The creators of Star Wars Rebels wasted no time in the hour long mid-season premiere, taking us to an expected yet simultaneously unexpected place where this particular series hadn’t gone before. “Jedi Night” kicks off the emotional ride and makes you think the chess game is over—that the King has been toppled over and there no moves left to make. “DUME” pulls you back to reality, forcing you to come to terms with the fact that this game isn’t over and reminding you there is still more at stake.
Sometimes, our own expectations of how a story should go tend to hold us back from enjoying said story. Yet somehow, the double-episode premiere managed to break those expectations, and instead of being bitter about certain parts of the story and how they didn’t go the way I originally wanted, I’m actually praising the creative decisions that played out in these episodes, specifically those pertaining to Kanan’s death.
I hate it when characters die. It bothers me that this is almost always the destination for most characters, and the fact that some people crave for it borders on disgusting. Personally, I wanted Kanan to survive to prove there are other fates out there in the galaxy. That there was something bigger for him out there. The final moments of “Jedi Night” took the opposite route of what I wanted, but I’m neither mad nor feeling cheated. Am I unhappy about the fact that Kanan and Hera won’t live out the rest of their lives together? Of course, but I also know how to separate my fantasies from the story that plays out on the screen.
I think this is a fitting end for Kanan, especially when taking into consideration the kind of past he’s had. He ran away to survive and his Master sacrificed herself to ensure his survival happened. In a way, he was doing the same thing Depa Billaba did all those years ago. Then, there’s the subtle callback to when Kanan and Hera first met in A New Dawn. She was in trouble and he wedged himself in to try and help her, so their relationship ended in a similar way to how it started.
Like some fans, I also thought, “He could have just jumped into the ship and escaped with them. They had ample enough time!” In doing that, however, I’m ignoring the will of the Force. When Hera and Kanan are on the glider trying to escape, Kanan is the one to say, “Can you make it to the fuel depot?” He already had a goal in mind. He knew how this story was going to end, and his will continues to exist in the form of the giant Loth-wolf because even though he helped accomplish one mission, the mission to save the Jedi Temple is something he was also warned about through the Loth-wolves. I know not everyone agrees, but I have been such a fan of the Force concepts introduced in this show, and while some demand clear and cut answers, I like the general mystery that comes with the Loth-wolves and how they interact with Kanan and Ezra.
Another aspect of the story that didn’t sit well with people was Hera’s torturing session, specifically how the interrogation droid removed Hera’s ability to make her own decisions. While I don’t fully agree with some of the perspectives out there, since I don’t believe that the truth serum or the act of using truth serum pushed Hera to confess her feelings, I do think it was unnecessary for Hera to be in that kind of condition to begin with. The mistreatment of women in television, movies, and other media has gone far enough for us to question why we do it. Just because it’s been done before doesn’t make it right, so I wish the writers could have removed the drugged part of the episode because instead of being concerned for her wellbeing, the audience was laughing. I think the situation was mishandled, and it could have been done without it. And as for the cliché and drama factor involved in the last minute confession, I think the declaration of love isn’t any better or worse than the confession scenes between Leia and Han in The Empire Strikes Back and Anakin and Padmé in Attack of the Clones. They were all dramatic with music playing in the background and doom looming above them. This isn’t anything new for Star Wars, and as a romantic at heart, I genuinely liked that part and felt the emotions between both characters due to the amazing performances of Vanessa Marshall and Freddie Prinze, Jr.
Something else that I loved about “DUME,” in particular, was how each character remained in-character when it came to their approach and reaction to Kanan’s death. Zeb and Sabine obviously left to blow off some steam, Hera felt regret and questioned her choices, and Ezra felt alone and afraid. I also like how they brought themselves back up in the wake of Kanan’s death, knowing that there’s still a mission to accomplish and that Kanan would want them to follow through with it.
Lastly, I know fans still found ways to be annoyed by Ezra or say that he was wallowing in self-pity, but as a fan of his character, I was proud to see how much he’d grown, especially when it came to losing someone close to him. Back in season one, when the Grand Inquisitor killed Kanan in a Force illusion, Ezra’s reaction was to grab his Master’s lightsaber and attack the Inquisitor out of anger. When Kanan was captured at the end of season one, Ezra’s reaction was to go behind Hera’s back and do things according to how he felt because he didn’t want to let go. Several seasons later, Ezra’s at a point where he truly has lost his Master and friend, but he didn’t respond in anger or hate or with this need for revenge. Yeah, he closed himself up and succumbed to his fears, but he didn’t react the way most people would expect a teenager to react. That is something I truly appreciate from the writers because they didn’t go with the stereotypical reaction for someone his age, and with a little bit of guidance from Dume, he was able to get himself out of the closed mindset. So even after death, Kanan still has an influence over him, and if that’s not making you cry like it’s making me cry right now as I write this, then I don’t know what else to tell you!
Overall, I thought these two episodes were an emotionally rough and exhilarating ride. With that said, not everything was perfect. There were some issues, as previously noted, that could have been avoided had a woman been part of the writing crew because a different perspective would have been brought to the table. I think certain things would have been caught and changed in that case. Saying these things doesn’t negate the fact that I am still a huge fan of this show and the concepts it has introduced to the Star Wars galaxy, but it’s also important to point out the flaws and missed opportunities because how else will things be improved as we move forward?
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