Star Wars: Rebels (2016) – Steps Into Shadow, The Holocrons of Fate, and The Antilles Extraction

Set six months after the events of the season two finale, season three of Star Wars; Rebels launched on 24 September, 2016 with Steps Into Shadows written by Steven Melching and Matt Michnovetz.

Ezra (Taylor Gray) sporting a new look, and perhaps a growing fascination with the Dark Side, joins Sabine (Tiya Sircar), Zeb (Steve Blum), Hera (Vanessa Marshall) and the droid Chopper (Dave Filoni) on a mission to rescue Hondo (Jim Cummings) while Kanan (Freddie Prinze jr.) – who also has a new look – still dealing with his blindness encounters a strange being known as Bendu (Tom Baker).

An hour long episode, the series threw our characters into new directions while opening up the Star Wars Universe even further by introducing an original Expanded Universe character into canon, Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) – he’s gonna be a problem.

With a newly crafted green lightsaber, Ezra is assuming more of a leader role within the group, but, there’s a darkness there that wasn’t there before, encouraged by the Sith holocron (Nika Futterman) he recovered from the Sith temple.

Because of this darkness, Ezra and Kanan are having problems connecting, and are chafing against one another, even as he turns himself inward to hone his abilities.

With the rescued Hondo’s ‘help,’ Ezra leads the team on a mission to recover some Y-wing fighters from Imperial destruction, but with the situation becoming fluid, he changes objectives on the fly and endangers everyone, and causes the loss of the Phantom, the Ghost’s shuttle. It does, however, put the entire team back together, and perhaps hint that Kanan and Ezra can reconnect and putting the temptation of the Dark Side behind them.

But it definitely affects Ezra’s standing as a leader…

It’s very cool to see the Bendu being played by the Doctor, as they seem very similar in personality, and Baker definitely suits both characters wonderfully.

And I love Thrawn’s introduction into the new canon, sure he isn’t menacing the heroes from the Original Trilogy like in the original Expanded Universe, but he’s a welcome addition.

It has me holding out hope for the appearance of Mara Jade sooner or later.

The Holocrons of Fate was written by Henry Gilroy and first debuted on 1 October, 2016.

Maul (Sam Witwer) returns to menace the Ghost crew again, taking them hostage and forces Kanan and Ezra through a number of trials to reclaim a Sith artefact, the holocron that has been tempting Ezra, and that Kanan gave to the Bendu as a gift.

He also demands Kanan’s Jedi holocron as well. Or he will execute all of the Ghost crew. The trials include Ezra facing the spider-like Krykna, despite Kanan’s advice that they won’t harm him.

On the Ghost, the crew try to outsmart, and outfight Maul, to no avail.

The holocrons, when recovered give information to both Maul and Ezra about their needs, and they both see Tatooine, with Maul realising his old nemesis, Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) is still alive. But staring into the combined holocrons, and Maul’s presence still proves tempting to Ezra’s dark side, even as Kanan struggles to reunite with his young, but growing, apprentice.

In fact all of the characters have changed since the first season, whether in growth, hair or styles, each character continues to evolve and that sense of continuity is always great to see.

The Antilles Extraction is a Sabine-centric story written by Gary Whitta and first aired on 8 October, 2016.

Sabine goes undercover at an elite Imperial Flight Academy to help a group of pilots defect to the rebellion. And guess who they are? Wedge Antilles (Nathan Kress) and Hobbie (Trevor Devall)!

Sabine can more than carry a story, and it’s great to see some more of her past fleshed out. We know she’s Mandalorian, but also learn that she spent some time in the Academy. And speaking of the Academy, I love the contrast between the rebels and the imps on this one. The rebels need to scrounge and steal everything they can to throw against the Empire. Meanwhile, the Imperials have state of the art training facilities.

But that won’t be enough to hold these new pilots, who want to be part of something more. But will they be able to get away once Sabine’s cover is blown?

The episode marks the first appearance of the familiar rebel transport craft as well as the TIE interceptors. We also learn that Fulcrum isn’t just a cover name, it’s a name for the whole information network that the rebellion uses.

The adventure in a galaxy far, far away continues next week with more from Star Wars: Rebels Season Three. May the Force be with you…

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