Tag Archives: Steve Blum

Star Wars Rebels Season Four Trailer – The Final Season

Here’s the final trailer for Star Wars Rebels, readers.  Season four will be the series last, and while we may yet see our heroes again in a following series, I admit that I was not expecting Rebels to end right when it seemed to be picking up steam.  But I guess that, after Thrawn’s death, there is really nothing more for Rebels to say and whatever follows will have to answer any lingering questions we still have.

When Rebels was first advertised in 2014, I was not pleased with it.  I thought it would be nothing but a sequel to The Clone Wars television series, which I had never enjoyed.  It was something of a surprise when I found I liked the show, even as others complained it did not do much in its first two seasons.  Hearing that season four was the end, I was shocked and saddened.  I hope the ending is good, that our heroes make it out. I have my fingers crossed that they will, and that we will see them in whatever series follows Rebels.  It’s a faint hope, but so was the Rebellion.  😉

Please enjoy the trailer readers.  And remember –

The Force will be with you, always.

Star Wars Rebels Review: Twin Suns

The Star Wars Rebels episode “Twin Suns” was teased just a wee bit too much as the final confrontation between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Maul.  While they did indeed confront each other and Maul, as expected by most of us, died, their battle was very brief.  If you watch the above Rebels Recon show, they explain why.

I admit that I thought the fight would last longer than it did.  However, I also see the wisdom of the writers in keeping it so short.  Maul and Obi-Wan dueled for years during The Clone Wars series, and so it makes sense that this battle would be quick.  For one thing, Obi-Wan was in better physical condition than Maul was.  At the beginning of the show it seems that Maul’s been wandering around Tatooine searching for Ben Kenobi, and from what I saw of him, he did not have a pack full of water and food on him.  This indicates to me that he’s been wandering around in the desert heat hoping to pick up some sense of Obi-Wan’s location through the Force.  Not a particularly smart move, in my opinion, but despite Maul’s animal cunning I do not think I would ever label him as brilliant.

All this means that Obi-Wan was fresh and able when he faced Maul beside the campfire.  On the other hand, Maul had been weakened by his wanderings through a strange, harsh environment while he was looking for Ben.  So physically, it makes sense that Obi-Wan would be able to best him so swiftly.  Also, he had what Maul lacked –

Hope.

We will go back to that momentarily, but for the moment, I want to discuss Ezra’s part in this episode.  IGN’s Eric Goldman (and doubtless others as well), thinks that having Ezra take center stage for the majority of the episode was a mistake.

I disagree.  The reasons why Ezra was central to “Twin Suns” are manifold:

First, as the writers pointed out, Ezra was the one that got the Rebels involved with Maul.  His determination to find a way to bring down Vader – “to destroy the Sith,” as he put it – left him open to Maul’s manipulation, which Obi-Wan pointed out.  Ezra’s desire to stop the Sith was morphing into an obsession.  If he did not let it go, it would eventually have gotten him and his friends – along with possibly the entire Rebellion – killed.  Someone had to snap him out of his fixation on annihilating the Sith.

That someone turned out to be Obi-Wan.  This makes a lot of sense and leads to the second reason for Bridger being central to the story.  When a person becomes obsessed, even in the less-than-maniacal way that Ezra was, interventions by close friends and family can be less effective than those done by total strangers.  Kanan and Hera stage an intervention of sorts for Ezra at the beginning of “Twin Suns,” but he ignores their reasonable arguments and runs off anyway.

Obi-Wan, a master Jedi he has heard of and admires, points out that he really, really should not have come to Tatooine.  Maul was using him to find the man he hates more than anyone but the Emperor.  Ezra’s determination to find Obi-Wan himself in order to find the “key to destroying the Sith” blinded him to this fact.  Kanan and Hera did not have this blinder over their eyes (pun intended; even though he is physically blind, Kanan smelled a trap), and so they saw the danger in following Maul’s breadcrumbs.

Of course, Obi-Wan also deflects Ezra from discovering the truth about the fact that he is, actually, guarding the key to wiping out the Sith.  This is both to protect Luke, who is not yet ready to fight in the Rebellion, and also to protect Ezra.  Luke still has some growing up to do, and the fact is that the Rebellion is not nearly ready for him yet.  They are still in the building-up phase.  If Luke were to join them now, and the whole thing collapsed under its own weight (or Thrawn’s), then all hope of defeating the Emperor disappears with him and the Rebellion.

We know that this is not going to happen, but Obi-Wan does not know this.  He only knows he has to keep Luke safe.  And, if things were changed here in this interim between Rebels and A New Hope, the TV series would qualify as fan fiction, not a tie-in series.  And that would never do.

As for Ezra, if he were to learn about Luke, he would begin trying to recruit him into the Rebellion.  Obi-Wan cannot let that happen.  He shoos Ezra off so that the boy will not recruit Luke too soon.  This will also, hopefully, keep Ezra safe.  As long as he remains oblivious to the fact that Vader is Anakin Skywalker, when he later meets Luke, he will not be able to reveal anymore about Luke’s heritage than Obi-Wan already told him.  In fact, he will be able to reveal even less.

This appears to be a sort of backhanded indication that neither Ezra nor Kanan has figured out that Vader is Anakin Skywalker.  This is in spite of Ezra being present when Ahsoka let slip her suspicion, to his mind, that her old master had become the Emperor’s apprentice.  Whew!  😉

Also, as the writers pointed out, Ezra naturally feels responsible for leading Maul to Obi-Wan.  He goes to Tatooine to make up for his mistake, but he nearly makes it worse.  This is why he has to be present throughout so much of “Twin Suns.”  Ezra has to let go of his need to kill Vader, or it will destroy him and his friends.

Interestingly enough, Ezra is forced to do this in a desert, a very dry and tough place.  The hermits in ancient times and even during the Middle Ages who lived near or traveled to arid regions would retreat into the desert or some other desolate place to remove all distractions.  Obi-Wan does this when he moves to the cave a few hours travel from Owen Lars’ moisture farm; Yoda does this by retreating to Dagobah – and Luke, it seems, did the same thing before The Force Awakens.

Ezra’s journey is more reminiscent of a spiritual retreat than going into a hermitage, naturally, and it fits the episode nicely.  Lost in the desert – more so perhaps than even Maul is – Ezra must confront not only the former Sith’s evil in a manner similar to the way that Christians must face the temptations of the devil, but also his own obsession with destroying the Sith.  It is a journey of purgation for him, leaving him a stronger, more clear-headed Jedi apprentice by the episode’s end.

Now we will go back to the battle between Obi-Wan and Maul.  It is a brief battle, but a loaded confrontation all the same.  Maul states that he has come to kill Obi-Wan, then suggests that his revenge might be better served by letting him live in the “squalor” of Tatooine’s desert instead.  Obi-Wan calmly points out that Maul’s jab shows how spiritually empty he is.  He has traveled around the galaxy for years seeking to destroy the Sith, to possess power, and to become “great” according to the Dark Side’s standards.

The pursuit has left him an empty shell.  At the beginning of the episode, according to Mr. Goldman, Maul seems dangerously close to slipping into the madness Savage Oppress first found him in during The Clone Wars series.  Having never watched more than a few episodes of that series, I cannot confirm this.  But it makes sense.  Maul has been consumed by his hatred, not fed by it.  It has destroyed him, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Though he expresses contempt for Obi-Wan’s style of life, the former Jedi Master is actually far better off than he is in all the categories which I just mentioned.

This infuriates Maul.  His hatred reacts violently to Obi-Wan’s calm tranquility.  He has no such peace in his own soul, and for that reason he seeks to destroy it in Obi-Wan by digging for the reason that Ben would come to the desolate world of Tatooine.  He gets close, of course – too close to be allowed to live.  Obi-Wan knew that would happen.  Plus, he has already lost two people very dear to him to Maul.  He cannot and he will not lose Luke to the former Sith apprentice.

And before you ask, no, Maul would not kill Luke.  He would do something far worse, and Obi-Wan knows it.  We saw how Maul tempted Ezra to court the Dark Side at the end of Rebels’ season two and several times throughout season three.  If he had killed Obi-Wan, he would have found Luke, and he would have taken him as his apprentice to teach him the ways of the Dark Side.  Thus Maul would have destroyed all hope of building a new Jedi Order and a New Republic in the future.  That is a threat which Obi-Wan must stop.

But even after he permanently neutralizes Maul, Obi-Wan does not gloat over his victory.  Instead, he holds Maul as he dies.  Considering the Zabrak killed his Master and the woman he loved, his showing compassion and pity toward his old enemy shouts volumes.  Obi-Wan did not have to stay with Maul until the end.  He certainly did not have to tell him Luke was actually the Chosen One foretold in the prophecy (apparently).  But he did it anyway.  Not because Maul deserved it, exactly, but because he felt compassion and pity for this creature that had been destroyed so thoroughly; first by the Emperor, then by his own hatred.

For his part, Maul seems to have some regrets about his life.  But if he had the chance to live it over again, I think the only thing he would do differently was avoid getting cut in half, if he could.  Maul is totally committed to the Dark Side.  He is ruined.  Asajj Ventress may yet have been redeemed by her love for Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos, but the fact is that Maul has had no such opportunities to reform.  He has hated for so long, too, that it is doubtful he would have accepted such prospects for redemption, even if they had been handed to him on a silver platter.

So he dies reiterating the Dark Side’s will to vengeance.  What is interesting is his use of the word “us” when he says this.  It is possible he means the entire race of Dathomir and, most specifically, his mother and brother.

But personally, I think he may have meant himself and Obi-Wan.  After all, Obi-Wan would not have cut Maul in half if he had not killed Qui-Gon Jinn.  Maul would not have done that if his mother had not handed him over to the Emperor to be trained as a Sith instead of a regular Dark Side wielder.  If he had not been cut in half, Maul would not have gone on to wreak such sorrow on the galaxy in general and Obi-Wan Kenobi in particular.  It sounded to me as though this was the implication behind Maul’s line that Luke “will avenge…us…”  I might be blowing smoke, of course, but there is always the possibility that I could be correct.

Now, Mr. Goldman points out that the manner of Obi-Wan’s kill strike does not show the appropriate level of contact for such a maneuver.  While he is equally quick to mention that Rebels is not as flexible as The Clone Wars when it comes to realistic death scenes, the fact is that this is a kid’s show.  It would not do to show Obi-Wan cutting Maul in half vertically instead of horizontally.  Doing that also would have spoiled the ending we all enjoyed so much.

That being said, the implication that Obi-Wan gutted Maul is quite clear.  And remember, readers, that he is half-droid.  There is not much to gut; slicing through what is left of his torso and the droid part of his body would certainly finish Maul for good.  I, for one, am quite satisfied that the Rebels writers went this route.  It is not a graphic death scene, but it still fulfills the Internet meme showing Obi-Wan moaning, “I should have cut him in half the other way!”

The last thing to address is the fact that Ezra doesn’t tell the Ghost crew or the rest of Phoenix Squadron that Obi-Wan Kenobi is alive.  At least, he does not do so on camera.  It is possible that he will tell Kanan and the others in a more private setting.  It is just as possible that he will not, though I think that Kanan will want to know whether or not Ezra killed Maul.  Ezra will have to tell him no, because even if he fibs – or were to attempt to fib – Kanan should be able to sense that he is fudging the truth.  Or he will at least be able to sense that Ezra is not telling him everything.

Mr. Goldman points out in his article that we never see Obi-Wan telling Ezra to keep the fact that he is alive a secret.  For starters, I think Ezra would be smart enough to realize that, if Obi-Wan wanted to avoid a fight with Maul, he does not want anyone to know he is alive.  It is also possible that Obi-Wan saw Ezra and Chopper off of Tatooine.  He is (presumably) riding the same Dewback he lent them when he approaches the Lars’ farm the next evening, after all.  I do not think the animal would just wander back to Obi-Wan after Ezra and Chopper had dismounted and climbed aboard Maul’s ship to take off.  He had to get it back.

If that is the case, then Obi-Wan might have taken the opportunity to tell Ezra, “I’m here because I don’t want to be found.  Best not to mention me to anyone when you get back.”  We do not know if this is what happened, but it seems to be a logical assumption.  The fact that Obi-Wan’s mount at the end of the episode is the same one he loaned to Ezra and Chopper before the fight strongly implies this theory.

Another thing to love about this episode is all the little tweaks and nods to A New Hope buried in it.  Ezra and Chopper setting out together is quite the nod to Threepio and Artoo’s journey across Tatooine before they get picked up by Jawas.  The attack by the Sand People is somewhat spooky for me, since I recently acquired and began playing Knights of the Old Republic.  I did not quite have flashbacks of all the times the Sand People killed me and my team, but I have begun to find their honking cries rather annoying.  Their Gaffi sticks are equally irritating.  But I did not celebrate when Maul killed them all, as you might have expected.  He set them up to die.  It is not something to cheer over.

Obi-Wan’s fatherly (or is that grandfatherly?), kindness and admonishments to Ezra reflect how his teaching tactics have changed since he lost Anakin to the Emperor.  He is now well prepared to take on the fatherly role of mentor when he leads Luke to make the fateful trip to Alderaan.  This could be seen as a dry run for his mentoring of Luke two years hence.

His subtle deflection of Ezra from the truth is also reminiscent of how Luke later confronts him about the fact that he hid Vader’s true identity from him, although he did not quite lie about it.  Both times Obi-Wan stretches the truth to protect the young fellas, and I doubt that Ezra would – or will – be any happier than Luke when he finally learns that Obi-Wan fibbed to protect the two of them from Maul, Vader, and the Empire at large in this episode.

The kicker, though, is when Obi-Wan stops within hearing of Beru Lars’ call to Luke to come in for supper.  As she does this we get to see his shadow as he races indoors in answer to her summons.  This scene is magnificent, and if I am not mistaken, they took the voice of the actress who played Beru Lars in A New Hope and used it for this episode.  She called Luke in exactly the same way before she reminded him to find a droid that spoke – I believe it was Bocce.  And when I say she called him the same way, I mean exactly the same way.  They clipped out her call from A New Hope and put it in the ending for “Twin Suns,” if I am not mistaken.  As a final note, Stephen Stanton’s imitation of Alec Guinness could not be better.  I am amazed and impressed.  Well done, Master Stanton.  (Author bows respectfully.)

Well, readers, this is my take on the third last episode of season three of Star Wars Rebels.  It was a good episode and I enjoyed it.  Marvelously animated and masterfully told, “Twin Suns” is an episode we are all going to want to show our children at some point in the future.

Remember, readers:  the Force will be with you.  Always.

References:

http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/03/18/star-wars-rebels-twin-suns-review

Fan Fiction Story for Transformers: Robots in Disguise

Merry Christmas, everyone! Waaaay back in January 2016, a friend requested that I write a fan fiction story for Transformers: Robots in Disguise.  At the time I was not prepared to write such a story, though I did promise to do it at some point.  I had meant to do it that month, but the project never got past the promise stage.

I remembered that promise to my friend a little while ago, and I knew it was well past time to deliver.  And so, without further ado, here is the story I promised my friend all those months back.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as my compadre does!

Let’s rev up and snowball out!

The Mithril Guardian

Image result for transformers robots in disguise

Snowball Fight!

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.

It started harmlessly enough, from what Drift said later.  Russell, Slipstream, and Jetstorm had been showing the newly returned Weaponizer Mini-Cons how to build a snowman.  Thankfully, they had received Optimus’ warning in time and returned to Earth safely to rejoin Bumblebee and his team – just in time for the first snow of the season.

With Sideswipe and Drift sparring nearby, and Denny out with Bumblebee to pick up more energon, Drift had been content to let his students have some fun.  He had not put it in those words, but Optimus was fairly sure that was what he meant.

Things had become more raucous when Grimlock, his arms behind his back, had told Russell that he had forgotten something to show the Mini-Cons.  Russell looked up at him in utter bewilderment.  “What’s that, Grim?” he had asked.

Grinning widely, Grimlock had brought both arms forward and thrown two giant snowballs at Sideswipe and Drift.

Neither of the combatants had noticed the projectiles coming until they were hit.  There had been enough force in Grimlock’s throw to send the two flying sideways.  And from there, things had spiraled completely out of control.

At least, that was the way Bumblebee seemed to see it.

“Guys, I thought we agreed – ”  He had to stop talking as a snowball flew at his head.   Optimus reached up and plucked it from the air before it could hit him.  Bee ducked reflexively anyway.

Flicking a glance at Optimus, he muttered, “Thanks,” before turning again to try and interrupt the snowball battle.

Optimus hid a smile as he let his arm fall to his side, keeping a careful hold on the snowball.  Ever since he had briefed his former scout on the preliminaries of the situation on Cybertron, Bee had been on edge.  It was only natural that Bumblebee wanted his team to be prepared for the coming threats.

But according to Sideswipe, since their discussion Bumblebee had kept his team on a strict regimen of training exercises and patrols.  While Sideswipe was doubtless exaggerating the severity of Bee’s change in attitude, even Optimus could tell that the young commander had his servos in a knot lately.  He barely allowed himself or the team time to really relax.

Optimus felt something small and light settle on his left shoulder.  He knew it was Aerobolt before he turned to look at him.

The leader of the Weaponizer Mini-Cons turned to him, cocking his head like a true Earth bird.  “I do not understand this form of training,” he said.  “It seems to serve no real purpose.  Sideswipe and Drift could train by throwing objects of various weights at an inanimate target just as well as they throw these balls of snow at each other.  Grimlock could do the same.”

Optimus turned at a human shout from the battlefield.  He was just in time to see Russell pelting Grimlock’s leg with snowballs.

The big Dinobot raised his arms over his head in the manner of surrender and shouted, “Ah!!  No, noooo!!  Stop!  Arrgh!”  With a theatrical groan, he toppled onto his side.  “Ahhh!!!  I’m dead!”  Grimlock shut his eyes and went limp, letting his jaw hang open for extra effect.  Russell laughed so hard at the sight that he sat down in the snow.

Grimlock opened one eye and smiled.  Opening the other, he sat up.  “Was it that good?”

“Yes!” Russell gasped.  “You’re a great actor, Grim!”

“Hmm,” the Dinobot replied.  “I guess I am.”  Taking a handful of snow, he sprinkled it over Russell’s head.  The boy stood up and, quieting his laughter, stuck out his tongue in an attempt to catch the flakes.

Meanwhile, Sideswipe had decided to dump a large container of snow over Drift’s head.  “Something in your eyes, Drift?” he asked, laughing as the former bounty hunter scraped the snow from his face.  “Guess you’ll be having a – ”

His gloating cost him, leaving him totally unprepared for Drift’s lunge.  Grabbing his arm, Drift pulled it behind the younger ‘Bot’s back and thrust his head into a nearby snowdrift.  “I believe that your Christmas will be whiter, Sideswipe.”  The former bounty hunter smiled wickedly as Sideswipe’s free arm flailed, his voice muffled by the snow.

Standing up, Grimlock whipped snow up into the air with his tail, dowsing Russell with it.  Using his arms to keep the snow from his eyes, Russell did not notice his father sneaking up behind him.  Denny darted forward and grabbed hold of his son’s midsection.  Lifting him high over his head, Denny spun the boy around fast enough to startle a shout from him.  The two toppled into the snow, where they started wrestling and laughing.  Above them, Grimlock smiled.

“This is not a form of training,” Optimus explained to Aerobolt slowly.  “It is a form of human entertainment called a snowball fight.”

Aerobolt cocked his head.  His whole posture radiated confusion.  “Humans find it entertaining to be attacked with hard balls of snow?” he asked.

“The humans I have had contact with prefer to keep the snowballs soft enough that they do no permanent harm.”  Sideswipe had gotten free of Drift at last.  The two were rolling around in the snow now, just like Denny and Russell.

Slipstream and Jetstorm began throwing snowballs at Grimlock.  Optimus noticed for the first time that the rest of the Weaponizers were watching the fight from some distance away.  Tricerashot watched the fun, a scowl on his face.  But he was usually scowling.  The other Mini-Cons looked as confused as Aerobolt.  Only Sawtooth was watching the scene with bright eyes.  He was quivering with suppressed emotion – excitement, if Optimus had to guess.

“Humans find the winters dull without some form of entertainment, much as Sideswipe finds a daily routine stifling.”  Optimus hoped the comparison would suffice.  It was difficult enough to explain human behavior, especially when he still did not understand some of it himself.  “If the routine or the weather does not provide a change, they will find a way to make the change themselves.”

Aerobolt nodded, understanding dawning in his eyes.  “Ah.  With a lack of useful occupations, such as farming, humans are left only with caring for their basic needs during Earth’s winter.  I can see how that could be considered…drudgery.”

“Indeed.”  Optimus nodded to indicate the happy chaos before them.  “It seems Bumblebee’s team has come to the same conclusion regarding their newest routine.”  Bumblebee himself had given up trying to be heard over the shouting and laughter.  He turned to leave, only to be confronted by Strongarm, who had just returned from her patrol.  The two began talking quietly, but Optimus noticed how the young cadet’s eyes strayed to the fight every few seconds.  She wanted to join in the fun.

It surprised him when the Mini-Con gave an almost imperceptible sigh.  “I had not thought to see him so tense.”

He was referring to Bumblebee.  “I believe it is the situation on Cybertron which worries him most.  He, Strongarm, and Sideswipe left without official permission, and he already knows that the High Council is unhappy with that.”  Optimus paused.  “My subsequent return and involvement with him and the others here has angered them further.”

“You have not stated just why they are displeased with him.”  Aerobolt eyed him closely.  “If it were simply because he traveled to Earth without official authorization, then that should be easily rectified.”

“That is indeed a part of it.”  Optimus did not want to tell anyone just what the situation on Cybertron was until the others had arrived.  The situation may have changed since he returned to Earth.

But Aerobolt deserved to know at least the preliminaries, if not the details, before that happened.  They were partners, after all, and to hide anything from the Mini-Con could destroy the trust necessary to form the Power Surge Link they had forged in their last battle with Starscream.  They might need that bond in the future, if things did not change – and that was extremely unlikely.  “I cannot say more here,” he told him at last.  “And some of the details are still unclear.  I will tell you what I know so far later on, but there are many things which may change when our reinforcements arrive.”

“You speak as one expecting a battle,” Aerobolt said, his wings fluttering in a wary manner.  “We did not wish to become involved in a war.”

“Nor did I wish to involve you, since you have suffered so much during the previous war,” Optimus agreed, stifling a sigh.  “If you were discovered on your own, however…”  He let the sentence hang in the air.  The Mini-Cons believed they could take care of themselves, and against opponents such as the Decepticon Scavengers, he did not doubt that they could.

But if what he suspected was true, they would not be able to stand against what was coming alone.  Neither would he, Bumblebee, or his team.

Aerobolt was watching him.  “Is it Megatron?” he asked evenly, his tone very quiet.  That was not easy to manage, considering what the Decepticon leader had put him and the others through.

Optimus sighed.  “Perhaps.  We have no way of knowing for certain at the moment.  As I said, what I know now may change when the others arrive.”

Slowly, Aerobolt nodded.  “Yet what you know has obviously made Bumblebee anxious,” he observed.  “I do not think mere political machinations would upset him so.”

“Unless the intrigues were more than simple games,” Optimus told him calmly, adding a little edge to his tone.  If it really was as bad as Jazz had said, they were facing a great crisis, possibly another war.  It was not a thought Optimus relished.

The Mini-Con caught the edge in his tone and looked at him sharply.  Optimus stared back.  Finally, Aerobolt nodded.  “Indeed.  I see now the reason for Bumblebee’s distress.”

Optimus could not stop his instinctive glance in Bumblebee’s direction.  The younger ‘Bot was deep in conversation with Strongarm.  He felt his spark ache with empathy as he watched his former Scout.  He had been in Bumblebee’s place many times in the past.

Not long ago, he reflected, Bee would have joined in the snowball fight wholeheartedly.  But watching him now, Optimus was reminded of the more embittered or uptight ‘Bots whom he had commanded during the Great War.  With so many lost lives and lost battles, it was inevitable that some would come to see any form of amusement as a frivolous waste of time.

He was fairly sure that Bumblebee had not fallen that far in such a short amount of time.  The younger Autobot’s personality was too buoyant for that.  Even the loss of his voice box had not marred his spirit permanently.

It was a commander’s duty, Optimus reflected, to stay apart from the games his subordinates enjoyed on most occasions.  Arcee had once told Jack, Miko, and Rafael that “Primes don’t party.”  In part, it was because it was not expected of them.  A Prime was to comport himself at all times with as much dignity as possible, according to the records Optimus had read in his youth.  Besides, he had found that he enjoyed watching those under his command while they “partied” more than if he had joined in their games.

He looked at Bumblebee again and caught him glancing toward the fight as Drift kicked Sideswipe off of him and into a snow bank, sending a plume of powder into the sky.  Primes may indeed have to excuse themselves from such high-spirited play, but Bumblebee was not a Prime.

Optimus found himself fingering the snowball he had caught before it could hit Bumblebee.  An idea began to form in his mind.

Just then, Grimlock gave a mighty roar and dove at Slipstream and Jetstorm.  The maneuver lacked his usual speed and force, giving the two Mini-Cons time to move aside.  They did, and Grimlock’s head disappeared into the snowdrift behind them.  Denny and Russell, having their own snowball fight some little distance away, stopped at the sight.

Grimlock brought his head up and out of the snow bank.   He moved so quickly that he showered Denny and Russell with a light film of snow, making them shout and laugh.  Slipstream and Jetstorm avoided the cloud of powder, flipping out of range to land one atop the other next to Grimlock’s leg.  It protected them from the backwash of snow.

What they did not realize was that Grimlock’s charge had been a feint to allow him a chance to fill his mouth with snow.  Bringing his head up, Grimlock twisted his neck so that his closed jaws hung over the two.  Then he opened his mouth and allowed the snow to cascade onto them.  The two shouted in surprise.

Their dual shout, though, was drowned out by Strongarm’s sudden shriek.  Optimus looked over and smiled as he watched Sawtooth pick up a snowball with his tail.  He had a pile of them near that appendage.  With everyone concentrating on the others, he had been free to slip away and make his own snowballs.  He flipped this new snowball at Strongarm, who managed to block this projectile.

Sawtooth paused as a thought seemed to strike him.  “Did I hit too hard?” he asked, concerned.

“No,” Strongarm replied.  “You just hit me when I wasn’t expecting it.”

“Oh.  My apologies.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she said, waving one hand.  Reaching out with her other hand at the same time, she clutched some snow from one of the racks holding Denny’s car collection and threw it at him.

Sawtooth never saw it coming.  It hit him in the chest and sent him skidding backward along the ground.  He shook his head, then turned to stare at her.  A slow smile spread across his face.

Strongarm smiled back.  In an instant, the two were going at it nuts and bolts, throwing, diving, and catching snowballs.  They looked less like warriors and more like human children.

Optimus glanced at Aerobolt to see his reaction.  The Mini-Con shrugged his wings, looking caught between anger and confusion.  He thought, however, that he detected a gleam of delight in the other’s eye.  “I had not thought Sawtooth would be interested in such a game.”

“It is in times such as this that commanders learn the most about their subordinates,” Optimus replied softly.  “I have found it informative and pleasant, watching my Autobots at their pastimes.”

“Have you?” asked Aerobolt.  “It does not strike you as…undignified?”

Optimus smiled.  “Dignity at times may be put aside by most.  In times such as this, it relieves the stress that would otherwise threaten to divide a strong unit.  Also, it has sometimes provided an Autobot with the perspective necessary to win a battle.”

“Hmmm,” Aerobolt murmured thoughtfully.

Strongarm and Sawtooth’s snowball fight seemed to give Grimlock an idea.  Leaning down, he picked up some snow and began packing it into a ball.  Slipstream and Jetstorm, excavating themselves from the snow he had dumped on them, looked up at him.

“Do-de-do,” Grimlock hummed.  “Da-da-da.”  He looked down at the two, then over at the Weaponizers, who were watching Sawtooth and Strongarm in confusion.

The Mini-Cons understood him.  Reaching down, they began packing their own snowballs.  “Hey, Tricerashot!” Grimlock called.

“What?” the Dino Mini-Con growled.  His growl morphed into a gasp as he saw the snowball arcing through the air toward him.  Before he had time to move, it hit him in the head.  “Arrgh!” he shouted.

The other Weaponizers started and stared at him in shock.  Slipstream and Jetstorm’s battle cries therefore caught them unawares.  Before any of the other Mini-Cons had time to move, Drift’s students began bombarding them heavily with snowballs. They turned the remains of the pile Grimlock had dropped on them into a fort to defend against returning snowballs.

Denny and Russell shared a look.  Then they ran over to join Slipstream and Jetstorm.  In a few seconds, both sets of Mini-Cons and the humans were trading snowballs at a furious rate.

But Tricerashot, having cleared his eyes of the snow, had a bigger target in mind.  As Grimlock watched his handy work in action, the Dino Mini rolled a large ball of snow with his horns.  Carefully picking it up on his snout, he lobbed it a Grimlock’s shin.

The Dinobot grunted with the impact, then turned to look at Tricerashot.  “Fair is fair!” he called smugly.  “You wanted a snowball fight – well, you’ve got one!”

Grinning widely, Grimlock picked up some more snow and packed it into a ball.  Tricerashot rolled another ball, picked it up on his horns, and threw it at Grimlock…

…Just as the bigger ‘Bot lobbed his own snowball at the Mini.

The results were comical.  Tricerashot’s projectile hit Grimlock in his snout, obscuring his vision, while the Dinobot’s snowball covered Tricerashot completely.  It took them a few minutes to burrow out of the snow.  They looked at each other and started laughing.

Aerobolt cocked his head.  Optimus caught the smile which flitted across his face.  “I’d no idea Tricerashot could laugh,” he muttered.

Optimus smiled a little himself.  “As I said, a commander often learns more about his subordinates at play than in battle.”  He looked back at the battlefield and saw a snowball coming toward him.  Shifting to the left, he let it pass.  “Well aimed, Sideswipe,” he complemented.

“Daw – you weren’t supposed to move!” the younger ‘Bot lamented.  He grunted as Drift hit him in the back with a larger snowball.  “Hey, Bee!  Give a ‘Bot a hand?!”

“We’re supposed to be studying battle tactics, not playing,” Bumblebee retorted.

“Come on.  Snowball fights are all about battle tactics!”  To prove his point, Sideswipe feinted left.  Drift blocked his real punch from his right, but Sideswipe used his still-moving left hand to snatch a handful of snow and shove it onto the samurai’s head.  Sputtering, Drift backed up, allowing Sideswipe to knock him over with a well-placed kick.  “See?” he said.

Drift’s response was to kick his legs out from under him from his position on the ground, and Sideswipe landed with a loud “Ooomf!” in the torn-up snow.  Strongarm and Sawtooth laughed as he scrambled to his feet and lunged at the other Autobot.

But Drift was ready for him.  Throwing loose powder in Sideswipe’s eyes, he ducked behind him and kicked him into a snow pile.  “He is indeed correct, Bumblebee.  I am now engaged in lecturing Sideswipe to avoid gloating over his opponents before they are unconscious.”

“I’ll show you unconscious!” Sideswipe growled playfully as he pulled himself free of the snow, one hand clutched tightly on a white something.  Pivoting on his right foot, he threw a malformed snowball into Drift’s chest.  There was enough force behind the throw to send the other ‘Bot skidding backward.

Bumblebee sighed as the two continued to spar.  “He has a point, Bumblebee,” Optimus remonstrated gently.  “The surrounding territory can be an advantage in a battle, and it is unlikely our opponents will have had experience with snow or snowball fights.”

The former Scout closed the distance between them.  “Optimus, if you’re right, snowballs aren’t going to help us.”  He glanced at the laughing, happy scene, and Optimus recognized the fear in his eyes.  Bumblebee was wondering if he would lose any of his teammates in the coming conflict.

He had faced that same fear and lived through it many times over the years himself.  Often the Autobots he had watched having fun moments before lay dead within the opening phase of a battle.  Some of them had been friends of his and others had been friends of Bumblebee’s.  Neither of them wanted to see his team suffer the same fate as so many units of Autobots had in the War.

Optimus hoped fervently that they could in fact survive this situation without casualties or another war.  He had seen enough death and destruction over the eons; he did not wish to see more.  And these young Autobots, who did not know what it was to truly lose a compatriot, would hopefully never have to learn the grief that came with the loss.  Sideswipe’s near-miss in the battle against Starscream was the closest they had come to true injury and death.  He desperately wanted that to be as close as they came to actually losing someone.

Shaking the phantoms of fear away, Optimus turned his head slightly to avoid another snowball.  This one had been a stray; Sideswipe had his hands full with Drift and was in no position to think of throwing snowballs at anyone but him.  “Excessive stress from too much training is not helpful either, Bumblebee,” Optimus chided gently.  “I learned that in the War.”

The other sighed.  “You’re right, of course.  It’s just…”

“It is never easy waiting for a battle.”  Optimus put his free hand on Bumblebee’s shoulder.  The younger ‘Bot looked up at him, and for a moment, Optimus saw the eager, trusting young Scout he had commanded for so long staring back at him.  Bumblebee had grown and strengthened during his absence.  But a part of him was still that hopeful, never-give-up young ‘Bot who had dared to face down Megatron at the price of his voice box.

But the rest was the grown Autobot who had saved Optimus’ life by running Megatron through with the Star Saber, whose sense of righteousness and commitment to what was good and true in the universe mirrored his own.  Optimus knew he could have asked for no better successor than Bumblebee.  Nor could he ask for a better subordinate.  “You, Bulkhead, and the others needed rest and relaxation during the War from time to time as well.  Do not begrudge your own team the freedom to enjoy themselves while they can.”

Bumblebee’s eyes turned to regard the fight still raging in the midst of the scrap yard.  He sighed, and as his shoulders slumped Optimus felt the tension leave him.  “You’re right.”  He shook his head.  “I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Smiling slightly, Optimus hefted the snowball he had caught earlier and held it out to Bumblebee.  “Perhaps it is best to think only of the present moment.  I believe this belongs to Sideswipe, does it not?”

The younger ‘Bot looked at the snowball for a long minute.  Slowly, a smile spread across his face and he took it from Optimus’ grasp.  “I do believe it does.”  Switching the projectile to his other hand, Bumblebee cocked his arm and threw the snowball.

It splattered on Sideswipe’s head, startling a yell from him.  Shooting Optimus a playful grin, Bumblebee transformed, raced forward a short distance, and then swung to a stop.  The maneuver threw snow over Grimlock, the Weaponizers, Denny, Russell, Slipstream, and Jetstorm.  Strongarm and Sawtooth both ended up with a face full of snow courtesy of the slide as well.  Sideswipe was too busy brushing snow from the top of his head to notice some had landed on his feet.  Drift was far enough away that the snow Bumblebee kicked up did not touch him.

“You guys gonna sit there all day?” Bumblebee asked.  “Or are we going to go show Fixit how to have a snowball fight?”

The others shared a look.  Grimlock grinned, to be answered by similar smiles from Strongarm and Sideswipe.  Drift did not grin, but Optimus could see the corners of his mouth turning up in a smile.

“Then let’s rev up and roll out!” Bumblebee shouted, peeling out of the yard.  Grimlock chased after him as Strongarm and Sideswipe transformed to follow, Strongarm pausing only long enough for Sawtooth to climb onto her roof.  Drift transformed and drove over to Denny and Russell, who hopped in as soon as his door was open.  Slipstream and Jetstorm jumped onto his roof and he raced toward the Command Center.

The Weaponizers shared a look.  As one, they turned to Aerobolt.

Flicking a glance at Optimus, he nodded once to them.  The band took off after the other Autobots.  All of them were smiling, even Tricerashot.

As the roars and shouts began in the Command Center, Optimus’ partner turned to look at him.  “Shall we watch the festivities?” he asked.

“I believe we shall,” Optimus answered.  Transforming to vehicle mode, he let Aerobolt fly ahead of him.  Smiling privately to himself, Optimus drove toward the Command Center.  The threats they faced were as dangerous as any they had known in the Great War.  But this was a new era, with new soldiers who had already proved that they were worthy warriors and true friends.  Though the road ahead would be dangerous and dark, with Autobots such as these at his side, Optimus knew in his spark that they would succeed.

But for now, they were going to have a little fun.

THE END

More Fan Fiction: Star Wars Rebels

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.

“Kanan!”

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.

Could he?

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.

Ezra.

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.”

“Why?”

“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.”

“Hmm.”

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.

“Uh-huh.”

“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 END

Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Trailer Is OUT!!!!

YEAH-HOOO!!!

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

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

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