Warning: This recap contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episode “Twilight of the Apprentice.” Jump into hyperspace and away from this page if you haven’t watched the episode yet—like, seriously.
I approached the season two finale of Star Wars Rebels like Jessie Spano. I was so excited. I was so scared. Going into “Twilight of the Apprentice,” we knew Ahsoka would confront Darth Vader and we knew she had full knowledge of who he was. I started the episode with a gnawing pit in my stomach, but I got completely lost in the story. The two-part finale brought back a spine-chilling and crafty Maul and delivered twist after twist. It wasn’t just a phenomenal episode of Rebels—it represents some of the finest Star Wars storytelling we’ve seen.
The episode began with Captain Rex and Ahsoka having a Moment. Rex wanted to be there with her; it’s clear he’s protective of her. The way they joked both lightened the mood and made that pit in my stomach grow. And it also put Ezra a little on edge; he realized Rex’s concerns could mean Malachor potentially held danger. Duh, Ezra.
They traveled to the planet because of Yoda, and Ahsoka recalled what she knew about the location from her days with the Jedi. She said the place was forbidden to the Jedi. However, their need for knowledge on defeating the Inquisitors and maybe Darth Vader outweighed the risk. Upon arrival to the planet, they stumbled upon all sorts of sights. It was a visual feast—I want to watch the episode again with the sole purpose of keeping my eye on the backgrounds. They found a Sith Temple and remnants of an ancient battle, where Ezra stumbled upon a lightsaber hilt like Kylo Ren’s (according to The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, the design dated back to the Great Scourge of Malachor).
Kanan, Ahsoka, and Ezra weren’t alone on Malachor, though. Another Inquisitor, the Eighth Brother, was there hunting someone—someone that happened to be Maul. Sam Witwer reprised his role as the former Sith (he last voiced the character in The Clone Wars), but this Maul was older, smarter, and more patient. The way he handled Ezra was a combination of Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back (some of the lines were the same) and Palpatine through all the prequels. Maul clearly learned the art of manipulation and likely picked some of it up from Palpatine. He lured Ezra in with encouragement and praise, and since Ezra has had some issues getting the crew of the Ghost to believe in him over the course of the season, he stepped right into Maul’s trap. Of course, Ezra did show some caution, but ultimately, Maul played the game too well.
I didn’t quite believe in Maul, but Witwer’s performance and the way Taylor Gray reacted to him as Ezra had me raising my eyebrow. Maybe Maul was so angry with the Sith and hurt by them that he was just done. He was tossed aside by them not once, but twice. When he said, “Once I had power, now I have nothing,” I felt this strange teeny tiny bit of pity of for him. It’s interesting, Maul and Ahsoka have some parallels: He forged his own path, so did she; They both had their beliefs shaken. Maul chose a path of vengeance—he seemed to practically be waiting for Ezra. Did he see this in the Force?
Maul used Ezra and his strength with the Force to get to a Sith Holocron. By the way, note how differently Ezra reacted to the challenges in the Sith Temple than Luke reacted on Dagobah—Ezra’s had more training though. The Holocron held knowledge, which was what Ezra and co. were there for anyway, so his goals aligned with Maul’s.
While they successfully retrieved the Holocron, Kanan and Ahsoka fought the Eighth Brother and then the Seventh Sister and Fifth Brother joined the party. Both Ezra and Maul leapt into action to assist them. My favorite thing: Maul calling Ahsoka Lady Tano—I feel like there’s a story behind that.
The second half of the two-part finale was all about Maul luring the trio in while he pursued his goal of using what the Holocron unlocked in the Sith Temple as a fully operational, dangerous weapon. He played every note so precisely. He had chance after chance to show his hand, and I waited for it every time but he didn’t fall into a trap. He kept up the ally facade until the last possible minute before revealing how he wanted Ezra as his apprentice.
As the unlikely group ascended the Sith Temple (during a screening event earlier in the week executive producer Dave Filoni said he imagined the Temple having sort of levels of hell a la Dante’s Inferno), they faced the Inquisitors. Maul mostly handled that problem for them, and if the Inquisitors were going to die, I like that it was at Maul’s hand rather than the others taking lives. The dynamics between all of them had me so captivated I nearly forgot about the impending Ahsoka and Anakin confrontation. That’s no small feat. The knowledge of their encounter hung over the episode, but I wasn’t sitting around waiting for/dreading the scene. I was wrapped up in new chapters for Maul, Ezra, and Kanan.
Ezra wasn’t as against Maul as he maybe should have been. He experienced having someone put complete confidence in him, and he felt the power of brushing against the dark side. He’s trying to hold his ground, but with the new Kanan situation, I don’t know if he’ll be able to. And Kanan. Man. He was blinded, but it didn’t stop him from rushing in to do his best to keep Ezra safe.
But let’s get to Ahsoka and Vader. Damn. Their encounter was everything I wanted and everything I was scared of. Ahsoka’s reaction and how she switched from anger to wanting to save him killed me. Ashley Eckstein killed it. It was intense, it was emotional, and it had to be—years of Ahsoka’s journey led to this. We first knew her as Anakin’s Padawan learner and to see it come full circle… The most stirring and striking part of their confrontation came when she cut Vader’s helmet and we could see part of his face. The voice in that moment sounded like a combo of Matt Lanter and James Earl Jones, and it gave me chills. I bit my tongue so hard during every second of the last three or so minutes.
And as far as what happened to Ahsoka? Star Wars often leaves big questions as ambiguous, allowing the fans to untangle the truth and believe things from their own point of view. Ahsoka’s fate wasn’t shown in black and white. Filoni has often compared Ahsoka’s role in Rebels to that of Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. I’d like to think it means we haven’t seen the last of her. Vader was her Balrog, and maybe she’ll be back as a Force ghost or something else. I choose to believe her story is not finished.
“Twilight of the Apprentice” could apply to a few characters. It could mean Ahsoka, as she was Anakin’s former apprentice. It could refer to Ezra, because oh boy, it looks like the dark side is a problem he has to deal with. It could even mean Maul. He was Palpatine’s apprentice, and he flew off into the sunset. I believe it applies to all of them. The stakes were raised for season two of Star Wars Rebels, and based on these events, they’ll have to hit a whole other level in season three. The possibilities are staggering.
One final thought (for now—I have a lot to write about Ahsoka and soon): My heart melted into a puddle when I saw Chopper holding Kanan’s hand and guiding him.
- “There’s always a bit of truth in legends.” – Ahsoka (Intentional or not, I like that this sounds like a poke at fans who gripe about Legends, formerly known as the Expanded Universe.)
- “To defeat your enemy, you have to understand them.” – Ahsoka
- “Once I had power, now I have nothing.” – Maul
What do you think the status of Ahsoka is? What did you think about the return of Maul—did you find yourself trusting him? Talk to me about all of it in the comments or come chat with me on Twitter.
IMAGES: Disney XD