‘Cause Ezra sure didn’t.
Welcome! Please note: this is not a full review. Here we use our holocrons to see into … a TV show and … look at a few things. Honestly we may not be using these things to their full potential. As always, SPOILERS from here on out!
On Rebels ‘The Holocrons of Fate’, Maul demonstrates that it’s never a good idea to let the grass grow under your iron-clawed feet and Ezra learns that it’s always a good idea to bring some bug repellent when spelunking. Also: to always listen to the mystical blind guy. Seriously, does he not watch any kung fu movies, like, at all?
One Bad-A Team
Here’s the thing: despite being a pretty big deal in the rebellion and working as a team and in a way that, had it been any other show, it would have been the big inspirational break out – our Spectres still got beat by Maul. Easily. Despite that, this was still one of my favourite scenes in the entire episode! Why, I pretend to hear you ask? Because they failed! Okay, there is a bit more to it so let’s take it one bit at a time.
This show, this episode, and indeed even this review, tends to focus heavily on Ezra. Ezra is often given the meatiest storylines and the most character development, often to the detriment of the rest of the crew. Sorry, this is starting to get a bit anti-Ezra and that’s not my intent (this time), but rather to lighlight the fact that even on an Ezra-centric episode it’s still possible to fit in time for the rest of the crew – and not only that but, for 98% of the scene, have them shine in it.
Now as for that 2%: that was ultimately a failure, yes, but look at it in the grand scheme of storytelling and storytelling tropes*. The vast majority of shows would have had them escape heroically, laugh off the difficulty as if it were some trivial matter, and then blow something up because explosions are really pretty. Even this show’s predecessor, The Clone Wars, was known to do this on quite a few occasions. Hell, I’m almost positive that Rebels has even done it once or twice. Yet here, now, they’re breaking the mould, they’re dismantling the trope, they’re pointing upwards with a non-traditional finger in the vague direction of those that have come before – by failing like miserable incompetents! Yes! Well done, you. Although not well done because you failed and almost died. But you do at least get points for trying, Spectres!
*I’m deliberately not linking to TV Tropes because, well, that place is a black hole of free time whence none can escape.
Look, I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t a clue what Maul is hoping for*. Maybe he’s just looking for the vague incorporeal, indefinite, some other ‘i’ words, hope in and of itself. (Although, pro-tip, Maul, I’m pretty sure you need at least some specifics when asking fortune tellers.) But it doesn’t really matter. We don’t need to know because it’s representative of his ever changing identity, his desires and his passion. If you’re a regular reader of Star Wars Report, or a regular listener, you may have come across this interview with Sam Witwer. He says:
The first thing that [Maul] says when we find him in the cave, is it’s him mumbling and talking about how mercy is a lie. And the last thing we saw from him in The Clone Wars was him begging for mercy. These are all moves we were making very consciously. And so now, we have a character who’s been through all of that. Who has reflected on all of that. And so he’s unpredictable, so where did he land on that scale at this point. Having learned all that he’s learned, where is he?’ [emphasis mine]
On Malachor, duh. I’m joking, obviously, but it’s a very important point. As noted in this episode’s Rebels Recon, he’s no longer a Sith. (Please, no ‘half a Sith’ jokes. We have just had the Paralympics, demonstrating that being without legs doesn’t mean you’re any less capable).
*Full disclosure: After writing the first draft I then listened to Ion Cannon’s podcast of this episode. They have some pretty interesting musings, if, I don’t know, you wanted to check it out?
What did he see in the holocron 8 ball? Was it the same as Ezra? I think that’s a fair certainty, yes. My reading was that his request was unanswered because his will was overridden by Ezra’s, which could potentially demonstrate that Ezra is quickly overtaking Maul in terms of power. But if what he saw was the same thing intentionally, it could be a pivotal character moment. One where we see him … not so much become a good guy because I think we all know he’s well beyond that point, but become an evil ally of sorts. A character where what he wants is ultimately good, but the way he goes about it is very much not. Who knew that this minor character, a flunkie who didn’t even see it through an entire movie, could evolve into something this compelling?
This episode, for Ezra, was about reclaiming and repairing the relationship with his master, Kanan – but it was also about regaining his independence. He must relearn how to operate on his own and in the light. So how did he do?
Not well. Not well at all.
Throughout the entirety of the episode he’s either in the company of, and thus subservient to, Kanan. Or he’s alone and very probably not listening to Kanan’s advice or failing at it. ‘If you stay calm, they won’t attack’ Kanan counsels, at which point Ezra agrees and takes out his lightsaber. ‘Go left’ Kanan says; Ezra doesn’t. It is only when Kanan saves Ezra that the task of regaining the holocron is completed (and even then Ezra barely holds it together). And as they travel to meet Maul, Kanan tempts Ezra to open the Sith holocron – he doesn’t. While on the face of it, this is a good thing in that he resists, it’s not for good reasons. He resists because he knows, if he were alone, he wouldn’t be able to. It is only Kanan’s presence that keeps him on the light path. And later, when Maul and Ezra engage the holocrons, Ezra looks and sees his answer, in doing so he’s going against the advice of Bendu (who annoyingly at the moment is little more than a relationship counsellor) and Kanan’s explicit instructions.
During the episode Bendu muses on whether balance had been restored between master and apprentice – but it’s clear, upon review, that Ezra has gained little from the experience. Whenever fear was threatening to overwhelm Ezra, Kanan merely had to override it with his authority and Ezra in turn leaned upon his master’s surety as a crutch.
This is Ezra’s defining characteristic: fear. He cannot connect with the hexapods because they’re nothingness in the Force. They are reflections of what you bring with you and consequently they are nothing themselves – and because they are so, when Ezra looks, he sees nothing – but doubly so because the animal itself is nothing and nothing is his greatest fear. Confusing, no? Sorry, but there’s more: Ezra came from nothing, had nothing and he fears it. This is much like Kanan, who lost everything. Kanan should fear nothingness but he has had the luxury of years to accept it (Jedi training came in handy, too). Unlike Ezra, Kanan can then easily accept the emptiness within the animals so he is thus capable of connecting with the hexapods. Ezra, poor Ezra, cannot accept nothingness just yet and so his fear gets the better of him – and he fights.
Which leads me to the prophecy – and perhaps the greatest amount of nothingness he’ll ever face. He of course doesn’t know it yet but his dream of destroying the Sith will forever be denied to him. It is impossible for Ezra to accomplish.
Of course, it will be accomplished by Luke, and for the moment we simply don’t know what role, if any, Ezra will have in this. Will the denial of his greatest wish be what pushes him into darkness? Or will he reach a point of unselfishness and think ‘it doesn’t matter that it’s not me who does it, as long as they’re destroyed’ and be happy with that? Or, perhaps far-fetchedly, will he evolve as a character to a point where he entirely lets go of his selfishness and desire for striking back? Aside from the aforementioned fear, his selfishness to strike back and to defeat the Sith is another defining aspect of his character, it’s his main driving force. What will he do? I don’t know, but perhaps out of character for me, I think he’ll come through just fine. If you think back to all those similar instances where he had to choose between being vengeful and being just, he’s (for the most part) always landed on the side of the just. I think this may be another one of those times.
As long as Kanan’s there to keep him on the right track. Please don’t die, Kanan. You’re my second favourite character. Oh and it’ll help Ezra, too.
P.S. For those interested in the science of surviving in a vacuum, check out this video! What happens in this episode is fairly in keeping with real-world science.Powered by Sidelines