"Star Wars: Rebels" Episode 19 – Twin Suns (10 out of 10) – Based on characters and situations created by George Lucas; Directed by Dave FIloni; Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Taylor Gray, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar, David Oyelowo; Special Guest stars: Sam Witwer, Stephen Stanton, James Arnold Taylor; Rated TV-Y7, Aired on Disney XD 3/18/17. It is currently available on the Disney XD app.
This review will contain spoilers.
Today, we bore witness to one of the truly great moments in Star Wars, whether that's live action, animated, or novelized. This episode was important and stunning and beautifully executed.
It's hard to talk about this episode without getting into the the big spoiler, so I would recommend stopping now if you haven't watched the show.
Twin Suns brings to a close the decades-old conflict between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul and I couldn't be more satisfied and heartbroken by its conclusion. But before we get to that conclusion, we have to follow Ezra on a journey that is equal parts A Sunny Day in the Void and Luke's failure in the cave. He arrives on Tatooine in a stolen ship and has to wander through the desert, which is loaded with all manner of mythological significance. It's a common motif in many myths for the hero to enter the desert seeking understanding and exit with a new perspective, and Ezra Bridger is no different.
But he would have almost died if it wasn't for the watchful eyes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who has had his own, longer, journey in the desert, and is far wiser than we've seen. It's important to note that this is the first time we've seen Obi-Wan in animated form as he inhabits completely the mythological space of "Master Swordsman" and "Wizard." He has transcended the need for violence, for vengeance, for revenge, and anything beyond the scope of his wisdom and his mission. He is Merlin. From Seven Samurai, he's a combination of Kambei and Kyuzo, which will be important later.
Ezra, in his lack of knowledge about the Force, so early in his training and so young on his journey, didn't realize that maybe Obi-Wan Kenobi didn't need a warning that Maul was coming. And it's something we could have guessed being savvy Star Wars viewers. In A New Hope, Vader almost instantly recognizes Kenobi's presence aboard the Death Star, naturally, Kenobi would be able to sense the presence of evil, both near and afar. In fact, his first line in The Phantom Menace is about sensing that sense of unease across the galaxy.
Ezra has done nothing but been used by Maul to lead him to Kenobi. And it works.
Kenobi and Maul let Ezra go without an argument. He's sent on his way, leaving Maul and Obi-Wan to have their confrontation. It echoes, perhaps, the confrontations between Valjean and Javert in Les Miserables, where their lives circled in orbit and Valjean had been able to become a new man, but Javert was unchanging and that led to his blindness to nuance, and this is really the problem with the Sith, or those who were raised by the Sith.
But we realize that the actual confrontation is about to happen and there are a few striking things about this moment as sabers are drawn. First, Obi-Wan does not draw his saber to defend himself, only when Luke is mentioned, albeit obliquely, does he move to defend himself. Second, the music here is perfect. Kiner brings us a piece of music of such tension that it almost slips by that Obi-Wan Kenobi's theme plays beneath, but it has so much meaning in the context of the episode and the place and with the characters. Twin sons. Obi-Wan and Maul might be brothers in a way. Third, is the way the duel is staged.
For anyone who has seen Seven Samurai, the introduction of Kyuzo, the master swordsman, is a favorite scene. (Here it is, as a refresher.) While being challenged by a fellow samurai, Kyuzo knows he's the better swordsman. "It was a tie!" the other samurai screams after they duel with branches. "No, I won." Kyuzo declares coldly.
And this damages the ego of the samurai quick to ego, so they duel with real swords.
At this point, Kambei, narrating to his apprentice, Katsuhiro, explains that this is such a waste. The other samurai will die because he's too blind to see that Kyuzo is the better swordsman and this is going to be the death of him.
For his part, Kyuzo, just like Kenobi here, merely adjusts his stance to meet the coming onslaught by the attacking foe. There's a stillness to him. A power that comes from calm and confidence. He makes no attack. In the world of Jedi, this is perfect. A Jedi never uses the Force for attack. Only defense. The samurai charges and is bested in one chop, falling to his death.
Maul, as a Sith, does the same thing.
Some might complain about the brief flash of a fight that ensues, but it has to be this way. Not only to reinforce Kenobi's role archetypally but to echo the anti-climax of Maul's original "death." But the echoes of that moment don't end there. Going back and watching the echoes of dialogue from Qui-Gon and Maul here, as Kenobi similarly cradles them, warrants examination. In his death, Qui-Gon spoke of certainty about the Chosen One, Maul speaks in confusion. At the end, Qui-Gon's concern is balance and the greater good, for Maul, it's still of vengeance, his eyes themselves twin suns of rage going out.
But here's the curious thing: he includes Kenobi in his wish for vengeance. "He will avenge us," he says.
Maul does look at Kenobi as a brother of some sort. Twin sons, indeed. In his last moments we have this peace that comes to him from the begrudging respect of an enemy.
There is so much more that could be said about this episode and so much will be said about it. It's dense in symbolism and connections to other pieces of Star Wars and its ramifications will be felt far and wide.
As the episode ends, if there was a dry eye anywhere among the viewership, I'll be surprised.
I wept through many viewings of this episode and I feel, like Rogue One and Revenge of the Sith and Twilight of the Apprentice, it will continue to do so.
This episode was a flawless masterpiece of Star Wars. People will talk about this in the same sentence as the greatest moments of Star Wars. The creatives involved hit a home run, whether that was Dave Filoni adding to his magnum opus in his corner of the Star Wars universe, Stephen Stanton resurrecting Alec Guinness from the dead, or Sam Witwer putting a beautiful period on a journey that would have been impossible without him, everyone has done their best work here.
For me, this episode was a perfect 10 out of 10. It was everything I didn't realize I wanted.
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)
- Ghosts of Geonosis (8 of 10)
- Warhead (8 of 10)
- Trials of the Darksaber (10 of 10)
- Legacy of Mandalore (8 of 10)
- Through Imperial Eyes (9 of 10)
- Secret Cargo (8 of 10)
- Double Agent Droid (8 of 10)
- Twin Suns (10 of 10)
Season Average: 8.4 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.