Galactic Hunter Video Theater Presents: Star Wars Rebels - Path of the Jedi

By Adam Pawlus — Monday, January 5, 2015

The back half of Star Wars Rebels begins here with "Path of the Jedi," which treads very familiar ground. Like much of the series, various themes are brought back in a new form along with recreations of music and scenes you've seen in the movies and elsewhere. This week, we get the much-promoted return of Frank Oz as Yoda in a voiceover role during a Jedi temple sequence which does raise a number of in-Universe questions, like "So if there's only 10,000 Jedi, how come there are a bunch of very expensive, very ornate temples all over the galaxy?"

Now that we're back from break, let's see what's new in the Force. Read on for more!



As we move through the first season we see some nifty character designs in sparse backgrounds with precious few new characters. There are some lovely caves and carved walls, plus some nifty rotting corpses laying around in one of Lothal's many locations - a secret Jedi temple under a rock. I'm not sure exactly what would result random planets that aren't Coruscant to have hidden temples all over the place - admittedly, it's handy if there was a Jedi apocalypse - but if a religion only has 10,000 members it seems unlikely you're going to see a heck of a lot of holy buildings. It's a nifty contraption with a special secret knock to get in, and thankfully it's the most head-scratching element of this week's show.


In this episode, we see Ezra continue his Jedi training, poorly, during a run through a temple. We've seen scenes like this before in The Clone Wars and of course The Empire Strikes Back, with things like lightsaber construction and hallucinations serving as tools to forge the warrior of the future. Dramatic tension in this episode runs low due to the very blatant and often-used plot device of the Force hallucination, but it spooks Ezra enough to show us just who he really is - a kid, unsure of himself, who like so many of us had an identity more or less foisted upon him. He doesn't seem to have a problem with this, either - when asked why he should be a Jedi, he answers because someone told him he might make a good one. That's not all that different from being a lawyer because your parents nudged you into it. Given the nature of the Star Wars galaxy when Ezra Bridger was born it's unlikely that being a warrior-monk of some sort was even on his radar. The air of resignation to his fate must not be that different from what the creative team must be feeling - they're good at Star Wars, so that's what they're doing because Disney asked for it. And here it is.


If Star Wars animation didn't already have a frankly excellent Yoda in Tom Kane, I'd assume an episode like this was built around stunt-casting as Frank Oz brings us the chipper, pleasant teacher we see glimpses of here and there. The intergalactic phone call takes place through some form of magic, be it the temple itself acting as a conduit for communication or good ol' fashioned space telepathy. The conversations between Yoda and Kanan plus Yoda and Ezra really don't tell us too much that we didn't already know. The show tells us that Ezra is growing as a person, and his interest in helping others is what makes him qualify for the Jedi Online Correspondence School - graduates of which get their own Kyber Crystal and start construction on their own lightsabers. Our hero earns his blue crystal by basically realizing a hallucination was a hallucination and answering a couple of questions in a non-threatening way. We don't know that he's definitely not a Dark Sider, and we certainly aren't seeing him help a ton of other people by virtue of the fact that the animation budget prevents too many new people from coming by the show. We just have to accept that he's a good guy, and that the climactic moment when he whips out his combination staple gun-cum-lightsaber that it's a hard-won victory deserving of applause. I can't say I agree, and perhaps I'm being too hard on the show.


Unlike The Clone Wars, a show which was a sidequel of sorts, I don't feel like I'm getting much new out of this group of characters. The animation still looks wonderful, the music is still good but comically similar to things we've been exposed to via every game, cartoon, or soundtrack album and this really feels like training wheels for the next generation of fans. Odds are the tiny tots don't have time to stress over the original 6 movies, over 100 Clone Wars episodes, and other Expanded Universe lore so this is a decent enough crash course in a galaxy far, far away. While The Clone Wars seemed like a kid show that became a program devoted purely to giving fans of Star Wars a much larger playground, Rebels is satisfied to serve as a pastiche of familiar themes and concepts while the rest of us just sit here waiting for The Force Awakens hopefully give us something newer.


Earlier in the season I commented that the first episodes of Rebels seemed a lot like Agents of SHIELD, a show that I hear improved wildly after I stopped watching it during its first season. TV has come a long way over the last few decades and given the Golden Age we're in now, I don't think it's unreasonable that I should be able to walk away form an episode feeling something. Maybe it's disgust, maybe it's joy, maybe it's amazement - after all, The Clone Wars gave me episodes about bank deregulation, growing up and breaking out on your own, and trying to find your place as just another schmuck in the machinations of an uncaring galaxy. I could comb through The Clone Wars and feel something almost every week, whereas it seems this episode and nearly every episode of Rebels feels like yet another attempt at redoing the pilot. Something gets introduced, but we don't really go deep into much and most of the time, anything being built feels like it may be a very, very long way away.


Takeaway from this week:
Ezra's lightsaber finally debuts, so I assume that toy ought to be showing up in the solicitations soon.
The magical nature of the Force hallucinations didn't work for me - immediately cutting from one locale to the next should make it obvious that you're either going insane, or are in the midst of some sort of religious experience.
The rotting corpse trick was played before with Luminara Unduli as a creepy moment that will haunt me until I die. Playing the same trick again here so soon, especially with the set-up that their deaths are the result of an (unseen) failed Padawan, takes away from one of the most chilling moments in the entire saga.
The fake Inquisitor showing up was a trick I hope we don't replay soon. He's a potentially neat character, but I'm kind of sick of seeing him be around and not actually do anything of merit.

Next time: "Idiot's Array," which is a term in Sabacc, which if it doesn't mean the rumored Lando appearance is on deck I'll be disappointed. See you in seven!