Steps Into Shadow: Star Wars Rebels 3.1/3.2 Review
Here lies a Sith temple full of spoilers! Turn away now if you haven’t watched “Steps Into Shadow” yet. You seek knowledge, but this is not the way to gain it. I will await your return like Old Master on Malachor…
“Purple guy. Mando girl. Ezra Bridger. Look how you’ve grown.”
The sacrifices you make for your Padawans. Kanan lost his eyesight. I couldn’t go to the Star Wars Rebels panel at Celebration London. I know he can’t, like, see or anything. But I literally had to wait months until I could watch “Steps Into Shadow”. I needed Bendu more than him, okay?
“Steps Into Shadow” continues the Star Wars Rebels tradition of opening with a double episode designed as a television movie. Much of it is concerned with the fallout from the events of “Twilight of the Apprentice”. Ezra’s crew cut symbolises…sorry, just messing with you, the short hair only means that he has cut it. He is however dealing with feelings of guilt over Kanan’s blindness. Ezra’s internal logic goes that if he hadn’t trusted Maul then Kanan wouldn’t have been blindsided (again, apologies) by the former Sith Lord. Kanan has distanced himself from the group and without his master’s support, Ezra turns to the recently acquired Sith holocron for answers. Although he provides them himself, because an “object cannot make you good or evil” as another character explains later on. “I will never let my friends get hurt again,” Ezra promises. The desire to protect others has been a constant with him. As he becomes more powerful, so does that urge.
“Ezra used his Jedi mind trick on the pilot. Pretty wizard, eh?”
We’re thrown into the action at the start of “Steps Into Shadow” as we find Ezra leading a team to rescue everyone’s favourite double-crossing, no-good swindler of a Weequay pirate, Hondo Ohnaka. Hondo is as hilarious as always, which acts as a superb counterpoint to the cold and powerful way in which Ezra is now utilising the Force. Ezra wills the driver of a Scout Walker to turn on his own before stepping the machine off a cliff. “When did Kanan teach you that?” asks Sabine. “He didn’t.” It’s badass, but also very concerning. If his need to protect has a hint of Anakin about it, this was pure Vader.
Meanwhile, back at the Imperial ranch we discover that Governor Pryce will not be a Columbo’s wife type character in that we actually get to meet her. Yay! She has a severe look and she owns it. Her manner is precise and confident. All of which is immediately endearing, in an awesome Imperial sort of way. Watching her conduct herself on a par with Tarkin gives us a good idea of her standing. The Grand Moff states that Vader has dealt with the rebel cell’s Jedi leadership, so a more pragmatic solution to the immediate rebel problem must be sought. Pryce requests the Seventh Fleet. “I want someone who sees the bigger picture,” she explains. That Thrawn is described as “someone who sees” in a story concerned with sight or the lack thereof is no coincidence. From the title down, “Steps Into Shadow” deals with what people see or cannot see; what they gain and lose.
“I see you. I see you. Come to me.”
The voice of Bendu heard by Kanan during meditation
Kanan goes on a journey of his own to meet “the one in the middle. The Bendu.” He brings the Sith holocron that he took from Ezra, after discovering his apprentice had been using it. After emerging out of the very landscape itself, Bendu explains that “Your imbalance woke me from a deep slumber”. It’s as if the very rocks and giant fauna have come to life. He has an almost Ent-like presence, seemingly benign, but with the understanding that he’s not exactly on anybody’s side. The fact that he is voiced by the Fourth Doctor himself, Tom Baker, ensures that it is a primal stance rather than mere ambivalence that is communicated. With the guidance of Bendu, Kanan learns to “see things differently”. Having righted the imbalance within himself he gifts the Sith holocron to Bendu and dashes off to help rescue Ezra. This isn’t Luke leaving Dagobah for Bespin, yet there is the suggestion that Kanan has more to learn from the one in the middle.
Ezra was promoted after successfully rescuing Hondo, but when he decides to turn from his later recon mission and actually engage Reklam Station things start to go badly wrong. He understands that the Y-wings would help their cause, but doesn’t stop to consider the consequences for his team and disobeys a direct command. Ezra is reckless and short-sighted, which sometimes works for him, but not always. (When Ezra now tries to step back from his powers he doesn’t have the perceived success as when he gives into them. Will this push him towards an easier path?) He calls out for his master in despair — a what-have-I-done moment of clarity — as he is plunging to his doom. Hera and Kanan show up just in time to save him, but Hera is forced to suspend his command. Thrawn allows them to leave with their “meagre reward”. His eyes are indeed on the long game.
We finish on a note of reconciliation between Ezra and Kanan. This doesn’t wipe the slate clean, but it’s a start. Just as “Steps Into Shadow” is a magnificent start to the third season of Star Wars Rebels.
Other points of awesomeness:
- Rex taking on the Dismantler droids in mid-air
- Hondo speaks Ugnaught
- Brom Titus will be lucky to be commanding trash compactors after this
- Chopper’s Clone Wars PTSD is set off by having to get into a Y-wing
- They killed the Phantom!
- The Y-wings are going to General Dodonna’s unit…