We have arrived at the penultimate chapter in season three of Star Wars Rebels, an episode entitled Twin Suns, and I’m gonna go ahead and say that the series is spitting straight fire at this point! Overall season three has been by far the most consistent and engaging season so far, as the storytelling and character development have reached new heights, as has the animation. The 19th episode of the season is certainly going to be remembered as not only a high-point for this season, but in retrospect the Rebels series overall in my opinion. A lot happens in twenty-two minutes (honestly, maybe too much… more on that below..), and several story threads are galvanized and wrapped up – one of which dates back to The Phantom Menace. OK, as always, ***SPOILERS*** abound after the image break, and there are some DOOZIES so you’ve been warned….
Alright, let’s do this. The episode focuses on Maul’s relentless hunt for Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as Ezra’s search for the secret of finally destroying the Sith. After obtaining the information he needed when he and Ezra melded the Sith and Jedi Holocrons together, Maul arrives on the desert planet of Tatooine, seemingly even more out of his mind than usual as he braves the harsh environment.
Maul comes to the realization that he needs to lure Kenobi out of hiding, and to do this he uses his Force connection with Ezra to lure him to Tatooine. The message from Obi-Wan Kenobi that we’ve seen multiple times in Rebels mysteriously activates aboard the Ghost, and Ezra also has visions of Maul while at the Rebel base on Atollon. Ezra (partially correctly, even though he is being manipulated by Maul) jumps to the conclusion that Obi-Wan is alive and in danger, and that he is the key Ezra has been seeking to destroy the Sith. Even though Hera and Kanan forbid him to act on it, he steals an A-Wing and departs for Tatooine. Unbeknownst to him, Chopper has tagged along (of course..). Ezra uses pieces of the Holocron in an attempt to find Kenobi and he and Chopper land the ship. They are immediately attacked by Tusken Raiders, and the A-Wing is destroyed. Ezra realizes this was all set up by Maul, and we see Maul kill all the Tusken’s with his double-bladed lightsaber as well. Ezra and Chopper head out across what is presumably the Dune Sea and both run out of steam after braving a sandstorm – Chopper freezes up and falls over, and Ezra passes out as well.
We then see Ben Kenobi (I’m going to call him that for here on out, more on that below..) walking up to the pair. When Ezra wakes up it is nighttime and he sees Chopper is operational again. He also sees Ben Kenobi for the first time, leading to a great exchange between the two, where the old Jedi tells how Ezra has been manipulated by Maul and that his place is there on Tatooine, but doesn’t go into detail.
Maul then appears, and Kenobi calmly tells Ezra to head off on a Dewback with Chopper and he will find his way back home to his family. And it’s all led up to this — The Phantom Menace, The Clone Wars, and now Rebels — the duel between Ben Kenobi and Maul. Before the fight, Maul comes to the conclusion that Kenobi is on Tatooine protecting someone very important, and that he’s not just hiding out. Then the lightsaber duel begins! It doesn’t last long, as Kenobi quickly strikes Maul down. What transpires as Maul is dying is an awesome exchange where Maul asks Ben if the one he is protecting is The Chosen One, to which Kenobi replies yes. Ezra flies back to Chopper Base in Maul’s Mandalorian Gauntlet starfighter, and is reunited with his family on Atollon, and they all embrace in a very united and poignant moment. The episode ends with Kenobi riding the Dewback and stopping short of a homestead, where we hear a very familiar voice calling someone home for the evening – Luke Skywalker.
What I really liked:
- Everything – don’t worry, this isn’t a straight cop-out, but this is a stellar episode from start to finish. While I do think the subject matter merited a two-parter (I’ll touch on this below), it still worked and worked well in the twenty-two minutes they had to tell the story. I mean once again, there is SO MUCH HAPPENING here, and this isn’t the first time in season three the writers have manages to effectively stuff a ton of story and character development into a single episode. Alright, alright, let’s dig in!
- Ezra – I’ll be the first to admit this has been an up-and-down season for Ezra, at least in my opinion. When we first see him in season three he is more grown up and has an edge to him, an edge I think he needed. Then, as the season progressed he kind of settled back into his goofy teenager schtick, and was used for comedy more often than I would’ve liked. Well, here in Twin Suns Ezra is at his very best. Grown up, on a mission, doing what he thinks is right, being a hero! I loved every minute of Ezra Bridger in this episode, and I have a feeling there are big things in store for him in the two-part season finale coming up. His compassion for Chopper when he fizzled and died on the Dune Sea was very believable, which was nice to see. I love Chopper, and the crew of the Ghost loves Chopper – even though they’d obviously like to kill him sometimes, hahaha. His conversation with Ben Kenobi was also very enlightening, as Kenobi first-off knows of him (just as Yoda did — they are obviously growing very powerful in the Force during their exile, another reason I want that Obi-Wan standalone ASAP!), and tells him that his destiny lies with his family and he shouldn’t be there with he and Maul. There is also a bit of a cryptic message from old Ben in which he tells him that Maul manipulating Ezra has set certain events into motion that weren’t originally supposed to happen. I am hopeful the story group will pick up on that thread in season four, as it may pertain to Ezra and Kanan’s ultimate destinies as we move ever-closer to the events of Rogue One and A New Hope.
- Ben Kenobi – f@cking amazing voice work turned in here by the always-epic Stephen Stanton. I can’t underscore that enough. There is no way that James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan in The Clone Wars) or Ewan McGregor could’ve pulled the Alec Guiness recreation off like Stanton did. It was flawless. Also flawless was the portrayal of old Ben Kenobi during the episode. Gone is the regretful Obi-Wan Kenobi we see at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Here he was calm and confident, very content with where he was and what he was doing – trusting in the Force that his decisions in regards to Luke and Tatooine were correct. His conversation with Ezra was so good, as was his dialog with Maul. You could tell he pitied Maul at this point, and I find myself pitying Maul as well at this point in the Star Wars timeline. His dueling style has evolved also, gone is the defense-first Kenobi from the Prequel era, as he makes very quick work of Maul.
- Maul – as I just mentioned, Maul is a very sympathetic character to me at this point in the timeline. He’s a lost dog, just looking to be put down. I know that’s not the best analogy, but it’s pretty much true. He’s been so obsessed with getting revenge on Obi-Wan, that it’s only in his final moments that we realize he just wants the reign of the Sith to end and for his chapter to close. Sam Witwer is a god as Maul, and in Twin Suns he delivers in spades. He’s always voiced Maul as a very intelligent character, far removed from the Sith Assassin-esque character we saw in The Phantom Menace. Maul’s realization that he and Obi-Wan are united in their quest to destroy the Sith was really cool, also. For more than 30 years Kenobi and Maul’s fates were intertwined, and the moment at the end was a galvanizing moment in their relationship, a moment of pure mutual respect. In the end, all Maul had was Kenobi, it really makes you feel for him…
- Mythology and Samurai – Twin Suns was densely packed with a ton of classic mythological callbacks. From Ezra and the hero’s quest, to Ezra and Chopper braving the barren desert for answers, to destiny and prophecy – Filoni and Gilroy delivered big-time here. Then there are the blatant Seven Samurai references with Maul using Ezra to draw his adversary out, and the very intense and short lightsaber battle, just to name a couple examples. It’s hard to put into words what an amazing chapter in Star Wars history this single episode was, seriously. It’s MUST WATCH for every single Star Wars fan, whether or not you’re into Rebels at all.
- The duel – I will honestly say this was not at all what I was expecting when I figured out that Maul and Kenobi would be dueling again, but it was perfect. Wow, just perfect. The callbacks were numerous. Ben trying to use pacifism (which really showed how much he had grown in the seventeen years he has been stuck on Tatooine) to diffuse the situation, only raising his sword when Maul mentions Kenobi’s true purpose on the planet. And when he does he first adapts his traditional lightsaber form, then quickly switches to Qui-Gon’s. This was sooooo awesome to me, and it served two purposes for the story in my opinion – one, to give a subtle nod to the fallen Jedi Master who kicked off the Kenobi/Maul rivalry back on Naboo; and two, to lure Maul into thinking he could use the exact same move on Kenobi he did on Qui-Gon, which is exactly what he did. Old Ben was ready, quickly dispatching Maul with a single blow. Personally, this was a terrific way to end the storyline between the two warriors, as we’ve seen countless long lightsaber duels between the two highly skilled combatants.
- The Prophecy – it is very telling to exactly where Ben Kenobi and most-likely Yoda are in terms of their faith and thinking when Kenobi straight tells Maul that the one he is looking over (Luke) is the Chosen One. And once again, the two Jedi Masters are wrong, but we have to give them a pass on this one. The way I look at it they view Anakin as unredeemable, completely fallen to the dark side. Yoda even goes so far as to tell Luke that ‘once down the path of the dark side you travel, forever will it dominate your destiny’, or something to that effect. I believe that THEY truly believe they misread the Prophecy of the Chosen One and that Luke is their savior. Right and wrong, again all that ‘certain point of view’ mumbo-jumbo… It is Luke’s belief that there is still good in Anakin that allows the Prophecy to be fulfilled, a Prophecy that is Anakin’s alone to fulfill.
- Twin Suns / Twin Sons – just a quick observation here, but one I think Filoni was all about when writing and subsequently naming this episode. Twin Suns obviously refers to the planet with two suns – Tatooine. However, a quick little play on words quickly turns Twin Suns into Twin Suns, and in that we get a very healthy dose of Star Wars symbolism. One can look at Maul and Kenobi as twins in a way, polar opposites, but twins of the Force whose destinies have been completely intertwined since the events of The Phantom Menace. This line of thinking really makes the ending of their lightsaber duel and the death of Maul very tragic, at least in my opinion. As I mentioned above, through all the seething hatred Maul had towards Kenobi, in the end he realized that Kenobi had set him free, and that he was watching over the one who would destroy the Sith. Great stuff! Another interpretation could be that Twin Sons refers to Luke and Ezra. Same age, born mere days apart, both highly Force sensitive, both fall under Kenobi’s guidance for a very short time. A bit of a reach there, I know, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past Gilroy and Filoni to sneak this into the story to further strengthen the mythology of Ezra’s character as we build towards the end of Rebels.
- Kenobi’s cryptic message – when Ben and Ezra are talking by the fire, they have a short but great exchange where Ezra expresses to Ben that he needs to come back with him, that the Rebellion needs him, to which Kenobi replies that all he needs he already has, but he seems to be letting it all go. At that point Kenobi enlightens Ezra that while he believed he was doing right, he was simply being manipulated by Maul – again, I believe in an effort to reinforce to Ezra that there is still much about the Force and his destiny he doesn’t yet understand.
- ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi… now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time…’ – YES! Kudos to the writers for not making the overzealous Star Wars fan community go apeshit over this and start thinking about how it’s all gonna be retconned. Neither Maul or Ezra call old Ben Obi-Wan, so this still holds up. Phew, thank the maker.
What could’ve been better:
- Should’ve been a two-parter – I get Filoni and Gilroy didn’t want the season finale to hinge on legacy characters like Kenobi and Maul, but I firmly believe this should’ve been a two-part episode. Why you ask? Mainly because I think Maul deserved more screen time. It would’ve been nice to get inside of his head one last time, just a little deeper. He has had one helluva journey, and who the hell knows how long he’s been wandering around in the desert (although, they hint it’s been for a while), so I think it would’ve been great to see more of that. At any rate, this is a very small complaint.
Like I said many times during this review, just an amazing episode of Rebels and a huge installment into the canon and mythology of Star Wars in general. We don’t get much time to catch out breath, though, as the two-part season finale is this Saturday. Let’s do this! In the meantime, peep this week’s Rebels Recon, it’s worth it.