A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Star Wars: Rebels comes back from its winter hiatus with an episode that is nothing if not solid. The magnificence of the midseason finale, however, is a little gone here. There’s something holding this episode back from being truly as great as its potential and that largely stems from a feeling of stagnation. There’s no necessity of the plot moving forward at an exponential rate and I am more than fine (compared to the majority of individuals) with episodes that deal with character drama and their interpersonal strife. The unfortunate problem of Path of the Jedi, as gorgeous and entertaining as it is, is that several of the points feel remarkably redundant. We grew to know the crew of the Ghost over the course of nine episodes and formed some sense of attachment. If there are characters who need further characterization, it’s Sabine and Hera, not Ezra and Kanan. There’s some smart writing from time to time that prevents this from feeling like a complete trek back through the very woods you just came out of, but largely this episode simply reinforces ideas you already understand.
The brush Ezra had with the Dark Side was truly and considerably frightening for everyone involved. With the fate of the entire Jedi Order potentially hanging in the balance, a single win or loss can become an utter catastrophe. Underscoring the challenge is that despite Ezra’s endearing insistence that Kanan indeed is the right Master for him, Kanan himself is woefully underprepared to deal with an apprentice as his own training was never completely completed. It’s ludicrous to completely blame Kanan in consideration of Order 66 and the events that consequently transpired. But reality is simply that, reality. There’s a fear within Kanan, even if he never truly expresses it to the complete intent. There’s a fear that he will truly screw this entire endeavor by not just failing to turn Ezra into a fully fledged Jedi Knight, but by allowing him to fall to the dark side. It’s a tremendous responsibility upon the shoulders of one individual, but such are the circumstances that Kanan finds himself mired in.
To salvage something from this terrifying scenario, Kanan decides to take Ezra to a hidden Jedi Temple. The entire sequence reeks of contrivance and it’s clunky assembled, which leads to the question of why the episode simply didn’t begin there in the first place. I can buy that there’s a hidden Jedi Temple on Lothal simply because of production reasons and I certainly don’t begrudge the show that. But when it’s so awkwardly brought to the forefront, it significantly hinders the pacing of the episode. As it may be, the duo arrive at the hidden temple and the episode truly kicks into gear. Frank Oz’s appearance as Yoda is the most touted thing about the episode and rightfully so, he’s still amazing in the role. He brings a certain amount of gravitas to the character that grounds the episode in a mature realism that otherwise perhaps wouldn’t have been possible. That realism espouses a troubling foreshadowing for the master and his apprentice – is death the destiny that awaits them, thus leaving the Skywalker siblings as the heirs for lack of a better phrase. That’s always been a troubling thought throughout this series, but Yoda’s appearance here lends far more credence to that underlying darkness.
The Inquisitor is used fantastically here and his villainy was portrayed quite graphically considering the venue itself. His stabbing of Kanan in the chest and murder of the entire Ghost crew were wrenching and to the episode’s credit, you could feel the raw grief and hatred emanating from Ezra, the raw negative emotions overpowering his psyche. Yet in what is an unfortunately quick turnaround, Ezra’s fear begins to dissipate and he faces imminent death. Here’s especially where a significantly more amount of screen time would have been extremely helpful, because what we’re left with is a teenager who is remarkably adept at confronting death and removing so much fear from his psyche. The end product is an intriguing Ezra, but the journey to get there was fairly wobbly, even though there gem of scenes (the one where the Ghost crew discusses Ezra especially comes to mind). Character transformations are vital to good storytelling, but they have to be given time to develop and flourish properly. Path of the Jedi in no way was a bad episode, but it stops short of using the full transformative powers that animation could provide. It’s solid, but due to some unfortunate narrative decisions, it stops far short of being what it could have been.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“You already knew.”
+The animation of the landscape about the Jedi Temple was gorgeous
-The logo’s appearance is awkwardly cut and is quite distracting from the scene itself
Title: Path of the Jedi
Written By: Charles Murray
Directed By: Dave Filoni
Image Courtesy: Star Wars Rebels Wiki