The last two episodes of Star Wars Rebels, after a long break, have brought us right into the action: as if they were saying, “this is the last sprint towards the finish line”. Or, as Thrawn would say, this is the endgame.
The Prodigal Daughter
Sabine Wren, now possessing the Darksaber, has finally returned to her family. I am sure nobody expected it to be easy, and what came to pass was a familiar scenario of mistrust and betrayal in the interest of greater good. Sabine’s mother Ursa and brother Tristan proved to be surprisingly well-written and complex characters, given that this was the first time we saw them. The Lando Calrissian-esque trope of allies betraying the hero in order to supposedly protect everyone, which of course backfires at them, was made a lot more special because of Sabine’s family’s evolving attitude towards her throughout the episode.
From the first moment, we could see the tension (to be expected), the awkward clash over who was in the right – whether Sabine for leaving the family, or the family for siding with the Empire. This escalated through the discussions Sabine had with her mother and brother, the realisation that Sabine’s mother believed her daughter had been safe as long as she had remained away from Mandalorian space, up to the inevitable confrontation with Gar Saxon. All of this was crowned with the moment Sabine turned her back to Saxon and we heard the shot – which could have been him, or Sabine’s brother, or her mother.
There was much dynamic in this particular moment – it told, in one gesture, much more about the relationship between the three family members and about their personalities than several conversations could. Ursa took it upon herself to protect her daughter from death, but also took it upon herself to become the Mandalorian leader’s killer, which might mark her in the eyes of the others, be it positively (for standing up against Saxon) or negatively (for those loyal to the Empire and to Saxon, however bad he was). At the same time, by shooting first, she (at least on a theoretical level) protected her son – he possibly would have done the same, and thus ending up with the stigma of being Saxon’s killer himself.
The Future for Mandalore?
Aside from the general epicness of the episode (including Sabine putting her training with Kanan and Ezra to work with actual lightsaber – you can’t get much cooler than that), it is clear great things are in store for Sabine. At the same time, she’s leaving the crew, and that raises questions. Will she quietly disappear, will she come back to take part in the Rebels’ final battle against Thrawn? (Will she “do an Aragorn” by showing up with an army of unexpected allies when everything seems lost, thus saving the day?) In any case, her quest to search for the one worthy of the title of Mandalore opens the door for a Sabine-only spinoff (perhaps in the form of a book or a comic). I am sure many would appreciate that, as well as a “Mandalorian” story.
Sabine leaving the crew to pursue her own destiny is not only a beautiful culmination of her personal story arc, but also an interesting model for a character leaving the Rebellion for convincing reasons. Are we going to see this becoming a trend? As we know, for example Kanan and Ezra are not part of the Rebellion as Jedi during the time of the original film trilogy. Is the “Sabine path” a good means to get them out of the way? By saying “the Rebellion is important, but we need to make sure there is balance of the Force for the whole Galaxy, we are heading out to seek it?” Perhaps.
The Heroic Fulcrum
The second story that came after the break, Through Imperial Eyes, was at least equally epic as the first one. If you ask me, it was emotionally packed. I don’t recall fearing for a favourite character of mine like this for a really, really long time. If Legacy of Mandalore played with the subtle complexity of family relations, Through Imperial Eyes threw us right into the tangle of wires under high voltage.
Kallus, Thrawn, Yularen, even Pryce; all the Imperial officers were suddenly around and looked like threats. I appreciated it – so far, the Empire had been presented mostly as a joke, a machine full of machinised soldiers and inefficient bureaucrats, which is only winning because of sheer numbers. Here, the officers – even poor Lieutenant Lyste – were to be taken seriously. And one has to admire agent Fulcrum for being able to tiptoe around in that environment successfully for so long.
Especially Thrawn and Colonel Yularen were shown to be considerable threats, clever and deadly. Thrawn most of all. Finally – finally he has turned from potential, implied threat into an actual threat. Finally we could fear him here and now instead of in some vague distant future. Him holding out against two assassin droids, on top of everything, has proved that he is no office man, but actually a fighter capable of putting his theoretical skills to practical use.
Fulcrum knew this, unlike Ezra Bridger (honestly: who didn’t feel like hammering some sense into that kid when he wanted to steal Hera’s kalikori from Thrawn’s office?). Still, I daresay Fulcrum had overplayed his hand – as we saw in the final scene, Thrawn has all the intelligence he needs and we can just dread how everything is going to backfire. The double-agent’s bravery is astonishing, however, and together with Sabine, I think those two characters so far have had the most interesting development throughout the entire series. We can only hope the others will follow.
Shadows of Times To Come
Here we are, then. Sabine is with her people, Kallus with his. The Rebel crew will have to continue in diminished numbers, at least for a while. How is Hera going to react to her “daughter” remaining with her actual family? What is the future of Mandalorians, and are we going to still see a glimpse of it in the Rebels, or will it be reserved for some future spin-off? Will Fulcrum be able to outplay Thrawn in his own game? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I can’t wait.