Tag Archives: Kanan

On Rebels, They’re All Fine Here Now, Thanks. How Are You?

This is not a full review; we don’t do that kind here. Instead we take a closer look at one or two itty bitty pieces. Written under the assumption that you’ve seen the episode, and as always BIG WHOPPING SPOILERS (for the show and one for The Force Awakens if you haven’t seen it) from here on out.

Well. That was certainly a thing that happened. Rebels series two has finally come to an end in the double episode entitled Twilight of the Apprentice, a title that had already set curious tongues wagging and is likely to spawn many more debates over just which apprentice it means. Well indeed.

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On Rebels, The Inquisitors Perfect The Menacing Crawl

… which is a yoga position, if I’m not much mistaken.

Quick note: this is not a full review. If you want that, cool, but here we take a few things for closer inspection. Best read after your viewing and taken with crackers, SPOILERS from here on out.

In this week’s episode of Rebels, entitled Shroud of Darkness, we see our three Jedi (or Jedi-adjacent*) Kanan, Ezra and Ahsoka enter the Jedi Temple on Lothal to communicate with Yoda, who’s still on Dagobah. Just go with it, it totally made sense in the episode.

*I do not apologise at all for this.

No joke this time around. Just marveling at the design on show.

Though those visions were most interesting, first I’d like to discuss something that’s been bugging me.

The Inquisitors

Minimised as this picture is, it looks like the Inquisitors are surrounded by hearts. How cute. Little hearts of death.

This episode saw the return of several characters from the first series: Yoda of course, but also The Grand Inquisitor, in a reveal that definitely wasn’t greeted with an ‘I called it’ dance from me. What? That’s totally a thing! A thing that I don’t do, so forget I mentioned it. Anyhoo, not only did he return, but he did so in style, and brought all the characterisation and back-story that was missing from the first series. For it turns out that he was once a Jedi and one of the Temple Guards. Quite why Palpatine would want his Inquisitors to be led by a guard who let Order 66 and Operation Knightfall (I would have gone with Night of the Long Sabers, personally) happen on his watch is beyond me, but hey ho. I’m not an Emperor of an entirely made up galaxy, so what would I know?

Actually, I'm Emperor of a vast and fearsome colony of ants. Why are you laughing?

Actually, I’m Emperor of a vast and fearsome colony of ants. What? Why are you laughing?

Last week saw some much needed depth breathed into Agent Kallus, and this show has, in my opinion, given some great defining character moments for otherwise amorphous and forgettable Imperial underlings. Now we see some intriguing back-story to the Grand Inquisitor. Which for me raised the question: are we going to have to wait until these Inquisitors are dead before we learn anything about them?

Here’s what we know: They’re named in a seemingly hierarchical structure which also suggests that they’re brought up in some sort of family environment (whether natural or artificial, we don’t know). They work extremely well together, despite their competitive natures. And they … walk very very slowly and very very menacingly. I could add a few more ‘verys’ just to make that list longer, but that’s pretty much it. This isn’t exactly an improvement on what we know about the Grand Inquisitor – or Big Inky, as he is known on the street.

This is not what I had in mind when I googled 'big ink'.

This is not what I had in mind when I googled ‘big ink’.

And this is one of the main failings of the show for me. In the show, they’re portrayed as implacable foes that are nigh impossible for our Spectres to defeat and who turn up at the worst possible moment to mess up the rebellions’ plans – and that’s it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to say for having great unknown evils lurking about in your story, simply because that aforementioned great unknown adds to the fear and terror that their mere presence can instil. But there does come a point when something, anything – I’d take throwaway dialogue at this point – is needed that fleshes out your villains from two dimensional boogeymen into truly memorable and strong characters. And there does also come a point where sacrificing character depth in favour of unknown terror starts to turn against you and begins to actively harm the story you’re trying to tell. Nothing quite undermines your heroes’ victory over the baddies when the viewer thinks ‘well that’s them sorted, who’s the next Inquisitor going to be?’ I’m not saying we’re there yet*, in large part because they haven’t featured too heavily in this series. But we are nearing the end of the second series, so now might be a good time to think about adding in some layers to various neglected characters *conspicuouslycoughsHera*.

*I took a poll when you weren’t looking. That serves you right for not checking your junk mail.

Unless they’re actually dead, in which case: that’s them sorted. Who’s the next Inquisitor going to be? I vote for Anthony Stewart Head.

Oh gods please make that happen!

Oh gods please make that happen!

Forget The Old Way

I fell asleep. This is Ezra, right?

The trial of Ezra Bridger saw Yoda proffering little nuggets of wisdom like a little wisdom Pez dispenser, to help Ezra understand how to grow to be a Jedi and what that means in these turbulent times. It seems fairly straightforward, yet the scene left me somewhat confused; I didn’t get such a good read on it. So if I may, I have a question for you: who failed that trial, Ezra or Yoda?

Where the show has currently failed the Inquisitors in approaching them as fleshed out characters, they very much succeeded with Yoda. Granted, that little green Pez wisdom dispenser is an already established character, and this team has had experience writing for him on Rebels’ spiritual predecessor, The Clone Wars. But that doesn’t negate the good work they’ve done – that being how they’ve made Yoda as not just an instructor for Ezra, but a person needing their own test as well, and a person bringing their own baggage to the conversation, rather than just being there for something else. This is a common short-falling for storytellers the world over, rather than operate on the assumption that each character is, essentially, a real person and the hero of their own story – that they have their own lives, goals and needs, and that one life-altering conversation for one person may just be a Tuesday for them.

So what is it that Yoda’s bringing to the table here, and why does he need a test? Why do I believe he is even being tested in the first place? Good questions all, if I do say so myself. To answer the first: Yoda doesn’t seem to be answering Ezra’s questions all that well. At first, he seems to understand what’s needed of him, yet coaches his answers in the frame of reminiscing on times gone by and lamenting the past, i.e. discussing events that are more important and more well known to Yoda than to Ezra. This quickly puts Ezra at a disadvantage, and since Yoda’s had 800 odd years of teaching young Jedi-in-waiting, you’d think he’d be cognizant of this fact. (To veer off quickly, I did love this conversation: it felt like both characters were having two entirely different conversations while they were conversing to each other. That’s very hard to write and if the writers had intended this then I applaud them for it.) To return to my original point, it seems that Yoda has become too wrapped up in the past, in the old way, to understand that Ezra is being a Jedi in an entirely new way. Perhaps more: that an entirely new way is needed for the Jedi altogether. Yet it appears that Yoda is doubling down on the Jedi ways of old, somewhat forgetting that that had a large hand in their downfall in the first place.

To answer the second and third questions – because those two are intertwined – is because it makes narrative sense to do so. As I’ve said, writers tend to treat secondary characters as just foils for the main character to explore their faults. This is bad. Instead, we should think of secondary characters as heroes. Following that line of thought let’s pretend it’s The Yoda Show instead and that our Spectres are merely guest stars.

In this episode, Yoda has been exiled to the swamp planet of Dagobah. Years go by as he waits to become relevant to the galaxy again. Always waiting until he can become a teacher again – to the galaxy’s new hope, Luke Skywalker. But as time passes he fears that he won’t be as on form as he used to be, back in the golden age of the Jedi and the Republic. After all, he’s been a teacher all his life and has never gone so long without teaching (that decade spent meditating with the silent Jedi monks of Malastare and the week-long-turned-two-year-long furlough on Nar Shaddaa don’t count). He needs a little test, just to make sure his skills are still sharp. So when he’s contacted by a fledgeling Jedi in the form of Ezra Bridger he spies his chance. This is it, he thinks. A quick lesson on the basics and everything will be fine. Wait, what’s this? He’s already decided to fight? That’s … not what he had in mind. He had a whole speech planned out. About the Clone Wars. About Order 66. He’d made puppets.

Ah, he thinks. And in a moment of deep insight that takes even old Yoda aback, he realises that perhaps he’s been going about this the wrong way. Upon realising this, he sends Ezra on his way with some pertinent information before going off have a long hard think. Perhaps, he concludes, he needed that. He’d forgotten that this Luke Skyflier or, or, Luke Starkiller or whatever his name is, would probably not have been raised in the Jedi way and moreover that he’d likely have similar inclinations as this Ezra boy, too. It might be worth it to have a little rethinking of his teaching plan. Do away with the puppets, for a start. Some brisk jogging could help, and he’d get to see some parts of the swamp that he hadn’t been able to visit since he’d landed, so that’d be nice. ‘And, and,’ he would say, ‘I wonder where I left that cave?’

Michael Dare

Star Wars Rebels is taking a break for a week, so do be sure to set your reminder for the following week.

Of Fashion and Madness- TWL #173

WampasLair_SquareKarl and Jason discuss their Top 5 costumes in Star Wars and then dive into predictions for the upcoming “This Is Madness” tournament on the official Star Wars site!

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On Rebels, Our Heroes Add Kidnap And Duress To The List Of Charges

Howdy! Friendly reminder: this is not a full review. If you want that, that’s cool, and we can recommend a few sites if you’d like. Instead, we take a closer look at some aspects of each episode. And as always, SPOILERS from here on out.

I mean, that’s if the Empire doesn’t get them for the willful destruction of government property they’ll be dealing at Yavin three years from now. Yep, on this week’s Rebels, The Protector of Concord Dawn, our heroes need safe passage. Rather than negotiate – like the Republic they’re trying to restore would – or failing that, finding somewhere else to go, they attack a (reasonably legitimate) military/civilian third party target and strong-arm them into compliance. Go good guys!

Pictured: aggressive negotiations

Diplomacy Fail

In times gone by on our very real and definitely not a Matrix Earth, whenever two warring parties desired truce, they would provide certain assurances that neither would kick up a fuss. Let’s provide some further detail. It’s AD800, and a thousand-strong band of Norse warriors have invaded the Saxon kingdom of Wessex. They’ve plundered and rampaged across the landscape, until they, well, get a bit bored of it, really. They find some easily defensible position and wait for the Saxons to turn up. After a brief battle, the Saxons, led by King Alfred the Great, offers them money to leave. The Norse do so, but to ensure that no further fights ensue, Alfred demands hostages – high ranking jarls or their children. If the Norse come back to fight, those hostages will be killed. (The Norse would of course agree, because this is a normal thing for that time period.)

Sound familiar?

In this episode, our Spectres hope to find a safe route for use in evading the Empire. And so they turn to Concord Dawn, where a group of Mandalorians have set up their home, where our heroes seek peaceful aid with these Mandalorians. It’s like they never read the EU. So of course Kanan and Sabine (mostly Kanan) capture the eponymous Protector*, the leader of the Mandalorians, and use him as leverage against any reprisals by the other Mandos there. Great plan, can’t see that coming back to haunt them anytime soon. Continue reading

Star Wars Rebels: Now This Is Podracing! Edition

Reminder: This is not a full review (If you want that, that’s totally fair, there are plenty of fansites that do), but rather a discussion on 2 or 3 bits of it with, of course, spoilers abounding.

First of all: not even sorry for that title.

Secondly: Woah, boy. This isn’t going to be an easy review. Not because it was bad, but because generally I just pick a few things to discuss. But I want to review all of it. Almost every second of it was perfect. But, here are my picks:

Rex and Kanan

JUST HUG ALREADY, GAWDS

As a brief* aside, if you’ve ever read a review and wondered where they, the reviewers, get their images from, it’s not from screencapping (as I used to think), but rather the episode gallery on StarWars.com. I bring this up because there were many Rex/Kanan pics, and I struggled to pick just one.

*Yes, thank you, I do know the meaning of the word. I looked it up on the internet.

Anyhoo, previously I have mentioned how Kanan has slowly come round and accepted Rex as, not just a person in his own right, but as a soldier innocent of any wrongdoing, and somewhat a victim, too, of the same machine that wrecked his life (Also costing the life of his master, Depa Billaba, but that’s secondary to his pain, obviously). I must admit to jumping the gun, there, because this is the episode where that emotional conflict was finally resolved. Mea culpa*. That said, if it does continue beyond this episode, I shall be firmly and strongly calling it out, no matter how much in error I am.

*I googled this, too. It turns out that I’ve been writing it wrong, as ‘mea cuppa’, which, as a Brit, means something quite different.

All that aside, I loved the resolution. Sure, it did lean quite heavily on the buddy-cop formula – no bad thing, in itself, merely that it was somewhat tonally different than what was expected. But, it did contain a real heart to the conflict, and explored the key differences in their outlook, beyond just having a conveniently explanatory line. Okay, there was that, too, with Kanan as the mouthpiece, but it did provide ample example to back up the line, both before and after. And that ‘before’ is key: we’ve all heard of the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule? Personally, I dislike calling it a rule. It’s, for the most part, a good general guideline, for those who are learning how to write fiction, but it’s just that. If you’re good enough to pull it off, you can show and tell – showing first then telling, telling and then showing, tell and not show, show and never tell and whatever other combination I’ve forgotten. If you’re good enough: Joss Whedon, who does have faults and blindspots as a storyteller, is generally thought as very good, and plays merry hob with this rule throughout Buffy and Firefly (and perhaps his other series, of which I’ve not seen so can’t say). In this episode, the writers show, tell and then show some more.

But enough of that literary snobbery. Much like real-life working relationships, and avoiding the buddy cop cliche, the two manage to arrive at a working, functional relationship, yet don’t really compromise either of their positions, and did so from their mutual disdain of the Empire, a genuine concern for their comrades, and a desire to see them home safe.

As a viewer, it helped that this was achieved with a large helping of humor, both in joking to, and at the expense of, each other, as well with some self-referential and occasionally lamp-shading humor (Kanan trying to talk code to an Imp officer and Rex wondering about the Imperial shuttle, and the poor shooting because of the helmets, were great examples of this). I took particular delight in when Ezra shot his would-be rescuers. Not just because it was a fairly humorous moment (thanks to Chopper showing his recording on repeat) but also because it highlighted, in a light-hearted yet in-depth way, how they responded to the friendly fire incident.

In the immortal words of Call of duty: Friendly fire - isn't.

In the immortal words of Call of duty: Friendly fire – isn’t.

(Although, to quickly examine one joke: I thought it was weird how the Imp officer in the elevator noted that the armor was a little snug. I realize that a non-real, dictatorship’s military might be different to our real-world military, but it seemed strange: I know many, many soldiers and military personnel who are on the very bulky side of things, there’s no one-size-for-all in our earthbound military. Beyond that, from what I gather from soldiers who’ve served in the field, they often put on a lot of weight, for a number of reasons. So that, from a realism perspective, did jar me a bit.)

I realize that I’ve perhaps spent far too much time documenting Rex, here and in the past, but the Rex/Kanan dynamic is quickly becoming one of my favorites on the show. They gel together in a way that, say, Ezra and Sabine simply don’t, and in the same way that Sabine and Zeb do.

Brom Titus

AKA This guy

How utterly refreshing to have a baddie be competent! This isn’t anything against Agent Kallus and the Grand Inquisitor (one of which, however, is currently suffering from a mild case of death), but when your heroes face off against the same baddies week after week, and not only that, but triumph, their abilities, and how they came to such positions of power, can be reasonably called into question. Of course, that’s a danger that many TV shows face. How can you resolve your episode’s conflict without a nice, neat victory? The obvious answer is to have your rebels suffer an ignominious and harsh defeat, but that raises its own problems. These heroes have to be special, in some way; special enough to win. And to have them lose constantly doesn’t make for very engaging TV. You could always not have a conflict (or at least, not just in one episode) but that can be just as problematic and disengaging to the viewer. So you have your heroes win, time and again, your villains lose – and with every loss, they look just a little bit less menacing. Even this admiral Titus loses. But competency isn’t about winning or losing.

I’m somewhat skeptical, but all ears.

Well, not necessarily, anyway.

Certainly it helps to be competent to win (well, not so much in TV Land), but showing that the villains are at least capable of getting one over the heroes does lessen the blow of the defeat to the viewer. From the very beginning, Titus proved himself: by capturing a rebel ship, to lure in a larger prey in the form of Commander Sato – which, he freely acknowledges, was down to luck. It doesn’t hurt to be honest and accept that your windfall was pure chance.

Later, he quickly infers through logical reasoning the identity of Ezra (and to a slightly less impressive extent, the identity of Rex), and when ‘Jabba’ escapes, he wastes no time in ordering his soldiers to use lethal measures. This, as he states, was to save his own reputation (and likely, skin) in the eyes of Agent Kallus, but he does at least realize his error (more on that in a moment) and tries to correct it, rather than doubling down.

But why does this entirely capable admiral make such a terrible mistake? Surely he had read reports or heard rumors about the troubles this particular rebel cell, and this Jedi, has caused? It seems likely, but I have to wonder how much the Empire is letting slip.

(Before I continue, I wish to make it clear that a lot of it probably had to do with the fact that Ezra is a child. I merely wish to explore another factor that could be at play here)

From the old EU: From its very beginning, the Empire had been disdainful of the Jedi and their abilities. This is understandable, from an in universe perspective and a thematic one. Thematically, it makes sense to have the thing that the Empire held in low regard – even after everything the Emperor knew about them – to have the Jedi be his, and the Empire’s, downfall.

In universe, the Emperor had long sought to destroy the power of the Jedi, first the physical, by wiping them out, and then the psychological: we know that the Empire did suppress quite strongly knowledge of the Jedi, to such a degree that people who were born in the last years of the existence of the Jedi Order – people like Han Solo – knew very little. More, by making them demons in the eyes of the public, and making them seem unimpressive, over-hyped kooks.

Of course, that’s the old EU, but just from what we’ve seen on this very show, it seems reasonable to believe that this is the case in the new canon, as well. As such, I think it’s entirely plausible that the admiral saw a mere child with an oversized glow stick, pretending at Jedi-ing, and thought that he wasn’t much of a threat. Thus leading to the downfall of an otherwise capable and impressive admiral.

This seems entirely likely, given that …

Jun Sato Had No Trust In Ezra’s Abilities

I have made a grave error. I left the oven on.

(Again, it may be in large part because Ezra’s a child. But, again, I’m exploring other factors, and following it to its conclusion)

On the other side of the conflict, we have our heroes (By the way, I’m not forgetting Hera and Sabine; I use the word in a gender neutral sense. But that’s a whole other conversation), who have looked to the Jedi as their saviors and as a source of hope. Admittedly I’m again leaning on the old EU for this bit. But again, it does makes sense that this would still be accurate, from what we’ve seen in Rebels. But what’s remarkable is that Sato goes against this and lacks that hope, that trust in Ezra. True, Ezra is just a kid, which may explain Sato’s lack of trust in his abilities, but all Sato knows about Ezra is that he’s a Jedi in training, and trained by a Jedi of the old Order*, and that he’s a member of one of his most highly skilled rebel cells. And yet, still there’s a lack of trust.

*Personally, I’m not sure this would hold much weight with Sato. Whatever trust he has in Kanan, it’s probably because Kanan has proved himself as a capable rebel, and nothing more.

Why is this? If we take all of the above as true (and certainly we shouldn’t, but for now go with it), could it be that the Emperor’s misinformation is so effective that the rebels still hold on to this unconscious bias?

I’m not in a position to do so, but I would love to go back and rewatch the first two series, to see how rebels outside of the main group react to Kanan’s and Ezra’s Force abilities. But certainly in this episode, when Sato is freed by Kanan and Rex, he seemed to accept, without hesitition, that these two could mount an effective rescue. This could simply be because, as I say, Kanan has proven himself a capable rebel, outside of his Jedi-ness. Yet previously, Sato expressed skepticism towards Ezra’s usefulness, and later displayed surprise and downright shock at his skill. And furthermore – again I may just be overreaching on this whole thing, but – when Ezra tells Sato that Rex and Kanan will make their own escape, Sato accepts him at his word. If Ezra hadn’t proven himself to Sato, it seems entirely likely that Sato would wait for the pair, and thus seal the fate of every rebel on board.

See, it just goes to show that if you’d just take a teenager at their word, the world would be a much better place.

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Michael Dare