Rebels Review: Twilight of the Apprentice

Star Wars Rebels continues tonight with the premiere of its third season, and to celebrate the show’s return, we take a look back at the season 2 finale which the series left off on.

Twilight of the Apprentice

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What did you think of the Plot?

BEAVeR: Just take a minute to appreciate the title of this episode. Isn’t it incredible, meaning so much. It invokes vagueness, ambiguity, mystery, and to me perfectly sums up the episode. It tells a lot about the characters, about all of the characters. It tells a lot about the setting. It tells a lot about the plot too. And sadly, it tells about my feelings about this episode as well. On one side, I thought it was awesome. It was an amazing episode to look at and listen to, told a great story, had high stakes and lasting effects, was exhilarating and had loads of symbolism in it too. It was something that makes you cry “Awesome!” and leaves you completely satisfied. As an episode by itself, it was all you can wish for: I wouldn’t want a scene to be changed. But on the other side, as a season finale, it could have been more. We get an awesome confrontation in the end, but the season has hardly been building up to it, with maybe two moments in an entire season to get us hyped and give us more insight into the legendary we would be witnessing. And I can live with the sudden inclusion of a new Inquisitor, but it wasn’t needed. The Inquisitors hanging out on Malachor was also a bit weird, with nothing in the previous episodes indicating the Rebels weren’t their top priority and the fact that they just now went looking for Maul a bit too coincidental for the story. I blame the rest of the episodes more than this episode though, with its plot that has so many things going on and still tells a cohesive story and always keeps you guessing. Let’s just say the season wasn’t ready for such a great episode.

Oky: After seemingly avoiding the main plot for the last two episodes, we finally get a conclusion to it in this season finale as our heroes finally travel to Malachor. I really liked the sense of mystery and unease in this episode. The whole time you don’t know what the Jedi are going to find or what Maul is planning and it keeps you guessing until the end, but throughout you always know it’s not going to end well. When the Sith temple was revealed to be a battle station, it was an interesting twist and it led to the long anticipated confrontation between Darth Vader and Ahsoka which was just as epic as one could have hoped. It was an intriguing story and made for a great ending to the season. However, a lot of questions were left unanswered, making it feel a bit inconclusive. For example, they never explain how Maul ended up on Malachor or how the Inquisitors tracked him there. Also, we don’t know if, after all this, the rebels know a way to defeat the inquisitors or not, although it did make for a great cliffhanger to end the season on.

What are your thoughts on the Characters?
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BEAVeR: What I love about the title is that it’s so open for interpretation. “Apprentice” can mean almost anyone who is in this episode, with Chopper and the Inquisitors being the only exceptions. And “twilight”? Is it when the sun sets or the sun rises, or do we have to look at the etymological meaning of two “lights” having their influence? The most obvious answer is that it is about Ezra and that it means he’s walking the line between the light and the dark side. I love how his relation with the Dark Side evolves from his usual curiosity to a dangerous fascination, fueled by motivations that are only too familiar from Anakin. I love how you get the feeling of impending doom in recognizing the dark path, but still have hope since this time you don’t know how it will end. Another (former) apprentice is Maul. I love how he just shows up, not overly dramatic. It’s incredible how much more manipulative he has become. He fools Ezra, Kanan and Ashoka, and even the viewers, which rarely happens: the twilight in his intentions is real. I love how his intentions with Ezra aren’t clear in the beginning, but you see them evolve, and you know there’s more to come. Ashoka is an apprentice as well, but sadly she doesn’t get a whole lot of character development in this episode, although the moment she is struck by that moment of humanity by that apprentice of the Emperor, and the blow she receives afterwards resonate. With her, the twilight is not in her character, but what happens to her in the end, with all of its hard to unravel symbolism. The final apprentice is Kanan, whose twilight is quite literally the transition from light to dark (or is it the other way around?). I love how this adds an extra layer to his character for at least a season to come. All together, so many significant things happen to so many characters while not a lot of problems are solved in the end. The story of the Rebellion only gets darker and deeper, and its interesting to see how different all of the characters are in every season. I should watch the first episode of the first season again. I’m sure it will make me appreciate all of the evolution in the characters, still the same persons but so much changed, even more.

Oky: We are introduced to a new Inquisitor, the Eighth Brother, but he was very generic and mostly served as lightsaber fodder. He looked very similar to the Seventh Sister and his only personality trait was that he was impulsive. But it doesn’t matter because he died about as quickly as he appeared. Another debut for the series was the reappearance of Maul who now has humanoid legs again. I liked how deceptive he has become and was able to manipulate Ezra and the other Jedi to aid him in his plans and draw Ezra further toward the dark side. However, I was ultimately disappointed by him as he was much too easily defeated. It would have been great to see him reappear during the climax and face off against Vader too (which was actually in an early draft of the script). However, the climax was still very satisfying as we finally get to see the battle between Ahsoka and Vader that we have been wanting to see ever since she was introduced back in The Clone Wars and it was done wonderfully! The moment when she gets a glimpse of Anakin’s face under the mask and promises to not leave him this time only to have him reject her kindness was a heartbreaking moment and a nice reference to her vision in the Jedi temple. It reinforced the idea that Darth Vader had truly taken over Anakin at this point. There was also a nice moment between her and Rex at the beginning which echoed their very first interaction back in the Clone Wars movie and ironically ended up being their last and it was sad seeing him mourn her death. It was also ironic that Kanan was the only one not blinded by Maul’s lies, but ended up literally blinded by him when Maul revealed his true plans. But the real star of the show was once again Ezra. This whole season has been building up his fall to the dark side, and the title of this episode, Twilight of the Apprentice, would suggest that this is the point where Ezra finally crosses over to the dark side, which is further supported by the symbolism of our heroes having to literally descend into darkness to find the knowledge (and power) that they seek. The very last scene of him opening the Sith holocron certainly seems to imply that he has now fully embraced the dark side, although we’ll have to wait until the next season to find out if this is actually true.

What is your opinion of the vehicles and locations?

BEAVeR: “Twilight” is the perfect description for the looks of Malachor as well. Overall it’s dark and has an overpowering smell of history, with those people that tell us as much of what has happened as in Pompeii, not only factual, but also on a more emotional level. And there are all those rays of light, indicating there might be something of worth there after all. On the other hand, every ray of light represents a hole in the ceiling, implying someone who fell in and may or may not have used the secrets of the temple. The temple itself is the perfect complement to the Jedi temple on Coruscant (which makes the last image of Ashoka all the more symbolic), with a familiar base structure of a pyramid but some touches that make it otherworldly. Everything, from the bare surface with the ominous and smooth columns to the beautifully lit but still dark temple, has such a quality of good design to it, something you immediately feel. The look of the episode perfectly goes together with the incredible music that often stays wonderfully subdued and introduces some wonderful new sounds, culminating in that beautiful piece of music in the end. This episode is clearly the pinnacle of the season in more than just the chronology.

Oky: Malachor was a mysterious and eerie looking place which fit the tone of the episode perfectly. The towering monoliths on the surface, the field of petrified knights, and the large, pyramid-shaped Sith temple all looked very ominous and told a story of their own about the history of this planet. I like the idea that the mechanisms in the temple were all designed to be operated by only two Sith as that is the way of the Sith. The appearance of the crossguard lightsaber was neat as it confirms that Malachor is indeed where Kylo Ren got his lightsaber from. We don’t get any new vehicles, but one new piece of tech was the Eighth Brother’s lightsaber that can turn into a saw blade which was a cool idea. And apparently all the Inquisitors’ lightsabers can be used as a helicopter blade which is something we’ve never seen them do before and defies all logic, so I thought that was a bit silly.

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BEAVeR’s rating: 5/5 – How can I fault an episode that does so many things right. The intricate story that keeps you guessing, the leaps in character development, the top notch voice acting, the visual designs, the music, even the choreography and animation… everything is so well crafted. It’s the perfect episode, but sadly it wasn’t the perfect season, which makes that this episode isn’t what it should have been. I’ve watched it twice now, the second time a long time after having seen anything else of the season, and it was awesome. And there is one more thing: an episode isn’t just affected by the season that precedes it. It’s also the season that follows. This episode offers a lot of interesting possibilities from the future, and from what we can see they will lead to an awesome season. I’m sure I’ll be watching this episode again for a third time and appreciate it in a whole new way. That’s how a perfect episode should make me feel.

Oky’s Rating: 5/5 – While I didn’t get as many answers as I would have liked, this was still a very satisfying end to the season with an interesting story, great atmosphere and visuals, and lots of nice character moments, as well as a heck of a cliffhanger that makes me look forward to the next season. The episodes leading up to this finale could have been handled better, but overall it was a pretty good season.

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