– Spoiler Review –
The return (again) of Darth Maul to Star Wars Rebels in “Holocrons of Fate” is merely a stepping stone for heady concepts about holocron mergers, warnings about the dangers of secrets once known, the healing of a friendship between Kanan and Ezra, and Maul and Ezra’s shocking discoveries that possibly give us a glimpse at this season’s (or the series’) endgame.
As soon as Ezra and Kanan learn their rendezvous was blown, they also learn that Maul is not only alive and well, but has taken Hera, Sabine, Zeb, and Chopper hostage aboard the Ghost. His ransom? Curiously enough, the Sith holocron, currently in the ‘safe’ keeping of the ancient being known as Bendu, and Kanan’s Jedi holocron. Kanan and Ezra travel back to Bendu to retrieve the Sith one, learning about holocron mergers and how to gain trust in one another through their forgiveness about the events on Malachor. Maul desperately tries to open Kanan’s Jedi holocron after getting Hera to cough up its location, which gives the rest of a crew their chance to escape, but Maul makes short work of their rebellion (see what I did there?). Upon Kanan and Ezra’s arrival at the asteroid base Maul’s hiding at, the horned Sith attempts to kill Kanan again (and fails of course or else this whole review would’ve just been sobbing) and gets enough alone time to begin the holocron merger process with Ezra. Kanan comes back in time to not only save the rest of the crew, but stop Ezra from learning how to destroy the Sith, a secret which might be too much of a burden to bare for a young mind. However, he doesn’t stop Maul from learning Obi-Wan Kenobi lives (Can you say, “HOLY S^&T?”), but Ezra’s glimpses of twin suns and Maul’s knowledge might be more connected than anyone realizes yet.
Though I had my initial concerns, I’m both happy and not surprised to see that the fallout from Malachor wasn’t completely swept away after “Steps into Shadow.” I look forward to how it’ll affect our characters going forward, as it’ll certainly continue to mess with our Jedi for the time being. Ezra’s still pretty hot headed, despite his failure in the Y-wing mission, and Kanan is doing his best to slow the kid down and show him the Jedi way of dealing with things again. Fear has been dominating Ezra, something he doesn’t want to admit despite it being the sole reason for his drive for more power: fear of letting his friends get hurt again. It’s going to take a lot for him to come back from that, from the guilt of consequences he believes are his fault, like Kanan’s blindness and Ahsoka’s disappearance (which they likely assume she died), but he makes great strides in “Holocrons.” Bendu doesn’t just cough up the holocron, but instead forces Master and Apprentice to work together to retrieve it and in the process Kanan is able to show off how aggression isn’t always the answer when he tames the spiders and allows them to walk out of the caves alive without a fight. The realization that Kanan’s way might be more powerful than Ezra’s quick and easy path is definitely beginning to dawn on the young Jedi, as he begins to defer to Kanan’s plans (like not opening up the holocron before encountering Maul again) and trust his blind master again (like when he decides to look away from the answer to defeating the Sith, despite it being so close). This return to balance between the two is sealed by a hug in the caves, after Kanan declines Ezra’s apology about Malachor because he doesn’t blame his padawan for any of it and tells Ezra that he needs to stop blaming himself. Kanan might balk at the hug initially, but the space dad inside of him embraces it fully shortly after (oh, hello tears, how are you today?). Both of the Jedi make great strides this episode in learning to deal with their new lots in life; I can’t wait to see where they go from here…together.
It’s a bit of a shame the rest of the crew mostly got sidelined this episode, but how shortly lived their insurrection was against Maul makes it quite understandable. I can’t be the only one who freaked out a bit once he demagnetized the Ghost‘s cargo bay and starting choking Sabine, chucking her into Hera, so in a way I’m happy they didn’t have much to do otherwise I wouldn’t have been shocked if one of them got injured very badly or even died. He’s a threat they can definitely hamper together, but not fully stop without someone with the Force, especially in such tight quarters as the Ghost. However, Maul’s interaction with the crew and his time on the ship was some of his best material on the show. From his snide remarks about the smell of Zeb’s room or Sabine’s colorful creations to his taunting words about how Sabine should trust him due to ruling Mandalore briefly, he was in rare form (mostly thanks to Sam Witwer’s voice work) and it truly made me happy to have him back. Hera’s comment about which direction the airlock is instead of giving him a tour was quite hilarious, but she dealt with an even bigger moment after he coerced her into showing him around. In Kanan’s room, Maul uses the Force to read her mind (much like Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens) and gets her to cough up the detail that she was the one who wanted to recruit Ezra while also revealing the location of Kanan’s holocron. The look on her face afterwards makes it seem like she feels she betrayed Kanan in some small way, but I’m more curious to her reaction to Maul saying Caleb Dume, Kanan’s real name: was the shock from him knowing it or from her just learning it herself for the first time? If they are space married (and it’s been said we’ll learn a bit about that this season) I don’t doubt she already knew, but it is an interesting question to ponder for now.
Every time we deal with Bendu, the more and more I end up liking him, especially that laugh! Tom Baker is delivering an unforgettable performance, channeling Bendu’s middle-ish ways with the inflections in his voice as he handles teaching the Jedi like it’s just another day for him, caring not for either outcome but simply willing to help. He certainly helps push Kanan and Ezra to deal with their distance from each other here, but he does it in a way which forces them to work it out on their own without ever really providing answers. His enigmatic attitude is fun to watch and his ability to get Kanan and Ezra to arrive on their own answers to their own problems is going to be my favorite aspect of the character. Bendu’s warnings about how one can never unlearn a secret is powerful and interesting advice, as it certainly means having the knowledge could drive someone crazy since they’re doing everything to ensure (or prevent) some fate to be fulfilled, but remember: always in motion the future is. Does that sentiment apply to knowledge gained from holocron mergers or does that not really matter since succeeding or failing the knowledge one gains might make the one who learned it even more insane? All I know is while it might be nice to have a chance to make piece with some knowledge of the future, like knowing when I’ll die, I’d certainly not like to live my whole life waiting for that day to come so I agree that they shouldn’t seek out such answers. As much as I’m growing to like Bendu even more, like I said in my review of the premiere, at times Bendu can feel like he was created simply so that if the show wants to introduce new concepts like holocron mergers, there’s someone around who knows it so it can be explained to the other characters (and us). I digress from making that a full criticism though, as I appreciate they won’t keep going to Yoda now for help and instead to someone more ambiguous and less invested in the outcome. I mean, he just mumbled to himself this episode (in one of my favorite lines on the show), “Perhaps master and apprentice will rediscover their balance, or perhaps they’ll be eaten; Such is the way of things,” so it’s fair to say his advice and teachings are as unbiased as his being in the middle of two opposites of the Force. It should be fun to see what else his indifference can do to help train these two Jedi this season.
Alright, enough ignoring the giant planet-sized Wookiee in the room: Maul and Ezra saw some very intriguing things in their quests for their deepest desires. Maul was curiously looking for hope, but what exactly was he hoping for? The return of Talzin, his mother (who is mostly dead, besides a little piece of her residing in him, as seen in the Son of Dathomir comics)? Or the hope for revenge against his mortal enemy, Obi-Wan? Judging from this seasons’ trailers including clips of the green mist associated with Nightsister magick in action, I wouldn’t be too shocked we go down that lane and the possibility of Talzin’s return (or at least him gaining Talzin’s level of power with her magick). But this episode certainly seems to suggest he might just get to attempt his revenge too, as there’s little doubt his mumbling of, “He lives,” when leaving the station is in reference to Obi-Wan. This is a pretty damn huge reveal to have in only the second episode of the season and though I feel like it’ll be a while before we venture down this storyline, it’s certainly going to dominate the overall season. Could we get a rematch and Maul is finally laid to rest? Or can the crew cut him down before he ever gets that far? On the flipside of the holocron merger tidbits, Ezra’s quest for the destruction of the Sith leads him to see twin suns (yes, the hint is Tatooine but it’s not the only planet with twin suns), among many other planets and places he’s unfamiliar with (convenient, am I right?), but it’s possible the way these mergers work is that they both get the same answer despite different questions but only see their side of the answer. If it takes two to merge, then it must take two to understand, fulfill, and/or act on what they see, meaning these two will likely be drawn to one another to learn more about their side to their answer.
I’m definitely left pondering if I want either of their vague knowledge to have answers, because resolution of their visions means Maul might battle with Obi-Wan again while the crew of the Ghost might get tangled up with it in the process/be THIS close to Luke Skywalker. However, I don’t think it’ll ever go as far as have them be involved in some incident just outside the Lars’ homestead, but this certainly is giving us a hint at what this season’s endgame might be, which I’m guessing might include the crew attempting to stop Maul from visiting one of the planets Ezra saw so that he doesn’t mess with said planet’s unexplained potential to help destroy the Sith (thus inadvertently allowing events from the original trilogy to proceed as we all know them). Likewise, this could hint at the series’ endgame too, specifically why Kanan and Ezra are seemingly not around during the original trilogy period, as they might learn the danger they pose with all their meddling to the destiny of the one actually responsible for destroying the Sith. In the end, their contribution would just be a footnote in a larger web of fate the Force has weaved for everyone. If that means they have to learn from Obi-Wan that their meddling could ruin Luke’s destiny (without ever actually learning about Luke), possibly after they help him defeat Maul, I might be okay with that. So either this is a sign of just potential things to come this season or the start of answers for big series questions like the fates of these characters. Either way, I’m ready to go down this sarlacc hole to see where it leads.
Here are a few other things:
- Since Ezra currently has the ability to open both holocrons, could he potentially do the merging on his own?
- Bendu says two things I’d love to know more about: 1) He says he doesn’t know of Maul, but I wonder who he does all know. Could be quite the list! 2) He said he’s seen the holocron mergers before…when, why, who? And just like my question about Ezra being able to do the merging himself, could Bendu likewise do it alone too since he can open both?
- When Ezra said he didn’t believe it upon first seeing Bendu, my first thought was Yoda’s line in Empire Strikes Back after Luke says the same thing to him, “That is why you fail.”
- We first learn Kanan’s real name was Caleb Dume in A New Dawn and it was of course used heavily in the Kanan comic series. This is the first time we’ve heard it said outloud though on the show.
- Also seen in the Son of Dathomir comics: the asteroid base Maul uses here.
- This is Kanan’s second time (that we know of) surviving a brief stint in the vacuum of space, the first being in Kanan #5.
- My first thought upon getting to see what Kanan saw: Daredevil’s vision.
- This week’s Rebels Recon focuses a good deal on Maul and teases his plans going forward, while Pablo Hidalgo answers the difference between Tarkin and Thrawn’s rankings. The full episode guide for “Holocrons” won’t go live on the offical site until Monday morning, because even Star Wars needs a weekend off.
- I’m curious if we’ll see the new Supervising Director Justin Ridge on Rebels Recon ever. And in case you were unaware, Dave Filoni is now Executive Producer on Rebels while he’s gotten a promotion to oversee all of Lucasfilm’s animation. Potential new series in the works? Mayhaps. (via Big Shiny Robot)
Maul learns some potentially catastrophic news in regards to his biggest enemy, Ezra sees hints at what could potentially destroy the Sith (spoiler alert: not them), while Kanan and Ezra hug it out in a surprisingly packed episode, “Holocrons of Fate.”
+ Space dad and space son hug out their problems
+ Potential of secrets revealed by holocron merging
+ Maul’s inspection of the Ghost
+ Voice acting performances all around
– Not sure how to feel about potential story lines from big reveals here
– Rest of crew somewhat sidelined (won’t be a trend, but noticeable here)
STAR WARS REBELS REVIEWS:
Season One: Spark of Rebellion | Ep. 2: “Droids In Distress” | Ep.3: “Fighter Flight” | Ep.4: “Rise of the Old Masters” | Ep.5: “Breaking Ranks” | Ep.6: “Out of Darkness” | Ep.7: “Empire Day” | Ep.8: “Gathering Forces” | Ep.9: “Path of the Jedi” | Ep.10: “Idiot’s Array” | Ep.11: “Vision of Hope” | Ep.12: “Call to Action” | Ep.13: “Rebel Resolve” | Ep.14: “Fire Across the Galaxy“
Season Two: The Siege of Lothal | Ep. 2: “The Lost Commanders” | Ep. 3: “Relics of the Old Republic” | Ep. 4: “Always Two There Are” | Ep. 5: “Brothers of the Broken Horn” | Ep. 6: “Wings of the Master” | Ep. 7: “Blood Sisters” | Ep. 8: “Stealth Strike” | Ep. 9: “The Future of the Force” | Ep. 10: “Legacy” | Ep. 11: “A Princess on Lothal” | Ep. 12: “The Protector of Concord Dawn” | Ep. 13: “Legends of the Lasat” | Ep. 14: “The Call” | Ep. 15: “Homecoming” | Ep. 16: “The Honorable Ones” | Ep. 17: “Shroud of Darkness” | Ep. 18: “The Forgotten Droid” | Ep. 19: “The Mystery of Chopper Base” | Ep. 20: “Twilight of the Apprentice“
Season Three: Steps into Shadow | Ep. 3: “The Antilles Extraction” | Ep. 4: “Hera’s Heroes” | Ep. 5: “The Last Battle” | Ep. 6: “Imperial Supercommandos” | Ep. 7: “Iron Squadron” | Ep. 8: “The Wynkahthu Job” | Ep. 9: “An Inside Man” | Ep. 10: “Visions and Voices” | Ep. 11: “Ghosts of Geonosis” | Ep. 12: “Warhead” | Ep. 13: “Trials of the Darksaber” | Ep. 14: “Legacy of Mandalore” | Ep. 15: “Through Imperial Eyes” | Ep. 16: “Secret Cargo” | Ep. 17: “Double Agent Droid” | Ep. 18: “Twin Suns” | Ep. 19: “Zero Hour“
A New Dawn (Novel)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (Comic mini-series)
Darth Maul (Comic mini-series)