Monday, 7 March 2016

Star Wars Rebels 'Shroud of Darkness' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

After several weeks focusing on the individual members of the Ghost crew and exploring their pasts 'Shroud of Darkness' heads back into the main story of season two and the fight between the Jedi and the Sith in spectacular fashion.

The episode opens with Kanan and Ezra scouting out a planet to see if it can serve as a base, but instead of finding a new hiding place they find the Inquisitors.  Despite having improved in their combat skills and developing some cool dual fighting techniques the two of them are forced to flee.

Despite the viewers having not seen the Inquisitors for a while it would seem that they've been more active off screen as Kanan and Ezra say that they've been encountering the two of them regularly, and come to the conclusion that if the Inquisitors are tracking them their presence within the rebel fleet might be putting the whole rebellion in danger.

The two of them meet with Ahsoka to discuss the problem.  When Ezra arrives Ahsoka is using a Jedi holocron to watch some pre-recorded lessons from her former master, Anakin Skywalker.  This little inclusion of Anakin is great, as it not only gives us a look at the former Jedi in the Rebels art style, but it goes to show that even after leaving the Jedi order Ahsoka cared deeply for him and saw his teachings as being important.  With the show seeming to be building to a confrontation between Ahsoka and Vader this makes this scene especially poignant.

Kanan, Ezra and Ahsoka discuss the problem with the Inquisitors and decide that the advice of a much older and wiser Jedi is needed, and as such set off to Lothal to try and make contact with Master Yoda in the Jedi temple there as Ezra did in the previous season.

Once the three of them reach the temple they begin to meditate together and each have a very different experience.

Kanan meets with a Temple Guard in a training room (that feels very similar to a Star Wars version of the Matrix construct training area where Neo and Morpheus fight) and receives a warning that Ezra is edging closer to the dark side, and will soon be tempted to turn against Jedi teachings.  Kanan refuses to accept this fate and enters into a fight with the Temple Guard.

Ezra manages to make contact with Yoda, this time being able to see the Jedi Master thanks to having increased his abilities.  Yoda laments at the fate of the Jedi, and their involvement in the Clone War, raising questions for Ezra as to whether fighting, even for the right thing, is the best thing that a Jedi can do.  Ezra passionately defends the idea of using his Jedi abilities to fight against the empire.  unable to reason with the young man Yoda simply tells him to seek Malachor for answers.

Ahsoka's vision is perhaps one of the most important and packs the biggest emotional punch.  Having come close to Vader in the season opener Ahsoka was left with the troubling suspicion that Vader was in some way connected to Anakin, this time the Force chose to reveal the truth of that connection.  The moment is well acted and choreographed, and the pain and guilt that Ahsoka feels is evident, giving the show one of it's most emotionally impactful moments since Ezra learnt of the death of his parents,

All three of them are broken out of their visions at the arrival of the Inquisitors, who are trying to break their way into the temple.  It is then that the Temple Guard Kanan is facing remove his mask and answers one of the mysteries the show has had since its very first episode.  The Temple Guard is the Grand Inquisitor, revealing that before the rise of the Empire he was a member of the Jedi order.  He knights Kanan, then tells him to flee, promising to buy him the time he needs to escape.

The Grand Inquisitor, and several other Temple Guard spirits confront the Inquisitors and distract them long enough for the three Jedi to escape.  The episode ends with Vader arriving at the temple, and states that the Jedi's growing power will be their downfall.

'Shroud of Darkness' is one best episodes of Star Wars Rebels to date and gives us a closer look at our Jedi heroes, as well as giving us hints of things to come.  The episode is all about the lure of the darkside, from the warning by Yoda and the Grand Inquisitor to Ahsoka learning the truth about Vader, it's everywhere in this episode.

At this point I wouldn't be surprised to see Ezra end up going to the dark side at some point, and I'm both excited and scared for the possibility of an Ahsoka Vader fight.  There have been fan theories that Ezra will be in Episode Eight as a member of the Knights of Ren (that's who a lot of people are suggesting who Benicio Del Toro will be playing) and this could very well be the groundwork for that.

Malachor has been mentioned in Star Wars lore in the past, mainly with connections to the dark side and the Sith.  Is this the place we've seen in the trailers that has the Sith temple?  Will this be where Ezra finds the cross-guard sabre?  Is this where we will see Darth Maul again?  I think there's a very strong chance that the answer to all of these questions will be a yes.


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