Star Wars Rebels, Season 2 Finale: Twilight of the Apprentice (Parts I and II)
We take a brief break from our in-progress recapping of the utter craziness that is TCW’s Mortis arc so that I may bring you the craziness that is the recently-aired Season 2 finale of Rebels. There were far too many Recurring Themes for me to overlook this installment, plus also it has Tragic Backstory and Sad Star Wars, which we all know gives me focus and helps me retain the will to live. And amazingly we didn’t even need to directly involve Obi-Wan to dump a gigantic bucket o’ sadness onto this series! It’s a Life Day miracle.
I’ll Be Fine, Or I Won’t, Whatever
Our crew is en route to Malachor because Yoda is sending them on a crazy mission for Reasons, and Ahsoka is holo-Skyping with Rex in a pre-mission discussion that is sweet and sad. He tells her that he’d gladly join her so that they don’t have to do this alone, and they have some back and forth about which one of them outranks the other now. Then Rex looks sadly resigned, and tells her:
AWWWWW. We’re like 30 seconds into this episode and I’m already sad for the PT Gang again. I’m pretty much always sad for them though because everything that happens to them is terrible, but whatever.
Recurring Theme: We’ve Got Our Best Only People On This
Ezra asks what’s the big deal about them going to Malachor, and Ahsoka and Kanan are basically like “it’s like the West Wing of the castle in Beauty and the Beast: it’s forbidden.” Ancient, creepy, legends have some truth blahblahblah whatever. TL; DR — the Jedi aren’t supposed to go there because it’s too Sithy. But in order for them to defeat the Sith, they need to learn about them and understand them. OK.
Recurring Theme: Crazy Place is Crazy
The gang finds themselves landing on a very strange planet indeed, and another ship is in the vicinity, too, headed to places unknown. The three get out, and see an entry point, which Ahsoka is investigating when Ezra’s just like, meh, we’ll use my barely-hidden dark side to get in instead:
They fall through the planet surface at this point, and end up in Creep City below:
And oh hey! There’s a Sith temple down here:
Recurring Theme: Ahsoka Tano Knows the Score
They walk around and determine that this is the site of a long-ago battle between the Jedi and the Sith. It’s pretty spooky looking, frankly, and Ezra notes a suspicious-looking lightsaber that may be important later, or, knowing this show, could also possibly never be spoken of ever again. Ezra asks if the Jedi won the battle that happened here, and I feel compelled to point out that I love when Ahsoka gets lines that are basically “This is a summary of Star Wars overall”:
Possible Ghost of Star Wars Future: This Weird Lightsaber Edition
Recurring Theme: Lightsabers Can Totally Do That
An inquisitor shows up suddenly and seems somewhat surprised to see them. A battle half-begins which introduces us to our first look at helicoptering lightsabers, which are apparently a thing. Ezra ends up falling through the floor and getting separated from Ahsoka and Kanan:
He’s OK, so Ahsoka and Kanan leave him behind to tear off after the retreating Inquisitor, which makes them ask the question: why is this guy running from us? And if they’re not here to find us…who are they looking for? DUN DUN DUUUUUN.
Recurring Theme: Young Whiny Hero Encounters an Eccentric Old Weirdo Who Needs His Help
Ezra, trapped in the pit he fell into, then hears someone and looks over, defensively, at the hobbling, hunched-over figure of an old man with a hood over his head. He tells Ezra he lives there, in the dark: his ship crashed and he can’t escape. He came here for the same reason Ezra did – to find the knowledge that lives here in the temple. But now he’s too old to get into the temple alone…maybe Ezra could help him?
Ezra’s not buying it – he doesn’t even know this guy. Perhaps introductions are in order, then. Ezra introduces himself as “Jabba”, which, OK Writers: LOL. The stranger introduces himself thusly:
So I’ll just jump ahead since anyone reading this doesn’t care: this is Darth Fucking Maul, AGAIN, of course. The last time we saw him in TCW, he was getting OWNED by Sidious after making Obi-Wan’s already-crappy life worse again. His story in canon prior to this ends in a comic where he essentially ends up adrift, bitterly roaming the galaxy on his robot legs and likely plotting his evil comeback. And here he is now, I guess. On a Sith planet. With the Rebels gang. And also Vader is in this episode. It’s just been such a wild ride for this guy.
Recurring Theme: Hero Droid
Chopper helps keep the fleeing Inquisitor in place by hijacking the Inquistor’s TIE fighter and firing shots at them when they try to get too close, because everyone in this series would be so screwed without their droids.
Recurring Theme: Old Man Tells a Crazy Story
Since it’s clearly time for the point in their discussion where the Old Man Tells a Crazy Story, Maul now regales Ezra with the story of what he is – he wasn’t a Jedi, no (he conveniently leaves out how much of his life has been devoted to hating them, or at least the one that cut him in half and then had the audacity to keep living the worst life ever,) but nor is he a Sith – he fucking hates those guys now. They stole him from his mother, made him into a weapon, forced him to fight and then abandoned him.
Maul’s basically just done with everyone in this whole universe and, given all of this, I kiiiinda sorta think that he and Vader might get along spectacularly well when you really think about it, assuming they could ever stop from killing each other. At the very least maybe they could knock back a few drinks and lament having gotten used and abused by the Sith AND getting parts of themselves chopped off by Obi-Wan. Ezra, being the angsty, easily duped teen with issues here, is of course like “Hmm. Intriguing, Obviously Evil Guy. Tell me more. A lot of people, like, made me mad too. Is it possible to like, learn this power, and stuff?”
Journey to the Center of the Worst
Maul and Ezra head out to the Sith temple, and there is a whole bunch of silly Rule of Two stuff where they both have to turn their figurative key to move forward. Then Maul dumps a whole bunch of Sidiousesque nonsense about using your power for eeeevil.
At some point Ezra decides to confess that his name isn’t actually Jabba, and Maul lets the obvious cat out of the bag in re: his true (well, sort of) identity:
The two of them nab the Sith holocron from the temple, then head over to Ahsoka, Kanan, and a party squad of Inquisitors arriving via Helicopter Lightsabers, which again, are a thing now:
The gang takes note of Maul’s return:
The Inquisitors are also very excited to learn that Darth Maul from Episode 1, the guy who got cut in half and plummeted to what all rational viewers presumed was his ultimate demise, is still alive:
Maul corrects them and says he’s not DARTH Maul anymore, he’s just “Maul”. Like Cher. Or Liberace. A brief fight ensues and the Inquistors take off.
Ahsoka asks Maul WTF he’s playing at. He replies:
Recurring Theme: Back on the Same Side/Enemy of my Enemy
As we head into the second half of the episode, Maul makes a big deal to the Rebels about how they’re going to be allied with him now because they all hate the same people, in a speech that includes the phrases “on the same side” and “enemy of my enemy”, which is possibly noteworthy because we touched on both of these concepts in the last Star Wars animated episode that Maul appeared in, TCW’s The Lawless, except that time it was about people allying with each other against Maul:
Recurring Theme: Elevator Bromance
So, they warily set off with Maul to do some crazy stuff with the holocron and…honestly, I’m not even going to explain what the point of it is. Just know that Maul basically wants to get Ezra to put the holocron in a specific spot in the temple so that he can carry out his Evil Plot.
The group needs to travel up to the top of the Evil Sith Pyramid and this requires them to take a couple lifts up to different levels of the pyramid on their way up. I feel like I would be doing a disservice to this recap and the universe as a whole if I did not point out that this means that Ezra and Kanan get to spend time in an elevator arguing with each other in this episode, because of course they do:
Recurring Theme: Beware Your Friend, The Obviously Evil Guy
Kanan lectures Ezra on their ride about trusting Maul and how it’s a bad idea because obviously Maul is a crazy person. Ezra gets all snippy and just basically Skywalkers the crap out of this scene:
At the next platform, Maul suggests they split up and have Ezra go with him now. Kanan relents, unhappily, and Ahsoka assures him he will be fine. How does she know?
…which, given what she knows about how Anakin turned out, is technically like a total burn on Obi-Wan, who probably sensed it from his hut in the desert and was like OH COME ON TANO, NOT FAIR — THAT WAS EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES.
Maul chats up Ezra on their elevator ride and basically gives him the standard “no one can appreciate your gifts like this transparently evil guy right here who totally doesn’t want to use you for his own gain,” speech and Ezra, being a dope, is pretty much sold on it.
Recurring Theme: Make Your Choice
Maul and Ezra encounter the Seventh Sister and Maul tries to goad Ezra into killing her:
And he declines, so Maul does it for him, then lectures him on how the next time he hesitates, he might get himself killed. They see that Kanan and Ahsoka are getting ambushed, and Maul sends Ezra to the Holocron Chamber of Secrets while he goes down to totally help and not betray them. Maul is also getting like, weirdly antsy about something or someone being on the way.
The Inquisitors are dealt with, and we witness our first Mauling of the OT Era.
…and then Maul drops this on Kanan and Ahsoka when they ask where Ezra is:
Battle-number-whatever begins, and Kanan takes a Mauling to the eyes, and…yeah.
Ahsoka and Maul keep at it while Kanan collects himself, and I may or may not have been like DO IT FOR OBI-WAN, SNIPS as she takes Maul on.
Kanan puts a mask on and gets back on his feet to take care of Maul, Ahsoka goes off to find Ezra, and Kanan, despite being blind, manages to hurl Maul over a cliff (because OF COURSE we are on an unprotected ledge right now over a chasm.) Chopper contacts him and Kanan tells him they need to GTFO. Chopper tells him there’s a TIE fighter on the way. WHO COULD IT BE?
Are You a God?
Ezra activates the Holocron Whatever and it starts talking to him like the voice from the end of Ghostbusters:
He isn’t super happy about this proclamation. The voice tells him if he’s not into destroying life, maybe the guy approaching will be. Ezra assumes the voice is referring to Maul, and runs off to tell Kanan and Ahsoka that Maul tricked them, and that the temple is a weapon, only to be stopped dead in his tracks by the arrival of a significant someone.
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan’s Apprentice Knows How to Pose
Vader appears, standing evilly and gloriously ON TOP OF A TIE FIGHTER IN MIDAIR, and honest to God, as much as Obi-Wan would undoubtedly be horrified to see what happens in this episode for several reasons, I have to believe that he would have been so proud that at least Anakin really took the whole “pose and look amazing, always, when facing an enemy” part of his training to heart. I like to think Vader is miffed that kids these days don’t know how to pose properly when beginning a battle anymore: “How else will your enemy sense the drama? And also be made fully aware of how beautiful you are?”
Recurring Theme: WTF HAPPENED TO YOU, ANAKIN?
Vader’s all “Kid. Holocron. NOW.” Ezra says he’s not afraid of Vader because Ezra is a damn liar. Vader says he’ll die braver than most, then, and Ezra’s lightsaber is broken:
Vader smugly notes that maybe he was wrong about Ezra’s bravery, and just as Ezra is about to get squished under Vader’s figurative and possibly literal shoe, Ahsoka rolls up just in time to spit at Vader that it wouldn’t be the first time he was wrong about something. Burn, Tano.
The two of them face each other and OH WHY STAR WARS and bless you because oh the sadness.
Also before we go further I’d like to rub some salt in the wound here and make you look at this and have us all take a moment to both appreciate how CUTE THEY ALL WERE, and ask ourselves why NO ONE LISTENED TO OBI-WAN HERE:
Vader starts in with his Join the Dark Side Recruiting Speech, and says he could totally get Sidious to be cool with her if she’ll help them find all the other Jedi roaming around and like definitely not especially Obi-Wan because certainly Vader has no need for him in any way whatsoever.
Ahsoka says they’re all dead; Vader and the Emperor and their Inquisitors killed them all. He doesn’t buy it, and then says that maybe Ezra’d be able to tell him something useful.
Ahsoka calls him out on being a murderous asshole, and we all know that Vader takes this kind of critique super well always. She says that she thought she knew who he was behind that mask, but her old master could never be this horrible (a crabby pain in the ass, yes, but not actually evil,) and he pulls his usual: “Pfft, Anakin sucked and was a loser and whatever; I killed him because he was pointless.”
I Will Do What I Must
Ahsoka then awesomely says this:
And then I die because again, OH WHY STAR WARS.
He counters that she can’t avenge shit, because she’s a Jedi and they suck and from his point of view they’re evil and good luck avenging that sand-hating wuss anyways, to which she says, with steely resolve:
So then it’s ON, and of course it’s crazy and badass because it’s Anakin with Evil Powers and Ahsoka with Rogue Former Jedi Powers.
Recurring Theme: Master vs Apprentice
Ezra watches the two of them tussle and says this completely doofus-y line, because clearly when Evil Incarnate shows up to murder your friend in front of you, you should be thinking up one-liners while you watch it go down.
Ezra deduces that he needs to get the holocron out of there, but when he tries to grab it out of the weird energy beam it’s trapped in, he gets jolted backwards. Kanan shows up and OH WHY STAR WARS, poor Kanan. Ugh. He calls out to Ezra that they need a master and an apprentice to solve the Holocron Puzzle and get it out of there, and Ezra helps him over to it, while noticing Kanan’s injuries with shock and sadness.
Ezra grimly tells Kanan that Ahsoka’s with Vader, and we cut back to their duel:
Ahsoka gets knocked off a ledge and Vader heads for the holocron.
The Lights Are Off, But Somebody’s Home
Ezra and Kanan, who have set the holocron free, now note that the temple is collapsing around them and make for the exit. Vader shows up and, Frankenstein-style, starts trying to force-grab it away from them.
They hold tight, but are starting to lose their grip when Ahsoka comes flying at Vader full-speed from behind, jumps into the air as he turns towards her, and slices off a chunk of the Vader Mask with one of her sabers. He gets knocked to the ground briefly. She’s collecting herself, facing Ezra and Kanan, when she hears this in a voice that is not entirely Vaderesque:
She turns around, and there he is, a sliver of his former self literally peeking out, still rocking the Sith eyes:
She says his name in a gentle way, and tells him that she won’t leave him: not this time, and OH WHY STAR WARS. He says nothing for a moment, then tells her: well then, Snips, guess that means you’re gonna die.
Ahsoka sends off Kanan and Ezra, who cries out to her as the door closes on her and Vader resuming their fight:
Can’t Find My Way Home
Our closing montage is an interesting and sad one.
Kanan and Ezra meet up with the rest of the Rebels crew, and everyone is devastated to see that Kanan has been blinded (especially Hera, and OH WHY STAR WARS.) Rex makes sad eye contact with Ezra as Rex takes note of the fact that only the two of them have come back. AGAIN: OWSW.
Back on the Sith Planet of Mystery, Vader is hobbling away and I can only describe his demeanor here, paired with the music and ambience, as sad, which is maybe noteworthy. I mean he’s not crying or anything but he’s all hunched over and battle-worn and is decidedly less bold and confidently evil here. Just tired and injured? Or something more than that? A possibly-significant owl observes him walking away and flies off.
We see a misty cut to Ahsoka’s figure walking away. Vision? Ghost? Representation of her death? Or has the Badass Apprentice of the Chosen One somehow walked away from this, either by accident (because Vader thinks she died somehow)…or otherwise?
Maul Springs Eternal
So, funny story, guys: guess who’s fleeing in a TIE fighter? If you guessed UNDEAD FUCKING MAUL, you are correct and have clearly been paying attention. I am now convinced that he will never die. He will be battling people in Star Wars: Episode 24. He will probably duel with Obi-Wan’s force ghost at some point. Maul is eternal. I mean, I still think they’re probably going for Maul vs Vader eventually, but man. Yes, despite falling into yet another abyss and having only 50% or less of his original body parts, Maul lives to fight another day, for what is…what, let’s see – at least the fourth time? Fifth? I swear to God if they make Kenobi fight him again I’m not even sure how I’m going to feel about this. Knowing this franchise, they’ll make sure to give Obi-Wan another love interest or some long-lost family members or an adorable pet or something first though so Maul has someone to kill.
As we conclude, the vibe back with the Rebels gang is sad. I am sad. Everyone is sad. OH WHY STAR WARS.
And, significantly, Ezra concentrates…and opens the Sith holocron. For the final time, this time: OH WHY STAR WARS.
And then we don’t iris-wipe out, because this show is weird and Disney is weird and does stuff like END A STAR WARS SAGA MOVIE ON A DAMNED OVERHEAD HELICOPTER SHOT because it just wants to annoy me like that, but that’s it.
Anyways, pointless nerd rage aside, we covered a ton of ground in this two-parter. Let’s review some of the very important concepts and themes we saw:
- Missed Chances to Address Anakin’s Ezra’s Inner Turmoil
- Ridiculously Ostentatious Setting
- Appearance by the Associate Sith
- Anakin Skywalker Lives, Kinda
- This Kid is Driving Me Nuts
- My Master Doesn’t Understand Me
- Your Master Doesn’t Understand You Like I Do
- Your Destiny Lies Along a Different Path Than Mine
- Insane Multi-Step Puzzle
- Master and Apprentice Bro It Up in an Elevator
- Tragic Backstory
- Hidden Identity Reveal
- No One in Star Wars Ever Dies, But Especially Darth Maul
- PT-OT-ST Nexus Point(s)
- Whiny Gifted Kid Has Pathos
- Evil Loves A Whiny Gifted Kid
- Amazing Villain Dialogue
- Vader Was Taught How to Make an Entrance, Unlike Kids These Days