The following contains spoilers for the two most recent episodes of Star Wars Rebels. You’ve been warned, Padawan.
After a long hiatus to give space for The Last Jedi release, the Disney XD animated series Star Wars Rebels had finally returned with a tragedy to rival the movie. The feels are strong with this double-feature “Jedi Night” and “DUME”. In a turning point of character development, Jedi Knight Kanan gives his padawan Ezra the reigns to lead a mission to rescue Hera Syndulla from the Empire’s clutches. But much to the fandom’s dismay, Kanan Jarrus had his final curtain call as a Jedi, going out in a blaze of sacrificial glory, leaving the Lothal cell, Kanan’s apprentice, the love of his life, Hera, in mourning.
One Jedi out of the Equation
Like how Luke Skywalker dies as both a true master and simple farm boy dreamer who stared at the sunset, Kanan dies as a Jedi. He dies as an idealist gazing at what he loved. He dies as Caleb Dume, the padawan identity he once damned and abandoned.
Fans have been wondering if Kanan and Ezra will survive the relatively Jedi-free continuity of the original trilogy era. Now Kanan is gone. However, I personally do not believe it is the end of Kanan Jarrus/Caleb Dume’s story. Remember, when Anakin Skywalker’s padawan Ahsoka Tano debuted in Clone Wars in 2008, fans immediately pegged her down as “doomed by Order 66.” Turns out, showrunner Dave Filoni had the creativity to ematicrcumvent Ahsoka’s supposed death sentence by Order 66 by omitting her official Jedi status. Though Ahsoka lived long enough to meet an ambiguous fate on Malachor in Rebels.
Kanan’s sacrifice mirrors Ahsoka sacrifice, with both of them accepting the worst of fate and Force-shoving friends to safety. No bodies to bury, but she and Kanan are declared as casualties to their sacrifice. But this is contradicted by visuals subsequent to their obliteration. “Twilight of Apprentice” ends with a cliffhanger sight of Ahsoka vanishing into darkness. Also, the giant Loth-wolf in Ezra’s vision bears Kanan’s old Republic insignia and calls itself “Dume,” Kanan’s former surname.
For continuity sake, the fates of Kanan and Ahsoka do vaguely qualify as “deaths,” to omit them from the original trilogy, which do not openly acknowledge their presence. But fans who insist that Jedi should die for “continuity dogma” stems from a lack of imagination. Possibilities wait around the corner. Ahsoka and Kanan’s deaths don’t appear to be literal. Just because certain non-cinematic characters don’t exist in the live-action trilogies, that doesn’t mean they have to meet the fate of Rogue One.
Regardless, Ezra Bridger is left behind and wanted by the Empire. He is now the last surviving Jedi of the Ghost crew with an unknown fate.
The Rebellion on Lothal
“DUME” hints toward an internal conflict escalating between Imperials Grand Admiral Thrawn and Governor Pryce (which has been simmering since Timothy Zahn’s 2017 Thrawn novel), insinuating that the Empire is gradually undoing itself on Lothal.
Going by Tarkin’s words to Thrawn, the Empire is edging toward their “Project Stardust,” a codeword that only Rogue One viewers would comprehend. Although the series had been teasing at the Ghost crew coming across this revelation, for now, the Ghost crew have to be unaware of the Death Star project. Though Thrawn’s efficient Tie-defender project is now a bust due to to Pryce’s recklessness (and Kanan’s Force powers) with the fuel depot when firing at the rebels. Turns out, the Empire on Lothal is figuring the aftermath of the Kanan’s sacrifice just as the Ghost crew is. As reinforced, the larger Rebellion on Yavin cannot afford to aid Lothal. By the end of the series, the crew cannot entirely overcome the Empire. But will the Ghost crew and Lothal cell score a major victory of some sort on Lothal? Would it match the victory over Scarif?
Answers in the Jedi Temple
Where we last left off with the Lothal Jedi Temple in “Shroud of Darkness”, it was occupied by Darth Vader. As Rebels edges to the Rogue One era, the Empire has its design on this kyber crystal source. Though there could be more secrets beyond crystals to unearth.
In a spiritual plane or vision, Ezra converses with a titan Loth-wolf (the Dume wolf that’s apparently not Kanan) who gives him a cryptic tablet. The wolf orders Ezra to find knowledge and passes a vague riddle: “Restore past, redeem future.”
Having failed a knowledge-seeking Force mission before, Ezra alludes to the catastrophe in “Twilight of the Apprentice” that led to Ahsoka’s assumed demise. But Ezra also understands he must complete the task. It’s likely that the tablet is the first puzzle piece to unlocking the mysteries of the Force, considering that the finale trailer features The Clone Wars infamous Mortis arc iconography.
Next week in “Wolves and a Door” and “A World Between Worlds”, Ezra will venture to the Lothal Temple. He has the backing of the surviving Ghost crew, but will the padawan survive the Force mystery he finds? Like Luke, Rey, and Ahsoka, Ezra will have to walk into darkness without a master’s guidance.