Star Wars Rebels: Future of the Force Review

Ahsoka unleashes her Jedi powers in an episode focused on heritage of all kinds.

This Star Wars Rebels review contains spoilers.

Star Wars Rebels: Season 2 Episode 8

Stories about children in Star Wars usually fall into one of two categories. Some are cutesy, like the light fare provided by Jabba the Hutt’s son Rotta in the original The Clone Wars movie. Others engage more darkly with the fact that both Jedi and Sith effectively kidnap children to swell their numbers and prevent dangerous Force rogues, like the season two episode of The Clone Wars “Children of the Force.” “The Future of the Force” isn’t quite either one of these, buts its plot, centered on the retrieval of two Force-sensitive children, makes for some excellent material.

The older Ahsoka, exuding wisdom and elegance, asks Kanan to help her retrieve a child kidnapped by the Inquisitors. He, Ezra, Zeb, and Chopper set out to do that, while Ahsoka goes on a parallel mission to find a second child. Naturally, both groups run afoul of the Inquisitors, and Ahsoka gets her first big fight scene in the series.

One of the biggest strengths of this episode is the way it draws on and adds to backstories, relationships, and motivations. We already know Ahsoka’s personality in general, if not her abilities in particular. We also already know about Kanan’s stubbornness and his worries about his own abilities. Now, we get to see how the two relate to one another. Their conversation about being Jedi is vague but loaded with meaning for two characters who largely define themselves by the order to which they used to belong.

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In the same scene, Ezra’s previous behavior and relationship to Kanan organically create one of the funniest moments in the season so far. As for Zeb, he references his warrior past and expresses uncertainty in his minor role. I’m beginning to realize that he might be best utilized as a tough fish out of water if we aren’t going to get any more serious backstory for him.

What about the characters we know a bit less about, like Ahsoka and the Inquisitors? Neither the Fifth Brother nor the Seventh Sister have a lot of dialogue, but what they have is, mostly, used well. (The Seventh Sister does have some weird asides, including one that could hint at either her personal view toward children or her view of the Jedi Order.) The two Inquisitors definitely seem to be in competition with one another, and that competition has something to do with their titles. There’s also a nicely weird collaborative nature to their work: it’s unclear who exactly is doing the casual Force choking early in the episode. We could definitely do with more screen time for the two Inquisitors, maybe even an episode dedicated to their stories – but “Future of the Force” is not that episode.

It is an episode about heritage: about what happens to Force-sensitive children, about Ezra’s and Kanan’s training, about previous Star Wars films. A speeder chase is reminiscent of Attack of the Clones, and a later moment recalls The Phantom Menace. The former Padawan Ahsoka is more expressive than she has ever been in Rebels before, her body language conveying both nervousness and willingness to fight as she moves down a hallway.

The episode’s pacing is a little choppy, switching between Zeb’s and Ezra’s missions, but it insidiously builds tension by making the viewer want the inevitable lightsaber fight to occur. The Phantom Menace did this too, by obscuring the first fight between Qui-Gon and Darth Maul in images of cloaks and sand, but Rebels doesn’t do it in the same way. Instead, a brief fight between the Rebels and the Inquisitors in a hallway spills into the streets.

When it finally takes place, the climactic fight illustrates some of the best things about the Jedi. We can see now that the Seventh Sister’s lightsaber style is fast and choppy, while the Fifth Brother is slow and sweeping – nothing revolutionary about that, especially since the Fifth Brother fights like a less useful Savage Oppress. This fight is fist-pumpingly beautiful, though, using some artistically done slow motion and choice choreography. It’s still a taste of the inevitable confrontation to come – what will Darth Vader look like when tossed into this mix? – but it’s also a high point for the show by itself.

But the key to all of this is the Force-sensitive children. If they hadn’t worked, had been too cutesy or too cardboard, the episode as a whole wouldn’t have worked as well either. We see the unspoken tragedy of a grandmother who has been running from something for a while, maybe the Inquisitors – what happened to the human child’s parents? The human baby ends up swaddled in a TIE fighter, an odd, arresting image that seems to indicate the Inquisitor simply left it there. The Ithorian baby is more important, contributing to Ezra’s development. Although it looks like a stuffed toy sometimes, its waving hands and yowls work well enough to make it realistic, if not necessarily cute.

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Ezra walks toward a fight holding this baby, which reaches for his lightsaber. It’s a great small moment showing Ezra’s innocence and the danger that presents to him – something which comes into play in a big way when he accidentally reveals the Rebel fleet’s location. Judging by the preview for next week’s episode, we might see that more and more of his strength comes from compassion and empathy, which is interesting especially for a male character.

All of that hinges on the fact that the Inquisitors are mercilessly recruiting Force-sensitive children – something the Jedi also did in their heyday as servants of the Old Republic. In the usual chatter on Twitter about the episode, a lot of fans were talking about whether Kanan was lying when he said that he didn’t know why the kids were being taken.

I think he was lying, and it’s a credit to Freddie Prinze Jr.’s voice acting that he can subtly show in one line that Kanan isn’t telling his Padawan the whole truth. Although Kanan wasn’t a Jedi for long, he still might have picked up the same ideas about truth that Obi-Wan had: that truth depends on “a certain point of view.” The Jedi heritage – the same one Ezra is so eagerly jumping into – encouraged some comforting lies, including the lie that their recruitment of children was very different from the Inquisitors’. Kanan and Ahsoka consider their mission a success, but they’ve given the kids into the extremely untrustworthy hands of Chopper.

The fact is, the best episodes of Rebels have been the ones about the Jedi. They are also usually the ones that focus on a small part of the cast, whether it is Kanan and Ezra in “Future of the Force” or Hera and Sabine in “Out of Darkness.” “Future of the Force” does both, and the addition of Ahsoka to brings both a next-level fight scene and a connection to the earlier Star Wars stories to a story about generations.


4 out of 5