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Star Wars Rebels: Season 3 Episode 1+2: Steps into Darkness

What is it ? : Time seems to have passed since the finale of season two, Ezra is more mature and has cropped his hair shorter and chosen a more severe, military style to his outfit. He is leading Zeb, Sabine and Chopper on a mission into an Imperial prison, which turns out to be to rescue Hondo Ohnaka.
As they leave the prison they come under fire from an AT-DP walker and a group of Stormtroopers, Ezra mind tricks the pilot of the walker, making him shoot at the Stormtroopers and walk his vehicle off the platform they are on, falling into the distance below.
Returning to Chopper base, Hera berates Ezra for his actions in leading the team into danger, but Commander Sato promotes him for a successful mission, and assigns the next part of the mission for him to plan and command, as Hondo Ohnaka exchanges information for his freedom, giving them the location of an Imperial Scrap Yard, where Clone Wars era Y-Wings are being broken down Ezra returns to his quarters to plan the mission, telling himself that he must be strong enough to protect his friends, because he can't allow what happened to Kanan to happen again, and to this end he speaks to the Sith Holocron he obtained on Malachor which offers him advice and training..
Meanwhile, Governor Price visits Grand Moff Tarkin, cautioning that the Rebel activity at the prison is just the start of a new campaign, asking for military forces and an Admiral who will see the bigger picture, and Tarkin agrees.
Hera visits Kanan, who is meditating at Chopper base, and hearing a voice calling to him, she tells him that Ezra needs him, so he takes a break and visits Ezra, catching him with the Sith Holocron which he takes away.
Sabine, Chopper, Zeb, Ezra, Rex and Hondo take the Phantom, and head to Reklam Station to scout out the site for stealing the Y-Wings at a later date, stopping at a mining guild hyperspace waypoint to navigate onwards, but are attacked by the mining guild for not paying a toll. Ezra urges Sabine to destroy them all, but Sabine and Rex tell him that their mission is more important, so they head onwards to Reklam station, hyperspace jumping away from the mining guild.
Kanan has returned to his meditation, and once again hears the voice calling him into the wilderness around the base, he takes one of the beacons which keep the Krykna at bay, and follows the voice, meeting with a massive creature which calls itself the Bendu. It claims that the Jedi follow the Ashla, the lightside, and the Sith follow the Bogan, the darkside, but he is the one in between. He offers to teach Kanan how to see, and breaks the beacon, forcing Kanan to reach out and sense the Krykna. He senses that they detect the doubt and hostility within him, and that's what they react to, that they are not normally dangerous creatures.
Admiral Constantine visits Tarkin, telling him that Governor Price overestimates the danger of the Rebels, but Grand Admiral Thrawn enters the room, telling them that the Rebels broke Hondo out of prison, and that Hondo had been imprisoned with a worker formerly of Reklam Station, that the hyperspace jump point where the mining guild spotted the Phantom is only one jump away from Reklam station, so he thinks they are going to steal the Y-Wings from Reklam station.
The Phantom arrives at Reklam station, and observes that the Y-Wings are already being destroyed, so instead of observing, Ezra changes the plan and orders the team down to retrieve the light bombers before they are all gone. Hondo speaks to the Ugnaught workers, revealing he speaks the Ugnaught language, claiming that they are here to rescue them. The Ugnaughts join them, but the command centre orders magnetic locks on the Y-Wings after a patrol droid spots the Rebels. Rex, Sabine and Zeb fight the Droid after it shocks Chopper, while Ezra and Hondo head into the station itself. Hondo however soon stays behind, claiming to be securing an Imperial Shuttle for a possible escape route, but he steals the ship for himself and his new Ugnaught allies.
Back with Kanan, he senses Ezra's danger, and leaves the Sith Holocron with the Bendu and returns to warn Hera that the team needs help, and she scrambles the fleet.
Ezra fights his way to the command centre, meeting Commander Titus, who he last encountered commanding the experimental Interdictor Cruiser, now demoted to running a scrap yard after that encounter. When Titus informs him that he has sabotaged the controls for the magnetic locks, and the only way of deactivating them is to destroy the power grid, which will also drop the hovering station to the planets surface far below. Ezra destroys the power grid, having faith his friends can save themselves.
With the droid destroyed, and the Y-Wings refueled, Sabine, Zeb, Rex and Chopper take the Y-Wings, with Chopper remotely piloting the unmanned vessels, but as they head up into orbit and encounter Governor Price's fleet newly arrived, they discover the Y-Wing have had their hyperdrives removed.
But Hera and the Rebel fleet arrive, allowing the Y-Wings to dock with the carrier, and Price is ordered to let the Rebels go by Thrawn, as this is not the entire Rebel fleet, which he hopes to lure into a trap and destroy.
As the station plummets towards the planet surface, Ezra tries to get back to the Phantom, but it breaks free and is destroyed, leaving him stranded. His plans have gone awry and he begins to realise that his overconfidence has led him into this situation. But Kanan and Hera arrive with the Ghost, and Ezra has to let go and have faith in Kanan to catch him, which he does, getting pulled aboard the Ghost just before the station impacts the surface and explodes.
The Rebel fleet jumps to Hyperspace back to Chopper base, Kanan tells Ezra that the Holocron is safe, and Hera reveals that the Y-Wings are for General Dodonna's Rebel forces, and that they are helping build something larger.

High Points : Ezra continues his journey towards the Dark Side, and his need to protect his friends is far more believable a journey than Anakins, while he is becoming an angrier person, and his overconfidence is becoming a problem, he is motivated by a need to avoid what happened to Kanan happening again and a want to help others.
Hondo returns, and as always is as funny as ever, this time he's not in full comedy mode however, and just gets a bunch of good lines, but is a welcome addition to the episode. He also is extremely useful to the team during the mission, bringing the Ugnaughts onto their side, even if he does prove to be as untrustworthy as ever at the end by abandoning the mission as soon as he gets a ship.
Finally, the introduction of the Bendu is an interesting one, voiced by the Fourth Doctor himself, Tom Baker, he provides an interesting view into the force that we've not really seen before. Although Ahsoka seems to be a Grey Jedi, she's still unarguably good, as the Bendu appears to be, but we'll see if that holds up in the future. I love the fact that he uses the terms from the original scripts for Star Wars that George Lucas used, Ashla, Bogan & Bendu. I know I'm a total fanboy, but using these terms adds a certain gravitas to the names, as if they're actually names from history, instead of just something that someone made up (even if that's what they really are).

Low Points : Ezra and Kanan's relationship is at a low point, Kanan feels useless, and Ezra needs guidance now more than ever, feeling rejected by Kanan as if he failed him. Ezra has been leaning on the Sith Holocron as a replacement teacher, and his journey towards the dark side has been continuing, which since it's been foreshadowed since the beginning of the series is brilliant. However, Kanan and Ezra seem to patch up their relationship so easily. Kanan rescues Ezra, as they have done on a regular basis for each other since the start, but Ezra's trek towards the dark side seems to be pretty much completely reversed, and every one is friends again. It just seems a little easy, and the only repercussions for Ezra's Dark Side flirtation is a severe new haircut and wardrobe.

So what do you really think ? : I really enjoyed this episode, and while the B-plot with Kanan didn't mesh well with the A-plot about stealing the Y-Wings, it was all very enjoyable, and the extra running time just zipped by.

Final Words : We're starting to get to episodes which are only a couple of years old now, and my memories are much clearer of them. I remember the introduction of the Bendu, and being excited to see a new view of the force from the centre. Knowing that the Jedi must be gone by the end of the series, to make Luke Skywalker truely Last of the Jedi, and thinking that perhaps Ezra and Kanan might learn the ways of the Bendu, and therefore not be counted as Jedi any more. But sadly, that is never to be, and the writers decided to clear Ezra and Kanan off the game-board in another fashion.

Score : 8.5/10

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