Episode 303 “The Holocrons of Fate”
Written by Henry Gilroy
Directed by Steward Lee
It appears that Star Wars Rebels is on a trajectory to intersect with the first Star Wars film in a way that may also let it tie together with Rogue One and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. And that could be pretty cool.
A more self-contained and straightforward episode this week, as Ezra (Taylor Gray) and Kanan (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) have to work through their difficulties in order to rescue the crew of the Ghost from Darth Maul (Sam Witwer). His ransom: the Sith holocron, which is now in the hands of the Bendu (Tom Baker).
It’s a pretty easy plot, with most of the focus on the dynamic between Ezra and Kanan and how their strained relationship needs “balance” in order for the both of them to heal and move on after the events on Malachor. And in a very obvious nod to The Empire Strikes Back, the two have to endure a test of character in a dark cave where the Bendu has hidden the Sith holocron. Only by working together and overcoming fear and angst can Kanan help Ezra retrieve the holocron and avoid an attack by the spiders.
The reveal that Maul has the entire crew of the Ghost as prisoners will spark a sense of recognition in anyone who’s been watching The Walking Dead. Is it a coincidence that Maul had a Negan vibe going while everyone was kneeling on the floor? Does Maul call his lightsaber Lucille?
Bendu realizes that Maul wants to put the two holocrons together, granting access through the Force to knowledge that can be overwhelming in its power — “He would bring them together? Such a vergence carries grave danger.” — any information, any secret, any destiny, would be visible.
Only Maul can’t get the Jedi holocron to open, and while he’s fighting that, Hera and the others overpower their droid guards and almost make their way to taking back the Ghost, even managing to use the magnetic plates in the cargo hold to trap Maul on the wrong side of the room. Too bad he can deflect blaster bolts with Lucille… and promptly hits the controls so the magnetic field collapses and he re-takes the ship and crew.
For all the manufactured suspense of the capture and rescue — come on, you know Kanan and Ezra will get there just in time, right? — the episode invests a lot of time in the reconciliation between Kanan and his apprentice, who feels guilty about his master’s blindness. Kanan, with his new perspective on how to sense the world around him, tells Ezra, “I’ve been forced to see things differently since Malachor.”
As he uses his new sensibilities to keep Ezra from panicking in the presence of the spiders, Kanan realizes that they have to use the same approach to defeat Maul — the Sith’s most powerful weapon is their fear for the safety of their friends. Even being blasted out an airlock into the vacuum of space isn’t enough to shake Kanan’s resolve to deal with the problem in as rational a way as he can.
In the end, Ezra and Maul merge the two holocrons, both seeking knowledge with very different outcomes. Ezra just wants to know how to defeat the Sith, while Maul wants to find “hope”. And it’s here we get more connections to the broader Star Wars universe, with Ezra’s vision of “twin suns” just before the holocrons split apart. Scenes like this lead me to believe that this season of Rebels will be moving in a direction that brings the show closer to Rogue One and Star Wars.
Maul also demonstrates some skills we’ve seen in the movies as well, as he scans Hera’s memories very much the same way Kylo Ren did it to Rey in The Force Awakens, pulling up Kanan’s real identity of Caleb Dume. And when Maul realizes “he lives”… who’s “he”? The easy speculation would be Anakin Skywalker, but it could be someone else that ties the season closer to the upcoming films.
Given that this season has us just two years out from Rogue One, it’s going to be more difficult to tell a stand-alone story. With last week’s Y-Wing heist and the mention of General Dodona, and the upcoming defection of Wedge Antilles, we’re likely to start getting something in every episode that delivers a basket full of Easter eggs and a plot that gets tied up just as Jyn Erso gets plucked out of obscurity for a secret mission…
Star Wars Rebels airs Saturday nights at 8:30/7:30c on Disney XD.