– Spoiler Review –
A possible Star Wars Rebels endgame teased back in “Holocrons of Fate” becomes much clearer thanks to “Visions and Voices,” a bewitching episode that wraps up some lingering speculation.
Maul starts haunting Ezra on the eve of his big recon mission of Lothal to figure out the best way to attack the Imperial facilities there. It turns out Maul is actually on Atollon aka “Chopper Base,” and offers Ezra the chance to uncover the full answer to what they both learned before Ezra ended the holocron mergers. Kanan doesn’t like it, but he allows Ezra to go with Maul to Dathomir to engage in a Nightsister magick ritual to merge their minds. With all magick, there comes a price (wait, is this Once Upon a Time now?) and the spirits of the Nightsisters want flesh and blood aka bodies to take over. Kanan and Sabine follow Maul and Ezra and get caught up in the aftermath of the ritual, but Maul leaves once Ezra declines his apprenticeship and won’t abandon his friends to the Nightsisters. Ezra manages to save Sabine and Kanan, revealing what he learned: Obi-Wan Kenobi is alive and will need their help because Maul is now after him too.
As I said back in my “Holocrons of Fate” review, “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.” This is exactly what happens in “Visions and Voices,” as Maul seeks out Ezra once he has learned a Nightsister ritual to merge their minds, allowing one another to see what the other didn’t when they were merging holocrons. Initially, Maul and Ezra learned different pieces to the same question, “How to destroy the Sith?” with Maul learning that an old rival, Obi-Wan Kenobi, is still alive, while Ezra sees a desert planet with two suns. In “Visions and Voices,” the Nightsister magick ritual allows them to share their information so now they both have the whole picture: Obi-Wan Kenobi is the key to destroying the Sith and is currently living on a desert planet with twin suns. For us at home, this is an easy answer, but for those in the show the information isn’t as clear, considering there are tons of planets with twin suns that could fit the description. While Maul might have the upper hand since he’s been there before, I wouldn’t be surprised thanks to the wonders of TV magic (much more powerful than Nightsister magick), they’ll likely find the location and arrive there at the same time (if Maul doesn’t come to Ezra one last time with his offer of friendship/brotherhood). While they all don’t know Obi-Wan is actually the guardian to the key to destroying the Sith, if he were to perish than Luke would never end up joining the Rebellion i.e. the whole original trilogy of films never happens so this is a big, big deal. I’m not sure if this is simply one part of this seasons’ endgame, protecting Obi-Wan Kenobi from the threat of Maul, or the series’, but either way it’s an intriguing and rather exciting road to travel down. Last season we saw Darth Vader battle his ex-apprentice Ahsoka Tano and this season we could end seeing Darth Maul battle Obi-Wan Kenobi one last time. Talk about big finales.
Maul’s return has been more enjoyable than I originally imagined, especially thanks to how the show has handled the character and Sam Witwer’s portrayal of him, and I feel like this was his best episode yet. It’s more clear than ever that in the end, Maul is really just like anyone else: lonely and wants to have someone around again. He thinks he’s found that someone in Ezra, which is why he’s kept coming back to the boy beyond the fact they share knowledge that the other wants. The former Sith Lord has lost everything: his brother, his family, his power, and his chance for revenge, which in Ezra he sees the potential to fulfill all of those needs. It’s been obvious Maul wants to enact his revenge on Sidious for destroying his family and chance at power, which is why he wants a potentially powerful apprentice like Ezra, but it hasn’t been as clear until now that he really wants someone to call brother again. I have no doubt his final plea to Ezra, asking the young boy to be his friend and his brother as they walk the planet where Obi-Wan lives together to fulfill their destiny’s, is a rare glimpse at Maul’s inner feelings and packed with honesty. The script’s dialogue makes it clear, but it doesn’t truly come together until Witwer’s performance, in which he makes it sounds like it pains Maul to admit such a brutal truth just as much as the deaths of those he’s cared about still haunt him. Once scorned by Ezra, Maul sweeps away his vulnerabilities, hiding them back underneath layers of mistrust and anger as he mockingly laughs at Ezra as he leaves Dathomir, which likely means he won’t be so friendly to the young Ezra and his friends the next time they meet. The window into Maul’s friendship has officially closed.
Kanan and Sabine get a small chance to interact one-on-one in “Visions and Voices,” but nowhere near the level of their fun duo mission in S2. But what little there was showed how little their dynamic has changed, like her mocking him for Hera leaving to do the recon mission because he reassured her that he had a plan, but their succinct conversation in the Phantom II was my favorite part. Sabine got to speak for the rest of the crew, and a little for the audience, when she speaks to disbelief of Ezra seemingly trusting Maul again and again. Ezra’s continued interactions with Hondo are a little more understandable, because he’s more likely to leave you stranded than kill you, but both to viewers and the crew, siding up with a real threat like Maul just screams stupidity. Kanan offers a different opinion, one I’ve felt with Ezra and Maul since S2, is that Ezra can at least be trusted here because he’s potentially making a sacrifice by playing along with Maul’s games if it means helping out his friends and the Rebellion. Ezra’s not trusted Maul since Malachor, having seen the evil within, but he understands the enemy of their enemy might just be someone to befriend from time to time as long as it serves to help their goals. If you’ve had doubts about Ezra, this episode should wrap those up, especially as he once and for all tells Maul off.
The overall creepy, scary tone and vibes for this entire episode were fantastic, from the opening scene with the lightening and the apparition of Maul, Dathomir’s spooky red mist covered climate, to the shiver inducing green-eyed possessed Kanan and Sabine. But the most downright chilling moment was Maul’s shrine to Satine Kryze (complete with a few drips of Satine and Obi-Wan’s theme from TCW in the music) and the darksaber, the weapon he used to slay her right in front of Obi-Wan back in the exceptional The Clone Wars episode, “The Lawless.” Does he keep the shrine as a way to remind himself of what he feels like is his most victorious moment over Obi-Wan (whom he’s thought dead for years)? Or does he keep it as reminder that no matter how much it might have shattered Obi-Wan, it still did not destroy his opponent? Maul’s always been an odd one and this shrine, and all the other junk he’s collected, is a great way to show how a Sith is so rooted to the mortal realm, hence their inability to become one with the Force, so focused are they on symbols of their power and always afraid to lose them. And Maul does lose one of his trinkets: the darksaber, which now belongs in the hands of Sabine by the end of the episode (who got to use it briefly while possessed by the Nightsisters in her fight with Ezra) and it’ll be interesting to see how she goes about using the weapon which is not only physically powerful, but powerful as symbol too. Speaking of the fights, I really enjoyed the choreography and the pure visuals of friends fighting friends, as both Kanan and Sabine had eerie movements which made them just feel and look off from their normal selves.
Bendu made a brief return after a hiatus since “Holocrons of Fate,” but he didn’t offer too much that Kanan and Ezra didn’t already know. What intrigued me the most about Bendu’s time in the episode is how he seemingly disappeared the moment Maul arrived on the planet. He seems physically present with Kanan and Ezra, highlighted in the way he comes out of the earth of Atollon, but how does a creature so giant and massive disappear in the blink of an eye? I doubt we’ll get answers as to how, but I hope we’ll get to learn why he’d hide himself from Maul, especially considering he’s “…one in the middle…” and would deal with both sides equally. And is it just me, or did it seem like Maul didn’t see him at all, even before Kanan and Ezra turned around and saw him? However, Bendu’s reappearance brought up an issue I’ve had with this season, in that the characters all seem to wait a long time to tell each other things or sometimes even forget it seems. Ezra and Kanan, revealed through their dialogue, haven’t spoken with Bendu since the holocron merging incident. I get they’ve been ‘busy,’ but it’s a little shocking they didn’t go to him with the results of everything a helluva lot sooner. Other instances this season include Sabine not only declining to tell Zeb about Agent Kallus helping her, but practically acts like she forgot as she’s completely surprised when she learns he helped Kanan and Ezra on Lothal/is likely Fulcrum (back in “An Inside Man”). I get this happens so we the viewers can see these interactions take place, instead of them happening off-screen, but a few changes to the dialogue and they could still make it so the viewers get to see these interactions but realize they’ve already happened off-screen.
Here are a few other things:
- Brent Friedman did an excellent job marrying Rebels and TCW in his first episode this season, “The Last Battle,” and he continued to do some TCW legacy stuff justice here as well, even if it was only briefly we saw the Nightsisters and they’re now likely finally destroyed from the universe (for now). Likewise, his pacing and dialogue really shined, as “Vision and Voices” never felt too rushed and always epic, while still being a small story focusing on only a few individuals and character development for a couple of them, including Maul.
- Satine’s voice actress Anna Graves guested this week, but to play one of the Nightsister spirits, not any Satine dialogue.
- I’ve always really enjoyed the darksaber’s effect while swinging, as it leaves like a black trail and Rebels‘ use of it certainly didn’t let me down.
- This week’s Rebels Recon dives into how the link between Maul and Ezra works, Maul’s collection of trinkets, what Sabine having the darksaber means going forward for the Mandalorian aspects of the show, and some teases of the second half of the show (like more Thrawn, some bleeped out stuff from Henry Gilroy, and connections to Rogue One).
- While the show’s return with “Ghosts of Geonosis” looks like the best place for Rebels to include possible Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Easter eggs/crossover (as I mentioned in “An Inside Man” review), it seems a from a certain type of ship in Rebels is at least making an Easter Egg appearance in Rogue One!
- Maul’s first comic series, Son of Dathomir, wrapped up the tale of Mother Talzin and Maul’s involvement in the the Clone Wars, but his new series just announced for February is looking back at his time as Sidious’ apprentice prior to The Phantom Menace.
The mystical aspects and burning questions are out of the way as Star Wars Rebels looks set to have a meeting with Obi-Wan Kenobi in the near future, revealed in the exciting, action-packed, and Maul-tastic, “Visions and Voices.”
+ Look out Obi-Wan, you’re about to get some unwanted guests soon
+ Maul opening himself up…and Ezra’s scorning of him closing that window for good
+ Nightsisters and magick and action, oh my!
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. 2: “Holocrons of Fate” | 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. 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“
Season Four: Heroes of Mandalore Part 1
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (Comic mini-series)
A New Dawn (Novel)