It’s going to be a long wait until season three of “Star Wars: Rebels,” my friends. And if you had to peg where the finale falls under, I’d say this is the “Empire Strikes Back” of all “Star Wars Rebels” season finales as it is an amazing close to what has been a turbulent sophomore season. Not only have our heroes experienced a massive loss, but the empire is more certain than ever, there might be a female sith lord, and our young hero Ezra has no lightsaber and is strongly considering becoming a sith lord. It’s almost too easy for Ezra to be seduced to the darkside because, like Anakin, he’s desperate to prove himself and feels his master Kanan doesn’t have confidence in him.
When the trio of Jedi Ashoka, Kanan, and Ezra find themselves at the Sith Temple, Ezra accidentally (?) falls in to a hole and encourages Ahsoka and Kanan to continue on without him. Begrudgingly they go on to explore, and Ezra ends up meeting something of an eccentric hooded old man who goads Ezra in to helping him find the Sith holocron. Oblivious to what power it holds, Ezra complies, while Kanan and Ahsoka try their best to fend off a trio of Inquisitors, all of whom are very important plot elements to the finale. Not only do they indicate the presence of a female sith lord during combat, but they are the thin line between Ezra becoming a sith lord or staying a jedi apprentice. During the journey, the old man and Ezra bond almost immediately, and rather than sticking to his alias of “Jabba,” Ezra reveals his true name, while the man shows himself to be Maul. Maul has complete confidence in Ezra’s capabilities and tosses him in to danger quite often, encouraging him to be as reckless and emotional as possible.
Ezra has no idea Maul is imparting the principles of the Sith on to him, but he knows it’s an invigorating new series of lessons. As per most finales, “Rebels” raises the stakes for season three, as Maul eventually manages to gain the confidence of the trio of jedi, despite Ahsoka being weary of his presence. During combat with the inquisitors, the writers shockingly go for the throat, going head on in to combat, and showing as Maul encourages Ezra to murder the inquisitors in cold blood. Ezra’s refusal prompts Maul to completely impale the Seventh Sister and strike down the Fifth Brother during combat. Of course, his lack of mercy shocks Ezra, but not before Maul reveals his true intentions and mortally wounds Kanan. Despite the episode only being an hour, the “Rebels” finale closes out the second season without fault, closing up a lot of storylines and filling in the holes for the mythology that has kept fans on baited breath for years. We finally know what happened to Darth Maul, and yes, there is the shockingly emotional confrontation between Ahsoka and Darth Vader.
Like Obi-Wan, Ahsoka feels like she has failed her former master, but Vader is more than happy to throw in her face that she’s not only a stunning failure as a friend, but that he’s quite fond of being a force of pure evil. Vader being Vader, Ezra is forced to retreat with a now blind Kanan while Ahsoka pushes the apprentice back leaving she and her former master to square off in the crumbling Sith Temple. It’s never shown, probably out of respect for the fans, but Ahsoka clearly is murdered by Vader. The sequence of Kana delivering the news to the rebels, a broken Vader stumbling out the temple alone, all the while a white owl flies overhead in to the sky is clear cut verification that Ahsoka lost the fight and died at the hands of Vader. Although, if there is no body there is no death, so who knows at this point if Ahsoka is truly dead or if she’ll appear as a force ghost. Following the sense of symbolism, there’s Ezra’s discovery of a lighter version of Kylo Ren’s cross saber, implying his descent in to the gray side of the force, as well as the final shot of his bearing the Sith holocron which is a sad sign that Kanan will have to work three times as hard to keep Ezra as his apprentice.
With Ahsoka now gone, we can only hope that Ezra seeks Kanan’s guidance even further. The focus of the episode is primarily on the Jedi rebels and the sneaky Sith lords that try to corrupt them constantly, with most of the Ghost crew missing for about ninety five percent of the finale, but the importance in the overall arc of the series really is in Kanan’s ability as a mentor, and Ezra’s fate as a Jedi apprentice. With Kanan now being reduced to Zatoichi, Jedi Knight, he’s vulnerable and at something of a disadvantage with his apprentice, which means the rebels will really have to work over time to infiltrate the empire and battle their impending enemy. It also doesn’t help that slimy bastard Darth Maul is still on the loose. In either case, “Rebels” really brings the entire Star Wars mythos to an entirely new level, filing in a lot of gaps without ever retconning the original trilogy and episode seven. The series has accomplished building compelling and complex characters, and I will be anxiously awaiting the return of “Star Wars Rebels.”