Twin Suns… He Lives
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The Star Wars prequels perhaps deserve the most flak for missed opportunities, for the intriguing possibilities that never seemed to bear the fruit they so tantalizingly had promised. Darth Maul for example serves as a striking villain on account of his phenotypical appearance and fighting prowesses alone, if not the double-edged lightsaber. But he doesn’t become a great villain because he never rises above a cipher who exists to be a menacing phantom (pun completely intended) and seemingly nothing else. His resurrection in season four of The Clone Wars was a bit shaky on the logical front to say the least (he was cut in half, for heaven’s sake), but that shaky foundation of resurrection gave way to a wonderful rivalry with Obi-Wan Kenobi and a characterization the prequels would have killed for. There was an undercurrent of despondency in Maul’s existence, him believing that he had been abandoned by his former master to pursue the grand Clone Wars they had envisioned together. That despondency was coupled with hatred of that former master and Obi-Wan, who sent him hurtling down a Naboo shaft to his apparently short-lived demise. Rebels continues that uncovering of his character’s complexity, one singular word giving more layers of development than the entirety of the prequels: “Hope”. That may be the most honest thing Maul has ever said to anyone, which is a sad thought in and of itself, but it’s interesting that it’s said to the boy Maul calls his apprentice. The final merging of the holocrons gives Maul that very hope, the hope embodied in Ezra’s seeing of twin suns. “He lives,” Maul breathes as he escapes and there’s a sad undertone to his excitement at finding the enemy he has despised for so much of his existence.
The episode itself, while a bit of a step down from the season opener, is structured largely in two separate narrative frames, joined together by Maul taking the Ghost crew hostage in order to garner the two holocrons. It’s an unfortunately productive move for him, as the crew can’t take on the powerful Force user by themselves in such a tiny space. As Maul tries to navigate the terrible circumstances he’s created, he finds that Hera’s mind is the one he need to tap into, using Kanan’s real name as a wedge to try to infringe upon the sanctity of her mind. He’s able to do so, finding the hidden Jedi holocron and waiting patiently for its Sith counterpart to arrive. While he waits for the other holocron to arrive, Kanan and Ezra make a trip back to the Bendu, to try and retrieve the Holocron so that they could ensure the safety of their friends. That segment of the episode is by far its best, its most engaging thoroughfare in continuing the mature storytelling on display in the premiere, but it unfortunately suffers from garnering less screen time than it needed. Previous seasons of Rebels (and it’s simply far too early to tell if this season will follow the same model) had unfortunate moments where it was far too enamored with wasting screen time on frivolous plots, but the return of Bendu was a sequence that had enough mythological and character wait that it could have taken its time and let the character beats settle in an organic way. The resolution between Kanan and Ezra is the primary casualty of this, feeling as if it had arrived moments after their relationship had just begun to be repaired.
Even if the sequence was hurried, its mythological weight continues to be handled in a fairly deft fashion. A good deal of that weight is because Bendu is treated with the appropriate care, a character that understands the significance of the Force but doesn’t come across as a comic caricature. He knows, as soon as the two are in front of him, that there’s a disconnect between Master and Padawan. The Master had managed to see beyond the fear that kept him from making peace with the spiders but the Palawan had yet to do so. Ezra sees his lightsaber as a weapon, as most people do, a weapon that is inherently tied to his identity as a Jedi. It’s emblematic of the quagmire Ezra finds himself within, the quagmire that he is unaware of. In his unawareness lies the subconscious desire to garner the Sith holocron to pull himself out of that quagmire. He doesn’t know that it would lead him further into that very quagmire but that is the essence of his greatest internal conflict at that moment. He needs to let go of his greater, deeper fears and see the Force within the spiders. That would allow him to see those beings in equivalence and not monsters to be afraid of. He learns that lesson quietly, almost by a cruel design as the Sith holocron lies in a bed of spiders. When the holocrons meet, the light is almost blinding but a light through which Kanan can at least rough outlines of what Ezra now looks like. He almost bleeds into the power of what he is seeing, but Kanan is there to be the presence trying to pull him away as the power of light. Maul does see what he needs to after a tremendous amount of frustration but Ezra is unable to do so, primarily because he himself is unsure of what he is trying to see. It’s more of an apt metaphor than perhaps he intends.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Sabine and Maul’s Mandalorian connection
+“He has to learn how to solve his problem without it [the lightsaber]”
+“Perhaps master and apprentice will rediscovery their balance. Or they will be eaten. Such is the way of things.”
+“We have to control that fear.”
+Maul trying to kill Kanan
+“Terminate the prisoners.”
+“I see nothing… only oblivion.”
Episode Title: The Holocrons of Fate
Written by: Henry Gilroy
Directed by: Steward Lee
Image Courtesy: Next Stories