This review contains spoilers.
2.3 Always Two There Are
Last season, I said that Rebels needed to tell more stories about Imperials. While the main cast learned and grew based on their interactions with one another, the Imperials like Kallus and the Inquisitor seemed to exist in a vacuum, only occasionally getting in one another’s way. Always Two There Are takes some promising steps toward fixing this by framing the two new Inquisitors as part of a larger hierarchy as well as new villains in their own rights.
This episode, filled with the kind of atmospheric darkness we’ve seen in Rebels’ use of abandoned space stations and red lightsaber wielders before, also featured some of the best voice acting and dialogue this season. The characters have a warmth and a humour that, instead of feeling out of place in an episode made grim by the Inquisitors, instead finds a nice balance. Zeb is the unexpected MVP of the episode, working his backstory and his emotional perspective into the plot so effortlessly I wonder why it hasn’t been done before.
The thrust of the episode comes from the search for medical supplies on an abandoned Old Republic space station. The supplies could be useful to the Rebellion, so Sabine, Zeb, and Chopper are sent to retrieve them.
Ezra is supposed to be occupied with his training, but he’s pulled this way and that by Kanan’s continued rivalry-slash-moral opposition to Rex. He sneaks out, preferring the mission to the argument, and ends up caught in the middle when the two Inquisitors hit the station.
Both the Seventh Sister and the Fifth Brother bring the promise of strong personalities to the show. Like Sith have always done, they compete with one another, but they’re also shown to be strongest when they work together. The Seventh Sister is suave and graceful, not quite possessed of the same disjoined sensuality that Asajj Ventress had; Sarah Michelle Gellar’s voice is highly distorted, and she convincingly plays a character who switches from the aforementioned grace to an impatient bloodthirstiness when she needs to, and enjoys her own darkness.
The Fifth Brother is less layered and more brutish: he’s interested in killing Sabine quickly, but I have the feeling that he might actually prove to be the more level-headed of them. If the Seventh Sister’s elegance hides impatience, maybe the Fifth Brother’s bluntness hides a dark sort of mercy.
Both are visually distinct as well, with the spots on the Seventh Sister’s face a contrast to the Fifth Brother’s craggy shape and diagonal scars.
The Seventh Sister’s interrogation of Ezra covers some ground we’ve seen before – the lack of Jedi mentors available to him, Ezra’s inexperience and flip-flopping confidence – but it works well to show where Ezra is now, in the what might be either the beginning or the middle of his training. Although Rex hasn’t yet revealed that the Jedi he talks about is Anakin Skywalker, the shadow of the Old Republic Jedi will always be hanging over Kanan and Ezra, and Ezra running off in this episode was behaviour that would have suited Anakin quite well.
For all that the plot hinged around Force sensitives, Zeb also finally got his due in this episode. He’s a guardsman from a species destroyed by genocide, but he’s often put on the back burner, as is Sabine. In Always Two There Are, Zeb’s comic relief moments also worked as character moments. My favourite lines in the whole episode? Zeb, stuck in a ventilation shaft, moaning “I don’t want to die this way. I’m the last of my kind!” It’s dark and funny, but it works because it’s true.
He also shows that he’s taken some of his rivalry with Ezra to heart, and is starting to feel left out of the Jedi-heavy story. “Everyone seems to know everything these days. Truth is I don’t stand a chance going in alone, much less with [Chopper].” Zeb has his own miniature arc in this episode, and it’s heartening to see that the writers can do that. They also remember that he’s clever, capable of working in a group in a similar way as we saw last season. Hopefully, they’ll continue to do so, and maybe give some similar weight to Sabine.
In all of that, other small moments shone. The voice actors and voice editing showed impressive range in this episode, both in terms of the volume of the characters’ voices and the variety of emotions. Dee Bradley Baker exudes an unusual sassiness that nevertheless works perfectly for Rex; Kanan’s voice echoes as Ezra leaves the room fast; Ezra shows himself to be an enthusiastic student, patronizing teen, and scared child at different points.
The moments when the Ghost crew are together work well too: Hera reclines in a chair, Rex and Zeb play dejarik, and the atmosphere is convincingly familial and warm. The fans have been with these characters for only one season, but the common room of the Ghost already feels like a comfortable place we’ve inhabited for far longer than that. Rex seems to have settled in, and his continued disagreements with Kanan seem from the previews to be an important part of Ezra’s life going forward.
Always Two There Are accomplished something that sounds simple but is really impressive: it feels both new and old, bringing in two new characters while reinforcing the ever-present image of the Ghost crew as family. The dialogue for the Ghost crew was excellent, and the new dynamic between the Inquisitors promises a parallel story that could make this season even better.