*Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episode “The Future of the Force.”
One of the most fun things about Rebels the season is how well this series connects to the previous Star Wars animated series, The Clone Wars. Considering that Dave Filoni has been the show-runner for both series, one could probably have predicted many of the various connections we’ve seen thus far. Bringing back beloved characters such as Ahsoka Tano, Hondo Ohnaka, and the trio of clones headlight by Captain Rex made too much sense not to do. But the creators of Star Wars Rebels still find new ways to bridge the two series and surprise us.
“The Future of the Force” does just that as the episode serves as something of the sequel to “Children of the Force,” the third episode of the second season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Continue with the latter’s theme of the Sith hunting Force-sensitive children, this episode of Rebels finds our heroes struggling to protect a new generation of potential Jedi from the forces of darkness–this time personified by the Inquisitors the Fifth Brother and the Seventh Sister.
Additionally, “The Future of the Force” expresses its shared Clone Wars DNA by utilizing Ahsoka Tano more powerfully than any other Rebels episode to date. In many ways, Tano serves as the bookends for this adventure. She sets the tone by sending Kanan, Ezra and Zeb on their quest, but also definitively reinforces her importance to the Rebel cause during a climactic final battle with the Inquisitors. At this year’s New York Comic Con, Filoni compared Ahsoka’s role on Rebels to that of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings, and her appearance when she is most needed in this episode certainly calls to mind the old wizard returning with the Rohirrim to defend Helm’s Deep from the Uruk-Hai
Of course, for Ahsoka to appear when she is most needed means that she has first been absent, and indeed she is for most of this episode. The bulk of “The Future of the Force” is spent following Kanan, Ezra, Zeb and Chopper as the quartet travel to the planet Takobo to follow-up on lead Ahsoka gave them regarding the Inquisitors and another mission the dastardly pair were undertaking. Once on the planet, it is quickly revealed that the Inquisitors are after the Force-sensitive children when Kanan discovers that the Inquisitor-hunted baby they find is feeling Ezra’s anxiety, so this band of Ghost crew-members take it upon themselves to protect the child. Ezra is tasked with taking the child to safety while his friends cover his exit by slowing down the Inquisitors.
For the most part, Kanan and Zeb acquit themselves well as the duo battle the Seventh Sister and the Fifth Brother. Zeb the uses his brute strength against the Fifth Brother, but simply cannot match up with a being with so many extrasensory weapons at its disposal. That leaves Kanan (voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr.) to face-off with the Seventh Sister, a match-up many have been looking forward to since it was revealed that Sarah Michelle Gellar (Prinze’s wife and erstwhile vampire slayer) would be a voicing the character. Eventually, both are heroes are overwhelmed and are forced to retreat. Even so, the inquisitors catch up to Zeb and Kanan who have rendezvoused with Ezra and the baby. All seems lost.
But then, Ahsoka reveals herself. Emerging from behind the closed spaceport doors, Tano evokes Darth Maul’s entrance into the Theed spaceport in the last act of The Phantom Menace. The scene is epically staged to induce the most spine-tinglingly effect. And it works beautifully.
Almost as breath-taking is the duel that follows, as Ahsoka single-handedly defeats both Inquisitors with her familiar–although clearly advanced–blistering two-bladed technique (with unfamiliar white blades). The Fifth Brother is dispatched easily, and after borrowing Qui-Gon’s calming meditation move from Menace, Tano finishes the Seventh Sister by shutting down her opponent’s lightsaber and declaring a very Vader-like “You are beaten.”
Ultimately though, “The Future of the Force” manages to end on a down note and preserve the gravitas necessary for Star Wars Rebels to be a realistic chronicling of the struggle against oppression. As this is still the Empire, reinforcements arrive quickly and Tano is forced to perform an acrobatic leap to reach the Phantom and escape with her comrades. Once reunited, the group of Rebels decide to take up what was the Jedi Order’s task to protect the Force-sensitive children, but for the Inquisitors now the location of their new base on Garel, that could prove to be quite difficult.
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.”
And don’t forget to check out Rebels Reactions for even more insight, discussion, and analysis of this episode.
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