Impending Doom Creeps Up On The Rebels. Wait, No That’s Spiders. It’s Spiders.

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Take heed: This is not a full review. If you want that, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU – I mean, sure. Different strokes and all that. Anyway, we just take a look at one or two things. Written with the assumption that you’ve seen the show and as always, SPOILERS from here on out. Also there will be spiders.

This week on Rebels, it is the calm before the storm. Except no one told the Spectres that because their idea of calm includes fighting giant spiders. It’s all relative, I guess. This was a fairly light episode with much of the time spent brooding on what’s to come. Well, it boded; there was much boding done. But let’s not write off the entire episode just like that; there were some interesting things I’d like to discuss.

I warned you that there’d be blood spiders.

This being an episode centred on mystery (and horror, but nevermind that right now), I thought it would be a good idea to focus on several things that I found puzzling. Because instead of pretending to be all-knowing and wise, it’s far better to be aware that you do have gaps in your understanding, and accept that. For indeed accepting your failures is the truly wise thing and the mark of a great person. So if I focus on these things and you want to, I don’t know, think of me as great and wise, who am I to tell you not to?

Surviving On Your Own

Lightsabers: not just for chopping off limbs.

A brief summary: as the rebels go about their shiny new rebel base, doing rebel business and just being rebellious in general, one of the Phoenix Squadron pilots goes missing mysteriously (spoiler, it’s spiders). Rex and Sabine go to investigate her last known position, at which point Rex is dragged away by some strange, exotic beast*. Quickly gathering the rest, the Spectres head towards some suspicious looking caves**. As they search, the group splits up. Hera, Sabine and Zeb go one way while Ezra and Kanan go another. When questioned about having no Jedi on their team, Hera explains that they must get used to not having Jedi around.

*Still spiders.
**Government policy dictates at least one suspicious looking cave per planet.

It’s at this point that they entirely forgot about the other missing person. What’s that about never leaving a soldier behind?

Which is a rather bleak sentiment, but is otherwise a smart move. But I have two points: 1) they’ve all managed to survive without Jedi before Kanan and Ezra came along. And 2) they still failed.

Just gonna leave this here.
Just gonna leave this here.

And I don’t know what the message that’s trying to be conveyed. Certainly it reminds us that the stakes will be high* next week. But on a more meta level, I’ve got nothing. The whole point of the original trilogy of movies is that the Jedi are returning – after all, two out of three movie titles concern this very notion. The spectres don’t know this, of course, but we and the series makers do. So is it a message to the everyday hero? Hera, Sabine and Zeb are more or less normal people – those closest to us, the viewers. Is it saying that we shouldn’t rely on larger than life characters to solve our problems? That we have to do our very best, to try to succeed against evil and the odds by relying on our own skills and what limited resources that we have?

*5-1 that two Jedi don’t come back, to be exact.

That’s all out-of-universe talk, of course. Yet in-universe it works, too. Hera fears that they can’t rely on Jedi to swoop in and save the day. That nearly every person in the rebellion is just an ordinary being, a non-Force sensitive, and so they must rely on their own skills to survive. This makes narrative sense because, as underdogs with Jedi in their ranks, they’re still fighting an uphill battle. If you take those Jedi out of the equation then those underdogs become underdoggier. Shuddup that’s totally a word.

But that message is undermined by the fact that the Jedi actually do turn up to save their skins. So what does this mean going forward? Well, there’s two possibilities that I can see. One is that the Jedi will realise that they work best as a team and will ultimately decide to not take on the Inquisitors alone, and thus escape with minimal casualties.

*Whistles innocently*
*Whistles innocently*

The second possibility is that the Jedi die and, because there’s no one left to save the non-Jedi Spectres, the rest die horribly, too. If that’s the case then this should be a short show.

Dances With Wolves, Rocks On With Spiders

The second unknown is when, on several occasions throughout the episode, Ezra attempts to tame* the big giant spiders – or ‘Krykna’ as they’re called, presumably by people who didn’t run away at the first given opportunity. He fails spectacularly.

*Using the Beastmaster skill he attained at lvl 5.

The tie-in youtube series, Rebels Recon, which is always worth watching if you’re not already, goes into some detail about why he fails: ‘It’s in their nature […] It’s not that they’re evil, it’s just what they are,’ notes Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group. ‘You encounter things that are older and more bizarre than you can imagine,’ states Rebels creator Dave Filoni, ‘and so [Ezra] can’t relate because he’s relating to things in the Force as he understands.’ which I suppose is the Force equivalent of ‘these darn kids of today don’t know what it was like in my day.’

Kids and their technology. Pfft.

So basically it’s just a case of them being so out there that Ezra simply can’t find a way to bond with them. (I would also mention that Pablo and Dave seem to be saying that their resistance to the Force is quite unlike that of the Ysalamir, a creature in the now defunct Expanded Universe/Legends that could create a Force-neutral bubble, which essentially means that Force sensitive beings can’t sense anything within that bubble. Which comes in handy for surprise birthday parties.)

Or, you know. Maybe not.
Or, you know. Maybe not.

But from a narrative perspective, nothing can truly be taken in a vacuum, or as a standalone point. As such this doesn’t really make much sense (to me at least). It could be that it plays a vital part in a later episode (or the very next), but right now it’s quite the mystery. But of course, we’re Star Wars fans, so I’ll do something we excel at: Nitpicking! Wait, I meant speculation. Definitely that.

Given that this is the last episode before the finale featuring many dark side villains, the simplest answer is that the creative team were drawing comparisons between animals that are just dangerous because ‘that’s their nature’ and the actual evil that requires sapience, our higher intelligence, which is seen in beings like the Sith and the Inquisitors – who are quite evil, I can assure you. I once saw that Fifth Brother double dip.

For once, over-acting is appropriate.

But it’s oh so tempting to read more into this. So let’s do just that! On the one hand I think it demonstrates Ezra’s unceasing, unwavering empathetic viewpoint. That no matter how bad a person is (or creature, in this case) he’ll still try to connect with them and help them. Which is certainly nice to see – what with, ahem, a certain film dropping recently, I’m very happy to see a strong sense of moral fibre and decency in a hero.

Or, perhaps more likely, it may be demonstrating that Ezra will at some point need much more power to help his endangered friends. And it will likely be at this point that the Inquisitors will tempt him, or simply of his own volition will choose to tap into the dark side (’cause he can have a dark side, too). And thus begins (mostly) his descent to the dark side, to become a minion, in Inquisitor of Darth Vader the … bulky? Hold on. Plagueis gets ‘The Wise’, so what does Vader get? Darth Vader the Mildly Raspy? And if Ezra becomes an Inquisitor to hunt his old friends, what would his name be? 12th Brother? 2nd Cousin on My Mother’s (dark)Side? I demand answers, Filoni!

Not tear-soaked hankies.

Michael Dare

P.S. The amateur naturalist in me wishes to point out that they’re not true arachnids, but likely hexapodoidea. Carry on.

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