‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season Three Review: “Steps Into Shadow”

Six months ago, we watched Kanan lose his sight, Ezra open the Sith Holocron, and the rebels lose one of its most valuable players. It was a rough end for the Ghost crew, and for six months, we sat and waited (some more patiently than others) to see the repercussions from the events that took place on Malachor. As expected, things changed dramatically. Ezra took on more responsibility as a field leader, while Kanan took himself out of the picture, and for six months, the wounds never properly healed. Instead of facing the future together, our two main characters grew apart, but mentalities need to change and personalities need to grow in order to face the more dangerous threat sitting on the horizon.

Favorite Thrawn Scene: I thought it was an amazing touch to have Thrawn’s eyes linger after the transition, re-emphasizing the fact that his gaze looms over the rebels whether they know it or not. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of latest additions to the series, but he’s been part of the Star Wars universe for several years. Unlike many fans out there, this is my first real exposure to the character. While Vader is much more direct and ruthless, Thrawn is both cold and calculating, quietly analyzing and deducting in the background and looking at the bigger picture. It’s great having an antagonist that’s different from what we’ve seen before in the series. It changes things up and gives you different results, like the way he let the rebels go with their “meager reward” in the end. Voiced by Lars Mikkelsen, the series creators could not find a better actor to portray that character. Mikkelsen’s calm and soft tones are downright creepy and chilling because you know that while he’s speaking, he’s picking things apart and thinking several steps ahead of everyone else.

Favorite Bendu Quote: “An object cannot make you good or evil…Only you can change yourself.” (Photo: Lucasfilm)

The other latest addition to the series is the Bendu, a Force wielder who does not adhere to ways of the Jedi or Sith. Instead, he describes himself as the one in the middle. Like in season three of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (specifically referring to the Morris arc), we find that this season is also going to explore the mythology and the different ways the Force can be used. What I like most about the Bendu is that the character reminds me of the Lion Turtle in Avatar: The Last Airbender. He’s this ancient creature that knows far more than the protagonist, and very much like Yoda, the Bendu guides Kanan and puts him in a position where he has to face what he’s lost and overcome that loss. Like Mikkelsen, Tom Baker did a spectacular job at making the character come across as otherworldly. I look forward to his future interactions with Kanan and Ezra, since his conversations so far have been infused with life lessons.

Hopes for Kanan and Ezra: My wish is that Kanan continues to understand that Ezra has to make some mistakes on his own in order to grow and be his own person and that Ezra starts to listen to his Master more in order to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. They need to find that balance.

Kanan and Ezra are at very different places at the start of the episode. Kanan withdrew himself from active duty and from his responsibility as a Jedi Master, leaving Ezra to pick up the slack and seek teachings from a different source. The Sith Holocron to Ezra, for all intents and purposes, is like Palpatine to Anakin. Ezra’s seeking the information from a very questionable source, and one of the few who can set him straight is Kanan. Ultimately, the only person who can set him straight is himself (thinking back to the Bendu’s words, as seen in the previous caption), but Kanan isn’t there to guide him to that place. Kanan is so far removed from the Force that he didn’t sense the Sith Holocron that was sitting behind him when he went to talk to Ezra. Both of them are dangerously out of balance and the way to restore it is to trust in each other again.

The moments shared between Kanan and Ezra were the most heart wrenching in the episode. They both started out apart and progressively reached out to each other. When Kanan stretched his arm out to grab Ezra, that was the episode’s most beautiful scene. Kanan draped in light, Ezra stuck in the shadows, and his Master returned to pull him out of danger and to start guiding him the way he should have the entire time.

Overall, the premiere was a great start to the season. Hera did the right thing by suspending Ezra’s command, Sabine remains ever watchful of her surroundings, Zeb demonstrated loyalty to Ezra, and Chopper does not have any fond memories of the Y-wings! We know where each character is placed now. The board is set, the pieces are moving. Given how much I enjoyed the exploration of the characters in season two and how that season continually served up greater episodes with each week, I look forward to what season three has in store for us.

Make sure to tune into the next all-new episode on Saturday, October 1, 2016, at 8:30PM EST on Disney XD.

Also, drop by again later this week for a “Steps Into Shadow” recap and new podcast episodes from Rebels Chat and Hangin’ with Team Kanan.

12 comments on “‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season Three Review: “Steps Into Shadow”

  1. JuanJohnJedi

    As much as I hope I’m wrong about this, I think Sabine is gonna die this season. Reason 1: Tiya Sircar was the only regular voice cast member to attend SWCE (Witwer’s Maul is recurring, not regular). By the time of SWCE, everyone within the show pretty much knew each character’s fate, so why not let Tiya bask in the love of the Star Wars faithful while her character is still alive. Reason 2: We see in the trailer that Sabine wields the DarkSaber, a weapon that hasn’t been kind to its previous two owners. Reason 3: There’s a shot in the trailer of a blaster bolt hitting Sabine’s jet pack and her dropping with Ezra reaching for her. Does he force-catch her? We dunno, and even if he does and begins to lift her, he could get shot in the arm like Ahsoka was when trying to save Saw Gerrera’s sister. Sabine’s death could move Ezra closer to the dark side. Like I said, I seriously hope I’m wrong about this, but it’s my biggest worry.

    • Hey! Hmm, Sabine dying…I want to say there’s more planned when it comes to that character. I think the creators have something bigger in mind. It wouldn’t sit well with the audience to flesh out her story this season, which is why I think Tiya was at SWCE, and then kill her off. It will leave a bitter taste in fans, so I don’t think that’s the way they’re going. Tiya was there to reinforce the fact that Sabine will have a bigger role this season. Filoni has also stated in past interviews that Sabine will become just as important as Ezra in the future, so I don’t think death is what they have planned. I’m really looking forward to her story, and I think the Mandalore parts in this season are going to be what fans have been craving to see, so I’m glad we’re going to be getting that through her!

  2. Great episode that went by toooo quickly!

    It definitely whets the appetite for the rest of Season 3!

    I want more of everything! More Force Mysticism, more Thrawn, more building up of the Rebelllion into the Alliance to Restore the Republic, and more Star Wars action, please!

    My favorite parts of the episode were anytime Kanan was on screen, the Bendu, the voice from the Sith Holocron enticing Ezra further down an Evil path, Rex’s Clone Wars slang, Chopper not wanting to get back in a Y-Wing (aka having some PTSD?!), the return and next defeat of Brom Titus, and Thrawn’s eyes lingering over the Rebels’ plans during the fade out.

    A lot of great story threads were set up in this episode and it was good to see that Ezra’s use of the quick & easy path ends up causing him and his friends more grief at the end of the day.

    RIP Phantom!!!

    • Love this comment because it lists everything that I love, haha! Really love Rex taking charge, that voice in the Holocron, Kallus asking about the civilian casualties! SO much awesome stuff happened, and you’re right, it went too quickly! I wish every episode was an hour long!

  3. Good call on the symbolism of Kanan reaching out from the light to Ezra in the dark. I totally missed that, but now that you mention it I’m sure that was intentional. I agree that the voice casting on the new characters is stellar. When Kanan stated he would “always come back”, that was a really nice moment, but it made me wonder if it’s foreshadowing Kanan’s death and eventual return as a force ghost. Maybe it’s just my Kanan fan paranoia.

    • Definitely agree on the lighting as symbolism during the rescue scene. Good call! Yeah, a lot of good moments of shared feeling between Kanan and Ezra as they come back together. I hope they can keep it up! Kanan is my favorite character on Rebels (now that Ahsoka’s gone) and you might be on to something there… maybe the Bendu would teach him? Still, I am fairly sure Kanan’s death won’t happen in Rebels.

      • Maybe! If Kanan were to die, I could see it take place in another story. I look forward to what else Kanan will learn from the Bendu. And I’m especially excited to see Ezra interacting with that character. Can’t wait!

    • I’m afraid for Kanan! When he said “I’ll always come back”, I had that same fear. I don’t know if Kanan would be able to return as a Force ghost, given the fact that he has to learn how to preserve his identity after death, like Qui-Gon, Yoda, and Obi-Wan. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess! Thanks for your comment!

  4. I enjoyed the new episode a lot. I think it handled Ezra’s use of the dark side well. You see Ezra taking human life with compunction using his anger, but it is clear he isn’t working from selfish desire. He seems more grounded than Anakin did.

    I thought they could have let the empire destroy a couple A-Wings and Y-Wings in that battle. It would help me enjoy the tension if the empire seemed a little more competent.

    Chopper not wanting to get in a Y-Wing was a favorite moment, as well as Hondo taking off in the shuttle with the Ugnauts when he saw the opportunity. After listening to your podcasts I’m shocked you didn’t work Captain Rex into the review somehow ;).

    • Haha, my love for Rex knows no bounds! I really wanted to cover the main points of the episode, but you’re right! I should have slipped Rex in there! I might go back in there and do that, haha!

      Chopper not liking the Y-wing was fantastic! I love Chop. So happy to have him and the team back together again! And I love your point about Ezra being more grounded than Ezra.

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment! Looking forward to recording the next episode and publishing it on Wednesday!

  5. The scene was nice but I’ve been hearing people make the conclusion that the Holocron won’t bother Ezra again I disagree. The very end hints that the sith Holocron has made its roots in Ezra’s head. in the trailer it shows that Ezra won’t give up on it either :) can’t wait

    • Oh yes, totally! The holocron isn’t completely out of the picture. He’s already been affected by it, so he’s going to seek it out because he knows that it has knowledge and secrets that can help him achieve what he wants. I’m just hoping that in the end, he learns that using it is not the way to solve the problems they have.

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