Episode 315 “Trials of the Darksaber”
Written by Dave Filoni
Directed by Steward Lee
Taking a page from Kung Fu Panda and 1992’s Dracula, this episode starts off with a history lesson rendered in shadow theater on the wall of the Ghost, as we get the re-canonization of elements from the old Extended Universe in the history of the war between the Jedi and the Mandalorians under the Jedi Tar Vizsla. Not that it brings back everything from Bioware’s video game Knights of the Old Republic, such as the Dark Jedi named Revan, but it’s got fans abuzz with excitement about what could actually come back.
The episode centers around Sabine (Tiya Sircar) having to decide if she’s going to take the plunge and wield the Darksaber, a relic of her people passed down from the first Mandalorian Jedi, Tar Vizsla. She’s torn because of her past, her estrangement from her family, her status as an outcast. Even though she gets encouragement from Fenn Rau (Kevin McKidd), she’s still reluctant.
Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Ezra (Taylor Gray) take Sabine to the Outback to train her, and Kanan finds that she’s holding herself back. Even after Rau gives her Mandalorian weapons bracers, which were used to fight Jedi, she’s not fully committing. Pushing her, Kanan gets her enraged to the point where she finally admits what’s blocking her: guilt at designing Imperial weaponry that was later used on her own homeworld.
It’s more depth for the character, a welcome addition to her back story to give us more of an understanding why she’s such a “happy” rebel. It’s a front to cover the despair she feels over losing her family. And though the family may still be alive, she feels they’re lost to her because of her past. She’s a loner not by choice, but she’s embraced it and chosen a new family to replace the one that abandoned her. And now she finds herself forced to face her past, embrace her future, and it all centers around wielding the Darksaber and becoming the leader of the Mandalorian people.
Quite a lot to take in.
The character-driven episodes of Rebels are always better than the plot-driven ones, mainly because the plot episodes feel like they’re shuffling pieces on a board to get things in a particular place by a particular time. You can see this especially with anything having to do with Grand Admiral Thrawn. Of course, this episode is also leading us to a certain place, but it’s getting there organically. I suspect the resolution of the Mandalorian Vs. Empire arc will happen before we move to Tatooine for the final(?) encounter between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul, so give it a few more episodes.
The wrap-up to the Mandalorian arc will likely end with a massive battle against Thrawn’s forces above Mandalore, and could the show be daring enough to kill off Sabine? She’s not one of the many Easter eggs in Rogue One, so anything’s possible. Would the writers be willing to take the story in that direction? Make Sabine the leader and have her fall in battle?
Remember, in this episode, the Bendu noticed Sabine, which is not insignificant. Does she have a larger role to play in the Force?
Star Wars Rebels airs Saturday nights at 8:30/7:30c on Disney XD. The show is now on hiatus until part two of the story airs February 18th.