Star Wars Rebels: “Twilight of the Apprentice” Season 2 Finale Review

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I mean, where to start? Maul pushing Ezra toward the Dark Side. Kanan getting blinded. Darth Vader vs. Ahsoka. This whole episode was full of big moments that it executed gracefully. No part of “Twilight of the Apprentice” drags and no part feels rushed. The emotional beats hit even harder than I expected them to. All around, this was the best episode of Rebels. A satisfying, ominous note to end the season on that just succeeds in every way.

Of course, the big talking point since Ahsoka first appeared on Rebels is her inevitable fight with her former master. And what a fight it was, but we’ll get there. Knowing it was coming, I was taken aback by how enthralling Maul’s seduction of Ezra to the Dark Side was. After Ezra’s impulsiveness gets he, Kanan, and Ahsoka stuck at the base of a Sith Temple, they get separated when a new, masked inquisitor attacks. It’s then that he meets the “old master” from the trailers, none other than Darth Maul. Though he resents his Sith title now. Maul’s first interactions with Ezra curiously mirror those Luke had with Yoda in Empire Strikes Back. Much of Star Wars is about the temptation of the Dark Side, but Maul’s frail appearance at first and the help he lends Ezra into the temple felt much more natural than when Palpatine turned Anakin in Revenge of the Sith. Maul makes a compelling case for the Dark Side, one it’s easy to believe Ezra could fall under. The slight differences between light and dark are legitimately terrifying. The writers have to be commended here for finally achieving something George Lucas or any other writers haven’t been able to.

Once taking the Sith holocron, Ezra and Maul rejoin Kanan and Ahsoka as they battle the three inquisitors. Was it fan service to have Maul unveil a new double-sided lightsaber and fend off the inquisitors all on his own? Maybe, but what fan service! That shot of Ahsoka, Maul, and Kanan locked in battle in line before Maul took control was stunning. What a strange era of Star Wars this show gets to be. The advertised main villain of Phantom Menace, the teenage star of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the hero of this series all on the same side in an epic lightsaber duel. I mean, what a time we Star Wars fans live in! That same side thing couldn’t last though. Maul may hate the Sith, but he’s certainly no hero.

As they ascend the temple and Ezra goes to insert the holocron, Maul just flat out murders the Seventh Sister. He later kills the Fifth Brother, with the third inquisitor being sent off the side, possibly to his death. So, uh, so long to season two’s inquisitors. Of course, as he’s starting to feel good about himself, Maul declares Ezra his apprentice and slashes Kanan’s eyes with his lightsaber. But Kanan is a Jedi Knight. Picking up a Jedi warrior’s mask from the battlefield from long ago, Kanan proves he doesn’t need his eyes to defeat Maul. It’s an inspiring, heroic moment for our main hero, one that puts the famous helmet scene from A New Hope in practice. A true Jedi wouldn’t be crippled by blindness, but instead use it to focus even more on the Force.

With Maul kicked off the side to fight another day, that leaves the finale with one dangling and promised thread. The shot of Vader descending on top of his TIE fighter was horrific. He toys with Ezra just as he did Luke on Cloud City, even destroying his lightsaber. Ahsoka, on the other hand, is ready to fight her master. All of the dialogue here was perfect, from Vader first trying to get her to join him to him later still trying to teach her. But with Ahsoka declaring “I am no Jedi,” her training is over. She is in fact a match for Vader, matching his every blow and refusing to run. The fight was as emotional and epic as it should have been. To top our expectations, Ahsoka actually manages to cut part of Vader’s mask, partially revealing the face of Anakin Skywalker. She pauses for a moment as Matt Lanter’s voice comes in, a moment that probably pushed Clone Wars fans to the point of loud sobbing (guilty). Can she sense the good lingering deep within her master? “I’m not leaving you this time,” she says, as if this fight needed to break our hearts one more time. With the temple crumbling, Kanan and Ezra manage to escape as master and apprentice trade blows.

The ending montage answered just enough of our lingering questions while building toward the show’s third season. The wordless reunion of the Ghost crew is gut-wrenching, with Hera hugging a now blind Kanan and Rex looking for his old war friend to no avail. We watch as Maul leaves Malachor in a TIE fighter, Vader leaves the temple, and Ahsoka lingers in it. What happened between them? How did they both walk away?

But it’s Ezra’s final moments that leave us on such a dark moment. As Maul said earlier, only a true Sith or one enveloped by the darkness can open a Sith holocron. Well, Ezra just opened one. A flash of red briefly covers his eyes as we fade to black for the season. Maul’s effect on Ezra is going to be a lasting one.

So yeah, one hell of an episode. There was fun, sadness, pain, and everything else you need for an emotional and dark Star Wars story. This rocky second season for Rebels ends on a possibly insurmountable high. Whatever the future brings, this finale ranks very high in the new Star Wars canon. The Force has never been more clearly with Dave Filoni and the rest of the show’s crew. What they’ve put together here is nothing short of a triumph. Finale Grade: A/Season Grade: B+

Some Other Notes:

  • So wraps Star Wars Rebels‘ second season. As uneven and filled to the brim with, uh, filler, there were still enough great episodes scattered throughout to make the season stand tall next to its first season. It delivered many of the show’s best episodes, but also some of its worst. However, this finale points to a more focused future for this series. Remember, Clone Wars only got great around the second half of season three. Hopefully the calm before the storm is over and Rebels will kick things into high gear in the fall.
  • The opening scene with Ahsoka and Rex teasing each other over hologram had me worried sick for the outcome. They managed to justify that feeling without killing Ahsoka. Amazing.
  • The whole setting of the Sith temple was outstanding. All the Pompeii-esque bodies locked in war from centuries ago.
  • Speaking of, it was a nice nod to The Force Awakens for Ezra to pick up a cross-guard lightsaber similar to Kylo Ren’s.
  • Look at Chopper being useful for once!
  • The inqusitors’ lightsaber helicopter thing may have gotten them around a little quicker, but it was pretty dumb.
  • Sam Witwer still owns Maul better than any other rendition of the character.
  • “I definitely need more training.”
  • So the Sith holocron turns the temple into a super weapon. Hmmm, how could the Empire use that to their advantage some point in the nearish future? Maybe a little thing called the Death Star?
  • So who was that third inquisitor? He was hidden so much that I doubt he’s just a random foe, but who’s young enough from Clone Wars or elsewhere to don that mask?
  • The voice that came out of the Sith holocron at the end should have been familiar to Clone Wars fans. Nika Futterman, who voiced Asajj Ventress on that series, provided the small but very creepy performance.

By Matt Dougherty

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