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Star Wars Rebels - Visions and Voices - Review: "Maul Returns"

Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Episode Guide:
3.01 Steps Into Shadow Part 1 - Review
3.02 Steps Into Shadow Part 2 - Review
3.03 The Holocrons of Fate - Review
3.04 The Antilles Extraction - Review
3.05 Hera's Heroes - Review
3.06 The Last Battle - Review
3.07 Imperial Supercommandos - Review
3.08 Iron Squadron - Review
3.09 The Wynkahthu Job - Review
3.10 An Inside Man - Review
3.11 Visions and Voices - Review
3.12 Ghosts of Geonosis - Part 1 - Airs January 7
3.13 Ghosts of Geonosis - Part 2 - Airs January 7
3.14 Warhead - Airs January 14
3.15 Trials of the Darksaber - Airs January 21

Star Wars Rebels 3.11: "Visions and Voices" - Review:
Directed by Bosco Ng & Written by Brent Friedman

What was effectively the midseason finale of Star Wars Rebels saw the show bring back fan-favourite villain Darth Maul for one of the most plot-heavy episodes of the season so far in riveting storyline brought to life by director Bosco Ng, who has a track record mainly restricted to directing The Clone Wars episodes as well as Rebels ones like The Last Battle) and writer Brent Friedman, whose CV is a bit thicker, with Halo 4, several episodes of The Clone Wars and Tales from the Borderlands: A Telltale Games Series to his name. Here the creative team combined to give an excellent narrative that really worked, testing Ezra in an attempt to determine whether or not he would fall to the dark side, with Maul making his biggest offers yet.

Ezra himself is targeted by visions of Darth Maul, such as seeing him during conversations between himself and the rest of the Ghost crew that cause him and Kanan to realize that something's up. Maul eventually shows up himself and offers a deal. Remember the Jedi and Sith holocrons that both of them saw in Steps Into Shadow? It turns out that he wants to complete a ritual that will reveal both of them the information that they want. However, there's a cost - if Ezra doesn't go with Maul, he will reveal Chopper base to the Empire (of course we must presume that Chopper base gets revealed to the Empire at some point because otherwise the Rebels wouldn't make the switch to Yavin IV for the events of Rogue One and A New Hope). Whilst I'm still not a fan of how they brought Maul back following his end in The Phantom Menace - which looked pretty definitive, even by Star Wars standards in the first place, he's proved to be a real nice addition to Star Wars Rebels that represents a nice, fresh change from the normal enemies of the Empire.

Given no choice though, Ezra decides to follow Maul to the planet of Dathomir. They both end up using dark magic to complete the olocron vision, which shows a desert planet with two suns - aka Tatooine, which holds the location to what they both seek. However, during the completion of the ritual, Ezra and Maul are attacked by the spirits of the Nightsister clan (who, for those who don't know, a group of witches that can use the force in different ways to the Jedi and Sith, with the female of the sisters having more power than the males) who are capable of possessing people who approach them, which is something that they do to both Sabine and Kanan who have tracked Ezra to Dathomir to make sure that he is alright. Maul is able to escape both Sabine and Kanan, and Ezra is able to use the force to get Sabine out of range of the altar, the source of the spirits' power. I was reminded a lot about Raiders of the Lost Ark in this episode with the ghosts coming from the altar, and it seemed to result in a fight between Ezra and the possessed Kanan. Lightsaber duels are a rare commodity on Rebels with so few force users about, so it was refreshing to see two lightsabers clash once more, even if it was between friends. Kanan is eventually able to be freed when Ezra proves he's not a complete jerk after all by offering himself to the Nightsisters in order to free Kanan, and whilst the spirits approach him he is able to destroy the altar and nullify the source of their power, making them worthless. As the three retreat Sabine is able to grab the darksaber received that Maul used, something that will no doubt play a role in the future especially with Sabine's past. After all, it's probably no coincidence that the fifteenth episode of this season is entitled "Trials of the Darksaber" and will no doubt provide plenty of interesting moments.

When questioned about his visions by the altar by Kanan, Ezra reveals that he now knows that he has the information that he needs to defeat the Sith, with his information being the same as to what Maul received. It turns out that they are both chasing after the same vision, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi Master. Presumably bringing Obi-Wan into play is a bold move by the series that has never shied away from fanservice in the past (a teenage Leia featured in Season 2, remember), but it'll be interesting to see how Obi-Wan would react to learning of Kanan and Ezra. There's so many questions to explore it will be almost a shame if Obi-Wan doesn't get one more chance to fight Maul, and especially gets to meet Kanan. But how the writers tie it in with the fact that Obi-Wan was still on Tatooine at the start of A New Hope and didn't join the Rebels, preferring to remain in exile, will be interesting for sure. I wonder if we'll even get a cameo by a young Luke Skywalker should the trip to Tatooine arise.

Still, at least we have a driving point for Season 3 as no doubt Maul, Ezra and Kanan will be racing to try and find Obi-Wan before the other and we should see a regain of momentum for the second half of the season which has been somewhat lost up until this point with all the individual, standalone episodes. There were lots of connections to The Clone Wars here that really paid off well, and I can't wait to see where the writers take this going forward. Hopefully Rebels can continue next year just as strongly as it left off.

Overall Episode Verdict: A-
+Ezra vs. Kanan
+Obi-Wan Kenobi
+Links to The Clone Wars
+Sabine keeping the Darksaber.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The 100, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Black Sails, Elementary, Murder in the First, Narcos, Preacher, Star Trek Discovery, Star Wars Rebels, The Shannara Chronicles, Silicon Valley and Veep for Spoiler TV. He also occasionaly writes book reviews at his own site, The Fictional Hangout and ontributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic. He also regularly watches and reviews films on Letterboxd, and you can find his ever-changing list of 250 favourite movies here.
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