Season 2 is ending in far more dramatic a fashion than the first season could ever dream of. Although, one of my complaints about the first season was how constrained it felt. In this second season, the shackles have most certainly been thrown off.
Season 2, Episode 21: Twilight of the Apprentice: Part 1
I really wonder why Yoda would lead the trio of Jedi to a place like Malachor of all places. Somewhere steeped in the dark side. In the previous part I already went into a little depth about Malachor’s history in the old canon and its importance in the story behind the events of Knight of the Old Republic II.
The new, canon, Malachor is a little different. Still a place steeped in dark side energy, but for a different reason. Rather than being the site of catastrophic war crime that left a wound in the very force itself, it seems like now it is the site of an ancient Sith temple. Although I suppose there’s nothing baring both things being true in this star system right now.
Once the trio of Ahsoka, Kanan and Ezra arrive on the planet, Ahsoka postulates that they might be on the planet to learn more about the Sith to better understand how to defeat them. Which honestly seems like a very un-Jedi approach to dealing with an enemy. It’s a path to knowledge that could just as easily lead them down a path to the dark side in the hopes of defeating it.
Something we saw happen to a number of Jedi during the time of the Legends continuity.
Once on world, the three encounter a new inquisitor, one they haven’t seen before. And Ezra is quickly separated from the group. While Ahsoka and Kanan take off in pursuit of the Inquisitor, Ezra encounters a strange old man in the depths of the temple. The man utters a number of lines that are lifted directly from Luke’s first encounter with Yoda on Dagobah.
Leading to the very loose teacher/apprentice relationship these two bond very quickly. While the show doesn’t waste much time revealing it, a number of quick peeks under his hood allow the audience early clues that this character is indeed former Sith; Maul. Survived his escape from the Republic carrier shortly after the activation of Order 66.
Maul has also spend time with his hands in leading the Crimson Dawn criminal syndicate, although their status both here and in the future during The Book of Boba Fett remains ambiguous. With Ezra’s help, Maul is able to delve deep into the temple, encouraging Ezra to make use of the dark side, which is the only way to pass the temple’s deadly challenges.
The two spark up an unlikely alliance, during which it seems like Maul is about betray Ezra’s trust in a Jafar-like fashion. Only he never does. The pair manage to obtain the Sith Holocron they’re both there for and escape the temple working together. Only to walk right into a battle between the Jedi and three Imperial Inqusitors, who are all there to hunt the Jedi and the former Sith Maul.
Something Maul himself finds highly amusing.
Speaking of highly amusing… the Inquisitor’s and their spinning lightsaber’s new ability to lift them off the ground and fly like little helicopters is as hilarious as it is utterly ridiculous. They’re blades of light, they don’t create lift. Super stupid.
Season 2, Episode 22: Twilight of the Apprentice: Part 2
Last time Ahsoka and Maul saw one another (to my knowledge at least), was when they had another uneasy alliance during the final episodes of the Clone Wars. Ahsoka freed Maul from his cell, but left him unarmed, while Maul subsequently stole her escape ship and left her for dead.
Obviously, that happened after this in terms of writing continuity, so they seem a little more willing to help one another this time, with Kanan being the stubborn one this time. Understandably so.
Maul wants to keep the Jedi nearby so that he has a shot at beating Vader, who is inevitably on his way. They have an enemy in common. Although it seems like a small rift has formed between Ezra and Kanan over Maul. Kanan is deeply distrusting of Maul, with good reason, he’s a Sith. Or at least a former one. While Maul himself has done nothing wrong at this point other than coax Ezra towards the dark side, I feel like I am on Kanan’s heavy handed side, for once.
The four get split up, Maul and Ezra sticking together and getting jumped by the Seventh Sister. Their duel doesn’t last long though as Maul proves too powerful for her alone, and catches her in a force choke. Maul coaxes Ezra to execute her while she is helpless, something he struggles with before eventually saying he can’t. Maul has so problem, obviously and kills the Inquisitor with his Lightsaber before gently abolishing him for not having the courage to do what needed to be done.
With his final goal within reach, Maul’s true intentions come to bear. He sends Ezra to the top of the temple to activate it and attain his knowledge, while he claims he’ll go below and save Kanan and Ahsoka from the remaining Inquisitors. It’s when Ezra is out of earshot that the truth comes to bear. They make quick work of the Inquisitors before Maul turns his blade on Kanan.
The strike is so quick and out of nowhere that Kanan is left totally defenceless, the strike taking out his eyes and permanently blinding him. Thanks to promotional art for this series, I knew something like this was coming. I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting it to be Maul of all people who would do it.
He boasts that the temple is, in fact, an ancient Sith superweapon. One he will use to crush the Empire with Ezra by his side as his apprentice. Like with the ending of the first series though, Kanan finds some hidden reserve of determination and challenges Maul to one last one on one duel while Ahsoka goes and saves Ezra.
It’s a very short duel, one I feel that Maul only loses through sheer overconfidence at battling a blind opponent, as he is wrong footed and thrown from the temple wall. Although such a fall is nothing, especially for him, it puts him out of action for the rest of the episode.
Meanwhile, at the top of the Temple, Maul’s treachery is revealed. And the temple itself speaks to Ezra, asking him how the weapon should be used. And for some reason, the temple has the voice of Asajj Ventress. I don’t think there is any significance behind this, it literally feels like a bit of fan service for the series finale.
Speaking of fan service.
While Ezra rejects the temple, it enquires about another who may embrace it. Queue a very cool shot of Darth Vader descending towards the temple atop his TIE. Vader bats Ezra aside, destroying his lightsaber, and is about to kill him before he comes face to face with his former apprentice. At this point, Ahsoka is in full n denial mode, refusing to believe Vader is Anakin.
When Vader claims he has killed Anakin Skywalker, it’s a twisting of the facts she jumps onto wholeheartedly. Fighting Vader by herelf while Ezra and a blinded Kanan remove the Sith Holocron from the temple and escape. It’s when Vader attempts to stop them that Ahsoka strikes Vader’s helmet and reveals a part of his face, forcing her to face the truth once and for all having seeing it with her own eyes.
With determination, she throws Ezra towards the Phantom and solemnly goes to face Vader alone. Closing the door and leaving her fate ambiguous (but not really).
As the episode ends, we get this weird zooming camera move that cuts between locations, showing Kanan and Ezra returning to the rest of the Rebels, Maul escaping Malachor in a Tie, a battle damaged Vader emerging onto the planet’s surface and what looks like Ahsoka walking deeper into the temple.
Meaning this series ends, yet again, on a pretty sinister tone. With Ezra sitting alone on his bunk, studying the Sith Holocron before eventually activating it. With a pretty cool trick of the light flashing the red light of the holocron in his opening eyes for a moment to tease the possibility of him having a real battle with the dark side in the next season.
This was a cool way to end this series. I knew there was going to be a confrontation between Ahsoka and Vader to cap off the series, but adding Maul into the mix is a very cool little twist I wasn’t expecting. While I still find it strange that Yoda would send them all to a place so steeped in the dark side, this being Ezra’s first genuine brush with the dark side, one that lingers within him, was a cool way to end what has mostly been a goofy kid’s series.
It’s weird. If you base the Star Wars stories on just the three animated TV shows we’ve gotten, a final confrontation between Ahsoka and Vader seems like a much more poetic conclusion for the story that what we actually get in the movies. Their relationship is nowhere near as deep or complex as the master/apprentice one we spend seven seasons and now some of Rebels developing.
The big difference is that Ahsoka makes in clear in this episode that she has turned her back on the Jedi. So there’s little chance of her redeeming Anakin in the same way Luke does, rather her only path to end the story is to kill him. Something I honestly feel she is capable of doing, although established lore prevents that from happening.
I’m super curious what conclusion to their relationship Rebels will eventually give us, I really hope it’s a good one. Ahsoka has become one of my absolute favourite characters to come out of Star Wars since Disney took over, and she really deserves an end to her arc with Anakin that pays off. Unless of course that’s what her live action series ends up being to some extent.
All I know is that I’m excited for season 3. I know we’ve got Thrawn still to come and I can’t wait to see how the animated world uses him.