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.
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.
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.
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.