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Episode 104: “Rise of the Old Masters”
[photos: Disney XD]
In lieu of our regularly-scheduled robbery, this week’s episode is a prison break!
This episode starts with the tried and true Jedi exercise of the one-armed handstand, as Kanan continues to make good on his promise to teach Ezra the ways the Force. He even whips out of the “do or do not, there is no try” line that Ezra immediately pokes a hole in (“What does that even mean? How can I even do something if I don’t try to do it?”).
The Jedi exercises go awry as Kanan gets frustrated. Ezra finds himself knocked off the Ghost (which is floating in the clouds of Lothal). Kanan uses the Force to save Ezra while Hera maneuvers the ship into position to catch him. There is quite a bit of friction between Kanan and Ezra as master and padawan, with Kanan believing Ezra lacks the discipline to train him.
Our rebels intercept a message from rebel-friendly Senator-in-exile Gall Trayvis (who looks a lot like David Niven and is voiced by Star Trek’s Brent Spiner) about the incarceration of Mirialan Jedi Master Luminara Unduli in the Spire, a space prison on Stygeon Prime. Unduli made appearances in The Clone Wars as well as Episodes II and III. They prep to go rescue her, with Kanan mentioning that Master Unduli would make a more suitable teacher for Ezra (who takes the news about as well as you would expect).
The team assaults the Spire, with Kanan and Ezra going for Master Unduli while Zeb and Sabine run interference. Hera stays with the Phantom, but she has to do some evasive maneuvers when some of the local fauna develop an “emotional attachment” to the Phantom.
Kanan and Ezra find Master Unduli’s cell, but once there, things go off the rails. They find her mummified body and the lightsaber-wielding Inquisitor (voiced by Jason Isaacs, keeping with the Star Wars convention that all the bad guys speak with British accents. See also: David Oyelowo as Agent Kallus). The Inquisitor confirms her death during the Great Jedi Purge (which was portrayed in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, after Order 66 is given).
Kanan and the Inquisitor duel, with Ezra often in the middle. Ezra manages to evade the Inquisitor with Kanan’s help as the Inquisitor tempts Ezra with the Dark Side. The Inquisitor pursues our heroes as they try to escape to the landing dock. Through a judicious use of explosives and the Force, they manage to make it to the landing dock. Hera returns with the Phantom and various horny flying space creatures in the nick of time to help disrupt the stormtroopers lying in wait for the rebels.
After their failure to rescue the deceased Unduli, Kanan decides to double-down on his efforts to train Ezra.
FINALLY! We get an episode with some stakes!
The two main takeaways of the episode: First, the death of Master Unduli. Anyone who saw Episode III saw her take a blaster shot to the back, so that she’s dead may not come as a great surprise to anyone paying attention. But it’s still a bit jarring to have the Empire toting around her body for their own nefarious purposes.
Second, the Inquisitor. The series’ Big Bad finally gets a chunk of screen time (we previously only got a glimpse at the tail end of the first episode/TV movie). He’s visually very cool, armed with a double-bladed lightsaber that he wields like a fencing sabre, that spins with the second light-blade extended, and can be thrown like a big laser Frisbee. The Sith just have the cooler lightsabers. It’s true.
Unfortunately, if you didn’t watch the extended version of “Spark of Rebellion” with the added Darth Vader scene, you won’t easily understand why he’s there. He is tasked by Darth Vader personally to hunt down and turn (or eliminate) Force-sensitive children and those that would train them so that the children don’t become Jedi (the Vader-Inquisitor scene from “Spark of Rebellion” can be found on YouTube and is about a minute long). In addition, he is well-versed in the various “forms” of lightsaber combat taught by Jedi and correctly deduces that Kanan is using Form III as taught by Jedi Master Depa Billaba.
So he’s not a Sith, but has Sith-like powers, an affinity for manipulating the force, studied the records of the Jedi Temple, and talks about the Dark Side. The Inquisitor jumps into the lead as the most interesting character in Rebels at the moment.
Sabine and Hera are given more to do this episode (though not a whole lot more; this is still The Ezra and Kanan Show), but at least they are participating rather than just being window-dressing. We get our first in-episode glimpse of the Phantom, the Ghost’s shuttlecraft.
This episode we do get our first lightsaber duel. It’s well-staged if a bit jumpy and serves the plot well. We also learn a handy tidbit that you can adjust the height of a lightsaber blade based on the wielder’s height.
I would say this is arguably the best episode thus far.
Woodchuck sez, “Check it out.”