OK, and again, sorry for the delay on these last couple of Rebels reviews. As mentioned in my previous review for Warhead, I’ve been busy getting the podcasts we produce whipped into shape and onto iTunes, but now we are good to go. This review will be a slightly different format than my usual Rebels reviews, as I’m mainly gonna focus on the ‘what worked / didn’t work’ part of the review as opposed to a straight summary. So let’s get to the review of Trials Of The Darksaber, shall we? Tons of **SPOILERS** after the image, per usual….
OK, so let me start out by saying this may very well be the best and my favorite single episode of Star Wars Rebels so far. Yes, I said single episode, because I’m not sure it can overtake the two-part Twilight of the Apprentice from season two. But maybe it can… After watching it again this morning, I’m more and more convinced that Trials Of The Darksaber represents the entire Rebels series and the growth we’ve seen in the story and characters.
Here’s my quick summary: After recovering the Darksaber from Maul earlier in the season, we see Sabine has been reluctant to even touch it. After a history lesson on the Darksaber and Mandalore in general from Fenn Rau, Kanan decides it’s time to train Sabine on how to use it, with the hopes she can unite not only her clan but also bring Mandalore into the fight against the Empire. The training doesn’t go very smoothly, as Sabine gets very frustrated – both with Kanan’s training and herself – but she eventually comes around and embraces the weapon, it’s history, her past, and the opportunity.
As I mentioned before, the summary was gonna be brief, so let’s get to the good stuff…
- Everything. This episode was so good. So very, very good. But I’m not gonna stop there, just wanted to say EVERYTHING worked!
- History lesson, part 1 – the quick history lesson Fenn Rau gives Kanan on the Darksaber was very well done. I loved the animation and the story itself was very informative. We learn that Tarre Vizsla was the first-ever Mandalorian Jedi and he created the Darksaber. It was then stolen by members of Clan Vizsla after his death, and remained in their care until Maul defeated Pre Vizsla during the Clone Wars and claimed it. We also learned that the wielded of the Darksaber was able to rule and unite all of Mandalore, hence it’s importance to our story. Construction-wise, we are told it has a Kyber Crystal, just like a Lightsaber. I always wondered about that, glad it’s cleared up.
- Kanan – his evolution and arc since the end of season two has been epic, at least in my opinion. The way he approaches training Sabine to wield the weapon was quite a bit different than the way we’ve seen him training Ezra (I’m gonna cover this deeper in another bullet point below, hang tight).
- Sabine – it’s hard to believe how much character development for Sabine was crammed into this 22 minute episode, seriously. But man, was it awesome! I loved how she came to terms with her destiny, and opened up about why she left Mandalore and her family, and why she abandoned the Empire. It was very powerful and informative. I love her character, and Tiya Sircar’s portrayal of her was so spot-on. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I think it’s pretty obvious that Sabine and Mandalore will play a very large part Rebels moving forward, or at least season three, and I’m thrilled about that.
- Mando toys – a small bit, but it was cool to see Sabine wield the Mandalorian guantlets that Fenn Rau gave to her, even if Kanan dismissed them as trickery. Just wanted to put that in here….
- History lesson, part 2 – the Mandalorian War! Can it be? Is the Mandalorian War in the official new canon now?? It would appear so! Why is that exciting? Well, as I mentioned in The Exhaust Port podcast, this opens the door very widely for the introduction of a fan favorite Legends character, and his name is Revan. And/or Darth Revan (hopefully). In Legends, he leads the Jedi against the Mandalorians, eventually winning the war and turning to the dark side shortly thereafter. Yes, bring it on!!! Lots to work with in regards to Revan, his look (yes Kylo, I’m talking to you…), and his history in general.
- The evolution of the Jedi and their training – again, we see deviation from a Jedi who’s training another. True, Sabine isn’t a Jedi, but the way Kanan provokes her into using her anger to her advantage is a key plot point in my opinion. I’ve mentioned in podcasts that I think the story group is establishing and building on a point that Lucas himself failed to properly convey in the Prequel Trilogy – the failing of the Jedi dogma in general during that era. With Ahsoka and her evolution, to the Yoda / Luke / Dagobah training, now to Kanan, and (probably) in The Last Jedi, we are witnessing a different approach to the philosophy and training of the Jedi and the Force in general if I may be so bold. Certainly something to keep a close eye on…
- Chopper purrs – blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, but when Sabine rubs Chopper’s dome he purrs like a cat. That was cool. And yes, I’m a cat person.
- The music! – the score was amazing. Very emotional when it needed to be, and I adored the Asian influence during the training sequences. Probably the first time I’ve taken notice of a score in Rebels, so kudos, keep it up!
What didn’t work: Ab. So. Lute. Ly. Nothing. It was perfect. Can’t wait until Sabine heads to Mandalore, which happens to be the very next episode!! In the meantime, check out the Rebels Recon for this episode below: