This Star Wars Rebels review contains spoilers.
Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Episode 9
The question of what happened to Ezra’s parents has hung over the show since Ezra was first introduced. The presence of an orphaned character begs the question, and the episode that answers that question does an interesting sidestep. “Legacy” put Rebels through its paces, with some odd pacing leading up to a generally satisfying finale.
The quiet beginning is one of the artsiest parts of the episode, recalling the spirit journeys in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Ezra is dreaming about his parents, but also about a lot of other things, and at first the visions seemed to be more symbolic than literal. He used lothcats when he was exploring how to influence other minds with the Force, and the albino creature in his dream seems to symbolize a loss of control, darting away and driving the dream into another confusing scene. it shows that Ezra feels like he doesn’t have a hold on his situation, and rightly so: he doesn’t know where his parents are, and Kanan and Hera have been doing their own digging but can’t find them.
Meanwhile, the Inquisitors are following up on the information Ezra let slip last week. As the episode goes on, it quickly became clear that the vision wasn’t as symbolic as I expected. It was less Luke Skywalker seeing Vader on Dagobah, and more Anakin seeing Padme’s death. Every piece was literal – although the lothcat still works as a sign of where Ezra is in his Jedi training. His emotions flip-flop in this episode, and understandably so – he’s a boy who already grieved for his parents without closure, only to have the wound of his past opened again.
Before we get too much further into that, a diversion – the kind the show sets up so that Kanan and Ezra can go to Lothal. The Inquisitors have lead a whole fleet to the Rebel base, including Kallus and the Interdictor Star Destroyers. It’s a great episode for Hera and Sabine, who find a new way to fight the Interdictors. Indeed, Sabine might be the MVP of this episode, often informing the Rebels of what the Imperials are likely to do next and being right about it. Now that Hera and Sabine have resolved their trust issues, they can fly together comfortably, expressing both confidence and uncertainty, with Zeb there to notice how much they’ve won.
And that victory – that knowledge of a new way to destroy the Interdictors’ gravity-distorting weapons – justifies the existence of an otherwise weirdly tangential first half of the episode. Kanan and Ezra spend a considerable amount of time bringing Chopper and Zeb back from a shopping trip when the Imperials attack. This does effectively turn the episode into a large chase scene, and gives Kanan and Ezra time to both express their frustrations. The show had to work the Imperial attack into Kanan and Ezra’s more personal story, and it did so. But Zeb and Chopper’s shopping trip still feels a bit extraneous, and the Inquisitors and Kallus are on the scene only long enough to be pushed aside.
Both Ezra and Kanan get cool hero moments here, with Kanan closing one eye in true cowboy Jedi fashion to sight on a distant target, and Ezra going straight for Kallus’ face with a Force push. (Yet again, Kallus is, like the Seventh Sister says, pretty ineffective.)
Also again, Freddie Prinze Jr. gets kudos for delivering what seems like a complicated, difficult line well. His “t’s too late for me.” could have come off as corny, but instead Kanan sounds introspective, his bitterness subtly implied but clearly softened by his current personality.
The real reveal puts a slight twice on the question of where Ezra’s parents are. In the Rebels Recon wrap-up, Lucasfilm Story Group guru Pablo Hidalgo says that executive producer Dave Filoni didn’t want Ezra to keep chasing the question of his parents. He had to be able to move on from that. The crew didn’t want Ezra’s story to be the same as Luke Skywalker’s, even though some of the beats were the same.
Therefore, the climax of the episode is more quiet than any of Luke’s conflicts with his father. Again, the best of this episode has an Avatar: The Last Airbender vibe, with the familiar wash of Lothal’s color palette connecting Ezra to the physical landscape even while he travels into Force visions in his mind. The finale is affecting, with Kanan’s own abandonment serving to pull even more emotion out of Ezra. Kanan had his own issues earlier in the episode, but the crux of this episode shows Kanan and Ezra clutching one another, two orphans who got some harsh news on an Imperial-occupied world.
If only the bearer of that news had been a bit more convincing. Ezra learns of his parents’ history from a former governor of Lothal, imprisoned by the Empire. In Ezra’s dream, he’s a be-hatted figure with a sniper rifle, maybe an assassin, reminiscent of Captain Rex. In reality, he’s a good guy, now living alone in the wilds of Lothal. His character design is bland, though, with those weirdly blue eyes on too-wide shoulders; he looks not just too sanitized, but not quite complete. He even suggests that Ezra’s parents’ deaths were partly Ezra’s fault. Maybe these things made me think he wasn’t trustworthy, made me hold on to the question of whether he was right a little while longer.
The show, though, seems to believe him. From everything said in Rebels Recon, the governor was telling the true version of the story. Ezra’s quest for answers about his parents is over. Even though understatement was part of the showrunners’ plan, “Legacy” ended on a bright emotional moment gently shaded with the sadness of Ezra’s history.
This is the last episode before a break for both the holidays and The Force Awakens, so we’ll see you with more Rebels reviews in January.