The Growth of Kanan Jarrus
By Mike DeRose
Quietly growing in the background of Rebels, behind Ezra, behind Ahsoka and Vader, behind the Rebellion, is Kanan Jarrus. The season two finale not only solidified how far this once in-hiding “nobody” has come, but also how losing his sight will only lead to him becoming a stronger Jedi and teacher.
For those unfamiliar with Kanan’s back story (which is fleshed out in the Kanan comics as well as in the novel A New Dawn) his true name is Caleb Dume and he was the apprentice of Depa Billaba. After surviving Order 66, Caleb took the name of Kanan Jarrus, making his way around the galaxy doing small jobs but never staying in one place too long (and avoiding attachments). It was not until he met Hera Syndulla that he found a small bit of purpose.
That brings us to the start of Rebels. Only reluctantly does he fall back into the role of Jedi. Throughout the course of the first season he not only starts to accept his path once again, he begins to take pride in it. He does not want to let Ezra down as his Master. As he continues to accept his role as Jedi, Yoda speaks to Kanan through the Force when they visit the Jedi temple on Lothal. Something we can gather that only a force user, open and willing to the light side, would be able to do.
In the season one finale Kanan was able to defeat of the Grand Inquisitor after being tortured, but even worse, believing that Ezra has been killed. Kanan’s victory does not come from a place of anger or lack of discipline, but from allowing the light side of the Force to guide him. Believing that Grand Inquisitor had murdered Ezra could have easily resulted in Kanan tapping into the dark side for revenge, but he resists. The Kanan we met at the beginning of series might not have been able to resist this temptation.
As season two opens, Kanan has fully accepted his role as Jedi, but we see he still clings to the desire to not answer to anyone (besides Hera). He is unwilling to join the Rebellion without hesitation. A bit of that old desire to never stay in one place too long starts to come back. The Ghost was his home, but it was always moving. Hera’s desire (and the rest of the crew as well) to join the Rebellion is enough to convince Kanan to stay. He is no longer avoiding attachment (I wonder what master Yoda would have to say about that?) but in doing so, letting go of a part of who he had to be for so long. He is willing to be a part of something larger again.
With the introduction to Darth Vader and more Inquisitors Kanan realizes he alone is outmatched. He is forced to trust those around him, Ahsoka, Erza, even Rex, to prepare for inevitable battles to come. Unlike Anakin, Kanan has become a head strong Jedi who is capable of attachments. He does not keep his concerns to himself. He does not have such pride that he believes he can solve these problems by himself. Upon the return to Lothal he is granted the title of Knight of the Jedi Order. It is the former Grand Inquisitor (who used to be a Jedi) that gives him the title only after Kanan lets go of whatever pride and pigheadedness he may have had left. This is also when Yoda instructs the Jedi to find the planet Malachor.
Following the instructions given to them, Kanan’s group arrive on the Sith world. Terrible place for Jedi and Sith alike, right? Even worse when you consider Yoda actually told them to go there. But Yoda would not have done so had each one of them not been prepared in their own way. It is no surprise that Ahsoka need to go there for answers. She was ready for whatever Malachor could throw at her. Ezra on the other hand may not have been ready, but like so many young Jedi learners before him he needed to face a true test. Did he pass? Too early to tell (but the fact that he opened the Sith Holocron…..).
However, Kanan was not there to be tested like Ezra. He was not looking for answers like Ahsoka. Kanan was there to protect his friends from the growing darkness as well as the immediate threat Malachor would present. More importantly, Kanan was there because he was ready to be. Yoda sending him along with Ezra and Ahsoka was done for their benefit. Not just because he is a Jedi, but a Jedi who has grown into what Anakin could have been. Someone who does their duty to protect the ones he loves, but is willing to make the sacrifices to do so without touching the darkness. Everything he had learned since he went by the name Caleb Dume comes into to play on Malachor. After being blinded by Maul, Kanan does not retreat or lay down to die. He does the one thing which he resisted for so long. He trusts the Force. Even if he did not kill Maul, Kanan is able to defeat him following a truly horrific injury.
Let’s also take a moment to recognize that after losing his sight Kanan pushed forward. Instead of lamenting about what he has lost, he automatically goes to find Ezra. Kanan has no concern over anything else. He can not control losing his sight, but he can control what he did next. It is no surprise that he selflessly goes to help Ezra. Kanan arrives just as Ezra relies e can not remove the holocron by himself. Working together, Kanan and Ezra give each other strength so they can retrieve the holocron. While Maul has been working to show Ezra the power of the dark side, Kanan is showing him that even at a person’s lowest point there is still power in the light side. The Force has not abandoned Kanan. It gives him natural power and strength.
We see in the final shot of season two that Ezra is angry. He is willing to explore the dark side. Maul has planted these dark seeds in his mind and it appears that they are starting to grow. But Kanan will bring him back. Whether it is through the bond they already share or the love the crew has as a family, Ezra will not fall. He is going to see Kanan leading by example every day. Kanan will not only need to learn to live without his sight, but also how to grow a deeper connection to the Force to survive the coming battles. Along the way Kanan will be frustrated, he will be upset, he wish he didn’t lose his eyes but it is through these challenges that he will be able to help Ezra deal with his pain as well.
Kanan faces a tremendous challenge as we move to season three. But he is now prepared to do so. He is prepared to continue down a path that he once thought he didn’t deserve to walk. After all that has happened it may be difficult to find a Jedi better suited to travel this path. Kanan is ready.Powered by Sidelines