Ezra discovers the danger of relying on the dark side, Kanan learns how to see again, and a new villain enters the arena in the Star Wars Rebels season 3 premiere episode, “Steps Into Shadow.”
Yesterday, “Steps Into Shadow” parts 1 and 2 marked the return of Star Wars Rebels to Disney XD for an epic third season. The premiere was a solid start to the Ghost crew’s next chapter, and full of promises both bright and ominous for the future. Let’s get to the recap.
The premiere opens on Zeb, Sabine, and Chopper infiltrating an Imperial prison under the leadership of the grown-up Ezra Bridger. Their mission is to liberate none other than the lovable pirate Hondo Ohnaka, who was captured by the Empire in season 2. Somehow Hondo managed to make contact with Ezra, and he promised the Jedi Padawan information vital to the rebel fleet in return for being rescued. The rebels break open his cell, and Hondo emerges, cheerful and smooth-talking as ever.
The rebels break open Hondo’s cell, and the Weequay emerges, cheerful and smooth-talking as ever. But what he didn’t tell the rebels was that he wants to bring a friend from the prison with them. Terben, an Ugnaut, is the being who first fielded the information Hondo claims to possess to the old pirate. So the rebels, albeit reluctantly, decide they have to rescue him, too.
It is at this point Ezra’s maturation in his wielding of the Force and his new green-bladed lightsaber are shown off. In an impressive, if arrogant, display, he creates a path through the attacking stormtroopers for his friends’ escape. On the landing platform outside the prison, however, a too-eager Terben is killed by an AT-CT. Ezra makes sure his friends don’t meet the same fate, but in a dark way: he takes control of the AT-CT pilot’s mind, thereby taking control of the vehicle itself. Through the pilot, he shoots the stormtroopers preventing the rebels’ escape. For his final act, he plunges the AT-CT over the side of the platform into oblivion.
After marveling at Ezra’s power over the Force, the rebels are picked up by Hera in The Ghost. Once on board, Hera berates Ezra for not knowing about Terben. Ezra’s lack of knowledge of all the “details” of the mission – like the surprise Ugnaut – could have endangered them all. It was also the cause of Terben’s death. Ezra angrily denies any wrongdoing on his part. He seeks refuge in his cabin and fumes to himself. He doesn’t think Terben’s death was his fault. More than that, he seems to resent Hera’s insinuation he didn’t have everything in the mission under control.
Yet, Ezra realizes his powers must not be developed enough if his friends cannot see or appreciate them. He then takes out the Sith holocron he acquired in the season 2 finale. The female voice in the holocron tells him he can see things clearly, where his friends cannot. She proceeds to ask him “what else” he desires. What Ezra wants is the power to protect his friends. We do not hear the holocron’s response. But it is clear now where the Jedi Padawan learned how to take control of people’s minds and actions, as he did with the AT-CT pilot.
Aboard an Imperial Star Destroyer, Moff Wilhuff Tarkin and Governor Pryce of the Lothal system are concerned about the growing problem the rebels who recently broke into the prison pose. But Governor Pryce has a plan: she wants the 7th Imperial Fleet and its commander to oversee the takedown of these insurgents. Tarkin agrees.
The rebels return to Chopper Base where the rest of Phoenix Squadron is stationed. There, Ezra is commended by Commander Jun Sato for his mission’s success. Hondo then reveals his precious knowledge: the Empire has a stock of old Y-wing fighters at a scrapyard called Reclaim Station. The Y-wings are ripe for the picking, and will make a fine addition to the rebels’ fledgling fleet. Commander Sato promotes Ezra to the rank of lieutenant commander and places him in charge of the recon mission to verify Hondo’s information.
Hera tells Ezra that Kanan would be proud of him. Ezra responds bitterly with, “Then why is he never here?” The truth is, Kanan has been struggling with the blindness Darth Maul inflicted on him in the season 2 finale. He has not come to terms with the fact he can no longer see. He feels useless and has withdrawn from his friends’ missions. Instead of helping the rebel cause, he spends his time brooding and meditating. When Hera tells him that Ezra blames himself for what happened to Kanan and Ahsoka Tano, Kanan replies that he doesn’t blame the boy. Hera says she wishes he would tell him that.
Kanan heeds Hera’s words. He goes into Ezra’s room aboard The Ghost to talk to his Padawan. It is there, however, he discovers the Sith holocron. Moreover, he finds to his shock that Ezra opened the evil object and has been consulting it. He warns Ezra that anything he can learn from the holocron is rooted in the dark side. Ezra gets angry. He says the knowledge he got from the holocron has led him to success in his missions. Kanan knows that success won’t last long. The dark side is a trap. He decides to take the holocron with him and keep it out of Ezra’s hands. Ezra claims he doesn’t need it. Nor, he adds, does he need Kanan.
During one of his meditations, Kanan keeps hearing a voice telling him to come to it. While the rest of the Ghost crew is on the recon mission, he decides to follow the voice and investigate its source.
He takes along a sensor to keep the native giant spiders from attacking him. Eventually, he reaches the owner of the voice. Though he cannot see it, he can feel its hulking presence. It is The Bendu, the middle between the dark and light side of the Force.
The Bendu asks Kanan his name, and Kanan obliges him with it. The Bendu senses the presence of the Sith holocron, which Kanan took from Ezra. Whereas Kanan is obviously disturbed by the holocron’s dark power, The Bendu is amused. When the Jedi Knight says he believes the object is changing his Padawan, The Bendu answers that an object cannot change a person. Though the temptation of the dark side and its forbidden knowledge, and even the desire to do good can cause a person to entertain evil, it is ultimately that person’s choice to change.
Back on the Star Destroyer, Thrawn enters. He has recently been promoted to Grand Admiral Thrawn after a successful battle. The battle resulted in high civilian casualties, but also, and more important to the Empire, the destruction of a rebel cell. Thrawn tells the officers gathered what he thinks the rebels plan to do next. He connects the rescue of Hondo Ohnaka and Terben with Reclaim Station and the Y-wings there. He thinks the rebels are planning to recover the Y-wings for their fleet. Then he says he will tear the rebels apart piece by piece and says “They will be the architects of their own destruction.”
On the recon mission, Ezra, Sabine, Zeb, Captain Rex, Chopper, and Hondo hover in The Phantom over the stormy gas planet where Reclaim Station is located. They enter the atmosphere and in scanning the station, discover that the Empire is destroying their stock of Y-wings. Ezra makes the executive decision to recover the Y-wings now, despite the fact this is just a recon mission. The other members of the crew are skeptical, but they follow their commander’s orders.
After a shaky landing during which they were attacked by dismantler droids launched by the Empire, the rebels get to work. Hondo is able to communicate with the Ugnaut workers in their own language and asks them to stop the conveyor belt which is loading the Y-wings in a giant trash burner. They do so, but then the rebels discover the Y-wings need to be fuelled before they can take off. This complication only highlights how clumsily Ezra is handling this mission. But the rebels have no choice but to press on and get the Y-wings ready to fly.
Back on Chopper Base, The Bendu says he can help Kanan “see” again. First, he destroys the sensor protecting Kanan from the spiders and then shows him how he can use his other senses – hearing, touch, smell – to perceive his surroundings. Next, Kanan reaches out through the Force. He thinks he feels the spiders’ fear, then Ezra’s. But then he realizes the fear is his own. He realizes he must trust himself and the Force if he is to reclaim that part of himself he lost when he was struck blind. He leaves The Bendu with a new sense of self. He also leaves the Sith holocron in The Bendu’s possession. “It’s a gift,” he says. The Bendu merely laughs.
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Meanwhile, inside Reclaim Station, the station commander has contacted Governor Pryce to alert her of the rebels’ presence. Pryce says she will arrive at Reclaim Station shortly. The station commander manually locks the Y-wings into place so the rebels can’t take them. After the rebels realize what has happened, Ezra decides to go into the station to reverse the lock. The rest of his team are left outside to keep fueling the Y-wings and also deal with the dismantler droids which are now trying to dismantle them. All except Hondo and the Ugnauts, who decide to steal an Imperial shuttle and make their escape. Hondo lives to annoy the rebels another day.
From Chopper Base, Hera contacts Ezra to find out how the recon is going. She and Commander Sato figure out that he has changed the recon into a Y-wing recovery mission. They decide to amass their small fleet to rescue Ezra and his crew.
Ezra reaches the command center of Reclaim Station, easily disarming and killing the stormtroopers who try to stop him. He and the station commander recognize each other from a past encounter. That doesn’t make Ezra feel merciful, however. He tells the commander to unlock the Y-wings. The commander says he can’t; the only way to unlock them now is to destroy the entire control system, which will result in the shutdown of the entire station. The station is suspended in midair above a raging gas storm, so a shutdown would mean a plunge into doom.
But Ezra doesn’t care. He trusts his friends, he says, and knows they will escape. He feels no sympathy for the Imperial commander or his people aboard the station. Using his lightsaber, he destroys the control system. The station commander orders an evacuation of the station and then flees himself.
With the Y-wings unlocked and the dismantler droids defeated, the rest of the rebel crew is ready to take off. Chopper is able to tap into the piloting systems of several of the Y-wings so the rebels can take all of them and not just the ones they can personally pilot. Ezra contacts them and tells them he will take The Phantom out.
The rebels take the Y-wings into space, only to find they are not equipped with hyperdrives. The Empire must have removed them, Captain Rex says. Their situation worsens when Governor Pryce’s Star Destroyer exits lightspeed just in front of them. Now they have TIE fighters and a tractor beam to deal with.
“They will be the architects of their own destruction” – Grand Admiral Thrawn
Ezra is not faring much better on the failing Reclaim Station. The Phantom fell into the storm, leaving him with no transportation. He realizes how everything on this mission has gone wrong and how much he needs Kanan. He calls to his master through the Force. Luckily, Kanan has decided to accompany Hera on The Ghost as part of the rescue mission.
The rebel fleet finally arrives at the scene of battle. They are able to provide cover for the Y-wings as they make a beeline for the transport ship the rebels acquired in season 2. Pryce is disdainful at the rebels’ huge effort for such a small prize. She contacts Grand Admiral Thrawn and asks him what they should do. He tells her to let the fleet go, as it is but a small part of the larger rebellion. He wants to catch all of the rebels, not just a fraction of it.
Meanwhile, Sabine tells Kanan and Hera that Ezra has not made it off Reclaim Station yet. The two pilot The Ghost down into the planet’s storm where the station is falling. Ezra is falling with it, hanging onto the outside of it for dear life. Hera pulls The Ghost up next to Ezra, and Kanan opens a hatch to catch his Padawan. Kanan is too far away for Ezra to reach him, but Kanan tells him to let go anyway. Ezra does and Kanan is able to grab him and pull him to safety.
The rebels all make their escape and return to Chopper Base. Once there, Hera berates a more penitent Ezra and then suspends him from further missions. Ezra accepts his punishment but is glad they at least recovered some of the Y-wings. Hera says the Y-wings aren’t for them. They will go to General Jan Dodonna’s unit. The rebellion is getting bigger, more important.
Later, Kanan and Ezra have a heart to heart about the tension between them lately. Ezra is glad Kanan is back and ready to help. Kanan responds that he will always come back. Ezra admits consulting the Sith holocron was a bad idea. Then he tentatively asks what Kanan did with it. Kanan replies that it is somewhere safe.
Thus ends “Steps Into Shadow.” What did you think of it? What do you think are the implications of Ezra’s arrogance and Kanan’s meeting with The Bendu?
Tune in next week for another Star Wars Rebels recap.