Season Two, Episode Seventeen — “Shroud of Darkness”
By Jason Gibner. If you’ve been keeping up with me on Rebels, you know that I feel like Star Wars Rebels has been on a bit of a hot streak for a while now. While some never-happy fans have moaned that all these quieter, deeper, character-focused episodes are indicative of the series dragging its feet, I would argue this: as we learn more and more about the Ghost crew (and their adversaries), we ought to find comfort in knowing that when stuff goes down — and it will — we’ll actually feel something when it does. (It’s basic storytelling, people.) Hopefully those moaners will be silenced this week, as “Shroud of Darkness” takes Rebels‘ hot streak to Mustafar levels.
While the episode is essentially setup for the top-rope Star Wars action coming in these last handful of episodes, it is far less plot heavy than what we’ve seen lately. Evocative of the mysterious and ambiguous “Rey’s Vision” scene from Force Awakens, or Luke’s Dagobah cave adventure in Empire, “Shroud of Darkness” utterly disrupts Star Wars fan theories about where every Force user on the show will end up. It’s been discussed to death but the point still stands: if you have Force users like Ahsoka, Kanan, and Ezra running around the Rebel Alliance during the time of the original trilogy, then the importance of bringing back General Kenobi back or depicting Luke Skywalker as the New Hope of everything becomes… diminished. In short, they gotta go. Or they gotta go… somewhere else.
And Holy Lucas, does this episode tease that “somewhere else.”
WHAT WORKED: If you’re one of the weird (and rare) kind of Star Wars fans who really likes lightsabers fights and Force stuff, then you will love just about every second of “Shroud of Darkness”. From the hologram of The Chosen One (Anakin Skywalker) to Yoda talking about the Clone Wars, to Ashoka’s eerie little vision quest, this episode delivers the Force goods.
The genius thing with “Shroud of Darkness” is that the episode drops some explosive bombshells about its characters and their identities. It also teases things to come so subtly and so deftly I had watch at the end credits to see if Filoni & Crew thanked the JJ/Bad Robot mystery box.
Opening with a fast-paced laser sword battle between our heroes and those pesky Inquisitors, the episode focuses on the father and son / master and apprentice relationship between Kanan and Ezra. I like Kanan (even with his 1998 ponytail and goatee look), but the guy is undeniably a slacker dad. Not that he should be in full-on “aggro Master mode” (like young Obi Wan undeniably was), but I feel it’s obvious to everyone by now that Ezra may have a very interesting future in the Force — but we don’t see Kanan stepping in as much as he should. Sure they guy has a lot on his plate, but if — if — his padawan does turn to the dark side — as this episode definitely implies — then he’s about to have that much more heaped upon it.
WHAT DIDN’T: Goblin. Yoda. Let’s talk about this goblin Yoda. Flat out, no way to get around it, he’s weird looking. Weird with a capital W. I know it looks like the old Kenner action figure, and maybe that’s cool. And I get that it’s maybe more of Ezra’s idea of what he thinks Yoda looks like versus what Yoda actually looks like but it’s just distracting when it comes on screen. It’s always beautiful hearing Frank Oz voice Yoda, but dammit, he just looks off. That being said, goblin Yoda still has one of the episode’s — and possibly the whole series’ — very best moments. (More on that in a minute.)
“I don’t go for crazy, anymore!” – Kanan.
“Growing your abilities are… and with them… danger.” – Yoda.
“He was powerful. Rarely lost a battle. But what would have surprised people was how kind he was. He cared deeply about his friends and looked out for them until the end. ” – Ahsoka, on Anakin.
“There’s still a way…” – Ahsoka.
“He was wise, kind… but when i was young he seemed happier. As the Clone War dragged on, he carried a great burden. A deep sorrow. As if he knew before anyone else that one time was ending, and another beginning.” – Ahsoka, about Yoda.
“You abandoned me, you failed me! Do you know what I’ve become?” – Anakin.
“Thousands of Jedi there were… then came war.” – Yoda.
“A long time fought, I did. Consumed by fear I was… though see it I did not.” – Yoda.
“A challenge, lifelong it is, not to bend fear into anger…” – Yoda.
“Even now the servants of the dark side come for your apprentice.” – Jedi Sentinel.
“Try to fight, and you will fail. The rebellion will be destroyed, you will die, and your apprentice will become a servant of evil. The boy must be eliminated before he embraces the darkness.” – Jedi Sentinel.
“My master will be most pleased with this discovery.” – Darth Vader.
BEST MOMENT: As the Jedi heroes run out from the Jedi Temple on Lothal, there’s a brief moment where Ahsoka turns around, sensing something. There is Yoda with a note-perfect smile on his face. Ahsoka, upon seeing him returns a smile with a tiny, knowing nod. Yoda raises a tiny green hand to her. Is he saying goodbye? Acknowledging all she has been through? It can be looked at in a lot of ways, but no matter what — it’s one of the most touching moments of the series thus far.
EPISODE’S MVP: Ahsoka Tano. Even with all the mystery surrounding Ezra, this is Ahsoka’s episode. Like many fans, when I first saw the universally “meh” 2008 Clone Wars movie, I could not stand the fact that Anakin Skywalker, the most unpredictable, misunderstood, hot-headed Jedi in the galaxy, suddenly had a cool and spunky padawan. For the first time in life, I thought I honestly didn’t enjoy something called “Star Wars”. I was wrong.
Once I was able to obsessively marathon my way through the entire Clone Wars series, I grew to love Ahsoka just as the rest of the massive Star Wars family did. Her character grew so much on the show that her return appearance at the end of Rebels‘ first season made fans scream. (And likely prompted everyone to consider buying an “Ahsoka Lives” T-shirt. If they weren’t always sold out, I’d wear one.) Here in “Shroud of Darkness” we have one of Ahsoka’s best episodes. We finally see the history of her character begin to come full circle. We see her deep regret and her haunting fear. I feel that there’s a reason why she won’t join Kanan and Ezra in using the Force on Lothal. There’s a reason why she says she’s not a Jedi anymore. Whatever that reason is, the intrigue is plum fascinating.
– Hearing Matt Lanter voice Anakin again? That’s where it’s at.
– Sooo Ahsoka saw Anakin go off to save Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith? So does that imply that Anakin met with her during the events of Revenge of the Sith? That sure opens up a can of kouhuns. Was she in Coruscant keeping an eye on him? When he pledged his allegiance to Palpatine and the Dark Side, did Ahsoka feel it? Very interesting.
– “You are as I once was, a knight of the Jedi Order.” WHAT THE WHAT??!!!!!
– “Find Malachor.” You’re damn right, Yoda. Google that business people, and think about what that means for upcoming episodes. Also, make sure you have an extra pair of pants nearby.
– So what happened there with the Jedi Sentinels and the Inquisitors? Will the Inquisitors be different somehow from now on? Are the Inquisitors connected to the Knights of Ren somehow? Did my brain just explode?
10 out of 10
Next: “The Forgotten Droid”, soon.
Before: “The Honorable Ones”, here.