Rebels Review: Shroud of Darkness

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What did you think of the Plot?
BEAVeR: We had some better episodes the last couple of weeks, but there’s one thing we kept asking for: a return to the main plot with Inquisitors, Dark Side feelings, and – who knows? – Darth Vader. Because while those previous episodes were nice, they felt a bit disconnected. Now we get one short episode that tries to answer all of the questions, even some we didn’t yet think to ask. We learn a bit more about Ezra’s way of thinking, Kanan’s doubts, Ashoka’s past, the Rebel’s base, the Grand Inquisitor… When you see it written down like that, you have to think that sounds like a tremendous episode. But while it certainly was a good one, it wasn’t as mind-boggingly brilliant as I’d hoped it would be. The reason might be that we suddenly get all of those answers out of the blue, without much points that raise questions in the previous episodes: you can’t offer solutions if the problems aren’t obvious. In some way, the main plot got disconnected from the show too much… We haven’t seen a lot of the problems with Ezra, Kanan, Ashoka, the Rebels and the Inquisitors in the past couple of episodes, so that these resolutions don’t come as big reveals or relieves. So we get an episode with a little bit of plot, some exposition to tell us things we sadly didn’t get to see in previous episodes, and one reveal right after the other. All of those bits are interesting on themselves, but fail to connect in an episode without any build up to it, which is a pity since this episode is clearly meant to influence everything in the series.
Oky: Well, that was certainly an interesting way to start an episode! We had episodes start out in the middle of a battle before, but never a lightsaber battle. It instantly gets you excited and thanks to the exposition that Kanan and Ezra drop during this fight, you get a pretty good idea of how our heroes ended up in this precarious situation. And it was a pretty good fight, too, as we get to see the two Jedi perform their Fastball Special maneuver again. Plus the segment before the first commercial break ends on a literal cliffhanger, only for our heroes to get rescued by Ezra’s ability to control animals after the break. Too bad the rest of the episode wasn’t this exciting as it slowed down quite a bit after this fight and basically turned into a reprise of the episode Path of the Jedi. However, that’s not a bad thing, because much like in Path of the Jedi, this allowed us to delve deep into the characters and discover more about them, except this time we had Ahsoka along for the ride and the added threat of the Inquisitors throughout the episode. The name-dropping of Malachore towards the end gave our heroes somewhere to look for answers on how to fight the Inquisitors and made me excited due to the potential connection to The Force Awakens.

What are your thoughts on the Characters?
Posted ImageBEAVeR: Yes, let’s talk about what makes this episode really interesting! I was really impressed by what every character went through, as it affected both the characters in a significant way and give us new insights into the Star Wars story. Take Ezra’s conversation with Yoda, for example. The fact that he can now see him is a nice touch to show off his advances in the Force. But what’s really interesting, is the conversation they have about how fighting actually isn’t the Jedi way, but how hard it is to change something or even survive without it. It’s a great commentary on every viewer’s crave for epic battles and accentuates that’s actually not what the saga is all about. It makes you see what happens at the end of episode VI is really the biggest victory possible for the Force, but still makes you wonder how in the galaxy it’s possible to end this conflict without fighting. Great stuff.
What I liked about Kanan’s story, is how it interlocked with Ezra’s. They essentially undergo the same lesson, of being ready to fight for their cause eventually, but coming to the realization that that might not be the right thing to do. It’s great how Kanan goes a step further than Ezra by actually giving up fighting and acknowledging that his fear of not protecting Ezra might come true one day, a great evolution since the end of the first season. To me, that really was a realization worthy of the knighting, even though it might have felt a bit cheesy in the moment.
We know it was coming that Ashoka would accept the fate of her former master, but I think we all hoped it would be in a bit more dramatic setting. Instead, we focused purely on her character here. I must say here reaction was a stunning performance. The fact that her character is really conflicted about leaving her master behind is quite revealing to me, and gives a new dimension to her motivations. That combined with her refusing to help to open up the temple ties Rebels perfectly in with The Clone Wars on a deep level. And what really seals the deal, are the little hints that are dropped of what happened after she left. I can’t wait for the lovely insinuation that’s coming… Finally, I was pleasantly surprised by how she spoke of Yoda, and described him how we should have seen him in the Prequels. After all that happened, that little wave at the end was pretty hart warming.
Posted ImageOky: As with Path of the Jedi, this episode delved deeper into Ezra’s and Kanan’s status as Jedis, and how Ezra has tendencies towards the dark side. The symbolism of Kanan fighting the Sentinel with both a blue and a red lightsaber was not lost on me. I liked that Kanan admitted to his shortcomings as a Jedi, but was willing to train Ezra to the best of his abilities nevertheless. I’m not sure if a knighting from a force vision counts, but either way it was a nice progression of his character. The reveal that the Grand Inquisitor was once a Jedi Knight too was interesting, although not completely shocking as this is how many dark side users seem to start out as. However, this opens up a lot of questions. How did he turn to the Dark Side? Did Vader know this when he hired him to kill Jedi? Were all the Inquisitors once Jedi?
Ezra’s conversation with Yoda was insightful as well as it addressed the old moral question about whether it was wrong of the Jedi to fight in the Clone Wars. Yoda seems to think so as it caused the Jedi Order to be consumed by the dark side, which might explain how the Grand Inquisitor joined Vader. I was not a huge fan of Yoda’s design here. It was not bad, but there was just something off about his face. I also didn’t like that they referenced the terrible last episode of the Clone Wars where Yoda found out how the war was going to end, but did nothing to prevent it for absolutely no reason, as that made no sense to me. However, aside from that, Yoda was portrayed perfectly. Especially the short scene where he waves to his old friend Ahsoka towards the end was a touching little moment. As for Ahsoka, she now knows for sure that Anakin became Vader. Also, when Anakin berated her for abandoning him it was revealed that she felt guilt for leaving the Order and the reveal of Vader’s identity seemed to be just a confirmation of her own fears. One can only hope that these emotions wont consume her like they did Anakin.

What is your opinion of the vehicles and locations?
Posted ImageBEAVeR: The Jedi temple having multiple layers is a most genius ways of showing of the different layers of the Force, and how it’s always a journey, a learning curve. The design was kept simple, but perfect for the mystique. I’d also like to mention that I love the way they portrayed Yoda, way better than in The Clone Wars.
Oky: Oosalon was not very interesting as it was just a dark planet with lots of mountains. The new part of the Jedi Temple was more interesting. The Jedi temple dojo was neat, although it looked like any other dojo for the most part and could have used a bit more creativity. Also, I can’t help but wonder why we have never seen such a room in a Jedi Temple before.

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BEAVeR’s rating: 4/5 – There was plenty to like in this episode. I mentioned the great character work, but didn’t even say anything about how we got to know the Grand Inquisitor’s past, have Darth Vader’s mysterious words at the end, a puzzling title to the episode that makes you consider everything carefully… But still the episode didn’t really hit me. It has been too long ago I was invested in the main plot. And it is a lot of material to cram into a single episode. What also stood out as a bit annoying, is that kind of the only question this episode asks in the beginning, is that of how the inquisitors keep finding them, but not a word is said of it afterwards. It makes it feel like they just wanted to have these key moments in this season and just decided to put them together in this episode at this point in time because… reasons. That way you get a great conclusion to a story you actually already lost, and that’s a pity.
Oky’s Rating: 4/5 – I think it’s safe to say that the force was strong in this one, in more ways than one. It was a solid episode that finally brought us back to the main plot where the rebels try to figure out how to stop Vader and the Inquisitors. There were some interesting reveals and some good lightsaber duels, but also opened up new questions. Now the rebels have a lead on how fight the Inquisitors and the ominous shot of Darth Vader at the end made me look forward to what comes next. Hopefully there will be no more distractions until the season finale.

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