Episodes Remaining: 2
**** Spoilers below ****
Tonight’s episode pairing is a game changer, but not in the way we’re led to believe. And it’s up to the fans how they want to deal with this element. In brief: Star Wars just introduced time travel, and then they just as quickly got rid of it. The consequences of its introduction will probably be discussed among fans for some time to come, at least until the next time Star Wars decides to exploit it in some form. The door’s been opened, anyway.*
The first half of tonight’s pair, “Wolves and a Door,” has the mystery lothwolves taking the Ghost quintet through a trippy force-travel across Lothal, where they have fleeting visions of Kanan before finding themselves at the planet’s Jedi Temple. The Temple site is now under the control of the Empire and new character Minister Hydan, played by Malcolm McDowell, because yes, Rebels has somehow added Malcolm McDowell to its cast.
“Wolves and a Door,” sad to say, is the slower part of this duology, as much of it is Sabine and Ezra infiltrating the site and using the former’s art talents to decipher how to get back inside. The big shocker, if any, is that the entrance to the temple is guarded by a painting of the Ones from Clone Wars: a trio of super-powerful force-users who may have embodied the force itself. There’s no serious dependency on Clone Wars plots here–just a well-placed shout-out that helps move the plot along. If you’re not familiar with the Ones, no big deal. Anyway, Sabine deciphers how the portal works and Ezra’s able to get in.
It’s “A World Between Worlds” which becomes the weirder part of the story. Turns out that the entire interior of the Temple which Ezra explores is, in fact, a giant time machine that seems to touch every major point of time and space in the Galaxy. To drive the point home, Ezra hears various voices echoing throughout the place, including Obi-Wan and Luke’s conversation in Obi-Wan’s hut.
I’m sure fans will be carefully playing back this scene for the next few days, trying to decipher if any key saga dialogue can be heard in the myriad other doors in the Temple. The overall scene does seem to be a wasted Easter Egg opportunity, since this presented a chance to show a Rebels connection to any film in the saga, be it Prequel or Sequel. But this doesn’t happen.
What we do get is a resolution to an old mystery on this show: whatever happened to Ahsoka Tano? Well, it turns out that Ezra managed to pull her out of her fight with Vader and into the future, thus proving the old saw that “… if you didn’t see the body, the character isn’t dead.” How salvific this is for Ahsoka isn’t clear, other than that it becomes obvious that her place isn’t two years in the future.
The point is driven home when Ezra has his “Anakin Skywalker” moment and realizes that he can use the time portals to pull his dead master Kanan out of the moment in time where he died. Ahsoka warns against this kind of abuse of time-travel: not only might this change history (keeping Kanan from saving the rest of the team), but it may also abuse the fact that Kanan’s life was fulfilled in the moment he died. The Force had a destiny for Kanan, and Ezra needs to accept that. Which he does, though fans might struggle with a broader: “Yeah, but couldn’t Kanan still be saved?” Letting go is tough.
Speaking of which, Ian McDiarmid shows up as Palpatine, who–inexplicably–also has temporal access to the Temple and is making his best effort to seize Ezra. Honestly, this is a little confusing in retrospect: why send Hydan to try to access the Temple if Palpatine could do it anyway? It may be that Ezra’s opening the portal on Lothal allowed it to be opened to the rest of the universe, and that’s where Palpatine came in–but man, this point is confusing.
Anyway, the episode ends with Ezra, having learned his lesson, willingly closing the portal and sending Ahsoka back to the past (but don’t worry: she lives! For now. Or then.) and himself to the present. What comes next isn’t clear, but Ezra does at least express what his destiny will be for next week’s three-part finale.
So here’s what’s left. Next week’s 90-minute finale needs to close out Ezra’s story for the saga, because as we’ve said before, Rebels is now in the weeks before Rogue One and he’s not around for the Original Triology period. (Hera, officially, now is–she just showed up in last week’s Doctor Aphra comic.) In reintroducing Ahsoka, it’s clear that she’s going to return for the finale, and impliedly, she’s been in hiding since we thought she died back in season 2. And the show needs to wrap up its other characters and tell us who dies and who lives to go on to show up in future Original Trilogy era stories. Will Thrawn execute Governor Pryce? Will Thrawn himself suffer an artistically done death? Where do Sabine, Zeb, Rex, and all of the show’s background characters go?
And most importantly, where are Ezra and Ahsoka going to end up? The Temple’s time portal would have been an obvious way to send the characters “somewhere” so as to remove them from the saga without killing them, but that option seems closed.
Oh well. We’ll find out next week.
Rating: Three DeLoreans out of Five.
- – To be fair, time travel was used sparingly in the defunct Expanded Universe, to include Jacen Solo learning how to force-project through time to observe the past and even slightly alter it. But tonight’s episode appears to be the first time it’s used in the new canon.
“Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future…the past. Old friends long gone.” – Yoda