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Star Wars Rebels Reminds Us Just How Tempting The Dark Side Can Be

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This week's Star Wars Rebels picks up where our cliffhanger left off, with the Rebels moving their asset and the Empire in hot pursuit. But when the Ghost's Jedi crew members have another encounter with the fearsome Inquisitor, we're reminded the Dark Side doesn't just have cookies; it's also pretty damn powerful.

When last we left the Rebels, Tseebo had just revealed that he knows the fate of Ezra's parents—but it turns out that Ezra doesn't want to hear it. It's certainly no surprise that hope is a major theme of Rebels; after all, we're leading into A New Hope. But to Ezra, hope is a dangerous thing. Hope doesn't help you survive. At least, that's what he tells himself at first.

It doesn't take long for Tseebo to prove himself to Hera as an asset. The one advantage of his personality suppression is that he is almost thoughtlessly helpful in anything that keeps him out of the Empire's hands. But lurking in Tseebo's brain is a great deal of guilt over his decision to hide when the Bridgers were taken by the Empire and his failure to take care of Ezra afterward.


After Ezra's use of the Force reawakens Tseebo's personality (more on that in a moment), he confesses to Hera that his acquisition of all that Imperial intel was incidentally. The real reason that he volunteered for that extreme data processing device was not to screw with the Empire, but to find out what happened to his friends.


Rebels is perhaps even more of a kids' show than Clone Wars was, but this is a nicely complex idea: that many of the people who find themselves caught up in the Rebellion don't have grand heroic goals. They're just people with individual problems trying to get right with their own consciences.

Once the crew realizes that there's a tracking device on the Phantom, it becomes clear that the best way to get Tseebo to the (coughs) mysterious Fulcrum is for Kanan and Ezra to take the Phantom and lure the Imperials (including the Inquisitor) away from the Ghost. And they decide to head to the spot where Hera and Sabine encountered those light-hating monsters. This time, though, they're going to use the beasts to their advantage.


Ah, so that's why Kanan was trying to teach Ezra to Force-connect to that critter last episode, to set up this moment. And it's a good moment, for a couple of reasons. Somehow, Ezra is a bit less obnoxious when he's being honest about his feelings, and they're feelings that make sense for a Lothal street rat. Ezra isn't really afraid of physical pain, at least not as much as he fears emotional pain. Ezra fears hope because it opens him up to pain. But once he's honest about that fear, he's able to forgive Tseebo (remotely triggering Tseebo's true personality through the Force) and is able to turn the shadow creatures into Force puppies.

It's also a neat moment because, while I didn't buy Kanan and Ezra's relatively easy escape from the Inquisitor's trap a few episodes back, this was a good plan. The Force puppies make quick work of the Stormtroopers, leaving Ezra and Kanan to deal with the Inquisitor. And when the Inquisitor overpowers Kanan, we loop back into Ezra's great fear: emotional pain. He's just found his (non-biological) family and the thought of losing Kanan allows the Dark Side to flow through him.


The Inquisitor echoes the Emperor's speech to Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi, egging on Ezra's fear and pain to strengthen that flow, thinking that perhaps he can recruit Ezra as his own apprentice. But it works a little too well, and Ezra sics a giant Force puppy on the Inquisitor.


And that's how Kanan and Ezra once again escape the Inquisitor and live to fight another day. Kanan is relieved to realize that Ezra doesn't remember feeling so powerful. He just has a lingering feeling of moral ickiness. It sounds like Ezra might be innately powerful when it comes to the Force, but the temptation of the Dark Side will certainly continue to rear its head.


Hera delivers Tseebo to Fulcrum, but not before asking him if he has a message he wants her to deliver to Ezra. We don't learn what it is, because Ezra isn't ready to hear it on his second-worst birthday. But Sabine, rather sweetly, does give him one gift: a photo of Ezra and his parents during happier times.