A Close Read of Star Wars Rebels: “Twin Suns” – Part 2 – Atollon

All Close Read Entries


At the beginning of the episode, the use of Maul’s POV established him as a primary viewpoint character. Now with another sight-based shot – an extreme close-up of Ezra’s eye opening – the status of viewpoint character is passed to the young Jedi.

WHAT IS A LEGACY? …MY MOTHER ON THE OTHER SIDE. MY FATHER IS WATCHING FROM THE OTHER SIDE.

“Twin Suns” acts in many ways as a successor to the Season 2 episode “Legacy,” both in spirit and character development. The very opening sequence of “Legacy” is mirrored in the post-title scene of “Twin Suns.”

A display of the visual parallels listed below.

It opens on the location where the rebels are currently station, followed by a shot of the Ghost, and then a shot of Ezra and Zeb’s room. Ezra is then prompted by a message through the Force. This message brings him to wander about an abandoned hallway and/or room. Within the room, the message informs Ezra of a person’s location, which sets him off on his journey for the episode. Other visual parallels include the use of blue to denote something trustworthy and red to denote danger, Ezra falling, and an old man in hiding. There are even some of the same audio cues, such as the high-pitched note persistent throughout his vision in “Legacy,” which is the same noise the Sith Holocron makes as Maul’s voice carries over. This is a hint that the message is not from the Force like it was in “Legacy,” but merely transmitted through the Force.

This is more than simple repetition for the sake of looking clever or reusing an old plot point; these parallels are there to help us understand why Ezra makes the decisions that he does. It all revolves around family.

“Legacy” revolves around Ezra discovering what happened to his parents. Even though there was nothing he could have done to save them, Ezra could very well be haunted by the fact that he received his vision the same night they were killed, and he did nothing.

This is further reinforced by the number of episodes in Season 3 in which Ezra is frustrated by inaction or his inability to take action. We see this frustration in the “Antilles Extraction,” in which he is constantly anxious about Sabine’s solo mission. This could be read as one of his motivations in attempting to extract Kallus in “Through Imperial Eyes.” This is what prompts him to start using the Sith Holocron, to make sure he will never again be helpless to save his new family.

And unfortunately, this is what sets him down the path Maul has wanted for him all along.

 

SOON I WILL HAVE A NEW APPRENTICE…

Keep in mind that even though Maul’s immediate goal in “Twin Suns” is to find and kill Obi-Wan, his long-term goals still include Ezra’s apprenticeship. His use of Ezra as bait to “tempt [Kenobi’s] noble heart” to draw Obi-Wan out is also intended to draw out Ezra himself. And in order to do so, Maul must tempt Ezra’s noble heart as well.

To understand the tactic Maul is using here, we have to understand the dynamic between Maul and Ezra that began in the Season 2 finale “Twilight of the Apprentice,” and to understand that, we have to understand Ezra’s character development leading up to and following after that finale.

Recreating Ezra to be more like him has been a goal of Maul’s ever since they met on Malachor. Ezra has been demonstrated to be a highly empathetic person, and Maul’s first real victory in Rebels is when he gets Ezra to empathize with him over their shared loss of family. As Ezra responds to Maul’s tragic life with compassion, Maul looks at him and smiles. It starts off kindly and genuine, but in the last moment, the true, scheming reality slips through.

Ezra is continually prompted down Maul’s path throughout “Twilight of the Apprentice” by Maul reiterating time and time again Ezra’s helplessness to save his friends if he refuses to use the Dark Side. This leads to Ezra constantly agreeing with Maul throughout the episode and eventually to Ezra’s use of the Holocron in Season 3, which again, is exactly what Maul wanted (Sam Witwer Season 2 Interview, IGN). Throughout their encounters, Maul is constantly trying to remake Ezra into a version of himself, praising him for his ambitions (even when those ambitions are aggressive against Maul) and pleading for Ezra’s company as a brother at the expense of those around the boy.

“Twilight of the Apprentice” acts as a microcosm of the events of Revenge of the Sith, in which the dynamic between Ezra and Maul is an echo of Anakin and Palpatine. An old Sith (Maul) acts as a friend towards a young Jedi (Ezra) to drive a wedge between him and his Master (Kanan) and the Jedi Order (Ahsoka). The Sith exhorts the Jedi to kill another Darksider, claims to see the Jedi’s true potential, expresses trust towards the young Jedi, and pretends to be concerned for the Jedi’s loved ones. The Sith acts as an ally against the external threat of the Separatists (Inquisitors) but is playing a longer game that would result in the death of both sides with the Sith alone on top.

But Maul is not Palpatine and makes a few critical errors. Palpatine never directly attacked Obi-Wan or Padme and thus kept his hands clean, in a sense. Maul flat-out blinds Kanan. Palpatine was patient and willing to play the long game until he had established a personal repertoire with Anakin. Maul expects Ezra to be won over in a night. But to say that his failure to turn Ezra was entirely the fault of Maul’s would be a disservice to Ezra himself.

Ultimately, Maul fails because Ezra is not Anakin.

Ezra and Anakin are foils to each other, beginning as far back as their childhood. Both of them were raised by a loving parent or two who taught them to be selfless.

“Mom, you say the biggest problem in this universe is that nobody helps each other.” (The Phantom Menace)

“They used to say it all the time when I was little, ‘If we don’t stand up, who will?’” (Rebels, “Legacy”)

These words of their parents end up changing the course of their lives. Anakin insists on following his mother’s teaching, and as a result, Qui-Gon frees him and brings him away from Tatooine even as Shmi Skywalker is still enslaved. Ezra’s parents – Ephraim and Mira – live out their teaching in front of their son, and as a result, they are taken off Lothal into captivity even as Ezra stays behind, free but alone.

In both Anakin and Ezra, this establishes a fear of abandonment and loss, and the fear that they are helpless to do anything about it. Anakin’s response is to immediately aim to grow more powerful to prevent such things from happening ever again. Ezra’s response is to grow callus and selfish to prevent himself from getting hurt ever again. When they both get checked by a mentor figure – Obi-Wan telling Anakin to know his place and Hera scolding Ezra for living selfishly – their response demonstrates a significant difference in who they are.

Anakin hides from his flaws, seeking to blame others for the things wrong in his life, and is positive that if only people got out of his way, he could save them. He doesn’t accept that he could be the one responsible for something bad happening to him or them. So Anakin pushes back harder against the limits that he believes are keeping him from saving people. When he does take on guilt, it’s never pointed back to his character or his choices, but to his abilities. To him, everything wrong is external.

Ezra will argue and buck and complain, but at the end of the day, when he learns he was wrong, he changes. He takes responsibility for his actions. He’s willing to adjust his worldview when presented with new information. Ezra understands that sometimes the things that are wrong in his life are internal.

When Anakin is confronted by the death of his mother, he slaughters a village. When Ezra encounters Tseebo, the man he holds responsible for his parents’ capture and (assumed, at the time) death, he searches deep to draw out the forgiveness necessary to free both himself and Tseebo from the guilt.

Having that moral compass that is separate from – even if occasionally muddled by – his feelings is what keeps Ezra from killing the Seventh Sister in cold blood. It’s what has him turning against Maul even before he learns Kanan was attacked.

Palpatine won by playing on Anakin’s ego and fears, and this is the tactic Maul initially tries. And then tries again in “Holocrons of Fate,” and then again in “Visions and Voices.”

“You are as ambitious as ever!” (“Holocrons of Fate”)

“This is your opportunity to embrace your destiny.” (“Visions and Voices”)

While Maul discovers that the fear of losing his friends is an effective motivator, he eventually learns that Ezra’s ego is not.

We do start seeing shades of Anakin’s arrogance – the belief that he can save everyone if only he was allowed power and the belief that anything wrong was not his fault – in Ezra in the Season 3 premiere as he begins to use the Sith Holocron. But as he reaches a breaking point, with Kanan both literally and metaphorically reaching down into the dark to draw him back, Ezra acknowledges he took the wrong step and later refuses to use the Sith Holocron even when Kanan gives him permission in the next episode.

Therefore, by the time Maul swings back around into Ezra’s life, Ezra’s regained his footing enough to dig his heels in against Maul’s cajoling and flattery. Unfortunately, in doing so, Ezra exposes his true pressure point: responsibility. Or rather his hyper-responsibility.

Hyper-responsibility is similar to the arrogance shown by Anakin in that both are essentially a desire to save others and set things right, but whereas Anakin’s arrogance is outward pointing in its blame, Ezra’s hyper-responsibility is inward pointing.

“If we don’t stand up, who will?”

And we see that happening around Maul. Ezra blames himself for Kanan’s injury. He directly says to Maul that Kanan and Sabine were trapped by the Nightsisters “because of us!” And as such, Ezra has a responsibility to act.

Thus, in “Twin Suns,” Maul knows that he cannot appeal to Ezra’s ego in order to get the response he desires. He has to appeal to his guilt and hyper-responsibility to manipulate Ezra into walking Maul’s path. So it is with Kenobi’s voice that Maul lures Ezra out of his sleep and away from the room shared with Zeb.

The solitude of the hallway and Kanan’s room works as a plot point – no one else witnesses the Holocrons’ activity – and as atmosphere-setting, but there also could be a touch of symbolism here. The abandoned feeling of it all also has an echo of the barren landscape through which Maul is trudging. Ezra is already taking the first step towards the same empty wastes that define Maul’s life.

But Ezra is not stepping into this entirely without warning… warning… warning…

 

LEAVE A MESSAGE AFTER THE TONE

In the scene following this, Kanan will say “Holocrons at times take on a life of their own.” While we know that Maul is exerting his own influence on the Holocrons, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to argue that the Jedi Holocron would be fighting back against a Darksider’s use to give its own message. As a result, we have a set of reused dialogue that could be read with multiple meanings.

“Near the beginning of the episode, the only sign of Obi-Wan is his disembodied voice saying “I regret, I regret,” as if all he has is his name and his loss.” (Megan Crouse, Den of Geek)

As Crouse so heartbreakingly points out, the beginning of the message is an echo of a Kenobi in the midst of Order 66. It’s a mournful painting of an old master. Of course, as we come to find out later, this is an incomplete picture of Obi-Wan. He doesn’t even have his name anymore, but he is not entirely defined by his loss. He is also defined by the “new hope” of which he speaks.

However, neither Ezra nor Maul are aware of this; they are operating with an outdated or self-projected view of Kenobi, demonstrated by Ezra seeing a recording of a younger man and Maul being the one that prompted the message to project in the first place.

The brokenness of the message itself could also be read as a reflection of Maul’s manipulations, whether it’s by the message being distorted by his current hand or through the destruction of both Holocrons in his search for answers. Said destruction is another fascinating image here, as Maul (the Sith Holocron) and Obi-Wan (the Jedi Holocron) are surrounded by the remnants of their respective Orders and their place in it.

The Jedi Holocon continues: “This message is a warning…” This could apply to both Ezra and Maul. Ezra is being lured out into danger by a Sith Lord; Maul is charging down a self-destructive path.

Then Ezra is singled out in particular (as we later learn Obi-Wan is in no need of a warning): “to any surviving Jedi, surviving Jedi…” It combines with a preceding phrase of “a dark shadow,” which seems to be letting him know exactly where the threat is coming from.

“Who are you after?” – Ahsoka Tano
“A shadow.” – The Eighth Brother, referring to Maul

This warning to Ezra is coupled to an observation by YouTuber Urban Acolyte: this message of Obi-Wan’s is a message to stay away (Urban Acolyte TV). Stay away from the Jedi Temple. Stay away from Obi-Wan. Stay away from the trap set by the Sith. Like his manipulations of Ezra’s sense of responsibility, Maul’s use of this message to lure Ezra in is an example of him twisting something that is intended for good unto his own ends.

Not appearing in this broken recording is the following line: “Trust the Force.” That I also find significant, again considering this is not the Force reaching out to Ezra like it did with his parents. This is Maul, and this situation is not to be trusted.

“A new hope will emerge. A new hope.” Not only does this apply to Luke and Obi-Wan’s purpose on Tatooine, but it again can be read as a message to both Ezra and Maul. Upon hearing from Bail Organa that Obi-Wan was dead, it’s possible that Ezra lost hope that the Sith could be destroyed. As for Maul, “hope” is what he was initially seeking from the Holocrons, and this is a reminder that never reaches his ears.

Now the Sith Holocron chimes in: “Kenobi… Kenobi!”

…that bit’s fairly straightforward.

 

BREAKING AND ENTERING

The manner in which Ezra approaches and enters Kanan’s room is similar to the way the Jedi Holocron draws him to it and Kanan’s lightsaber in the very first episode of the show: “Spark of Rebellion.” He finds the door locked, finagles it open, and takes a moment to look around for whatever it was that called him there.

There are certain differences between the two scenes that mark Ezra’s growth as a character, such as Ezra using the Force to open the door as opposed to picking the lock. He also enters as a friend, not a thief, asking for Kanan. I believe this parallel can be seen as an indication of a turning point in Ezra’s life.

Ezra’s theft and opening of the Jedi Holocron in “Spark of the Rebellion” is critical to Ezra joining the Ghost crew, and in joining the crew, Ezra’s life takes a turn onto the right path. In “Twin Suns,” being drawn to the Holocrons turns Ezra off of the right path, but the journey on which he goes eventually sends him back and removes that which drew him off in the first place: Maul.

Maul and Ezra are consistently connected through the Holocrons. In some cases, it’s obvious, as we see them retrieving the Sith Holocron together, merging both the Jedi and the Sith Holocrons (which makes a mental connection they then have to sever), and then Maul luring Ezra back to him through them. In other cases, however, Maul and Ezra aren’t in the same room, but they exhibit the same traits.

When Maul retrieves the Jedi Holocron from Kanan’s room, he, like Ezra’s first time, is entering as a thief, and even gives a chuckle of approval when he learns Ezra stole it. In “Spark of Rebellion,” Ezra initially can’t figure out how to open it and shouts in frustration, throwing the Holocron across the room. In “Holocrons of Fate,” Maul is completely incapable of opening it, and we hear his furious screaming across the ship.

Since “Spark of Rebellion,” however, Ezra has grown. Maul, on the other hand, has been stagnant at best, and, I would argue, has actually regressed in his development. Ezra is beyond Maul, but Maul either refuses to see that or sees that as a problem to be fixed.

All this adds to the sense that Maul’s manipulation of the Holocrons to lure Ezra to Tatooine isn’t just about finding Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s yet another layer to the attempt by Maul to remake Ezra into someone like himself.

 

FROM THE SHELVES! TO THE WALL!

I would briefly like to draw your attention to the Holocrons’ positioning. While they are on a level shelf, the camera movement and the source of the light for both are at a slant. Obi-Wan’s message projects above the Holocron, Maul’s originates from the Holocron itself, thus putting Maul’s below Obi-Wan’s, similar to the positioning of Tatooine’s twin suns. We’ll get to why this is important in a later scene.

For now, let’s make a “higher ground” joke and stick it up on that wall:

 

“MAUL’S BACK” [CUE 90’S SITCOM LAUGH TRACK]

Trust me, Ezra. We know.

A serious moment for the characters, but such a delightful meta line, along with its partner from the episode’s end: “We won’t be seeing Maul again.” The absurdity of Maul’s presence in Star Wars post-Phantom Menace works, I’m not going to deny that, but it is still absurd. Remove it from the established context of the Star Wars universe and… well… Look. It starts with him being too angry to die and getting magic chicken legs to replace the spider legs he built out of space mysticism and literal junk. I’m sorry; Darth Maul’s story is weird (and thus an example of good science fiction, but that’s another topic).

To truly explore the hilarity of this line, I have to go back to the finale of Season 2 and the cry that came about because of it: “Ahsoka Lives.” This likely is what sparked the “Maul Lives?” response to “Twin Suns” around a year later, and that punctuation is everything.

When Ahsoka was first introduced into the canon, there was always that hovering question about whether or not she was going to survive Order 66, and Rebels Season 2 left her on an equally ambiguous note. Her fate has always been in question from the fan perspective, and so “Ahsoka Lives” is a statement, a rallying cry.

In contrast, Maul’s fate was always set in stone. Kind of. There was no question that he died in The Phantom Menace, and no Expanded Universe canon even attempted to contradict it. If he did show up post-Battle of Naboo, it was as a hologram, training program, force vision, or in a definitively non-canon comic. He was dead, dead, dead, and we all knew it. The fans knew it. Filoni knew it.

George Lucas apparently didn’t.

Because then The Clone Wars happened, and as a fandom, we collectively went “Maul… lives?”

And now, because of that twist, over a decade in the making, no matter how definitive his fate seems on-screen – from Sidious declaring that he was not going to kill Maul to Obi-Wan actually seeing Maul die – there will always be that uncertainty: “Maul Lives?”

Maul’s ability to defy death was also present at the writer’s table. Lucas himself not only called for his resurrection, but also for him to survive the episode “The Lawless,” despite the rest of the writers wanting Savage to be the one who made it out alive (Celebration 2017, StarWars.com). Maul was supposed to die one other time in canon, in the Season 2 finale of Rebels, against Vader. In fact, this duel with Vader was the impetus for bringing him into the series in the first place. However, due to a number of story considerations, the battle between Vader and Maul was cut, and the Zabrak survived the writer’s table for a third time (ScreenCrush).

As a result, Ezra’s two lines: “Maul’s back” and “We won’t be seeing Maul again” seems to be as close a fourth-wall break as one can have in Star Wars canon, acknowledging in-universe happenings, fan reactions, and story development in less than ten words.

 

EXPOSITORY BAIL-OUT

Following Ezra’s declaration, we cut to a late-night meeting between rebel leaders and Ezra, a scene which partly serves to play catch-up with the audience. The end of “Visions and Voices” left us on a note that seemed to declare urgency; they had to find Master Kenobi before Maul got to him, but we had to wait another nine episodes before we had any sort of follow-up to that particular thread.

With that in mind, we find another benefit to watching “Twin Suns” through the lens of “Legacy.” It allows us a look into how the rebels would have gone in search of information regarding the Obi-Wan Kenobi reveal in “Visions and Voices.” “Legacy” goes into how Hera and Kanan used an information network to try to narrow down the location of Ezra’s parents, also demonstrating that they wouldn’t be able to use scarce resources to continue a search that no longer is producing results or has been confirmed to be a fruitless endeavor.

The use of Bail as an off-screen source of information, as he was in “Legacy,” is another tool used to wrap up loose ends. It is no surprise that Bail Organa is covering for Obi-Wan here; he never even shared the news with Ahsoka. Bail likely considers the secrecy of the twins (Leia and Luke, not the titular suns) as the utmost importance. However, what this line also does is help gloss over the Ghost crew’s sudden knowledge that the planet with twin suns is indeed Tatooine and why the urgency to find Obi-Wan was dropped after “Visions and Voices.” All we know is that they had talked to Organa about Ezra’s vision and received some information that lead them to drop the search; that discussion could have also included the identity of a significant binary sun world.

Is delivering plot developments in this manner good storytelling? Perhaps not, but it is economical. As discussed in the previous installment of the close read, this 21-minute episode already has multiple scenes, characters, and lines on the cutting room floor, and the exact manner and details about how they find out about Tatooine is not at the heart of the story.

Think of the first Avengers film. Was the mass-shutdown of the Chituari a cheap replica of the battle droid shutdown of The Phantom Menace without the set-up to make it a logical outcome? Sure, but playing clean-up was not what the movie was about, and to force a realistic approach of hunting down the scattered and dangerous stragglers would pull time and punch away from the character aspects on which the movie had put its focus.

So while the line about Bail is a quick patch for loose threads left over from the last Maul episode, it’s not one I can fault. It was a minor, economical choice made for the good of the episode as a whole.

As an additional note, this line, being delivered as it was by a sorrowful Rex, also opens up so many questions about Cody:

  • Did Cody ever snap out of the order’s effects, like Grey did in Kanan: The Last Padawan?
  • Did he ever realize what he did?
  • Did he ever find Rex again?
  • Did he ever tell Rex?

I mean, Rex probably knows that Cody never removed his chip so I gotta ask again:

  • Does Rex know that Cody fired on Obi-Wan?
  • Does he now assume that Obi-Wan is dead because Cody killed him under the influence of the chip?
  • Is Star Wars ever going to answer these questions?
  • Will the answers break my heart? (Yes)

 

EZRA BRIDGER IS NEVER WRONG

Multiple reviews have stated their frustration of Ezra defying orders and rushing off on his own again, which everyone could see coming from a mile off with this line:

“It means that Master Kenobi could be alive and in danger right now!”

Once again, it appears that Ezra has decided he knows better than the older, more experienced people around him, which is a valid enough critique of his choices throughout this season. He’s been doing it since “Steps into Shadow.” However, he’s also been learning to defer judgement when he realizes he’s emotionally compromised by the situation, such as at the end of the “The Wynkahthu Job”. In “Holocrons of Fate,” Ezra forgoes using the Sith Holocron in order to ask for Kanan’s guidance, and in “Visions and Voices,” he’s ready to defer to Kanan’s and the Bendu’s advice until Maul forces his hand by threatening Chopper Base.

As a result, this attitude of Ezra’s here feels like a step back, but again, let’s look at it in the context of “Legacy,” because I truly believe that we’re supposed to be observing Ezra’s decisions through that lens.

Because with great power may come great responsibility, but with great guilt comes that hyper-responsibility, so let’s talk Peter Parker.

This does reconnect with “Legacy” and “Twin Suns,” I swear.

In the very first issue of Spider-Man in Amazing Stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the tale ends with the now-famous refrain. Interestingly enough, “with great power comes great responsibility” was not originally a line of Uncle Ben’s; it was a piece of narration over the final image of that comic. However, as Spidey was rebooted into different comic universes or translated to different mediums, the line or at least the lesson itself, was brought in to be a part of Ben Parker’s character and of the way in which he and May raised Peter. This shift in the various ­Spider-Man canons meant that Uncle Ben’s life as well as his death was an influence on who Peter would become.

It’s Peter’s failure to live by his uncle’s words that leads to Ben’s death, and so it’s that same failure of Peter’s that spurs him on to become a superhero. A great portion of Peter’s motivation is his guilt from this moment.

“If we don’t stand up, who will?” is Ephraim and Mira’s version of “great responsibility,” and like Peter, Ezra initially fails to follow those words.

While we don’t see direct consequences for Ezra’s abandonment of his parent’s values – unlike Peter – we do see him suffering from guilt over it. In the very first Rebels episode, his experience giving food to the people in Tarkintown clearly left a mark on him, and after the pilot, he’s usually the first to begin springing up to help someone else in need. This especially stands out in “Legacy.”

In this episode, Ezra is desperate to find his parents, even making a promise to do so to the last picture he has of them. Yet, he constantly is willing to delay his search to help others. He refuses to take off in the Phantom until Zeb and Chopper are safely on the Ghost. He tries to stay behind to help free Commander Sato and Rex from the Imperial tractor beam, and has to be ordered away. “Legacy” does more than just give us the words of Ezra’s parents, it shows him living them out.

I think it’s important to note that for the first two seasons, Ezra generally takes on responsibility that’s within his abilities; there’s the occasional over-reach, but he tends to focus on what he is capable of doing. Then Malachor happens, and all bets are off.

It’s the threat of the Sith, namely the Inquisitors, that brings Ezra to Malachor, a degree of guilt that his, Kanan’s, and Ahsoka’s mere presence might bring the Empire down on the Rebellion’s head. It’s this threat and this guilt that causes Ezra to ask for the key to destroying the Sith, a job that was never his to begin with and is nowhere within range of his abilities.

On Malachor itself, it’s Ezra’s search for answers that brings him in contact with Maul, and it’s his insistence on trusting Maul that brings Maul into contact with Ahsoka and Kanan. And it’s this contact that results in Kanan’s injury and Ahsoka’s presumed death. Thus does Ezra’s guilt become magnified and his sense of responsibility inflates into the dangerous hyper-responsibility we see in Season 3, especially when Maul comes into play.

Therein we see the critical difference in Ezra’s choices in “Legacy” and “Twin Suns.” Ezra’s sense of responsibility in “Legacy” allows him to understand and respond to the broader picture. His guilt regarding Maul and his hyper-responsibility regarding the Sith as a whole has put blinders on his focus.

This is yet another step down Maul’s path. Just as Maul’s better pursuit of hope was abandoned in the search for one man, so is Ezra’s part in the wider Rebellion abandoned here. This briefing scene made a point to establish exactly how critical Ezra is to the movement, but he throws it all away, fueled by his singular focus on Maul.

In addition to the guilt and resulting hyper-responsibility, Ezra is also reacting from experience.

Ezra was consistently proven correct in “Legacy,” even against Kanan and Hera’s cautions. Anytime that he made a declaration of “it means…” in that episode, he was right. His vision did coincide with the prison break. He was meant to return to Lothal. The man in his vision did know his parents.

In Season 3, Ezra has been consistently protecting people from Maul. Why does Ezra give up the Sith Holocron to Maul? To keep Maul from killing the crew of the Ghost. Why does Ezra agree to go to Dathomir? To keep Maul from exposing the Rebel base. And he succeeds in both cases, so why wouldn’t he expect anything but success in saving Obi-Wan Kenobi?

Ezra isn’t being arrogant here for the sake of arrogance; he is being informed by a past experiences, both with his visions and with Maul.

Of course, just as with the Holocron message, the lens of “Legacy” also provides Ezra with warnings against pursuing Maul, namely the lack of Hera’s blessing in this endeavor. As mentioned above in “Legacy,” Ezra was willing to put his search for his parents on hold to help others, and in the end, it was Hera who urged him to go. In “Twin Suns,” Hera insists that Ezra stay on Atollon to help prepare for the attack to retake Lothal.

Defying this request of Hera’s, especially when it means compromising a mission to Lothal, is another example of Ezra’s hyper-responsibility. This show, and Ezra’s journey, has been about freeing Lothal from the beginning. Even as the story expanded in Seasons 2 and 3, everything has always come back to the importance of Lothal, and that is where Ezra’s responsibility should be focused. But in attempting to eliminate the threat of the Inquisitors, Vader, and especially the reoccurring presence of Maul, Ezra has lost perspective and is reaching for something beyond his capabilities.

Ezra ends his part in this scene with a non-answer that would make a certain Master Kenobi very proud – “You know I want to help Lothal more than anyone.” – and leaves a trio of Hera, Kanan, and Chopper looking distinctly unconvinced. They all know full well what Ezra is going to do.

 

ADVANCED SPACE PARENTING 401

Another of the common complaints or questions I’ve seen about “Twin Suns” is why Kanan didn’t go after Ezra, especially in light of “Visions and Voices,” in which he had Sabine plant a tracker on Ezra. On the Star Wars Celebration Panel, Filoni explains that this was actually discussed in a deleted scene between Kanan, Hera, and Zeb.

“The big part that got cut is actually on the Hera-Kanan side of it, because I had written a whole… scene together… and Zeb was there too. …It was about their side of the family, because Rebels is ultimately about family, and for Kanan and Hera, you have to imagine that they watched Sabine leave home, basically. She had gone back to be with her birth family. Then Ezra strikes out on his own and leaves. And it’s very much that story of, y’know, these kids grow up, and [Kanan, Hera, and Zeb] were saying something to that fact, and always too fast. Because they find these two, and they’re wayward and lost, and once they got their footing though, they leave home.” (Celebration 2017)

This implies that they’re assuming Ezra is not coming back; this time he’s taken off after Maul for good, and they’re letting him go.

For Kanan, this seems to be a natural progression of his relationship with Ezra. The first season saw Kanan trying to accept the fact that he was worthy of being Ezra’s teacher. In the second season, Kanan had to compete with multiple other influences who were also eager to teach Ezra, some good (Rex), some bad (Hondo), and some even worse (Maul).

Due to the incoming competition, the fact that he had to fight to feel worthy of the duty, and of course his fondness for Ezra, Kanan becomes defensive of his position as a teacher. Some of it rightfully so, as we saw on Malachor, some of it less so, as we saw him butting heads with Rex. This lead to the arc of his relationship with Ezra in Season 3: learning to let go properly.

In general, we see Ezra taking on more and more responsibility throughout the season, going on more missions without Kanan, but the ones that especially highlight the growth between the Jedi and Padawan are the episodes with Maul, bookended by the season premiere and finale.

The outright abandonment that Ezra feels at the beginning of Season 3 in “Steps into Shadow” is a misstep for both Jedi, forcing them to reconnect in two separate moments of Ezra demonstrating dependence on Kanan, the second of which happens in the first Maul episode.

Left: Kanan reaching into the literal and metaphorical darkness to pull Ezra out. Right: Kanan helping Ezra face his guilt over Malachor.

Following their retrieval of the Sith Holocron and their reconnection in “Holocrons of Fate,” Kanan defers his authority to Ezra’s judgement.

“If you think [the Sith Holocron] will help us, open it up.”

Ezra’s deference back – “I’d rather hear what you have to say” – doesn’t negate the willingness of Kanan to let go of his control and allow Ezra to make his own choices. This is especially significant as they are discussing the Sith Holocron, which was something Kanan was vehemently opposed to letting Ezra anywhere near at the episode’s start.

In “Visions and Voices,” Kanan still makes sure to maintain a degree of control in Ezra’s interactions with Maul, having Sabine place a tracker on the Padawan without his knowledge. However, he also trusts Ezra with Maul father than he ever has before. Kanan even explicitly uses the word “trust” here, while in the other two encounters with Maul, the trust was merely implied and once begrudgingly so.

The last bookend of this arc for Kanan came in the finale, in which he and Ezra have another heart-to-heart. Here, Kanan says that he believes there’s little else Ezra can learn from him; he’s ready to shed the teacher mantle altogether.

The lack of Kanan’s pursuit in “Twin Suns” makes sense in this light; he’s already been preparing to let Ezra go, not through abandonment as he did after Malachor, but in deference to Ezra’s ability to choose his own path.

For Hera’s response to Ezra’s departure in “Twin Suns,” we have to once again return to the lens of “Legacy.” The last words from her to Ezra in the Season 2 episode are as follows:

“I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

Like Kanan, this feels like Hera making herself ready to let Ezra go. She was the one behind Ezra’s recruitment. She was the one who pushed him to finally begin living up to his parents’ words. From the beginning, Hera was the embodiment of the parents Ezra lost to the Empire, and I think she knew that. And I think with the possibility of Ezra finding his parents again in “Legacy,” Hera was prepared to lose her place in Ezra’s life to Ephraim and Mira.

In “Twin Suns,” as already discussed, Ezra’s departure doesn’t have Hera’s blessing this time around, and it’s about more than tactics:

“There’s too much at stake. For Lothal and for us.”

Unlike Ephraim and Mira, Maul is not someone she’s willing to lose Ezra to. Nevertheless, when he does make the choice to chase down the ex-Sith, Hera doesn’t interfere in that choice, for a multitude of reasons. Ezra is gone, and she was prepared far longer than Kanan for this. Ezra is gone, and she can’t afford to send anyone else after him; there’s too much at stake for Lothal and for what’s left of her family. Ezra is gone, but at least Chopper went with him.

Maybe that last one is only a small comfort, but out of any of the Ghost crew, Hera would probably take the most heart out of knowing that at least Chopper was there to watch Ezra’s back.

Up Next: Departure & Arrival

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4 Responses to A Close Read of Star Wars Rebels: “Twin Suns” – Part 2 – Atollon

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