Directed by: Dave Filoni
Written by: Dave Filoni, Steven Melching and Simon Kinberg
Everything has built to this, the finale of Season 2 and the confrontation between Ahsoka Tano and Darth Vader. The climax to this incredible season of Star Wars: Rebels needed a special hour long episode to tell the tale.
Kanan, Ezra and Ahsoka have taken the Phantom and are following Yoda’s advice to go to Malachor, a planet that has always been listed as off limits to Jedi and the source of many Jedi legends and stories. Kanan doesn’t seem to believe the stories he’s heard, but Ahsoka reminds him that there is always some truth in Legends. A fun line considering they are on a planet made famous in Legends era stories. The trio quickly realizes that something terrible happened here a very long time ago. There are signs of a battle and petrified bodies strewn about.
This story is filled with metaphors and symbolism. Our heroes literally fall into the darkness after Ezra activates an obelisk, he will fall one more time when he meets Darth Maul.
Darth Maul holds back his true identity from Ezra when they first meet, manipulating Ezra and getting him to place his trust in Maul before finally stepping forth and revealing his true purpose. I loved what they did with Maul and his dialogue. Much like Maul’s first appearance in The Clone Wars as the Spider-Maul, and Sam Witwer’s turn as the Son in the Mortis trilogy, the creators make a great use of twisting and turning classic dialogue that we know. Darth Maul appears before Ezra much like a mirror version of Yoda, using very similar language and phrasing to get Ezra to reveal himself.
Sam Witwer is simply fantastic as Darth Maul. We are never sure what his endgame is until it’s too late, and he actually helps our heroes until it no longer benefits him. This is the master manipulator that we saw controlling Mandalore, the one who trained at the feet of Palpatine to be a Sith Lord.
Darth Maul is not the only villain here. The Inquisitors have returned, now joined by a third, the Eighth Brother. He is actually there hunting Darth Maul and is not expecting the Jedi to show up. He quickly is outmatched and calls for help from the two that we have dealt with all season. The three Inquisitors are a decent villainous force, but like most everyone else before them, they underestimated Darth Maul. With Maul joining the fight, the tables are quickly turned against the Inquisitors. Maul’s ferocity seems to be something they have never encountered and they are quickly overwhelmed by it. We see two of the Inquisitors go down, and it’s unclear if the third survived or not. It seems like we are meant to think he is dead as he fell from the top of the Sith temple, but Maul fell from a similar height and we see him alive at the end of the episode. Regardless, I doubt our heroes are done with Inquisitors yet.
Plot wise the episode is fairly simplistic with the story revolving around the Jedi trying to retrieve a Sith holocron from an ancient Sith temple. Ezra is able to retrieve it with help from Maul. I liked the fact that everything in the Sith temple is based on the rule of two. Nothing can be done by yourself, it requires a master and an apprentice to accomplish anything. The whole time we watch as Maul digs his claws deeper and deeper into Ezra.
Once the holocron is acquired and the Inquisitors are dispatched, the story takes a turn. Maul reveals himself as the villain we all know him to be, and in one of the most shocking moments in an episode filled with shocking moments, he blinds Kanan. It’s unclear how permanent the damage is, but it’s not something Kanan can easily recover from.
All of this leads us to the epic finale as Darth Vader arrives. Ezra attempts to hold him off, but Vader makes short work of him. Ahsoka steps in and the confrontation that we have all waited for since 2008 begins. The choreography of the fight is interesting as Vader fights more like we are used to seeing in the Original Trilogy, slower but heavier strikes, whereas Ahsoka is fighting more like we are used to in Clone Wars and the Prequel Trilogy, with lots of flourish and acrobatics. She holds her own but just barely. The drama intensifies once his mask is damaged and we hear Anakin’s voice coming out. It’s intense, emotional and ultimately left very open ended. The final scenes show Vader walking on the surface of Malachor and Ahsoka seemingly entering the temple and disappearing into the darkness. It’s open to interpretation as to what really happened. I took it as Ahsoka is literally walking into the darkness in a mythological sense. She is walking into the Underworld, the world of the dead.
Everyone involved on the show stepped up and delivered a fantastic episode. While much of the episode is in shadow, the lighting accents the story and the action. Characters literally step out of the light and into the darkness. Kevin Kiner delivers a beautiful score that echoes the themes he created for Clone Wars. The episode is simply beautiful to look at and listen to, with incredible action and shocking moments all culminating in a deeply emotional finale that gives us the closure we want but yet leaves us with more questions.