The Holocrons of Fate: Star Wars Rebels 3.3 Review
**Radio Ryloth will be fast and loose with spoilers. Don’t get your head tails in a twist!!**
In ‘The Holocrons of Fate’ Darth Maul takes the crew of the Ghost hostage whilst Kanan and Ezra are away on a separate mission. Maul asks the Jedi to bring him the Sith holocron, and through manipulating Hera using the Force he learns the location of Kanan’s Jedi holocron which is stored on the Ghost. The Jedi must together seek out Bendu and reclaim the Sith holocron which Kanan gave to him for safe keeping. Bendu warns Kanan and Ezra that when the two holocrons are joined they can pose questions through the Force, receiving knowledge that cannot be unlearned, and may in fact be dangerous. When the Jedi go to meet Maul, he splits them up and then attempts to kill Kanan by flushing him out of an airlock. Kanan survives and finds the remaining crew just in time to save them from execution by Maul’s droids. Meanwhile Maul and Ezra open the holocrons and the two objects come together, filling the room with a blinding light. Kanan and the Ghost crew discover Maul and Ezra in time to persuade Ezra to look away, although he has already seen many disjointed images through the Force, including an image of “twin suns.” Maul escapes with the knowledge he seeks, shouting “He’s alive!” and speeds away in his Mandalorian ship.
This is a tense episode, the implied threat of Maul’s presence hanging in the air from early on. When Kanan contacts Hera on the Ghost to warn her of an Inquisitor knowing their location, her face tells a picture. Maul walks into the frame, and she is cowed. I’ll repeat that: Hera is cowed.
All of the non-Jedi Ghost crew members are portrayed as powerful and talented. They are way beyond any ‘normal’ being in their abilities and experience. However Maul’s raw power always trumps that, and he is unstable, adding unpredictability to his list of characteristics to fear. In this episode we see a physically powerful man subduing two normally strong but in this situation helpless women, and their companions. For me this power dynamic makes for uncomfortable viewing. It brings to mind Adi Gallia’s brutal killing at the hands of Savage Opress (‘Revival’ — TCW Season 5) where Adi was completely overpowered by Savage’s superior strength despite being a highly trained Jedi. The remembrance of this killing made me fear deeply, particularly for the female characters, at points during this episode.
When Maul appeared in the S2 finale, we could be confident that Kanan, Ezra and Ahsoka had a good chance of at least fighting him off and escaping, and possibly as a team beating him. None of the other crew members were at risk. We know that the remaining Ghost crew can’t beat Maul. In this episode they try valiantly to take advantage of his mechanised legs by activating the magnets in the hold to pin him to the ceiling, but he easily overcomes their attempt, casually Force-throwing Sabine across the room in the process — she is an expendable annoyance to him. The crew are left kneeling on the hold floor, bound and utterly beaten, their home violated, awaiting their execution.
Now, the more I thought about this the more it made me angry. Rebels has given us two strong female characters with agency but they are rendered helpless here. They have become damsels in distress who need the male Jedi to rescue them. Also, the only woman with the strength and skill to properly stand up to the powerful men in the galaxy was finished off (either completely, or left so ruined she has an uncertain future) by another of these all powerful, unbeatable, evil men.
The event of Vader vs. Ahsoka was important and inevitable in the timeline of Rebels. However we now have a gap of female power. Hera and Sabine are quite rightly being further developed as prominent saga characters but when you’ve got Jedi and Sith operating on a higher plane of power than them, you’ve got two classes of agency. And we currently have no females operating on this higher plane. Bendu and Thrawn, two new characters with a high level of power, are both male.
For me all these issues were driven home in this episode. The mention of twin suns at the end brings us full circle back to Tatooine and the male legacy of the OT. And so I watch with interest on how this situation develops as the series goes on.
These rather triggering issues aside, there is a lot for this fangirl to love about this episode.
Before they go to face Maul, Kanan and Ezra do some re-bonding as they search for the Sith holocron in the spider-infested caves near to Bendu’s dwelling. Kanan is gently stepping back into his role as Ezra’s teacher and guide, and in these scenes we get a feeling for Ezra’s vulnerability. His Force skills are progressing at a faster pace than his maturity, as was demonstrated in ‘Steps Into Shadow.’ His arrogance is peeled back and we see his need for forgiveness and guidance from father-figure Kanan.
Kanan was put out of the airlock. It is traditional for Jedi in these situations to hold on to the edge of the airlock door with the tips of their fingers, haul themselves back in then hit the big red ‘close’ button, thus saving themselves. But no — he went fully out into space. This was a genuinely shocking and unexpected moment, we know Maul is motivated and capable but we don’t expect him to act on it so callously. Kanan just makes it back in, using the Force to pull himself to the safety of the cargo bay. Luckily for the crew, who he saves seconds before the droids carry out their orders to execute them.
Finally — that force vision. It’s no secret that I am a huge Obi Wan Kenobi fan, and the closing scenes showing Maul cackling with glee and speeding off with the words “He lives!” on his lips left me very excited indeed. It’s also interesting — Maul clearly didn’t accept that Obi Wan had died during Order 66, hence how motivated he is to gain the knowledge of Kenobi’s whereabouts. I’m interested to know if he was explicitly told by the Emperor that Kenobi and Yoda were not accounted for.
I wrote at length about a possible Maul vs. Kenobi throw-down after this episode first aired. See my article here:
**Radio Ryloth will be fast and loose with spoilers — this includes spoilers for the most recent Rebels episode to air…futureoftheforce.com
We end ‘The Holocrons of Fate’ with more questions than answers, and the possibility of a trip to Tatooine further on in the season. A really great episode that builds on the story of the two Jedi and their relationship, and teases us with further links and references to the lore of the OT, the timeline of which we are now rapidly approaching.
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Radio Ryloth celebrates the incredibly detailed storytelling, characters and themes of Star Wars. I’ll be examining the relationships between the characters, and how they develop in the on screen universe of TCW, rebels and the films. I’ll be talking Jedi and the force in the SW universe as a whole. However we’ll be firmly rooted in Clone Wars geekdom and lore here as that forms the basis for my own fandom.
Star Wars is a saga for our times. It depicts corruption, patriarchy, exploitation and violence all overseen by a privileged elite. It comments on, reflects and influences the real world in which we live. Let’s follow this saga with questioning minds.
Good to have you along, troopers!