"Star Wars: Rebels" Episode 11 – Visions and Voices (9.5 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; Guest Starring Sam Witwer. Rated TV-Y7, Airs on Disney XD 12/10/16. It is currently available on the Disney XD app.
This review will contain mild spoilers.
Darth Maul has been a recurring character of this third season since his appearance in the utterly brilliant two-part season two finale of Rebels. He's been connected to Ezra Bridger and doing his best to bend him into being his apprentice. There's a sadness to their relationship, I think, and this episode highlights it beautifully. Maul really does need someone in his life. His upbringing conditioned him to have a partner and Sidious filled that role through his formative years, then Savage did. He spent so much time alone, I think he was thirsty to resume that sort of relationship.
Now that Ezra is in the picture, it seems so possible again.
This episode begins with Ezra seeing visions of Maul. They're connected somehow, since the incident with the holocrons, and it's driving Ezra to the brink of madness and it's a danger for everyone on Chopper Base. So he and Kanan seek out the Bendu to see how to sever Ezra's link with Maul.
And that's exactly when Maul shows up.
This episode was an intriguing look into this new phase of Maul's life in ways that I think we'll still be deconstructing for many viewings to come. Ezra agrees to willingly go with Maul to Dathomir, where they will partake of the old magic of the Nightsisters so they can join their minds and see the other half of the visions the holocron showed them.
Before they do this, however, Maul takes Ezra into his sanctum where he's collected mementos of his past that he thinks will help lead him to the thing that he seeks. Since that's Obi-Wan Kenobi, his sanctum is filled with mementos of their past together. The most curious objects are a painting of the Duchess Satine and the Dark Saber he used to kill her.
This Maul is much more restrained and emotional in a way that makes me wonder if he's not seeking out Obi-Wan Kenobi to kill him for vengeance, but to beg his forgiveness. To bury the hatchet, as it were. What more touching end could there be to Maul's journey than him going from Sith attack-dog to a humble and accepting individual? That's not to say that he doesn't have his moments of fury in this episode. But there's no question that, when he's lashing out at Ezra for refusing to join him, he's searching for something different than we expect. And we need to give credit where it's due: This is some of the best work Sam Witwer has done in any medium, not just with the character of Darth Maul.
I certainly had a tear in my eye when he asked Ezra to be his brother.
The other thing I found most fascinating about this episode, aside from the stellar work with Darth Maul in both voice and animation, was the mythology of the Nightsisters and the old-magic natures of the Force. The stone altar seems to be the source of power for the Nightsisters and this was a common motif in fantasy stories. In The Chronicles of Narnia it's the old magic of the stone table that allows Aslan to sacrifice himself and become more powerful than he can possibly imagine. It was his ultimate sacrifice that cracked the table. Sacrifice in purity only to attain a greater power has been a common theme in Star Wars since 1977, I wonder if we'll see more of that sacrifice play out here on the show.
And speaking of sacrifices, this is the second planet we've been keyed into that the Empire has commited genocide on during the Dark Times. They wiped out Geonosis and now all of Dathomir? They certainly need to be stopped at any cost.
This episode was rich in mythology and character work, but the animation was equally stunning. Every trip the Lucasfilm Animation team has taken to Dathomir has been breathtaking and this episode was no exception. The exterior shots of the cave looked almost like an actual McQuarrie painting rather than animation, the insides of the caves were terrifying under the green glow of the power of the Nightsisters. Add to all of that Kevin Kiner's brilliant work with the music and you have an episode of Rebels that is firing on all cylinders. This is among the best in the season and establishes the fact that we're heading toward two ends here: A showdown with Kenobi and a showdown with Thrawn. Either on their own would be thrilling, but together? Only the students of George Lucas would go for something so big and bold.
This episode earns a 9.5 out of 10.
Season 3 Scorecard:
- Steps Into Shadow (8 of 10)
- Holocrons of Fate (9 of 10)
- The Antilles Extraction (8 of 10)
- Hera's Heroes (8 of 10)
- The Last Battle (9 of 10)
- Imperial Super Commandos (7.5 of 10)
- Iron Squadron (7.5 of 10)
- The Wynkahthu Job (7.5 of 10)
- An Inside Man (8.5 of 10)
- Visions and Voices (9.5 of 10)
Season Average: 8.25 out of 10
For more in-depth discussions about Star Wars Rebels and all other things Star Wars, be sure to tune into Full of Sith every week.