Since it is Spring Break across the US, Cameron is busy having fun. However, Zach, who has no social life, is still available to review the latest episode of Star Wars: Rebels. I must say, Rebels will have a tough time topping itself after this one. The conclusion of Maul’s arc was powerful and beautifully done, and Ezra’s arc of family and his struggle with The Dark Side comes to a close.
Although Maul knows his nemesis is on Tatooine, it is understandably difficult to find one man when an entire planet stands in your way. So, to bait Obi-Wan out of hiding, Maul activates the Sith Holocron and uses it to convince Ezra that he is about to find Obi-Wan. Although Ezra is convinced that he can help, Hera wants Ezra to remain on Atollon to prepare for their assault on Lothal. Instead, Ezra steals an A-Wing and goes to Tatooine anyway, with Chopper stowing away as well. All too soon, Ezra realizes that it is a trap and becomes stranded on Tatooine. Still trying to find Obi-Wan, Ezra sets off across the dunes without provisions. Both he and Chopper succumb to the merciless sands.
Fortunately, Obi-Wan saves them, coming out of hiding and alerting Maul to his presence. The aged Jedi Master sends Ezra away and confronts Maul in a brief duel, emerging victorious. As Maul dies, he takes solace in the knowledge that The Chosen One who Obi-Wan is protecting will avenge them both. Ezra returns to Atollon and admits he was wrong, asserting that the crew is his family and confirming his desire to retake Lothal from the Empire. The episode ends with Obi-Wan pensively watching a homestead as a woman calls for a boy, “Luke,” to come inside.
Cinema of Tatooine
When tackling iconic parts of the Star Wars universe, we can always trust the writers and artists of Lucasfilm to handle them with the respect and dignity they deserve. This episode is no exception. With the desaturated tones, bright light, and the sand everywhere, Tatooine is a character in and of itself.
The show even managed to improve Tatooine with a view of the sky at night. The two moons glow brightly, and when they are gone the stars glitter in the dark. The mood becomes cool, dark, and mysterious, a perfect setting for the episode’s more contemplative moments.
Much of Ezra’s arcs throughout Rebels have been about finding family. Season 1 and half of Season 2 made Ezra’s search for his parents a major plot point. However, once it was revealed that they had died, that part of Ezra’s journey took a back seat. Instead, it focused on his relationship with The Force. Ezra’s willingness to go to any lengths to protect his friends always lead him to flirt with The Dark Side, and this was exacerbated by Maul in Season 3. This episode brought closure to both aspects of Ezra’s personality.
Although the cast and crew often referred to Ezra and the crew of the Ghost as family, we never really hear it from any of the characters. With the original crew it seems to be understood and there was no need to say it. Ezra, though, has been slowly coming to this realization on his own.
In this episode, he defies the crew to go out and protect Obi-Wan. If we think of a more selfish motive, he wants to finish Maul off once and for all. This desire to protect or kill almost destroys both him and Chopper, since he rushes into the action without a plan. Hera and Kanan even warn Ezra that it might be a trap, but Ezra goes blindly forward, reacting to the situations rather than acting before they happen. He finally accepts this and returns home, ready to embrace his role.
In the same way, Ezra’s fight with The Dark Side is resolved as well. Part of the allure of The Dark Side is the ability it affords to protect one’s loved ones, often at great cost. I thought, going into this episode, that Ezra would be the one to kill Maul as a sign of his complete rejection of Maul’s modified Sith teachings. Instead, Obi-Wan performs the deed. It is much more powerful as a result. Ezra realizes this desire to protect his friends has clouded his judgement to the point that he might hurt them instead. By letting go of his desire to end Maul, he shows he has rejected The Dark Side in an even more complete way.
Maul and Kenobi
These two finally had the reckoning that we have been waiting for. While the commercials hyped it up as some grand, acrobatic spectacle that one might expect of an action cartoon, Rebels handles this final battle in a remarkably understated way: the sabers meet only twice before Obi-Wan delivers the final blow. The real drama comes after, when Maul breathes his last words:
“He will avenge us.”
On the surface it seems an odd thing to say. Maul and Obi-Wan have always been enemies, and the idea that one person might avenge both of them seems irreconcilable with this statement. On further reflection, though, the meaning becomes clear. Both Maul and Obi-Wan were destroyed by the Sith.
Obi-Wan’s destruction by Palpatine is more overt. Palpatine usurped power, corrupted Obi-Wan’s best friend and student, and drove the Jedi to the brink of extinction. Now, as Maul points out, Obi-Wan has become a rat in the desert, living on the edges of the Empire and unable to confront it directly. However, he still has something to live and fight for: the life of Luke Skywalker.
Maul’s destruction is more subtle. He was stolen from his mother by Palpatine to be his apprentice, but Palpatine never expected Maul to be his final apprentice. From day one, Maul was expendable. Raised with the Sith mentality, Maul only knows strength as the power to destroy and control others. It left him unable to love anyone, even his own brother. His whole life was consumed and controlled by his lust for vengeance and power. His life is a shell. He has nothing to live for. One might even speculate that he wanted to die during his fight with Obi-Wan. Still, even in death Maul is unable to move on. His last words are still words of hate and a desire for vengeance.
10 – Electrifying: YES,YEESSSS! Too good for the galaxy, too pure. Leaves the viewer with a feeling of deep emotional catharsis and stimulation. Worth infinite rewatches with the volume turned all the way up. This rating truly represents the Light Side of the Force.
Thrawn is out for blood.