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Star Wars: Rebels - Jedi Night & DUME - Review: "Kanan"

23 Feb 2018

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Star Wars: Rebels 4.10 "Jedi Night" - Review:
Directed by Dave Filoni & Written by Henry Gilroy

Star Wars: Rebels has had its end in sight for a while now. We've been in its final season for the past nine episodes and the show is moving towards a climax that is triggered by the deaths of one of the show's most beloved and important characters, Jedi Kanan Jarrus. Out of all of the Rebels cast, it looked like Kanan was the most likely one to die before the end of the season, especially given the observation made by Obi-Wan in Empire Strikes Back that there are no other Jedi left by the time Luke heads off to confront Vader. You couldn't have Kanan around, even in a capacity where he was no longer a Jedi at this point, because once he learned of Alderaan's destruction, a character like him would find a way to be drawn back into the fight somehow.

So the show had to kill him off and I was prepared for it. Or at least I thought I was. I just wasn't prepared for it to happen this soon, almost immediately after we returned from the break. But writers Dave Filoni & Henry Gilroy certainly picked a high note for him to go out on, saving the rest of the crew and having the Empire destroy their own fuel tanks in the process, rendering their means of production for the TIE Defenders useless. It certainly left a statement, that was for sure, and the series showed that it wasn't capable of shying away from killing off major characters like this.

The build-up and foreshadowing of Kanan's death was handled fairly well. He was reluctant to come on the mission at first due to the fact that his feelings with Hera would get in the way, but eventually he ended up on the mission to rescue Hera with Zeb being left behind. It didn't waste any time in showing how the Rebels would respond to the capture of one of their own, using makeshift gliders to pass as the native wildlife. Even though the fearsome assassin Rukh is on guard at the walls, they are able to sneak into the city, and in the process, split up, sending Kanan after Hera whilst Sabine and Ezra head off to secure their escape route.

It's always good value seeing Sabine and Ezra pose as Imperials to try and blend in, and it often leads to the more comedic scenes of the episode, sprinkling in some lighter moments before the big emotional moment that we had at the end of the episode. The scene where Ezra and Sabine were on the ship with the other Imperial soldiers was welcomed, especially with Ezra's overjoyed reaction about learning that Hera was rescued, whilst in costume, prompting him to hastily cover up his actions to a group of confused Stormtroopers moments before they fell to their deaths.

The more important material of the episode largely came with the connection between Hera and Kanan. Whilst in captivity, Hera had been dosed with a truth serum designed to reveal information about Rebel Intelligence. It probably wasn't designed to speed up the developing relationship between both characters to the point where they confessed their love for each other, and whilst this is something that has been used over and over again in television history, it was doubly effective and important here, especially when Hera confirmed that she really meant it, and given that it happened only a short few moments before Kanan's sacrifice, this really hit home and served as a great way to make his sacrifice even more emotional.

The small scenes that we get with the Imperials also aren't wasted here, as we learn more about their infighting and rivalry that they have to deal with. Governor Pryce isn't afraid to destroy the fuel tanks for the TIE Defenders in order to bring down the Rebels, and whilst it was admittedly successful in taking Kanan out of the game, it's a short-lived victory as Sabine, Hera, Zeb and Ezra are still out there in the wild. This leaves the Empire to look more favourably casting support for Krennic's Stardust Project, which will come as a severe blow to Thrawn. Even though we may not get an appearance by Krennic in person in this show it was very cool to see more hints dropped about the Death Star as we edge closer and closer towards the end.

Star Wars: Rebels 4.11 "DUME"
Directed by Sergio Paez & Written by Dave Filoni & Christopher Yost

For an episode as important to Star Wars: Rebels as Jedi Night it needed a good episode devoted to the aftermath of Kanan's death and the show more than delivered with the emotional DUME that reminded us of just how important Kanan was to the team and explored how his absence affected them in different ways. With Kanan dead and his lightsaber in the hands of the Empire, Governor Pryce decides that even though the fuel tanks are destroyed, the best thing to do would be to throw a parade celebrating their success to hide the fact that they've just lost a key line of supply and Thrawn's dreams of a TIE Defender project might be over. He's understandably furious at Pryce for her rash actions, but knows that the Rebels will respond to the death of one of their own, rashly.

And it's something that we know as well. The characters are so well developed that we can at least get a good idea as to what their next paths will be and how they'll handle with Kanan's death in their own way. DUME wisley spends its time splitting them up and focusing on the four coping with their loss by doing different things in the process. Zeb and Sabine decide that it's time to get some payback by heading after the Imperials, but this is something Thrawn has foreseen what they'd do and he sends out Rukh to dispatch any interlopers.

However, it doesn't go well for the assassin as Sabine and Zeb team up to successfully take him down, overcoming his invisible armour by attacking him with paint to reveal his whereabouts. Rather than kill him out of anger which Zeb was more than happy to do, they decide to send him back to the Empire as a message, a warning that they're not just done fighting yet.

The decision to interspace the quieter Ezra and Hera scenes with the time spent with Sabine and Zeb really helped DUME. It was nicely paced, and allowed both characters room to breathe and deal with their loss. Whilst it felt appropriate for Sabine and Zeb to be jumping back into the thick of things straight away, giving Ezra and Hera time to grieve seemed like the right decision, especially as both of them had been arguably closer to Kanan than Sabine and Zeb had, even if they all shared a tight bond as the crew of the Ghost.

Here Ezra enters a dream-world during his meditation and stumbles across the wolves whilst grieving for Kanan. It's a moment that has really paid off given the build-up of all the Loth Wolf mythology and folklore prior to this episode, and it's interesting to see just how scary they can be when acting in their most animalistic nature. I love all the world-building that Filoni has done with the wolves here, and the writers have both done a very effective job at making these creatures feel right at home in the Star Wars universe.

Hera dealt with Kanan's death in a different way to them all, mourning about the lateness of the confession of love. After Kanan had been able to free her her kalikori whilst rescuing her in the process, Hera conducted a ritual of her own for him, adding him to the family, recalling that she knew that he believed they could one day be successful. Out of all of them, it was Kanan who was able to come up with the best solution possible when there were no other answers present.

And her belief of Kanan always being able to find a way is confirmed once more, as she's informed by Zeb and Sabine that Kanan died taking out the fuel tanks in the process, and all of the surviving team are brought back together again for a new mission that Ezra has assigned them. They have to save the Jedi Temple on Lothal from the Empire, or else all will be lost.

Although it wasn't the most significant episode in terms of plot advancement, DUME provided excellent depth and and acted as a great character study for our surviving Rebels whilst making Kanan's sacrifice count for something. The final few episodes of the show are here, and it'll be very interesting to see what the show has left in store for us as we conclude the journey.

What did you think of these two episodes of Star Wars: Rebels? Let me know in the comments below and check out the next episode on DisneyXD next Monday.