Star Wars Rebels’ “Wolves and a Door” and “A World Between Worlds” resumes the grieving process from the tragedy of the previous episodes…
And then it hurls the viewers into the surreal, rivaling the infamous psychological “Jedi cave moments” of the cinematic movies, with some 2D animation deftly blended in like a homage to Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars. The past, present, and future cross paths into agreeably the most trippy Rebels episode.
In the wake of Jedi Knight Kanan’s sacrifice, Ezra and the Ghost Crew head off to the Imperial-occupied temple to protect it from the Empire’s clutches. As Ezra discovers, Emperor Palpatine (reprised by the Ian Mcdiarmid) has his sights set on the temple for mysterious reasons. Turns out, the Lothal Jedi Temple wasn’t a Kyber crystal source as some fans speculated, but it housed a gateway to a mysterious power.
Time Travel Is Possible (But Now Lost)
Yes, Star Wars went there. Just like how The Last Jedi revealed a revelatory Force power that bewildered its audience into controversial debates, Rebels threw something even more shocking: Time travel is possible. But like all time travel plots, it has its constraints. It requires access to the hidden portal related to the Mortis One’s paintings of The Clone Wars. All this time, Palpatine had been after the ability to control time. Fanfiction AU writers, go wild.
In the space-time realm of the Temple, Ezra hears voices that will perk up Star Wars fans from prequel, original, to sequel trilogy and animated series: from Alec Guinness’s Kenobi voice in A New Hope; to Qui-Gon Jinn’s conversation in The Clone Wars; to Jyn Erso’s plea to fight in Rogue One; to Kylo Ren’s pledge to Vader’s helmet in The Force Awakens; to Maz Kanata’s words of comfort to Rey. These auditory cues pluck at nostalgia strings while emphasizing Star Wars Rebels as an independent story existing on its own terms.
In a scene reminiscent of the tragic yet triumphant Spell of Destruction sequence in Studio Ghibli’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Ezra opts to destroy that knowledge so it wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands. Ezra and Hera intuitively mourn the knowledge because it demolishes all chances of reaching Kanan, but they know it’s for the best.
Ahsoka Tano’s Journey Continues
A million fans squealed in delight. After her ambiguous fate on Malchor two seasons ago, Ahsoka Tano, the breakout character of Clone Wars, indeed lived and returned for a proper curtain call. The grand riddle of Ahsoka’s fate on Malachor is solved.
Before “A World Between Worlds”, fans long speculated that Ahsoka’s then-implied survival had to do with her connection to the Daughter’s essence in the Clone Wars. To some extent, that was true. It is confirmed that Ahsoka has been guided by a Convor-owl, an animal associated with the Daughter.
From the time plane, Ezra yanked Ahsoka out just in time before the pivotal explosion on Malachor. Showrunner Dave Filoni has wrapped her arc: She has accepted that it’s not her fate to save Anakin Skywalker.
She sticks around enough to feed Ezra final mentor advice, to let go and forge his own path without a master. But her direction is still just as uncertain as it was when she vanished in “Twilight of the Apprentice.” Her fate on Malachor is not finished. She was forced to make a mad-dash back into her portal to Malachor, though not without throwing a quick promise to find Ezra again someday. While freed from Vader’s grip, she will continue onward into Malachor with her owl guide. It is unknown if she and Ezra will cross paths again.
Where her story will go onward is the new riddle.
Kanan Jarrus Is Gone For Good
This episode gracefully handles the grieving process for Kanan. It anticipated the fandom’s denials and wishful thinking so well and then gently closed the door on reversing the irreversible, without being cruel. This episode asks us to come to terms with the unknown.
From the moment Ahsoka is yanked out from demise, the viewer’s brain immediately devises, “Wait, there’s a chance for Kanan!” The lightbulb in Ezra goes off and he runs to the time portal where Kanan perished in “Jedi Knight.” But unlike Ahsoka, removing Kanan from his tragic fate has stakes. Ahsoka points out the paradox: If Ezra saves Kanan from death, Kanan cannot save the Ghost crew, so Ezra wouldn’t exist.
Gazing at the empty plane where the Temple once stood, Hera and Ezra both accept that Kanan Jarrus is truly gone. On an optimistic note, the ending reiterates what Luke Skywalker of The Last Jedi and the late Kanan said in the episode “Legacy”: No one is ever gone for good. They just change form after death. But “A World Between Worlds” does not express this theme in a pandering manner. Verbally, Hera and Ezra confirm he’s gone. But visually, Hera clutching her shoulder (where she imagined his ghost touching her) tells us that Kanan can only exist in memory. They have surrendered the hope that Kanan can return in material form.
While this episode bangs the nail on the coffin on Kanan’s fate, Ahsoka points out that the will of the Force can act on Kanan’s behalf, even posthumously. He may not have ascended into a Force-ghost by the likes of Yoda or Kenobi, but he still can send messages from the other side of the Cosmic Force, like through the Wolf that calls itself “Dume”.
It’s possible that as the finale inches closer, Ezra will continue to receive cryptic messages from the other side. But the defining imagery of the Loth-wolf, an animal associated with Kanan, slinking away and Ezra’s farewell indicates that Kanan Jarrus should be left to rest.
Not to say that the fallen Jedi Knight will stop sending messages from the other side.
Ezra’s Destiny with Darth Sidious
If Darth Sidious’s attempt to snatch Ezra is any indication, Ezra is due for a confrontation with Darth Sidious, which was hyped by the trailers. And if we heard lines verbatim from the far-off sequel trilogy, Ezra can’t outrun this fate. Free will is often in shortage in the Star Wars universe. But “always in motion is the future,” as Yoda would say.
As a Jedi of post-Order 66, Ezra’s future remains clouded. Like Ahsoka, Ezra doesn’t necessarily have to die for the virtually Jedi-free continuity of the original trilogy, but he’s not immune to the worst-case scenario of dying. But that would be a too easy shock-value route for Filoni to take.
The three-part finale next week will answer Ezra Bridger’s fate.