Wednesday, March 30, 2016

'Star Wars Rebels' Cast and Crew Discuss "Twilight of the Apprentice"

By: Dominic Jones

The Star Wars Rebels Season Two finale, "Twilight of the Apprentice" just wrapped up on the East Coast, and now the cast and crew are finally able to speak about what went down.  Be warned, if you haven't seen "Twilight of the Apprentice" stop reading now.  This is you SPOILER ALERT!

First up, Club Jade has posted a video of the Q&A which took place following the screening of the episodes at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank which took place on Monday.  The Q&A, moderated by writer Amy Ratcliffe, features executive producer Dave Filoni, executive producer Simon Kinberg, and voice actors Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano) and Taylor Gray (Ezra Bridger). Check it out below,

When asked if Ahsoka was still alive, Filoni said,
Is that what you saw? That’s so interesting. That’s so good. You know I think it says a lot about who you are, which is great. You’re an optimist, and I think that that’s strong, I think that that’s strong. [Laughs] It’s an interpretation. I mean, the thing for me in this moment in time with this story – and I was pretty clear about this from the beginning in that Rebels is not Ahsoka Tano’s story, nor is it Darth Vader’s story, and we worked really hard to bring those characters into the story. But ultimately, I have to service Ezra and Kanan, and the crew of the Ghost. So a lot of that episode is portrayed through their eyes, and especially Ezra’s, as he witnesses this kind of titanic thing happening.

It’s just so easy – especially in that situation – it’s so easy to have Ahsoka and Vader take over the show. And I think evidence of that is that even though they don’t encounter each other until act three, you immediately get the dynamic of what’s going on. I would say that – while I’m not a huge fan of being tremendously ambiguous as far as what happened – I would say that this is the one case where I think it’s alright with Ahsoka to leave things a bit open-ended. You wondered what happened to her before, but you knew she walked away. Now she kind of leaves in a state of conflict. I would just say that there are probably – and I’ll give you this as we go back a ways – there are probably more stories to tell with Ahsoka Tano, but I would not believe that that would happen necessarily on Star Wars Rebels. I’ve been wrong in the past, but I think that she has served the part of the story that she needed to for our characters here. Then we’ll have to see. I do like the character a lot, obviously, and I think that she’s developed her own kind of fan base within the Star Wars universe. So, you know, I think there are still more stories to be told. I think there are stories to be told prior to Rebels with her. I think there are a lot of stories that happen right at the end of Clone Wars that we’re unaware of yet.

You know, I think the thing that I’ve learned is that the character has a lot of strength to be on her own, doing things. And perhaps that means she’s still alive. I don’t know. There are clues to the actual answer in what I think throughout, I will say that. And some kids at the [finale] screening were shooting pretty close to the mark, or at least were decoding the [clues] that I have left for them. It’s one of those mysteries then where maybe, beyond hope, maybe there is a future, but we’ll have to wait and see.

On the potential for a Vader vs. Maul showdown next season, Filoni said,
[Laughs]I wouldn’t count on that. What I think is interesting is that Maul has an awareness of him. I think that that’s a particularly interesting thing. Maul obviously has been somehow keeping tabs on what’s going on in the galaxy and probably wishes he was more a part of it. That’s another bit of wonderful story, which is: What has Maul been up to? How did Maul get on this desolate planet? And we obviously don’t answer those questions at this time, but it is stuff we’ve considered when we wrote these stories. It never came to be that he would face off with Vader, at least not yet. Again, the main reason being that, while that’s a fun notion in a lot of ways, the personal story of the relationship between Ahsoka and Darth Vader as Anakin is way too compelling and needed all the screen time. As we were working out how this episode was going to go, it became clearer and clearer to me that I couldn’t have all these other people in play when we got to Darth Vader. It’s too distracting. At one point we had several of the characters still battling Inquisitors and Darth Vader was in the mix. I just felt like everybody kind of had to be thinned out and exhausted, and then here comes the worst thing of all. So you really feel like you have no chance whatsoever. So just organically, it happened that way over a period. We’ll have to see. You never know, you never know. The nerd-tacular obsession with Vader vs. Maul. It’s hard to say – I mean, Vader is hard to top. Something George is pretty adamant of all the time was that Vader, you know… You never want to do anything to diminish him.

Filoni also addressed seeing and hearing a little from Anakin in this episode,
As far as how Vader would treat Ahsoka and react to her, I base that interaction – the attitude, if not the dialogue – on my conversation with George about how that would go. I asked him pretty pointedly, “How would this conversation go? How would he feel about her?” We both agreed that the one thing that Ahsoka can’t represent in any way is any path of redemption for Vader, or the hope that that’s there because Luke is the only one that’s going to be able to make that happen. And that’s the story that we see. It was our belief that we could have this moment, but it’s not even a moment of hesitation for Vader. Because he says then, “You will die,” and he means it. He is going to destroy her, and the reason that is, is that she has knowledge of him as a good person. She represents and is a vessel for everything that he once was, and he finds such pain in that, and hatred, and anger. He doesn’t want to face what he’s become, but he just wants to destroy anything that reminds him of that former self. He doesn’t even talk about Anakin in the movies, at first, and if he is that person. “That name no longer means anything to me.” So we have to establish that Darth Vader and the destroyed character of Anakin. The moment you see it reach out in hope is when he says her name finally, and you hear the voice of Anakin. That’s the only thing, is beyond this horrible person is this trapped person inside that calls to her.

I believe that also in that moment, she realizes that, what can she possibly do for him? Her strength as a character saying, “I will not leave you. Not this time. I’m not going to abandon you, I’m going to see how this plays out, here and now.” Whatever that means, that maybe that show of kindness and strength towards her old friend helps.

Honestly, and you’re the first person I’ve told this to, I have already been looking for ways to – in whatever form – play out what happens once that door closes. I just think it’s too compelling and too interesting, and while it might not be something for Ezra’s story, or Kanan’s, it would be interesting down the line if I got to show everybody what happens once that temple closes. I think what we’ve created is an interesting point in Star Wars history and time, and time will tell if we ever actually get to see that. I do believe that Vader – and why he’s fighting her at the end, which was important – is that he wants to destroy her. So she’s really kind of stuck. And perhaps even in that moment herself thinks, “Well maybe this is the end for me.” We’ll have to wait and see.

He also talked a little about blind Kanan, saying,
Well, it was something that I was interested in, and Henry Gilroy was interested in. We would talk about it. You see this type of loss via the hand and we’ve seen that more than once. There’s something about taking something away from your characters, really challenging them and seeing how it affects them. I was talking to Simon [Kinberg] about this last night – really when you see this two-parter, it’s the first half of a story that continues to play out in Season 3. Where these characters go through some growth. You have a character in Kanan that was really hiding from who he was for a long time, and now has come out of that and kind of reclaimed who he was, or who in a way he was meant to be as a Jedi teaching the students. But that doesn’t mean that that choice comes without a cost. Again, we’re going to face challenges in life, and now Kanan is going to face this big challenge and what it means for him as a crew of the Ghost that he’s suffered this injury, and can he overcome it. It definitely plays out next season.

On Ezra touching the Dark Side, Filoni said,
I think - again going over this with the writers over the year and the Force – our Dark Side is something everybody is challenged with. You can access great power. It is a quick and easy path for results. Ezra’s been raised by a group of rebels who are causing conflict and fighting all the time. You have to start to wonder, what does that start to do to him as a young person, where conflict is kind of the way to resolve most of the issues? They don’t have with them the negotiators so much. Kanan attempts this a little bit in the Mandalorian episode we did, where he’s like, “Perhaps we should negotiate with Fenn Rau.” And eventually he pulls that off, but after a lot of conflict. We had to explore Ezra’s dark side, and one of the hardest things about that was making it believable that Maul could coerce [him]. I mean, you’re not exactly dealing with a character that doesn’t look exactly like the devil in Maul!

I was kind of chuckling to myself last night. I kind of wish I had a line in there from Ezra, which is like, “Well I know he looks bad, Kanan, but he’s not.” So Kanan’s like, “You think? He looks bad, really?” I think that was kind of the beauty of Sam [Witwer], was his performance in the episode. He did a great job of making the audience believe that Ezra could believe that he’s on their side. That’s kind of the lure of the Dark Side. A lot of what he’s saying about “Use your abilities, use your strength, use your anger and you can overpower these enemies.” It’s really close to a lot of the dialogue, if you notice, that Ahsoka was saying earlier, which is sometimes, “If you want to defeat your enemies, you have to learn about them. You have to learn about their knowledge and what they are.” Ezra gets a little bit of his wires crossed there, when Maul’s and Ahsoka’s teachings are coming pretty close together. But Maul is definitely on the side of extreme, and that “We’re going to have the power to destroy our enemies, not just defeat them.”

When asked about the voice heard in the holocron (portrayed by Nika Futterman), Filoni revealed the source of that voice, saying,
To me, that voice you hear is actually the ancient, ancient Sith Lord that created the temple. She was a powerful Sith Lord. I like the idea of this powerful, ancient woman that has domination that we’ve never heard of before, that was creating this massive weapon. And in the midst of the construction of this thing, when it was nearing completion, it got assaulted by ancient Jedi Knights. They have this huge battle at the foot of the temple, basically, and the weapon fires or malfunctions and everyone gets turned to stone. We had a lot of different versions of the story where – at one point, we see that thing fire initially when Ezra turns it on and it sends up that sphere. We were going to show that the one Eighth Brother had actually survived the fall and was scrambling towards his ship. Because he could use the Force probably to help himself land, and he was going to get hit by this wave. You would see it turn him to stone. Maul, because he would have been on a lower level when he saw the blast coming, would have survived it. And that’s how Maul winds up in the Eighth Brother’s TIE Fighter. He actually feels it and that’s when he flies out of there in the end. But yeah, there’s this ancient Sith Lord that Nika was playing, and I’m still going over the dos and don’ts of the continuity of all that. But I wrote the history down, I just put it out there in case people want to pick it up later when they’re working on things, and give some continuity. I won’t reveal the name – I have named the character, but I have to make sure everybody’s cool with it.

And finally, on how Maul knew Ahsoka, Filoni said,
That was somewhat of a challenge, but I kind of just put it to my mind as if I was writing this and we had never made Clone Wars. And I was thinking, “Well, I know these characters have met, so they have to act like it.” I laid out for Sam and Ashley how that episode arc actually went. It was easy because we had actually written the episodes, so I know how they go. As you can imagine, Witwer was a rapt audience and just wanted to soak all of that in; all that goodness in. It was important for them because I never know when we’ll actually get to go back and do things. So I want to make sure that points in the timeline that I know happened – even if they haven’t been committed to a TV series, or a film yet, or a comic book, or what have you – that it’s represented so the continuity will all hook up much later. Kiri Hart always knows, and we’ve gone over it and I’m like, “I do believe that these things happened.” So everybody’s like, “Cool,” and we now how to proceed.

They got a bit of the story, it was really an epic confrontation and it is a decent spoiler…

It is the last story arc of the Clone Wars TV series that we were doing, was this story about Ahsoka and how she crosses with Maul. What was significant about that was that it was the story that was really going to draw her possibly back into the Jedi Order, because the motivation around this conflict with Maul was her knowing the personal history between Maul and Obi Wan, who was their dear friend. So she was caught up in that, and basically she says point, “The last time I saw Anakin, he was rushing off to save the Chancellor.” She was actually planning with Obi Wan and Anakin the capture and attack that would get them Maul, because she had figured out where he was towards the end of the Clone War. But before they can go through with this plan together, Obi Wan and at one Anakin get called away to Coruscant to save the Chancellor, which leaves her with Rex – and some other exciting characters – to basically go and deal with Darth Maul, once and for all. That’s kind of a good brief of what that was about.
You can read the entire interview with Filoni over at IGN.  We picked some highlights to feature above, but I highly recommend checking out the entire thing.

And, just like every week, Rebels Recon offers some great insight into the episode, as well as teases for Season Three (hints about a Rogue One tie in?) and what to expect at Star Wars Celebration London this July.  Check it out below,

Sources: Club Jade, IGN

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


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