*Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episode “Path of the Jedi.”
Having long been established as a canonical part of the greater Star Wars mythology, Star Wars Rebels takes that status a step further in “Path of the Jedi,” the latest offering from Disney XD’s freshman series. Being a show that never shied away from referencing other parts of the saga, this episode of Rebels boldly employs callbacks to some of the most memorable Star Wars moments of all time and even incorporates the iconic character of Yoda. Voiced by Frank Oz, the man who first brought him to life in The Empire Strikes Back, the diminutive Jedi master plays a crucial role in “Path of the Jedi” as he gives both Kanan and Ezra the proper guidance each needs to continue their respective journeys.
After the events of “Gathering Forces,” the two Jedi have continued their Master/Padawan relationship, but there are cracks in the bond that are beginning to reveal themselves. As the episode opens, Ezra has forsaken a session of his Jedi training in lieu of spending time with Sabine, and Kanan is none too pleased with the boy’s choice. What is more is that the veteran Jedi is still concerned about the powerful connection to the Dark Side of the Force that Ezra made on the Fort Anaxes asteroid. Needless to say, the boy’s flippancy regarding the priority of proper Jedi training does little to allay those concerns.
But Kanan does have a plan to test Ezra’s true Jedi potential in a profound way. Having secretly discovered an ancient Jedi temple located on Lothal, Kanan tasks his Padawan with finding the hidden sanctuary by letting the Force guide him to its location. But finding the temple and entering the temple are two very separate tasks as Ezra soon discovers. For much like Bilbo Baggins and Thorin Oakenshield’s company of dwarves initially believed the Lonely Mountain to be an impenetrable fortress, Ezra finds that gaining entrance to Lothal’s stone Jedi temple requires more than careful visual examination. In fact, Kanan encourages the boy to “hear the stone and its story” in order to find a way in. Hearkening back to Yoda’s instruction to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back to feel the rocks around him as they were also part of the Force, Kanan’s instructions to Ezra yield a similar result as the latter successfully makes the connection to the stone and learns that both Master and Padawan are invited to enter.
However, once the two are inside, their paths diverge so that Ezra can continue his quest independently. While the boy explores the interior of the temple and looks for (in Kanan’s words, “Nothing and Everything”), his master will be meditating near the entrance in the company of long-dead Jedi Masters who waited as long as they could for their own Padawans. The mortal burden of this responsibility is a heavy one for Ezra whose faith is revealed to be primarily in Kanan’s ability to teach him, but as it is a crucial part of the hero’s journey for the protagonist to be separated from the mentor in order to reach their potential, he must accept the challenge.
What follows for Ezra are a series of tests that reveal not only his potential for Jedi knighthood but also his perceptions regarding his place among the crew of the Ghost. Much like Luke Skywalker’s experience in the cave on Dagobah, Ezra’s journey into the heart of temple uncovers his own failings and strengths. Immediately, we see the boy’s lack of faith in himself as indecision over which passage to take is addressed by a Lothalian version of “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” before Kanan appears to lead the way. As we later learn that this Kanan is nothing more than an illusion, Ezra’s over dependence on his master becomes quite apparent.
But the temple will not allow Ezra this crutch, for soon “Kanan” is killed by an apparition of the Inquisitor who mocks the Padawan and goads him into a revenge-fueled skirmish that quickly ends with Ezra falling into a deep chasm. Much as the cave on Dagobah contained “only what you take with you,” this Jedi temple reflects the emotional state of the initiate and adjusts accordingly. As Ezra has brought fear, anger, and insecurity, he faces each of these issues during the trials presented to him.
Also of note in this section of the episode is the Inquisitor’s remark about Ezra’s master taking on the name Kanan. Upon first viewing, this might seem to be simply a reminder that the Inquisitor has full access to (and excellent recall of) the Jedi archives from the temple on Coruscant as he proved in “Rise of the Old Masters” with his comments about Kanan’s fighting style and former Master. But when one considers that this appearance of the Inquisitor is generated by Ezra’s mind, one wonders how much Ezra really knows–or suspects–about Kanan’s past.
During the next phase of his trial, Ezra’s views on his relationships with the other crew members of the Ghost are revealed. It seems that Ezra still feels a bit of a disconnect with his new friends as he walks into a conversation on the starship where Zeb, Hera, Sabine, Chopper are expressing a variety of negative opinions about the boy. Chopper expresses a lack of faith in Ezra’s abilities, Zeb hopes to get his room back to himself, Hera reveals that she’ll miss Ezra because he is useful to the rebels’ cause, and Sabine encourages the others to follow her example to simply pity the boy. But as the conversation is not really happening, but is rather another trial generated by the Jedi temple, the entirety of what is being discussed is simply a reflection of Ezra’s own feelings about himself and how the others perceive him.
So when the Inquistor appears onboard the Ghost and slaughters his compatriots, its clear that Ezra feels a strong sense of responsibility to them and fears losing them–regardless of his misgivings about his place among them. And as that portion of the trial ends and another begins, the Inquisitor follows, this time to mock Ezra regarding Kanan’s death and how fully the boy has failed his Master. But by this point, Ezra has turned the corner and begun to understand that the illusions he experienced had been part of the trial. Now confident in his independence, Ezra faces down the Inquisitor and rejects his fear, effectively passing the tests that the illusions had presented him.
And because “when the student is ready, the master will appear,” Master Yoda chooses this moment to make contact with the young Padawan. Revealing himself simply as a guide, the wizened Jedi Master uses the same mysterious white lights seen in The Clone Wars season six episode “Voices” to lead Ezra to a domed cave portion of the temple. On the way, Ezra’s faces a choice of three paths to continue on and asks which way to take, but he is rebuffed. Trying again, Ezra seems to channel Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back when he declares “I don’t even know what I’m doing here!” But Yoda is much more understanding this time around and praises the boy for asking the right type of question. Encouraged, Ezra proceeds down the middle path and continues his conversation with his guide.
Arriving in a domed structure covered in what appears to be ancient runes, Ezra is questioned by Yoda about why he must become a Jedi. The boy reveals that he has much anger and fear in him, but there is hope for him as well because he wants the power of a Jedi in order to help people. Ezra has seen how Hera, Kanan, and the others have given of themselves and wants to follow their example. In contrast to Anakin Skywalker whose unhealthy and selfish possession led to the deaths of many, Ezra’s giving spirit has the potential to save lives. Yoda sees a difficult, but ultimately possible, path ahead for Ezra and rewards the boy with his first kyber crystal much like the Padawans earned their own crystals in The Clone Wars episode “The Gathering.”
While this has been happening, somehow Yoda has also been communicating with Kanan while the Master waited for his Padawan. This conversation is rife with ramifications for the nature of the Force as Yoda reveals that he can see Kanan only now that he has taken on an apprentice. Additionally, as we can now definitively say that Yoda knew about Kanan and Ezra, the Jedi Master’s assertion to Luke in Return of the Jedi that “when gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be” seems to solidify the fates of the two Rebels by the time of the Battle of Endor.
As we have seen in previous episodes (such as “Rise of the Old Masters”), Kanan suffers from his own self-doubt in regards to the proper training of Ezra. This time, Kanan reveals that the boy’s power is growing at a rate that he feels unprepared for, and Yoda agrees that it is a dangerous time for both of them. Nevertheless, Kanan finds encouragement in the conversation and pledges to not let Ezra lose his way in the same manner that he did. Rather, Ezra’s training will be a sort of redemption for Kanan.
Enlightenment gained, Master and Padawan are reunited at the entrance to Jedi temple where Kanan reveals to Ezra the significance of the kyber crystal he has acquired. The boy has fulfilled a rite of passage in obtaining the crystal and must now embark on another–using the crystal as the basis in building his very own lightsaber. “Path of the Jedi” closes with the reveal of Ezra’s lightsaber, a weapon he fashioned from the spare parts he was given from the members of his surrogate family. The lightsaber has always been a symbol of elegance and justice; it can now also be seen as a symbol of reclamation and redemption.
Thank you for reading! If you have feedback or just want to say hello, you can leave a comment on this page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact me on Twitter @influxman or check out my Rogue page on “Star Wars in the Classroom.”
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