Star Wars Rebels: “Rise of the Old Masters” Season 1 Episode 4 Review

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Ok, so it appears Disney is just going to release episodes online sporadically throughout the week instead of letting them just air when they’re supposed to. Regardless, Rise of the Old Masters was perhaps the best entry yet for Rebels.

Despite this taking place long before Empire Strikes Back, Yoda’s classic line “Do or do not, there is no try,” played a major role in this Force heavy episode.

Kanan first speaks it while trying to train Ezra, who immediately questions his ability to do anything without trying. I enjoyed how the writers sort of took down this classic line and threw some of the hypocrisies of Star Wars right out there in the open. By the end it reeled us back in, acting as the biggest sign yet that Rebels intends to return to the purity of Star Wars that has since been lost.

The Ghost seemingly receives a coded message that a surviving Jedi, Luminara Unduli, is being held by the Empire. For Kanan, it’s too good to be true, as he may have found a more capable teacher for Ezra.

The whole team, aside from Chopper, is on board for this mission. Kanan and Ezra’s bickering was welcome, showing just how similar yet opposite they are, not unlike Obi Wan and Anakin in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

This being a stealth mission, we also got a ton of great instances of Kanan using the Force to take care of stormtroopers. Whether it was Jedi mind tricks or clotheslining them by thrusting them into his forearms with his mind, Kanan was clearly more than capable as a Jedi Knight, even if his personality indicates he may not have completely finished his training.

For those complaining that Rebels was too much for kids, the next scene was likely a turning point. Kanan and Ezra enter Luminara’s cell to find her creepily sitting there. She gets up, remaining silent, and disappears into the wall to reveal a casket with her decaying body present through the window. The Inquisitor enters.

As our first formal introduction to Rebels‘ villain in chief, I have to acknowledge the superb voicework from Jason Isaacs. He makes the Inquisitor feel like a Sith, but keeps him calm and collected, if arrogant.

Next came our first lightsaber duel, as Kanan ignited his sword and went toe-to-toe with the Jedi hunter. I was surprised by how long the fight lasted. There was no holding back. No, this wasn’t as flashy as say Darth Sidious vs. Darth Maul and Savage Oppress in Clone Wars, but it was a tense battle that had you watching every move of their lightsabers.

Just as the Inquisitor seems to have the upper hand and lifts his weapon to kill Ezra, Kanan again uses the Force and saves his future padawan’s life. The team escapes just in the nick of time, dodging an awesomely thrown lightsaber from this new Sith.

After collecting themselves, Kanan restates to Ezra that trying isn’t the answer and that he will train Ezra, whether he fails or not. This was just pure Star Wars. The themes of the entire saga came through brilliantly while a new villain upped the stakes and the action. Rise of the Old Masters is a new step for this series. It was a dark entry, indicating that things may only get worse in the future. And we’ll be watching every step of the way. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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