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 18 – “The Mystery of Chopper Base” – Fear of Things to Come

Mystery of Chopper Base

    “The Mystery of Chopper Base” is another decent run. I felt the fear and anger the crew was feeling was a bit overdone but it made sense when they actually explained why all the characters feel the way they do. I’m really hoping we lose one of our heroes, if not Darth Vader who is appearing later in the series is going to be hard to take serious as a threat on this show, especially as he’ll probably have Inquisitor back-up. This episode is setting up tragedy, now lets see if it goes somewhere.

     The story was directed by Bosco Ng and written by Steven Melching.

  The story involves the crew finding a threat at the new Rebel Base Chopper helped discover as they deal with the fear of Kanan and Ezra leaving soon to face the Inquisitors and what it will be like to be without them.

The Pros: Sabine – We see Sabine in action a lot this episode as she holds her own against the Spider Monsters and saves the crew quite a few times. She plays an essential role that way. She also nudges Kanan to talk to Hera.

Captain Rex – Captain Rex is awesome again, even though he’s mostly in the Zeb role of holding the line (Zeb is nearly invisible this episode). He doesn’t really give any advice but it was great to see him again.

Ezra – In this we see that Ezra is okay killing as he talks about killing the Inquisitors as he thinks that’s the only way for them to be safe against the threat. We also see he can’t control all animals (thankfully) and that he is still very new in the force and not over powered (it is sad they had to establish this as it should have been made more obvious throughout the season). I really hope he turns over the next few episodes.

Kanan – In this we see a lot of Kanan’s stubbornness and that he is now evenly matched with Ezra. We also see how he deals with fear and anger by cutting himself off from people. We see he is capable of knowing though as we see just how much he loves and will miss Hera.

Hera – Hera is in full Captain mode, taking care of the crew and preparing them for when the Jedi leave. This makes her cold at times, but she’s right. I felt bad for her as you see she does have abandonment stuff and Kanan can’t promise her he’ll back when he doesn’t know. She believes anyway and you can see just how much she loves him.

The Ending – Hera and Kanan hold each other as Kanan promises he’ll come back (I hope he dies) leaving us with a feeling of foreboding and hope. It was great seeing their love though as you’d have never seen it in the Jedi Order before Order 66.

The Cons: Anger and Fear – I felt like there was too much of it and it could have been handled better. Them leaving should have been established the episode after the Inquisitors attacked the Jedi Temple as that was when they knew they had to bring the fight to them or they’d always be hunted. Since it wasn’t established early on, the fighting often times comes off as petulant.

This was a great episode, though not a favorite since the characters acting angry and afraid had not been established earlier. There is some great character stuff with Sabine, Ezra, Kanan and Hera though and that is really what carries the story. The animal threat of the episode was alright but it was also sad too that those creatures gave them more trouble than the Empire has often times this season. So I’m hoping that is corrected in the upcoming episodes.

Final Score: 8.8 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 10 – “A Princess on Lothal” – Leia Meets the Rebels

A Princess on Lothal

    The Empire still needs a win, but this is a great episode. In “A Princess on Lothal” Princess Leia meets up with our team and we see the ways that she has been helping the Rebellion. This is an episode that really establishes how savvy she is and part of why she is under so much suspicion come “A New Hope.” She is who makes this episode great.

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

    The story involves Leia delivering ships to the Rebels on Lothal and having to outsmart the Imperials there so that the Rebellion can get the ships. Ezra also faces the loss of his parents as the crew works to help Leia.

The Pros: The Action – The action is really solid in this episode and it is great to see our characters rise to the occasion. The Empire feels like a legitimate threat, which has been lacking this season outside of the first few episodes.

Kanan – Kanan is shown to be the experienced leader who is able to guide Leia in making her plan work. It’s great seeing him in the mentor role for a Jedi who doesn’t know she’s a Jedi and see her cover the political side of things, giving them cover for the action.

Ezra – Ezra is going through loss in this as last episode he learned that his parents died. Leia helps him get back on track and reminds him why his parents fought and why he chooses to fight. He is aware of others and it motivates his actions.

Princess Leia – Princess Leia is really savvy in this as so much of her actions are to keep Alderaan from losing it’s seat in the Senate as if they are seen to be helping the Rebellion they will lose face within the Galactic Government, and their representation. She does a good job too and is able to choose situations into her favor, like having the Rebels “Kidnap” her and using Kanan and Ezra’s stormtrooper cover as a distraction.

Okay: The Empire – The Empire is still losing a lot and I’d like to see them win. I’m going to keep bringing this up until they actually do. They are the Empire and are supposed to be a huge threat. Right now the threat feels real but not great.

The Crew of “Ghost” – They come to the rescue and support Ezra over the loss of his parents. Beyond that there isn’t much characterization.

   This was a great episode but not a favorite. There is promise but so much of that is contingent on the Empire getting some wins. The Rebellion continues to grow and if the Empire keeps losing we can’t take them seriously. Right now they are a lesser threat than the Dark Side during “The Clone Wars.” This is an issue that needs to be fixed.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 5 – “Wings of the Master” – Hera and the Rebels Get Firepower

Wings of the Master, Star Wars Rebels

    “Wings of the Master” was okay. It was great in regards to Hera’s development but the Empire and Quarrie were just uninteresting…each in their own ways. This was an episode that could have much better established the losing battle the Rebels were fighting like “Siege of Lothal” did, instead we get an easy out with a Rebel Super Weapon.

      The episode was directed by Dave Filoni and Sergio Paez and written by Steven Melching.

     The episode involves a failed attempt by the Rebels to get supplies to a slave world. This makes them realize they need more firepower leading Hera to go on a side quest to meet with Quarrie and try out his new ship, the B-Wing…while the Rebels make a second attempt.

The Pros: Zeb – Zeb isn’t in this episode for long but he is one of the stronger elements of it. He comes with Hera and we see how serious he is about what he does and his commitment to Hera and the cause. He nearly throws Quarrie off a cliff at one point, though in the end they form a connection.

Hera – Hera’s story is really cool as she was inspired to be a pilot when her world was liberated during the Clone Wars and seeing the Republic in action made her want to be a pilot, which lead to her to become a fighter pilot as she saw from the Clone Wars sometimes you have to fight to bring about peace. Her arc was the best part of this episode as we see her finally open up.

Okay: Quarrie – He’s harmless, he’s just the pacifistic eccentric Mon Calamari and doesn’t really have much motivation…he’s just kind of there looking for a pilot for his ship. He’s not bad, but there isn’t much to judge.

The Cons: The Imperials – A slave world that is starving the populace and is willing to put up a blockade for it is just silly. When they are fighting a war starving rather than using a slave world as front line troops makes a lot more sense. It was very evil for the sake of evil.

This was an okay episode. If you are watching the series so far it’s cool to see how the Rebellion get’s the B-Wings, but the B-Wing is way overpowered in this and the Empire is just lawful stupid…so these elements bring down the story.

Final Score: 6.5 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episodes 11-13 – “Slaves of Zygerria Arc” – The Horrors of Slavery

Epguide412

     “The Slaves of Zygerria Arc” is a decent story. My biggest issue with it overall is it doesn’t deal with the Republic and their treatment of Clones or the fact that the Hutt’s are allies of the Republic so the Republic does allow slavery via their allies. This is an issue that is never addressed and would have been a great chance to see Anakin’s disillusionment with the Republic increase further. Also Ahsoka’s people don’t feel like a culture, just as an idea.

   “Kidnapped” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Henry Gilroy and Steven Melching who also wrote the rest of the episodes in the arc. “Slaves of the Republic” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and “Escape from Kadavo” was directed by Danny Keller.

   The story involves Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan’s quest to save Ahoska’s people the Togruta who lived in an artistic peaceful colony that was destroyed when the Separatists kidnapped them and enslaved them to the Zygerrians. From here Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka go undercover on Zygerria to rescue them.

The Pros: Zygerria – This is a rough slave planet that reminded me of Egypt and Meereen. The Zygerrians rule through fear and cruelty and are a fascinating species that once held an empire. Their arc is trying to capture that Empire again through their Alliance with the Separatists, not knowing they are merely a tool for the Sith to get slave labor to build their Empire. It was very well done.

Queen Miraj – She is a horrible person and also interesting. She likes Anakin and is attracted to him but is all about power and refuses to see anyone as her equal. It is when she is betrayed that she realized that she was Dooku’s puppet the entire time before he kills her.

Count Dooku – Dooku shows why he is a threat again as we see him easily take out the Queen and him supporting Sidious by the Alliance with the Zygerrians to create slave labor for them. He is smart too and tries to kill Anakin and Obi-Wan but only doesn’t succeed because Anakin and Ahoska were already on the rescue. In the end the planet is still a slaver planet and the Separatists control the world, making it a win for Dooku.

Anakin – Anakin doesn’t change from wanting to destroy the Zygerrians and we see even though he pretended connection to the Queen he never lost site of her as a Slave Master and that she had to be stopped.

Obi-Wan – Obi-Wan is nearly broken in this as we see he and Rex sent to the camp to be broken. He comes through though and it is a sad process to get there as every time he resists other slaves are killed which leads to his submission. Obi-Wan is not ends justify the means and that is very clear this episode.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka has some great moments where she stands up for herself even as she is undercover as a slave. She like Anakin refuses to submit and it her smart thinking that saves her people who were enslaved.

The Cons: Kiros – An idealistic paradise world that gets ruined, I hate this trope and it is just lazy writing. We never learn the motivations of the people on the planet or their connection to Ahsoka beyond being the same species. At least Wookie culture is complicated. Kiros was just a waste.

  This was an enjoyable arc, but not a favorite. There were too many missed opportunities what with Anakin being a former slave, Ahoska’s people being captured and showing the hypocrisy of the Republic. In presenting the Republic as heroes all they did was show the Republic fights against slavery and supports it via the Hutts.

Final Score: 8.3 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 4 – “Sphere of Influence” – Pantora versus Separatist Influence

Sphere of Influence

   This is a great episode! In this we see the complexity of both the Trade Federation and Pantorans and that neither people are pawns of anyone and both are dealing with the Senate and Separatist influence in whichever way they can, while still looking out for their own influence.

    “Sphere of Influence” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Katie Lucas, Steven Melching and Drew Z. Greenberg.

    The story involves The Trade Federation’s blockade of Pantora and how Senator Riyo to find the kidnapped children of the Chairman as she gets help from Ahsoka and negotiates the tense situation in which the Senate is powerless to act and tries to learn who is behind the kidnapping as the Chairman and

The Pros: The Pantorans -The Pantorans take matters into their own hands with Senator Riyo and the Chairman finding the Chairman’s daughters through their own action. It’s an extreme moment of empowerment that shows the lengths the Separatists will glow to blackmail neutral parties onto their sides. I really like these guys and the Trade Federation as political factions being explored.

The Trade Federation – The Trade Federation is complicated. We see that some are firmly Separatists like Gunray and Sib versus the Ambassador who is still walking that line between Separatist and Gunray influence against being a member of the Republic and Senate.

Ahsoka  and Senator Riyo – Ahsoka is super active in this and her and Senator Riyo do a great job of finding one of the daughters and holding their own against the Trade Federation and in ending the blockade.

The Politics – The Politics are great in this episode as before we know the Separatist offer could have been real as they do have more influence with the Trade Federation and the Senate is inept. It is only through Jedi action via Ahsoka and Pantoran action that the daughters are saved.

   This is a great episode that shows just how complicated it can be to remain neutral in the middle of a giant war, especially when you are a planet rich in resources like Pantora. We also see that the Trade Federation isn’t stupid and at least some of the might be willing to learn from their mistakes and not fall into the trap of Gunray’s greed.

Final Score: 9 / 10.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 1, Episode 15 – “Trespass” – Sovereignty and Imperialism

Star Wars The Clone Wars Trespass

     I never expected this show to explore issues of sovereignty and imperialism, but it did. This is probably my favorite episode so far of the show and the Jedi don’t actually do much in it. This episode is far more about the species that are in conflict and ways to deal with conflict than characters themselves, and it does it really well. It’s a perfect episode in my opinion.

     “Trespass” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Steven Melching, Henry Gilroy and Scott Murphy.

    The story involves Anakin and Obi-Wan exploring a Republic base that has gone silent on a moon that the Pantoran claim sovereignty over. Things soon get complicated as Obi-Wan and Anakin make contact with the native Talz who destroyed both the Separatists and Republic Forces on the planet. They ask the Pantoran to leave but it is soon escalated as Chairman Cho seeks to take the planet for his people, believing it is his and uses Republic Law to justify his actions.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is great and starts out like a horror film. Clone Trooper helmets are on pikes when our heroes first reach the base and it is the same in the Separatist base where the droid heads are. The premise starts out as a monster of the week type deal but we soon see the Talz are sentient and negotiate with the Jedi and tell them what happened leading into the greater political struggle of the episode.

The Pantoran – The Pantoran are a pretty prideful species but not stupid. Through Senator Riyo we see the need to understand others while Cho is an imperialist who wants to take advantage of the war to establish Pantoran control over it. From here the story unfolds as he is willing to die for his belief in Pantoran superiority and dominance over the planet which he thinks is theirs by right and Riyo who is tired of the war and the fact that they are fighting when there are bigger threats like the Separatists to deal with.

The Talz – The Talz are a tribal people who have three eyes and are great fighters. With spears and mounts they manage to take out every enemy they face on their world but show that they can hold back and negotiate with

Chairman Cho – Chairman Cho is a nationalist and leader of his planet until the Assembly takes away his power after they lose nearly everyone to the Talz. He believes the planet belongs to Pantoran from the beginning of the episode and is willing to die for it. He is racist and an imperialist and an interesting character as we see that he believes these ideals enough to die for hoping to be a martyr for Pantora.

Senator Riyo – Riyo is the diplomat and I wonder if she’ll carry on diplomacy as she recognizes that it is good to fight and good to live. I think she’ll be smart though as she had Obi-Wan and Anakin as mentors who teach her what she needs to do for lasting peace between the Talz and Pantora so war does not return.

Captain Rex – Rex protects Chairman Cho up until the end and is in a difficult position. He never attacks the Talz, only defends as Cho and his men are the ones who are attacking. He is a difficult position this episode and he loses most of his men. I feel bad for him this episode, he is just a pawn of the Jedi and the Pantoran.

Anakin and Obi-Wan – Anakin and Obi-Wan are the first to meet the Talz and negotiated a peace until Cho started the war. They stay out of the way and just seek to protect Cho and Riyu and refuse to negotiate a new peace since it was the Pantoran who started the war with the Talz so they need to negotiate the peace. In this way the episode is far more about Cho, Riyo and the Talz rather than the Jedi.

Imperialism and Sovereignty – Cho represents entitlement through other people’s lands expressed through Imperialism. The Pantoran “discovered” the planet and ignore the native life there up until Cho is killed and Riyo is in charge of negotiating the peace. In the end they respect the Sovereignty of the Talz, which is what the Talz had been defending the entire time.

  This is one of my favorite episodes of the series and shows that the show can explore powerful and major things through the eyes of complex characters and events. It didn’t even involve The Clone Wars really, it was an internal conflict between Pantoran Imperialism and Talz sovereignty that was being resolved. This is good television and storytelling at work.

Final Score: 10 / 10