“Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future…the past. Old friends long gone.”
Shortly after these episodes aired, there was a lot of online chatter on how THESE STAR WARS REBELS CHANGE EVERYTHING or STAR WARS INTRODUCED SOME THING NEW AND IT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME and possibly maybe even SHOW BASED ON POPULAR SPACE WIZARDS MOVIES JUST DID ANOTHER WEIRD THING. Did these two episodes get kinda bug out freak out crazy? Sure. Is it a radical new thing departure from what we’ve seen in Star Wars before? Especially when just a couple months ago we had a bearded Luke Skywalker meditating and floating over a rock while his projection talked smack to his greasy haired nephew? Not at all. In my opinion, Star Wars is at its best when it is wacky weird. Give me Star Wars when it steps outside the Boba Fett is a Badass comfort zone and delves deep into that mystical energy field. So often the stories filled with heroes, villains, religious and mythic allegories are when it shines the brightest. Like an angry Lucas once said, “it’s not about spaceships.” I feel like Rebels show runner and obvious wolf superfan Dave Filoni might agree with that. He wrote this stuff and watching these two episodes is like being at his house on a Saturday night after he’s had a whole bottle of champagne and he’s talking Star Wars. It’s a little loopy, a little off the rails but it’s a rockin’ visual representation of what Star Wars has been dancing around for decades.
The whole thing starts out as the Rebels crew decides to find out what’s up with the mysterious jedi temple that the giant maybe Kanan Wolf wanted them to see. As if that wasn’t already weird enough, they then ride the giant wolves across half of Lothal in some sort of ground hyperspace portal. Once they get there they see that the Empire has gone all Raiders of the Lost Ark on the temple as they dig around it in a quest to use its power for evil reasons.
Here we are introduced to a creepy old Sith devotee named Minister Hyden who is voiced by the great Malcolm McDowell. This little guy with a cool hat is obsessed with discovering the secrets of the temple so his master, Emperor Palpatine can better rule the galaxy. As a sadistic and oddly sympathetic tool of a Sith Lord, Hyden is a more interesting bad guy in his 15 minutes of screen time then Thrawn has been for multiple seasons.
Once there and with a lot of help from Sabine, Ezra figures out how to get in the temple and then the show really kicks into high gear. As he walks around the star filled space bridges, we hear dialog that spans everything from Force Awakens to A New Hope. It’s a nice eerie touch as Ezra quickly realizes this Force place is an area beyond time and space made up of portals where you can enter and view other of major moments of history.
Ezra goes to a portal where he sees Ashoka’s battle with Lord Vader and at the last second, he explains what happened to Tano during the fight as he quickly pulls her out of there. Ezra then does Ezra by acting clueless and he whining a lot about how he can stop people from dying. It’s a little distracting as Ezra seemingly still doesn’t have a clue on not only how to be a Jedi but also how to function as a person. Finally, the former Padawan learner becomes the teacher as Ashoka reminds Ezra that he has to chill out and that he can not change the past and he must learn to let go of his former master.
This is where people seemed to freak out thinking time travel is now a thing in Star Wars. It’s not. It’s not suddenly Back to the Future or something and no Rey isn’t going back in time in Episode 9. What Ezra enters is a physical version of an area of the Force. He sees events from HIS past. He’s not seeing Anakin and Obi-Wan fight on Mustafar or the death of Qui-Gon Jinn, it’s only what he knows.
This kind of mystical thing is an extension of what Rey experienced when she touched the Skywalker saber and traveled “through time”, when Luke saw himself in Vader’s mask in the cave or even Rey’s reflection cave in Last Jedi. What is all that? It doesn’t have a name or a clear cut answer because it shouldn’t. The Force should remain weird and mystical and by introducing a not really new element to it all, just underlines that we, like even the masters in the films and shows, can’t categorize the Force and nobody will ever be able to fully understand it. That frustrates some who want the Force to be as simple as Superman’s powers but i am sorry, that’s just not how the Force works. People like Dave Filoni are the esteemed professors at Lucas college and this episode is like the introductory course in Keeping Star Wars Weird. This Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars animation doing what it does best and these episodes come highly recommended.