"Star Wars: Rebels" 2.8– Future of the Force (8.5 out of 10) – Based on characters and situations created by George Lucas; Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Taylor Gray, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar, David Oyelowo, Dee Bradley Baker; Special guests: Ashley Eckstein, Sarah Michelle Gellar; Rated TV-Y7, Aired on Disney XD 12/2/15.
This review contains spoilers.
"The Future of the Force" is an episode that has the long snaking tendrils of a story that dates back to the early days of "The Clone Wars." Darth Sidious has long been interested in getting his hands on the children who show inclinations of Force sensitivity, either to turn them into enforcers to hunt down others, or to kill them so that the Jedi order will never return and he'll never have to face a challenge from a new hope. It's a storyline that's been teased on "Rebels" before, as well, and is what opened the season if you watch the Special Edition of the series premiere starring James Earl Jones as Darth Vader.
This episode shows us a pair of Inquisitors, the Fifth Brother and the Seventh Sister, carrying out those plans to steal or murder these children on Palpatine's behalf. Fortunately for us and for the children, Ahsoka Tano, in all of her investigations over the mysterious Sith lord, Darth Vader, intercepts coordinates for two of their intended targets.
That's when she sends Kanan and Ezra to investigate one and she takes off to find another.
This is an episode I really loved. It struck that balance of humor, horror, and action, and it advanced the mythology of "Star Wars" in ways I wanted to see.
The Inquisitors are brutal in their methods and we're shown that Ezra and Kanan simply aren't qualified to deal with them when there is more than one of them in the situation. Kanan and Ezra (and Zeb and Chopper) get taken out in fairly short order. They put up a good fight, but they spend much of the episode on the run because they know they're simply outmatched. But then we get a "Duel of the Fates" moment that makes this episode one of my favorite of the entire series.
And, while the rest of the episode is good (Chopper and Zeb are particularly great), the moment with Ahsoka pulling a Darth Maul and allowing those double doors to open with her standing there with the blinding white light of the light side of the Force behind her was beautiful. It's a beautiful inverse of the Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon/Maul fight as well, with a mysterious Jedi arriving to destroy two Inquisitors. Ahsoka wields two sabers where Maul had a double bladed one. The best part about this, though, other than how cool it was to see and how well it fit into the iconography and mythology of "Star Wars," was Kevin Kiner's work creating a light side version of "Duel of the Fates" itself. His musical work here on "Rebels" seems to have taken a trip through hyperspace, it's some of the best "Star Wars" music I've heard.
I think it's important to note that everyone seems to have upped their game on this season so far, and it's the same thing we saw with "The Clone Wars." The animation is better, the scripts are better, the voice actors are better... Seriously, Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Taylor Gray leveled up between seasons somehow.
With great drama, thrilling chases, truly despicable villains, incredible action set-pieces, hilarious gags, and some of the highest stakes involved on the show so far, this episode was a quality entry that I'm pegging at an 8.5 out of 10.