maul yet again! It is going to be more The Empire Strikes Back than season two was!!!
And it looks like Kanan may just regain his sight – but will he lose Ezra in the process?!
Check out the trailer here:
Oh, and the blue faced guy? Yeah, that is Grand Admiral Thrawn. His voice actor has a higher tenor than I would have chosen for the character, but hey. If we get Thrawn, then maybe the writers will give us Mara Jade Skywalker, too!!!!! Ooooh, cross your fingers and hope!
The Force will be with you, readers, always! 😉
The Mithril Guardian
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.
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.
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.
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
The first trailer for Star Wars: Rogue One is out, fellow Jedi! It looks VERY interesting! Borg.com has more details on the upcoming film, so by all means, read on!!
But still… No Mara Jade…? (Hangs head and moans in disappointment.)
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….
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.
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
You may or may not have seen a post I did a little while ago about the film Saving Mr. Banks, readers. In it, I spoke about a line Walt Disney uttered in the film: “See, that’s what we storytellers do. We bring order to the world. We give people hope, over and over again.”
I wrote then about the way this statement affected me personally. (Among other things, it made me cry quite a bit.) Thinking more about this scene, and the movie in general, another line in the film struck me.
Throughout the movie, which shows Walt Disney doing his utmost to convince Mrs. Travers to allow him to make a film out of her Mary Poppins book, Disney again and again says that he wants to “make something beautiful” out of her story. And he does not just want her permission to do this. He wants her help to do it.
How many of us use the word “beautiful” in conjunction with a film? Really, how many of us do that? I know I do not use the word “beautiful” to describe a movie. In fact, listening to Disney say it, I was inclined to squirm a little. How can a movie be “beautiful”?
I guess the better question is, “How could it not be beautiful?”
We do not use “beautiful” very much these days, readers, with regard to stories. Whether they are in print, song, or on film, “beautiful” is an adjective rarely attached to a story. Or, if it is applied, it can sometimes be applied to a film for the wrong reason.
A viewer might say that he thinks films such as Pacific Rim, Star Trek (the latest reboot), or Noah are beautiful. By this he could mean that he believes the CGI effects are beautiful. I will not disagree that CGI effects are impressive. I like Avatar simply for the CGI effects, and I would indeed call them “beautiful.”
I cannot say that about the story in Avatar, which is simply cowboys and Indians on another world. And the Indians win. I believe that I have watched Avatar a total of two or three times since a friend sat me down to see it first.
In contrast, I have watched Mary Poppins too many times to count since I was introduced to it as a child. Of late I have not watched it as much, but compared to Avatar, I would say that the story of Mary Poppins is a “beautiful” story. The story in Avatar I would call, politely, “mediocre” – at best.
So why would Disney call a prospective Mary Poppins film “something beautiful”? He would say that because a good story, just like a good photograph, painting, or song, is an expression of beauty. Beauty lifts us up. It reminds us of what is good, true, and permanent. That there is more to life than what we see, and that we rarely experience the “permanence” we can often feel but are rarely allowed to see with our eyes.
Parents often complain – laughingly – that their children almost endlessly watch a particular movie or movies over and over again, until they (the parents) are well and truly fed up with it. Why do children do this? Why do they watch the same film(s) time after time, when they know every line by heart?
I would guess it is probably because children have a sense that attracts them to beauty, which is crushed – or tamed – out of them as they grow up. I remember watching lots of films several times in the same week as a child. I never got tired of them. I enjoyed new stories, but the older stories were my close friends, and I did not want to leave them out of my fun.
Today, however, many storytellers – whether they work in the medium of print or film – are running away from beauty. There are others who embrace it, such as those at Disney, if only because it is their bread and butter. Others continually try to tear it down and destroy it.
Do you want proof of this? Check out the films that have come out recently. Along with the latest Marvel films, Disney’s Maleficent, Cinderella, and Frozen, we have such movies as The Purge, The Purge 2, The Hive, Gallows, and other trash. Yes, I called those films trash, and I will do so again. They are garbage, the vile refuse of small minds that take pleasure in “tearing the old world down,” to quote Alexander Pierce of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
These “storytellers” are not telling stories. They are not making films. They are propagating nihilism. They are worshipping destruction, death, and horror. And they have the temerity, the unmitigated gall, to call it “art.” “Art doesn’t have to mean anything except to its maker,” they howl hoarsely. “We’re giving people what they want. We’re giving them reality!”
Pardon me a moment, readers, but this is nonsense. No, actually, it is worse than nonsense. It is lies.
Art is not a collection of carpet fluff glued together to resemble a poodle. Art is not a bed covered in empty vodka bottles or a canvas someone spilled thirty cans of paint onto, and art is NOT anything like The Purge or The Hive.
Art is a manifestation of beauty. Everyone can see and recognize beauty, and they can either love it or hate it. Everyone who loves beauty is gifted with expressing it in some way, from a waitress smiling at a customer to a director doing his utmost to turn a great book into a remarkable film.
And everyone who hates beauty will try to destroy it. They will try to destroy those who use their talents to express beauty. One of the first targets, therefore, will be the painters, songwriters, storytellers, and others who make beauty visible for all to see.
These haters of beauty try first to shout and beat these great artists into submission. Finding that shouting does not work on all, they instead whisper and sneer, making themselves look reasonable and more real than the beauty these artists portray.
Everyone says they can make art. And someone who makes a good movie, writes a good book or a song, or paints a beautiful picture, has proved their worth. But those who paint death, horror, destruction, and malfeasance of every kind yet call it “art” are liars, cads. They are the Wormtongues of our age, the useful puppets of the Sarumans that feed them the falsehoods and monstrosities they then display for all to see.
No longer is a storyteller believed to bring order to a chaotic, brutal world and give people a taste of what true reality looks like. No longer is a storyteller expected to bring hope to the people again and again, to give them characters that will live forever, safely cherished in the viewers/readers hearts.
No. Instead, the Sarumans say storytellers are supposed to revel in the transient. They are expected to give form to passing feelings, fleeting fads, and to lift up the slime at the bottom of the gutter and proclaim it art. This is now the anticipated path of an artist.
G. K. Chesterton said on his deathbed that there was only the light and the dark, and every man had to choose which he would serve, for which he would live and die.
What do these sides, the light and the dark, look like? Look to your heart, readers. Who rides there? Captain America? Aragorn? Luke Skywalker? They are the emblems of the light, the ideals of those who choose goodness, right, and truth. They are what these people truly strive to be. All who live according to the light, who love the day and the stars at night, they fight for the light. They are the true Avengers, the real Fellowship of the Ring, and the living Jedi Knights. To believe in beauty, to fight to keep it present in the world – that, readers, is choosing and fighting for the light.
What do those who serve the darkness look like? Whom do they carry in their hearts? Loki, Saruman, Hannibal Lecter, Thanos – these are examples of the outriders of evil. It is these who are carried in the hearts of those who serve the darkness. They, like these characters, have rejected the light. For them it is better to rule in the dark than to serve in the light. Non serviam, they say. Those who are minions of evil resemble these wicked characters in some manner.
It may not be an obvious resemblance, of course. Does not Crossbones wear a mask? Do not Saruman and Thanos hide behind useful puppets like Gríma Wormtongue, Loki, and Nebula? Does not Hannibal Lecter do his work where none can see and stop him? And was it not Loki who was told by Coulson, “You’re going to lose.”
“It’s in your nature.”
“Your heroes are scattered,” Loki answered, “Your floating fortress falls from the sky… Where is my disadvantage?”
“You lack conviction,” was Coulson’s prompt, true answer.
Why would evil wear a mask if it were so utterly convinced that it had nothing to fear? Evil wears a mask because it does have something to fear, something far greater than itself. The Light is what it fears, and for that reason true storytellers serve the Light.
This is why I blog about stories which I know are beautiful. This is why I blog about characters and songs I know to be beautiful. This is why I write. There is no other reason for this blog. If there ever was another reason, it has long since passed away. Writing about beauty is one way of making beauty visible to the world again and again. Of bringing order, if only for a few paragraphs, to a chaotic society. Of giving hope, however small, where it is needed most.
The Mithril Guardian