Star Wars Rebels delivered the one of the best episodes of the series and my favorite episode so far this week in the Sabine centered, “Trials of the Darksaber.”
Written by Dave Filoni and Directed by Steward Lee, Trials of the Darksaber is a wonderful episode that uses limited locations, no space action, and no villains but delivers Star Wars storytelling that is top notch. The limited cast for this episode focuses on Sabine, Kanan, Ezra and Fenn, with key interjections from Hera.
I couldn’t help watching this and thinking that it feels like an incredibly well crafted stage play. The other thought that immediately sprung to mind was the story of Aragorn from Lord of the Rings and the sword Narsil that was reforged into Anduril.
The conflict within Sabine between facing her past and running from it is fascinating to see Tiya Sircar work through. Sabine was to honorable and respectful to Mandalorian tradition to allow the Darksaber to stay on Dathomir in Maul’s possession. Yet she is reluctant to accept that the blade found its way to her for a reason.
Sabine is uniquely placed to bring unity to Mandalore and potentially lead a unified Mandalore to the side of the Rebellion.
Composer Kevin Kiner delivers a tour-de-force (pun intended) soundtrack to this episode. Music varied and perfectly complimentary to the scenes.
Sabine is joined on her hero’s journey by a friend (Ezra), a fellow warrior (Fenn), and a wise mentor (Kanan). Each one of these companions pushes Sabine towards facing her own past and the pain with which that brings.
We get a ton of back story in this episode, we learn more about the Darksaber’s origins and importance on Mandalore, Sabine’s family history and what the Empire was doing and forcing Sabine to do on Mandalore.
Previously on the series we were lead to believe Sabine was an Imperial cadet on Mandalore before defecting, but this episode reveals that she worked on developing some serious new munitions on Mandalore that the Empire deployed against her family, friends and others. This suggests Sabine is even more of an explosives prodigy than we even suspected and that there be more to come with that story. Was she working with the Advanced Weapons Research division under Director Krennic? This would be an interesting further tie between Rebels and Rogue One.
We also learn that Sabine has a presumably alive nuclear family, a father, a mother and a brother. It seems clear that her Mom will be the female Mandalorian we see in the Second Half trailer. But will we end up seeing her father and brother as well?
Sabine is facing some serious family complications, she has to deal with her own guilt and their likely anger for deaths and injuries she caused. She has to deal with the anger over her desertion and dishonor. It seems rather fitting that her emotional catharsis occurred mid saber duel. Perhaps that is the Mandalorian verison of psychotherapy.
By accepting the Darksaber and embracing it, Sabine is putting herself on a collision course with her past for the good of herself, her people and the Rebels. She faces a number of challenges going forward, she must: unite Clan Wren, unite House Vizsla, unite Mandalore, then convince Mandalore to join the Rebellion. That seems like an monumentally huge task for Sabine.
I absolutely loved this episode and I cannot say enough about the performances of Freddie Prinze Jr. and Tiya Sircar. They were given an incredible amount of dialogue for a Rebels episode and allowed to show tons of range. Tiya’s emotional monologue was particularly awesome.
A few final observations:
- Three convorees appear in this episode just as our three main heroes begin their training. Coincidence or more evidence that these birds may be some type of Force avatars.
- Hera proves to be as wise as Master Yoda in this episode. The reaction of Kanan to Hera’s wisdom is telling about their relationship and the immense trust and respect that exists there.
- We learn that lightsabers via the kyber crystals can attune to users who are not Jedi, as we see that happen with Sabine and the Darksaber. This is an interesting bit of that provides a little more depth on the Force, kyber crystals and lightsaber lore.
- Fenn Rau gets some new armor including a flight suit. So we are likely to see his character in action again in the cockpit.
- Finally the final scene goes back to another Lord of the Rings reference with the pledging of the Fellowship. I half expected someone to pledge their Vibro-ax to Sabine.
Now we are on a haitus until February 18th and the episode, “Legacy of Mandalore.” The wait will be excruciating but do what I am going to do and just keep re-watching this episode until then.