Season Two, Episode Twenty — “Twilight of the Apprentice”
By Jason Gibner. Speechless. This was the showdown main event episode we’d all been waiting for, and it left Star Wars fandom in silence as we collectively tried to pick up the pieces of of our shattered mental states. When the ad spots for this episode claimed that “Twilight of the Apprentice” would change everything, they sure weren’t joking.
When Rebels first premiered, there was the feeling that it was meant for the younger Star Wars fans, and there were certainly many episodes in Season One that fed directly into that sentiment. However. There’s no way that this Season Two finale was “just for the kids.” Not at all. This episode was for all Star Wars fans — the young and the old; fans who loved the prequels, and the folks who didn’t; the ones who just came on board with The Force Awakens, and those who’ve seen every episode of Clone Wars over and over again.
This was an episode filled to the brim, not only with the sweet lightsaber fights we hope for and fist pumping moments of awesome that are embedded in the DNA of Star Wars, but with deep-cut galactic mythology and history. It’s a Dark Side-centric episode that serves as a love letter to the Star Wars galaxy, closing out an outstanding second season and setting up what potentially could be a very buckwild Season Three. In short, this baby sure was worth the wait.
WHAT WORKED: This is an episode filled with callbacks to all seven Star Wars films, but it handles that responsibility in the best possible way: when Ezra first encounters The Old Master (shhhh… it’s Darth Maul), their exchange is a reverse play on Yoda and Luke’s first classic chat in Empire. Ahsoka and Vader’s talk echoes Han Solo and Kylo Ren in Awakens, and much of Maul’s later chats with Ezra rings true to some of the darker words of encouragement Palpatine gave to Anakin in Sith.
This saga moves in a circle, and as it goes around and around moments repeat and reverse, and some even rhyme in ways we don’t often expect. All of this is evident in “Twilight of the Apprentice”. Ezra’s fall to the Dark Side is one we have all seen before, but his journey here seems more perverse and complex than what we’ve seen in the past. Notice the way Maul smiles at Ezra as he uses his aggressive feelings to move through the Sith temple, his fascination gaining more power compared to Ashoka and Kanan’s selflessness. This this graduate-level Star Wars stuff here, folks, and Rebels makes it abundantly clear that it isn’t just for the kids anymore. (Though I’m not saying they shouldn’t bring back the Space Whales sometime… they ruled.)
WHAT DIDN’T: Um, uhh… maybe that it wasn’t another hour longer? Seriously, there’s not much to say about what didn’t work in this one. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Star Wars stories that focus on Dark Side users, but even this very Sith-centric episode pulled me in. I feel like through the Force I could hear folks nitpick about the lightsaber helicopters, and while it took me by surprise for sure, I don’t think it was out of place in a story rife with space wizards and laser swords.
“There’s always a bit of truth in legends…” – Ahsoka.
“Please put your weapon away, I mean you no harm...” – Maul.
“I once had a name… I don’t remember… now I’m called Maul. ” -Maul.
“The Sith. The Sith took everything from me. Ripped me from my mother’s arms, murdered by brother, used me as a weapon and then cast me aside. Abandoned me. Once I had power, now I have nothing.” – Maul.
“What fun!” – Maul.
“Ahsoka… Ahsoka…” – Darth Vader
Ezra: “I don’t fear you!” Darth Vader: “Then you will die braver than most.”
“It was foretold you would be here. Our long awaited meeting has come at last.” – Darth Vader.
“Anakin Skywalker was weak. I destroyed him.” – Darth Vader.
Darth Vader: “Revenge is not the Jedi way.” Ahsoka: “I am no Jedi.”
Ahsoka: “I won’t leave you… not this time.” Darth Vader: “Then you will DIE.”
“I need a lot more training.” – Ezra
BEST MOMENT: As Darth Vader pulls the Sith holocron from Ezra’s hand, all seems lost. Ahsoka barrels out from nowhere and slices away at Vader’s helmet. Turning around, his human eye is exposed and he utters the name of his former padawan and best friend. Anakin looks her up and down as he hasn’t seen old Snips in a good 16 years or so. She has a moment where she remembers the good man (and good friend) he was until the Dark Lord stands up, regains his composure and promises to kill her. Ezra runs to help and like a boss, Ahsoka force pushes him back. She smiles confidently, knowing that this is how it has to go. She blocks Vader’s red blade with her two sabers behind her back. Her fate is left mysterious. This is a moment of raw power, of Star Wars greatness.
EPISODE’S MVP: Ahsoka Tano. We all knew this was going to be her episode and it did not disappoint. From the moment she walked out calling Anakin “Fly Guy” in that cringeworthy Clone Wars movie, her final fate with the Dark Lord of the Sith was only a matter of time. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of those two together, but what we get is the stuff fans have been endlessly debating about for a decade now. I think the faraway sound you just heard was Tumblr exploding with Anakin/Ahsoka duel photo collages.
– That voice of the Sith holocron? Nika Futterman, who also did the voice of Ventress on Clone Wars. Oookay then.
– “Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them.” Man, Kanan… man.
– As rough around the edges that Clone Wars movie was, the reference to Ahsoka and Rex’s conversation in the start of this episode mirroring their first conversation in that movie is a nice touch.
– I for one am happy that Ezra’s goofy blaster saber got destroyed. Maybe little the gifted youngster will be in the market for something that comes in red next?
– Runner up for best moment: Chopper manning the guns in that fighter. A+ stuff.
– No, that’s not Kylo Ren’s saber. Kylo’s was newly built but in the style of the ancient Sith weapon. But how cool is it that they can now drop a little bit of history like that in there?
– In this week’s “Ralph McQuarrie Designed It First” arena: the writing on the walls of the Sith temple was the ancient writing first designed by McQuarrie for the book, “The Illustrated Star Wars Universe”. (Which is an amazing read, btw.)
– So is Ezra Snoke or what? Maybe? Maybe not? Probably not. Maybe?
– Vader looked amazing and sounded amazing. James Earl Jones hissing around like it’s Empire Strikes Back all over again. Can’t wait to hear him in Rogue One, and how it all connects to Rebels.
– Seriously, what’s up with that owl?
10 out of 10
Before: “The Mystery of Chopper Base”, here.