This article will contain spoilers for Season 3 Episodes 15 and 16 of Star Wars: Rebels
Star Wars Rebels has been a decent series so far. Featuring characters from the time period prior to Episode IV, we are granted a more insightful look at the state of the galaxy between the Prequels and the Original Trilogy. While the show is an intriguing journey with a personable cast of characters, there are times that it can hit dry spells wear we seem to be watching just to watch without getting any real character development or plot progression. The episodes are often called “fillers.” However, in the past two airings, we got ourselves a little treat.
Episodes 15 and 16 of Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels feature Sabine Wren of the ghost crew taking hold of Dark Saber, the Mandalorian’s most ancient relic, and symbol of supreme leadership. Said to created and wielded by the first Mandalorian Jedi, Tarre Vizsla, whoever slays the holder and takes it as their prize, claim control of Mandalore. For years, it was held by the Vizsla faction before it was taken by Darth Maul, but recently, after a mission on Dathomir, it came into Sabrine’s possession.
This creates an engaging story, one because, Sabine did not slay the previous wielder, and two, because she now holds the key to possibly uniting the broken factions of Mandalore, some of whom have even pledged themselves to the Empire. Sabine, however, is reluctant to use its physical or political power, until convinced by Kanan and Hera. This is where things get interesting, because as skilled as she is with using blades, explosives and several types of firearms, she has never wielded a lightsaber.
Seeing the Dark Saber in her hands sends chills down your spine when you know it’s history, quite similar to the way you feel when you see Young Luke or Rey pick up Anakin’s old Lightsaber. Furthermore, It’s beyond delightful to see her struggling to hard earned lessons with Kanan training her in lightsaber combat before being instructed to train with Ezra until she learns the basics. The time taken to display this development is the kind of content I’d like to see more in the show, and I’m glad that this and the events of episode 16 weren’t rushed into one 22-minute block. This growth needed to be seen. Besides, seeing Sabine gain a full set of Mandalorian gear is simply awesome.
What I really enjoyed here more than anything was the insight into Sabine’s character. We learn that her family. Kanan tells her, while they are training, that she isn’t fighting him, and rather that she’s fighting herself. This prompts her to cut loose with an effusive, emotion fueled diatribe about how she ran away from her family because she felt like she betrayed them, due to the terrible weapons she built, and that the Empire used against them. It’s a heavy scene, and we can feel her struggle quite well.
In the next episode, we finally return to Mandalore where we meet Sabine’s mother and brother, finding that they too have turned to work for the Empire. After a few harsh conversations regarding the politics of Mandalore and the importance of family, a fight breaks out, inspired by the dissent in the two ideologies, and Sabine finds herself face to face with Gar Saxon, the leader of the Mandalorians loyal to the Empire.
Due to a blunder by her mother, he has the Darksaber and Ezra hands her his, and just as tradition would have, they duel in single combat for the leadership of Mandalore, giving us strings of nolstagia from the Clone Wars episodes with Pre Vizsla and the Dark Saber. In the end, Sabine overcomes, and when she has the chance, she doesn’t end her opponent’s life. Her mother does, when he concedes defeat and then tries to shoot her in the back.
Like I said, these are the kinds of episode arcs I look forward to when I watch Star Wars Rebels. Fillers don’t do it for me. I want to see characters growing and learning. I want to see the plot progress and take unexpected turns, and I want to see the vast lore and history of the Star Wars universe come into play. I already liked Sabine as a character, but these episodes allowed that fondness to flourish that much more. I’m looking forward to watch the show runners have for us next. We are closing in on the ending arcs, and if it’s anything like the last two arc enders, it’s going to finish strong.