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“Path of the Jedi”

Directed by: Dave Filoni
Written by: Charles Murray

Rebels is back after the midseason finale two parter of Empire Day and Gathering Forces.  When we last saw our heroes Ezra had managed to save Kanan from the Inquisitor by tapping into the dark side of the Force.  Now, Kanan is worried about Ezra’s future as a Jedi and puts together a lesson that will determine if Ezra is capable of continuing his training or not.

We rejoin our heroes a short time after their escape at the end of Gathering Forces.  Kanan is unsure of Ezra’s future after his brush with the dark side.  He has been busy studying the holocron for Ezra’s next lesson.  Throughout this episode Kanan is at his most Jedi-like.  He is less of the charming rogue and more philosophical.  He seems to be putting more thought and care into his words and actions.  He seems to be equally worried about Ezra’s future as a Jedi as he is his own abilities as a master and a teacher.

latestThe two of them take off in the Phantom flying over the surface of Lothal in search of a hidden Jedi temple.  The EU fan in me wondered at this point if Lothal really should have been an existing planet like Dantooine.  A hidden Jedi temple on a grassland planet immediately had me thinking of the Jedi temple from the Knights of the Old Republic games.  I am glad that this idea of multiple Jedi temples and locations spread across the galaxy has been incorporated into the new canon.  It would seem kind of silly for the Jedi to only have the one main temple on Coruscant.

Ezra is able to locate the temple in the Force and guide them there, but Kanan already knew about it thanks to his holocron.  The episode is focused entirely on Ezra’s training and Kanan’s return to the Jedi ways.  We do get many indications that Kanan has turned his back on the Jedi for a very long time.  He is rediscovering much about the Jedi and the Force as Ezra learns about it for the first time.

Once inside the temple, Ezra is sent off alone to continue his training and proceed to the next step.  We’ve had stories like this before in Star Wars, Luke in the cave on Dagobah, Ahsoka and the younglings in the ice caves on Ilum, and many more.  Path of the Jedi continues in those traditions as Ezra must face his fears, realize truths about himself and learn to conquer and move beyond.

Of course we can not discuss this episode without discussing this week’s major guest star.  Frank Oz returns as Yoda.  We only hear Yoda as a disembodied voice through the Force, and I’m glad we didn’t get anything but the voice as it adds more weight and we aren’t distracted.  Honestly, I’m not sure how much of a difference having Frank Oz perform the role versus having Tom Kane perform the role really makes.  I think the scenes would impact just as strongly, but there is something special to having the original performer return, much like James Earl Jones’ return as Darth Vader earlier.  I’m glad that The Clone Wars was able to give us those final Yoda episodes as I found myself constantly thinking about those episodes and comparing the two here.

There were a few points in the episode that were lacking.  I was disappointed that we did not yet pay off the revelation about Ezra’s parents that we were teased with at the end of Gathering Forces, but I imagine that we will see an entire episode devoted to that before the season is out.  The final scene with the crew gathered around waiting for Ezra to finish his lightsaber that he has been working on for weeks did feel slightly forced.  I would’ve liked to have it spread out a bit more as we see him build it over the course of several episodes, and see more of his trial and error.  Building a lightsaber is an important part of the Jedi training, or so we have been told, and here it felt they glossed over some interesting character work as we saw Ezra struggle with the build.

Star Wars Rebels continues to amaze and impress with it’s storytelling.  I am constantly reminding myself that this show is only 8 episodes in.  The depth of storytelling and character work in such a short time is incredible.  I do worry that the show is in danger of being too front loaded and wont have any major guest stars to continue in later seasons or that the show will burn too bright and fast, and not have a long run.

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