Episode Number: Season 1, Episode 8 (Production #111)
Episode Title: Path of the Jedi
Writer: Charles Murray
Directors: Dave Filoni
In light of the events of the previous episode and Ezra’s touch of the Dark side, Kanan deems it time to test Ezra and they seek a Jedi Outpost Temple which turns out to be on Lothal (convenient) and are surprised by the appearance through the Force of Master Yoda and a surprise prize for Ezra.
An Unpopular Opinion:
There is a ton to love in this episode of Star Wars Rebels, the return of Frank Oz as Yoda, learning more about the Jedi, very cool visuals, and a trippy Dark Side cave journey that mashes together The Empire Strikes Back and The Clone Wars “Younglings arc.”
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode for 20 minutes and then it took a hyperspace jump into a moon. Now perhaps it is the result of trying to compress stories into single 22 minute episodes and having fewer episodes per season but the construction of Ezra’s lightsaber feels extremely rushed and anticlimactic.
The final minute of the episode is taken mostly of expository dialogue of the crew from which we learn that Ezra has been working on his lightsaber for “weeks” and that each crew member had contributed parts. From Kanan a few spare lightsaber parts, from Sabine modulation circuits and an energy gate, from Chopper a power cell, and from Hera additional specific tech. Yet we do not see Ezra build the saber, we do not know how he knew how to build it. Did Kanan show him, did the holocron contain instructions. Did he succeed on his first attempt or did he fail and have to begin again?
This scene is in stark contrast with how a similar situation was handled in The Clone Wars where a significant portion of the episode Star Wars: The Clone Wars, “A Test of Strength” (Season 5, Episode 7) was devoted to the selection of components and construction of lightsabers. Were Murray and Filoni assuming that all fans have seen this episode?
For Ezra the journey as a padawan has been unique with clear milestones, first he activates the holocron and Kanan introduces him to the Force, then he begins training, then he instinctively touches the Dark side, now in this episode he endures a trial. These milestones are all shown in the show, yet the next logical and major milestone for a Jedi, i.e. the construction of a lightsaber is given rather short shrift.
We see Ezra earn the kyber crystal through his journey in the Temple, but we do not see him earn the lightsaber by putting time into it’s construction. It feels as if the climax of the episode was Ezra’s rejection of fear and receiving the kyber crystal and as a result the final scene feels tacked on. This final scene really needed room to breath and unfortunately it didn’t get it.
Ezra’s ignition of Kanan’s lightsaber in “Spark of Rebellion” feels much more meaningful than the ignition of his own in this episode and as the focal character of the series that feels like a storytelling problem to this fan.