Review: Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Finale – “Twilight of the Apprentice”

By March 31, 2016
twilight of the apprentice featured image

On this week’s one hour season finale of Star Wars Rebels Ahsoka is back, a Sith Temple is discovered, an “Old Master” reappears and Darth Vader, folks…Darth Vader. Let’s take a look back at this incredible end to season two of Rebels withTwilight of the Apprentice.”

I’m not going to dance around this one; this episode blew me away! I had to step away for a while after viewing the finale not only to collect my thoughts but to catch my breath. The finale kept me captivated from beginning to end.

Going into this episode I was preparing myself to be an emotional wreck by the end of this episode. As we had seen in the various trailers, Ahsoka and Darth Vader were going to fight and there aren’t many ways that fight can end. The finale was even preparing us for Ashoka’s end in the very first scene where she had that conversation with Rex. Instead, they threw us a big ole’ 12 to 6, knee-buckling, Uncle Charlie at the end of this one, but I’ll get to that a bit later.

This series (and this season particularly) has been building Ezra up to have this power deep inside him and highlighting the conflict within him, but never taking him too far. We know that anger and sadness are there but he is always able to reel it in or keep it in check thanks to Kanan’s training and the company he keeps. But there’s no denying that Ezra is very powerful.

Ahsoka, Kanan and Ezra discover a Sith temple hidden beneath the surface of Malachor, a planet that the Jedi have been warned to stay away from ever since they were younglings. The scene around the outskirts of the temple had a very Pompeii vibe with all the dead warriors frozen in time presumable by some massive explosion or weapon discharge. It looks like no side one this battle. Amongst the bodies and the rumble Ezra finds a few lightsabers, tri-blade lightsabers just like Kylo Ren had in The Force Awakens. These appear to be an ancient version of the lightsaber and not just some modification Ren made to the lightsaber because he thought it looked cool.

The trio is not alone as they confronted by a brand new Inquisitor that we have yet to meet. They engage in battle but it’s not long until the ground gives way beneath Ezra and he falls to a sub-level of the cavern, becoming separated from Kanan and Ahsoka. While Kanan and Ahsoka pursue the Inquisitor, Ezra starts looking for a way out but he is immediately confronted by a mysterious figure. That figure is Darth Maul

If I wasn’t locked in before, I definitely was now. If you had seen the trailers you knew he was coming back but I wasn’t expecting him to show up until maybe the last half or final third of the episode. Nope. He was a part of this episode from practically the very beginning and played a very vital role. If you watched The Clone Wars you know how he survived after what happened to him in The Phantom Menace and you saw the great story arcs that he was a part of. It was so good to see him again.

Maul may no longer officially be a Sith Lord but he is still very much practicing their teachings, the Rule of Two especially. Maul is every bit as conniving as he was in The Clone Wars; he was playing Ezra like a fiddle practically the entire time. He was playing into Ezra’s wants, needs and fears to gain his trust and use him to assist in opening the temple doors and in retrieving the Sith Holocron. There was even a line where he paraphrased (or it may have been identical) to something Palpatine told Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, to know your enemy you must practice and learn all aspects of their ways and teachings, even the ways of the Sith.

Maul, as he said in the episode, is no longer a “Darth” but merely “Maul”. He had his own reasons. He is no longer a pawn of the Emperor. He’s not working for the Empire or Vader. Maul has his own agenda.  When I first learned that Maul was going to be in this episode, I thought perhaps the Emperor had placed him there to watch over and guard the Sith temple, but that was not the case. The Sons of Dathomir comic (which I have not read) must have explained how Maul freed himself or escaped from the Emperor after the events of his last appearance in The Clone Wars. The fact that he was on his own was even more exciting. Maul is a wild card. He has allegiances to no one.

I can’t talk about Maul without mentioning Sam Witwer who voices him (as well as the Emperor). If performance was perfection. He has really embraced this role and made it his own. What he does at the beginning to make himself seem like this frail old man to the subtleties and calmness in his voice when he’s manipulating Ezra to the exhibiting the pure joy and rage when his true self emerges, all of it was superb acting.

All while this is going on with Maul and Ezra, Kanan and Ahsoka have captured the new Inquisitor (with Chopper’s help). They may have captured this new Inquisitor but not before he contacted Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister. Those two show up to cause more problems. It was cool to see Kanan and Ahsoka take on these 3 Inquisitors but it was even better to see Maul take them on almost single handedly and pretty much wipe the floor with them. With the knowledge that Ahsoka, Kanan, Ezra and Maul were all on Malachor, the Inquisitors sent for Darth Vader.

Maul continues to fill Ezra’s head with lies, he’s always manipulating. He plays to Ezra’s feelings for his friends saying that if he doesn’t take action and use his power to strike that his failure to act may cost one of them their lives. He even puts Ezra in a position to kill Seventh Sister. Thankfully he is able to resist. If he had killed her, that would have been very reminiscent of that all too quick complete turn to the Dark Side of Anakin in The Revenge of the Sith. Sure, we saw a build to it but once he killed Mace Windu he was willing to kill pretty much anyone. I’m glad we didn’t get that quick turn here. But that didn’t mean Seventh Sister was out of the wood. With her trapped in Maul’s Force choke, he cut her down without hesitation. I was kind of bummed to see her go. I enjoyed her as a villain, much more than Fifth Brother. Though capable, he was kind of an oaf whereas she was much more cunning.

Maul has convinced Ezra that placing the Sith holocron in the obelisk at the top of the temple is the key to unlocking all of it’s knowledge. That was only a half-truth. To the Sith, knowledge is power, literally. The Sith temple is doubles as a battle station and that Holocron is the key to activating it. This entire time Maul has been grooming Ezra as his apprentice. We all saw that one coming, well everyone except Kanan and Ahsoka. The two of them engage with Maul but it isn’t long before Maul lands a shot on Kanan, blinding him. Ahsoka then engages Maul in combat and we even get a few bars of Duel of the Fates which was awesome. But then it gets even better because Vader shows up.

Kanan has Ahsoka go help Ezra while he takes on Maul. He grabs a mask that looks very much like those of the Jedi Temple guards to protect his face and eyes. Was this foreshadowed in Kanan’s vision when they visited the Jedi temple a few episodes ago and he faced the Jedi Temple guards? Kanan goes into full Daredevil mode, using his senses and connection to the Force to fight off Maul. That was an awesome sight. Ezra isn’t the only who who has grown in his Jedi training, Kanan has become a Jedi Knight.

This entire episode, heck this entire season, has been building to the confrontation between Ahsoka and Darth Vader and it did not disappoint. Their fight was everything I was hoping for. Ahsoka is an absolute force to be reckoned with, as of course is Vader. She also still doesn’t 100% know or believe that Anakin is Vader. How could someone that she knew as the pure and good man become such a vile being. In fact, Vader even tells her that he killed Anakin leading her to proclaim that she is going to avenge his death.

Then the truth of Darth Vader’s identity is revealed to her when she damages his mask. That was a great sound use by the way, hearing the same strained breathing sound from the end of The Return of the Jedi.  Ahsoka  first hears Anakin’s true voice (it’s so good to hear Matt Lanter again) and then sees part of Anakin’s face.  And her face, the look on her face was absolutely crushing. Her worst fears had been realized. Someone she loved and cared for dearly had fallen to the Dark Side. That was an emotional scene. She was heartbroken but she knew what she had to do. Then there was the look of pure hatred on Anakin’s face, full consumed by the Dark Side. That was such a powerful and emotional moment that was executed beautifully.

To Ezra’s dismay, Ahsoka sends him and Kanan away as she continues to battle Vader as the temple closes up and begins to erupt do to the two of them removing the Sith holocron.  Vader and Ahsoka continue to battle and then that big curveball comes. There’s a massive explosion that takes out the Temple. I was about to be really upset thinking we might get cheated out seeing the end of their battle and the killing blow. I (along with probably many of you) expected this to be the end for Ahsoka. I was waiting for the cut away from Vader walking away to show Ahsoka’s body with a fatal lightsaber wound. Nope. She was walking away, going deeper into the fallen temple! WHAT?! She’s alive! SHE’S ALIVE!  I did not expect that. It also looked like she may have fallen to her knees in grief from what she learned as she entered the the temple.  

It’s a funny thing when you’re prepared for character death and then you get the exact opposite. That was huge surprise and I’m overjoyed to see that she made it (for now). I can’t wait to see what they do with her next. That being said, she now knows that Vader is Anakin. Does she keep that to herself? Because if she meets back up with the Rebels at some point, how does that not get out? This will be very interesting. Also, what’s up with that birdlike creature? We saw that same creature at the very end of the previous episode when Ezra was lying outside the base in deep thought. Is it just symbolic of something or is there more to it?

Maul also got away which means we’ll see more of him in season 3.  Say what you will about Darth Maul getting short changed and underutilized in the prequels (in which I agree) but they have really fleshed out his character so well in Clone Wars and Rebels that if his fate had been different at the end of The Phantom Menace we may not get this great version that he have now and these fantastic stories that he has played a key role in.

It would be remiss of me if I did not talk about that final shot. Ezra was holding the Sith Holocron and when he looked up, his eyes flashed from red back to their normal blue. Wow. What an amazing shot and talk about foreshadowing (even more than before). Will Ezra turn Dark Side? There’s another big key to that scene that didn’t occur to me until I watched the episode a second time. Right before the flash of red to blue, Ezra unlocks the Sith holocron. That sucker opens. Earlier in the episode, Ahsoka told him and Kanan that it is impossible for a Jedi to unlock a Sith Holocron. Is this because Ezra is still in training and he is not a full Jedi? Or is there something more sinister to this and that we are seeing the birth of a young Sith Lord right before our eyes.  

“Twilight of the Apprentice” was a fantastic finale to season 2! We got so much to chew on and set up for season 3 but it didn’t leave us with a pure cliffhanger. Sure, some things are unresolved and left open but there was sense of closure to this section of the story. I am so excited to see what Star Wars Rebels has in store for us in season 3!

Make sure to check back for all your Star Wars Rebels updates – right here at GeekNation!

Christopher Skalicky
Chris, a film and television junkie, grew up on Star Wars, all things Disney, Stargate SG-1 and a healthy dose of John Wayne. When not thinking about movies he is busy being an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. He will also argue that Surf Ninjas is the greatest movie about surfing ninjas ever made. Tweet him at @Schlick51
  • Dirk Disco

    This is how you do a season finale Walking Dead… are you paying attention? The ending was very Empire Strikes back for me and the heros are in a worse place from where they started.