Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episodes 19-20 – “Twilight of the Apprentice” – The Many Faces of the Force

Twilight of the Apprentice

    This was a Season Finale that was powerful in a lot of ways, could have done with more setup but at the end of the day gave us a glimpse into the many faces of the force and how it isn’t as simple Jedi versus Sith…that within the force there are many identities that can be taken and forged as well as showing us the galaxies past is still informing the future that  may come.

     “Twilight of Apprentice” was a 2 part episode directed by Dave Filoni and written by Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg and Steven Melching.

    The story involves Ezra, Kanan and Ahsoka traveling to the Sith Temple on Malachor to learn how to fight the Inquisitors. All as not as it appears to be as the Inquisitors are already there hunting another and Ezra finds himself drawn to this mysterious “Old Master” who is not all he appears to be.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: Malachor – Malachor has a really cool look. The Sith Temple is underground and looks like a giant pyramid and around the Temple are dead Jedi and Sith turned to ash by some unknown force. It is creepy and establishes how dangerous this place is quickly.

The Inquisitors – The Inquisitors have a great look as we have the Seventh Sister and Fifth Brother return and are introduced to the Eighth Brother who was hunting Maul. They manage to harass our heroes but when Maul allies with them they are killed by him.

The Action – There are so many great duels this episode! From our Heroes and Maul against the Inquisitors, to Maul versus Ahsoka and Kanan and Ahsoka against Darth Vader. Each duel means something and helps our characters advance in some way.

The Old Master / Maul – Maul is the anti-Yoda in this as he comes off as weak and more intellect when helping Ezra as they enter the heart of the Temple using the power of the Dark Side. He saves Ezra at least once and we see he wants Ezra as his apprentice and to use the Temple as a weapon against all his enemies as the Sith destroyed his people, family and everything he had. Maul is hate and also a smart manipulator too. He survives the destruction of the Temple and we see him flying off hinting that he may return to finish Ezra’s training and corruption.

Kanan – Kanan is the protector in this and we see how unprepared he has been to teach Ezra as Maul is able to do what Kanan has been unable, from protecting Ezra from threats, to getting inside the Temple and countless other things. In the end he is still the protector though as even after he is blinded by Maul he is able to knock Maul off the Temple and return to Ezra at the top.

Ezra – Ezra is going to the dark side as we see him learn the power of his anger in this and how his training has left unable to protect the ones he loves. From Ahsoka being defeated by Vader and Kanan losing his eyes to Maul. It is all of this that leads him to using the dark side to open the Sith Holocron at episode’s end showing that he is ready to embrace that side of himself fully.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka is amazing! This is the episode where we see how she isn’t a Jedi and that in leaving the order she shaped her own identity as one who is comfortable with Revenge for those she loves (she says she will kill Darth Vader for killing her Master) and we see it has given her great power as she cuts Vader’s mask. In the end her fate is left unknown as she chooses to stay with Vader in the exploding temple. I hope she got defeated and became a force ghost as she chose not to leave Vader, which means her death, just like it did for another character “The Force Awakens” when he chose to stay with someone who had gone dark side.

Darth Vader – Darth Vader is a force of nature in this. Maul fears him and will not face him alone, Ezra is beaten down easily by him and the only one who stands any chance is Ahsoka who matches him but also is broken down and is only able to injure Vader when he distracted in trying to get the Holocron from Ezra using the force. In the end he defeats Ahsoka (I hope defeats means kills) and we see him limp from the Temple ruins, the only characters still standing tall and unbroken.

The Faces of the Force – In this we have Maul, a dark side user who isn’t a Sith, the Inquisitors who are tools of the Sith, Vader who is a Sith Lord, Kanan who is a Jedi, Ezra his apprentice and Ahsoka who is a light side wielder but not a Jedi, rather a force user who lives by her own code.

Okay: Ambiguous End – We don’t know if Ahsoka is dead or alive as one of the final scenes is her saying she will stay with her Master as they fight one another and the Temple has a Force explosion. The final scenes have Vader limping away and Ahsoka or he ghost entering the Sith Temple. It looked cool but I really wanted a clear victory by Vader, I hope it is Ahsoka’s Force Ghost as Vader would have never left her alive.

Okay/Con: – The Story of the Inquisitors – We don’t know who the Eighth Brother, Seventh Sister and Fifth Brother were and now they are dead. They had great looks at least and they put up a good fight in this episode.

The Cons: Not Enough Setup – The Inquisitors hunting Maul was never setup, Malachor as a place to go was only vaguely hinted at and Maul came out of nowhere. These were all things that could have easily been established in past episodes rather than us getting filler Space Whale ones.

  This two-parter is one I highly recommend. It is some of the best from our heroes and writers and we get to see just how diverse identities are within the use of the force. Bringing Maul back worked really well here too, with the only underutilized folks being the Inquisitors whose backstories we never learned, just like their motivations. What really sales this episode though is that exploration of the force and the core relationships between Kanan and Ezra, their relationship to Ahsoka and her relationship to Vader. This core drama drives the story and makes it a favorite episode for me in the end. This a show that has always been about the characters and these episodes are a beautiful illustration of that.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

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Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 15 – “The Honorable Ones” – A Story of Soldiers

“The Honorable Ones” is a fantastic episode. In this episode we see the extent of how evil the Galactic Empire is, the character of Zeb and that there is much more to Agent Kallus than meets the eye. He’s a favorite character on the show after this.

The episode was directed by Brad Rau and written by Kevin Hopps.

The story involves Zeb and Agent Kallus forced to work together when after fighting on a base they find themselves trapped on a Geonosian Moon with limited supplies and dangerous creatures with them.

The Pros: The Action – The action in this episode is amazing! From our crew facing off against Agent Kallus and his surprise attack on a supposed abandoned base, to Kallus and Zeb facing off against the creatures on the moon. The action is strong and immediately draws you in.

Genocide of Geonosis – One of the first things we learn is that there are no lifeforms on Geonosis and that there was something being built around the planet. Given that these were the folks who designed the Death Star, this was probably the Empire hiding Sidious’s ties to the Separatists and all of the plots from the Clone Wars. It is sad and brilliant…the Geonosians were a great species.

Agent Kallus – In this episode we learn that Kallus was just a grunt who became a hero simply for surviving and that he doesn’t view himself as a hero, as well as his regret of the massacre of Zeb’s people. It’s powerful as we see that besides his brothers in arms he has no one and is truly alone among the fleet so Zeb’s kindness is something so new to him that he finds himself longing for something he lost in the past wars…his community.

Zeb – Zeb shows himself to be a man of honor as he works with Kallus to create a signal that any side (Rebellion or Empire) could pick up. He listens to his enemy and relates him and even offers that his crew take him in. It’s powerful and we see how much Zeb has grown and healed from the wounds that Kallus helped make.

The Life of a Soldier – The life of are soldier is a huge motivator for both our characters as we learn it is the community that had in battle that drove them as well as the belief that they were protecting and fighting for a greater good.

Kallus’s Dilemma – Kallus is left with the dilemma of leaving the Empire as he has the resources to find out how the Empire destroyed Geonosis, but will he? He’s isolated and alone but he is also a creature of honor and duty. This alone may keep him with the Empire until the end.

This was a solidly great episode and is easily one of the best the show has released so far. Zeb is one of my favorite characters and after this Kallus is too. I’ve always liked him as a antagonist and in this we get to see where his motivation comes from and that he is more than just a Imperial stooge. I’m curious if he’s going to change and help the Rebels in the end, or if his duty and honor to the Empire will outweigh the rest.

10 / 10. This is the best of “Star Wars Rebels.”

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 14 – “Homecoming” – How War Changes People

The Homecoming SWR Season 2

   “Homecoming” is another great episode that we needed after the travesty of “The Call.” We get to meet Hera’s father, realize why she is the way she is and how her father became the name he is (he was in “The Clone Wars” series too) and we get the chance to see how war and conflict can warp a person and their priorities. It really is a fantastic character piece.

   The episode was directed by Bosco Ng and written by Peter Melching.

    The episode involves the crew meeting up with the Rebel Cell on Ryloth lead by Hera’s father who was a hero during “The Clone Wars” and is known as the Hero of Ryloth. Their plan is to capture an Imperial Fighter Carrier above the planet but her father may have other darker plans.

The Pros: The History – The history in this is great. Kanan and Cham fought in “The Clone Wars” and are both veterans of war that lead directly to the rise of The Empire and the current dark times. This undercurrent of history pervades the script and lends it power.

Kanan – Kanan is funny as the awkward hero trying to impress his girlfriend’s father. He keeps trying to act formal around Cham and in the end Cham does respect him, which is nice to see.

The Crew of Ghost – The crew all play their part, from Zeb and Sabine capturing Cham’s agents who are trying to blow up the cruiser…to Kanan, Ezra and Hera facing Cham down and convincing him that there can be more than martyrdom and the Rebellion may not become the new Empire.

Hera – This is Hera’s episode and in this we see her convince her father there is more to the fight than Ryloth and that Ryloth is not alone in the fight against the Empire. It is powerful as she lived through the war as a child and she admits it was her father’s action that inspired her to join the rebellion and become a captain within it.

Cham Syndulla – Cham is the hardened warrior who lost his wife and is fighting a losing war against the Empire. He sees only hope in martyrdom until his daughter shows him another way, which reminds him of his wife who showed him the same thing until she herself was killed by the Empire. He’s an awesome character and I like that he’s tied to Hera and was brought into this series.

The Cons: Imperial Need a Win – I will say it again, the Imperials need a win. This was another episode that showed the Rebellion to be unstoppable, which is the biggest con of this season at the current time. It’s hard to have tension when everyone does the heroic thing in the end or our enemies are so toothless.

  Even with the problem of the Empire once again being a bit useless…this is a good character piece. We get to see why Hera is the way she is and Cham has a realistic character arc and I cared about the character, and not just because I knew him from “The Clone Wars.” In the end I’d recommend this episode and it is a favorite of the series.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 12 – “Legends of the Lasat” – Zeb and the Future of the Lasat

Legends of the Lasat SWR

   Zeb is one of the best characters in this series and its great seeing him get a story he deserves. This is a story where we get to know him, the Lasat  and also more of what might be in store for Zeb, suffice to say it’s one of my favorite episodes thus far.

     “Legends of the Lasat” was directed by Saul Ruiz and written by Matt Michnovetz.

    The story involves the crew of Ghost saving some Lasat Refugees when Lando lets Ezra know of their transfer. From here things unfold as the two elder Lasat see Zeb as the one who will lead them to the new Lasat world.

The Pros: The Empire – The Empire is great in this, largely due to the return of Agent Kallus and how effective he is as a villain. He holds Lando hostage as he knows that Hondo has a tracking device on Ghost. It is nice to see them as a threat again.

Agent Kallus – As stated above, he uses Hondo and nearly catches the crew and refugees and the only time he doesn’t risk everything shows he has brains as he has no reason to believe that the Rebels can pass through the anomalies.

Hondo – Hondo is fantastic and is in his style as the Jack Sparrowesque pirate as we see him exploit the Empire for money  and use the Rebels too as he has respect for Ezra and sees him as his trainee.

Ezra – Ezra is shown to be pretty smooth in this as we see him use Hondo and help Zeb accept himself and his people. He’s a pretty cool character and his openness is something that Zeb lost after the war and Ezra helps him get it back just by putting himself out there.

Chava – Chava is the Yoda and spiritual leader of the Lasat and trusts in destiny and helps Zeb find purpose and wisdom and she preaches that all hold “The Fool,” “The Warrior” and “The Child” within them and that Zeb being the “Child” will help them find Lira San. It’s powerful and it helps him get perspective too when Hondo and Kallus are shown to be “The Fool” and “Warrior” within the prophecy.

Zeb – This is Zeb’s story and it here we learn he was part of the Lasat Honor Guard who failed to protect the royal family and rejects the pacifism and spirituality of his people. It isn’t until Ezra shows him the potential in it and Chava shows him the many roles he must accept within himself and live that he rises to the challenge and brings them to Lira San, the ancient homeworld of the Lasat and in doing so forgives himself.

   This was an amazing episode and I highly recommend it. Zeb has been comedic relief this season so it has been good that he’s finally getting some love from the writers. Season 1 was good because of his relationship with Kallus and being the survivor, now he is more than a survivor…he’s the one who can guide his people home.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 11 – “The Protector of Concord Dawn” – Aggressive Negotiations

Concord_Dawn_thumb

    “The Protector of Concord Dawn” is the greatest episode in a while. Not only do we see a return of the Mandalorians but we are given a choice and dilemma, which is part of what “The Clone Wars” so great. This is an episode that captures the stakes and the charms of the best episodes from that series, which this Season has needed.

The episode was directed by Brad Rau and written by Henry Gilroy and Kevin Hopps.

The story involves the rebels seeking safe passage through Concord Dawn, which is Mandalorian space. After Hera’s negotiations fail and she is nearly killed as is most of her squadron, Sabine returns seeking revenge as Kanan returns trying to finish the negotiation.

The Pros: The Premise – The idea of the Rebellion having to negotiate with the Mandalorians or to beat them in their space is really interesting as it shows that the Rebellion has to make hard choices too and won’t always be the hero. This episode really illustrates that and that war has consequences.

The Opening Battle – The opening battle is awesome! Phoenix Squadron is annihilated and Sabine, Hera and one other pilot barely escape Rau and his Protectors. It raises the stakes and shows that these are men to be feared.

Fenn Rau and the Protectors – Fenn Rau and his organization are pretty awesome. They get money from the Empire to keep folks out of their space and are intriguing as the reason they made the deal is so they’d be left alone. I had a lot of respect for Rau and hope that he escapes to get revenge on the rebels for capturing him to blackmail him and his people.

Sabine – We see Sabine’s ruthlessness here and that she does know her people pretty well, as the Protectors didn’t want to work with the Rebellion. It is thanks to her quick thinking that they are disarmed and the only reason that her and Kanan weren’t captured.

Kanan – Kanan is the clear head but still gets ruthless for the Rebellion. No matter how you cut it he went darkside here as he captured and held a man against his will in order to take control of his space, this is after he destroyed his ships of course. Kanan’s idealism came up against reality and idealism lost. I liked seeing that as it was realistic.

The Cons: Rex – Rex should have been used. He implied that he trained with Rau but that is never used. He would have been perfect for negotiation as he had the mindset the Rau did of just wanting to be left alone by both sides.

If Rex had been used this would have been a perfect episode. So glad the Mandalorians are back, and I hope the rescue Rau and that Rau gets his chance for revenge. This episode showed that to win in war you have to make hard choices and sometimes there isn’t a good option, just a lesser bad option.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 8 – “The Future of the Force” – Ahsoka and the Inquisitors Make for a Great Story

Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Episode 8 Future of the Force

    I’ve been wanting to see Ahsoka in action since she was revealed at the end of Season 1 and this episode showed just how great of payoff that was. Here we see that she is stronger than both Inquisitors yet still has vulnerabilities and can be outmatched, though the Inquisitors clearly outmatch Kanan and Ezra. The fact the story is a continuation of a story from “The Clone Wars” helps matters as well and creates the best episode since “The Siege of Lothal.”

     “The Future of the Force” was directed by Saul Ruiz and written by Bill Wolkoff.

     The story involves Ahsoka sending Kanan and Ezra on a mission to a planet the Inquisitors are on to prevent them from getting their target. We soon their target is a child as Zeb, Kanan, Chopper and Ezra must rescue the child and escape the Inquisitors.

The Pros: Kanan – Kanan is in full Jedi mode this time and we see him in action as a protector and Ezra’s master as he helps Ezra find his cool when dealing with the Inquisitors. He is very outmatched but he puts up a good when he’s facing an Inquisitor one on one.

Ezra – Ezra shows he is the apprentice in this as much of this episode has him protecting the child and running. He’s good though even though he is no match for the Inquisitors. He is a survivalist at the end of the day and knows how to run.

Chopper – I liked Chopper in this episode as he goes from wanting to destroy the Inquisitor Ship with the baby in it to being a protective figure who enjoys being with the children. It kind of hits on the fact that the droid is insane.

Zeb – Zeb continues to show why he is part of the Rebels as we see him escape, protect and find the children even when he has no force abilities and everything he throws at the Inquisitors gets thrown right back at him. You never see him despair or stop fighting.

Fifth Brother – This guy is pretty awesome. I admit that I wasn’t all that impressed initially as the character has no prior history, but in this we see how ruthless he is and effective as he knocks out our heroes on multiple occasions, even though the Seventh Sister is the more talented of the two.

Seventh Sister – She is awesome. She discovers where the rebels are because she left her droid outside the tower to spy, she easily defeats Kanan and Ezra and we only see her lose when she’s facing Ahsoka, who easily stops her and the Fifth Son. This episode revealed that her power isn’t as great, but she makes up for it in guile as she prepares an Imperial Assault for the Rebels location after Ezra accidentally reveals it to her droid.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka has become the Knight or at least Master at this point. She easily beats the Inquisitors and even manages to escape the Empire when the Rebels escape with the two children the Inquisitors were trying to capture. I look forward to her eventual fight with Vader as he’s the only one who could easily beat her at this point since the Inquisitors were greatly outmatched, which makes me wonder why she hasn’t come on more missions…She has her own stuff going on that adds mystery along with her power. Can’t wait to see where her arc goes.

The Final Duel – The final duel is amazing! The Inquisitors beat Kanan and Ezra in an intense fight only for Ahsoka to defeat the two of them as the Imperials arrive. The battle never loses it’s stakes and is the best action in the series since Darth Vader’s fight in the Siege of Lothal.

   I’ve been missing this, this season has so far been a mixture of good and okay but every Inquisitor episode has been solid. I hope the writers remember that going forward as they are the best threat we have besides Vader, just like in Season 1 with the High Inquisitor and Tarkin being the primary threats. Rebels getting back to that will give us stakes again as the Inquisitors rarely completely lose which raises the stakes for the next episodes.

Final Score: 9.2 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 3 – “Always Two There Are” – The Inquisitors Return

Always Two There Are

    Zeb is finally useful again! This episode was good at showing at why he’s a member of the Team as well as establishing the threat of Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister as we finally get to see them in action and why they were made Inquisitors. Suffice to say, this episode made me curious to see how their backstories unfold.

      The episode was directed by Brad Rau and written by Kevin Hopps.

      The story involves Ezra, Zeb, Sabine and Chopper going to an abandoned Old Republic Medical Base for supplies and having to escape when Inquisitors arrive on the scene as Ezra and Sabine end up captured.

The Pros: The Tone – The tone is that of horror as the base is good at giving a good haunted vibe to it that only increases with the arrival of the Inquisitors.

The Inquisitors – I really like the Seventh Sister and think the Fifth Brother has potential. The Seventh Sister does the temptation deal and shows how on top of things she is as she knows about Ahsoka and manages to capture Ezra. The Fifth Son captures Sabine and it is only with a suicidal plan from Zeb that our team even manages to make our escape.

Rex – Rex is teaching Kanan discipline which is something he never got fully as he was only a Padawan during the Clone Wars (something the Seventh Sister points out). It’s cool seeing Rex becoming the Obi-Wan of the group. I feel bad for him having lost so many brothers though and the fact that his Jedi is now a Sith Lord.

Kanan – Kanan grows a lot in this as we see him finally listen to Rex and be willing to learn and grow.

Zeb – Zeb is great! He goes from comedic relief to showing why he’s a part of the Team as he risks everything to save Sabine and Ezra and keeping the others safe from the Inquisitors. He needed this episode after how off to the side he’s been this season.

Okay: Sabine and Chopper – These two are good but I can’t think of any character defining moments for them. They are simply there being supportive and we don’t learn anything new about them.

  This was a great episode and easily the best this season since “Siege of Lothal” was a tv film. I highly recommend it and hope we see our Inquisitors defeat our heroes at least a few times and hurt the Rebel Alliance. We know the Rebels win in the end, so let the villains show why they are villains and win sometimes.

Final Score: 9 / 10