Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rebels Review: 'Rise of the Old Masters' (Spoiler Free!)

By: Dominic Jones

This past Saturday, the crowd at New York Comic Con was treated to a surprise screening of the fourth episode of Star Wars Rebels "Rise of the Old Masters."  Seeing an episode with my fellow Star Wars fans is always a treat and this was no different.  Seeing as the episode will not air on Disney XD until October 27th, I'll keep this review mostly spoiler free (I'll be discussing the episode in broad terms, but no I won't tell you how it ends!)

This episode focused mostly on Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr) and Ezra's (Taylor Grey) relationship as master and padawan.  It's clear that both of them are frustrated with how Ezra's training has been going.  There are subplots involving the other members of the crew of The Ghost, however I'll be focusing on the Jedi plot for this review.

The episode especially delved into Kanan's psyche and his fears about being able to train Ezra as a Jedi.  Keep in mind, Kanan was only a padawan when Order 66 went down so for him to be training an apprentice of his own would be unheard of in the pre-Empire days (as Mace Windu says, "the code forbids it").  The plot of the episode (minor spoilers!) revolves around a mission to rescue Jedi Master Luminara Unduli who had reportedly survived Order 66.  Kanan leads the mission with the hope that Luminara could train Ezra instead of him (minor spoilers end).  He clearly lacks the confidence in his own abilities as a teacher and as a result begins to give off a bad impression on Ezra.

Ezra on the other hand, is clearly coming to terms with what training to be a Jedi actually means.  We saw in this week's episode Droids in Distress that he is clearly anxious to begin his training.  So when he and Kanan are actually training he becomes more and more aware of just how difficult it can be.  Kanan's lack of confidence leads to Ezra believing Kanan doesn't want to train him, causing tension between the two. 

The episode also serves as our first real look at The Inquisitor (voiced by Jason Isaacs), assuming he doesn't show up in Fighter Flight next week.  I will say that I do hope we get a glimpse of him setting up this plot in Fighter Flight.  I feel his introduction could have used slightly more build up on the series (more than just his cameo at the end of Spark of Rebellion).  This was likely due to the time constraint of 22 minutes, so I'll give the crew a pass on that one.  

Despite this, The Inquisitor was still a formidable villain in this episode.  Isaacs portrayed him with a perfect mix of dark side induced confidence and cunning intelligence.  The analogy Executive Producer Dave Filoni made last week, calling The Inquisitor an evil Sherlock Holmes holds up excellently.  Every move he makes is calculated and executed with near pin point accuracy.  On top of that, he is clearly a far superior warrior to Kanan.  Their duel reminded me of Luke vs. Vader in Episode V in that, much like Vader with Luke, The Inquisitor was toying with Kanan for most of the fight.  The series has been doing an excellent job so far at establishing villains like The Inquisitor and Agent Kallus who are legitimate threats to our heroes.

My only real criticism of this episode is not as much a criticism of the episode as much as a criticism of the marketing.  It's no secret that this episode contained an epic lightsaber duel between Kanan and The Inquisitor.  However, a large portion of this fight was released as clips prior to the episode's release (here and here).  I understand the desire of the marketing team to use the lightsaber fights in ads for the series however, unlike in the films where duels can last up to ten minutes, the fights in these episode aren't usually more than two minutes.  So after two 45 second clips of the fight, we've pretty much seen the whole thing.  To be fair, it is also important to keep in mind that this was the first lightsaber duel of the series and lightsaber duels are among everyone's favorite things about Star Wars.  I'm sure as the series progresses this will be less of an issue (by the time seasons 4-6 of The Clone Wars were on, the lightsaber duels were used sparingly as clips to promote the series).

Overall, this was a fantastic episode with great character development for two of our main characters.  It's fascinating to look into what it was like to train as a Jedi during the dark times and to see the struggle of the Jedi to survive.  In addition, the episode established another formidable threat in The Inquisitor, someone who we'll likely see cross paths with our heroes many times before the series wraps up.  And, as usual, there was some great humor and awesome action. 

Score: 8.5/10

Check out my reviews of Spark of Rebellion and A New Dawn!

You can follow Dominic on Twitter: @DominicJ25

This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writer, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization. 

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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