Rebels Rewatch #3: Nothing Left to Fear

As we wrap up season one of Star Wars: Rebels and dip into season two, two legacy characters are brought into the show and a few characters we’ve come to know – though perhaps not love – exit stage right. The addition of Darth Vader and Ahsoka Tano makes the show bigger than just one planet or one rebel crew, adding depth to Rebels and contributing to the broader Star Wars storyline.

S1E13 – Call to Action
Great episode open with the arrival of an Imperial shuttle at the Imperial base on Lothal, framed exactly as we saw both Vader’s and Tarkin’s shuttles arriving at the Death Star in Return of the Jedi. This shuttle carries Governor Tarkin who is in town to oversee the pursuit of the band of Rebels. Pushing back against the rumor mill, Tarkin is adamant that the Jedi are wiped out, and that there are no Jedi among the Rebels. He is very concerned that people don’t start believing that Jedi exist, let alone are a threat to the Empire.

Tarkin arrives in an iconic manner.

Cut to the Ghost: Reviewing their progress so far, Ezra says, “Every time we win, we lose.” The Empire seems to go toe-to-toe with the Rebels. Frustrated, the Ghost crew decide to do something big – to use an imperial radio transmitter to send a message to Lothal, and to other planets in the Outter Rim.

Back to the Imperial Base: Tarkin brings the Academy Commandant and Taskmaster in for a briefing. He is disappointed that they’ve not yet succeeded in capturing the rebels. He’s afraid that a Jedi – if one exists – and the Rebels represent hope. He is worried that the people of Lothal might begin to have hope in something other than the Empire. He doesn’t want anyone to believe that the Empire is weak. Tarkin has the Inquisitor execute the Commandant and the Taskmaster right there in the office, in a show of force for Minister Tua and Agent Kallus, who now know the consequences of failure.

As the crew works on their plan, Ezra is anxious. His parents did precisely this kind of stuff – send out unsanctioned radio messages – and he lost them. Ezra does not want to lose his new family, either. Kanan: When the time comes, we have to be ready to sacrifice for something bigger.
Ezra: It sounds good, but it’s not so easy.
Kanan: It’s not easy for me, either … I guess you and I are learning these things together.

I love Kanan’s humility, his acknowledgement that he, too, is learning.

They begin the mission and get inside the radio tower complex fairly easily. But the Empire knew they were coming, and reinforcements arrive quickly. A nice skirmish occurs, and Kanan fights to in such a way so as to allow the rest of the crew to get away. He is captured by the Inquisitor and the Imperial forces.

As the Imps take Kanan away Agent Kallus approaches Governor Tarkin, saying, “we have a problem. They’ve taken over the communications tower and are broadcasting.”

Romans 10:14-15 says, “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (quoting Isaiah 52:7).” Ezra and his crew are the beautiful feet bringing hope and good news to Lothal. They are the ones proclaiming not a messiah, but a vision and a future, that the people are unable to believe. Yet now that they are hearing and seeing the possibility of a new future, they are able to believe.

Ezra is speaking a message of hope, of fighting back against the Empire, of wanting a better Lothal. He is calling for people to unite against the Empire. The Imperial gunships that attacked the rebel forces at the communications tower now fire on the tower, destroying it. Just as he killed the two officials who couldn’t capture the rebels, here Tarkin takes drastic measures to show just how serious he is about defeating these rebels. He will blow up his own critical infrastructure to undermine the rebels.

S1E14 – Rebel Resolve
Episode opens with an Imperial patrol moving through town looking for the rebels – who ambush them. The Ghost crew commandeers a walker to access the Imperial network to figure out where they’re holding Kanan. However, they cannot access the Imperial data network from the walker – because the Empire destroyed their own communications tower. Walkers no longer have the remote access to Imperial data.

Hera communicates with Fulcrum – who we see for the first time, face obscured and voice modulated. Fulcrum says that their message was heard and taken seriously not just by civilians but by the Empire. Even though the Empire captured Kanan, the crew must go into hiding so that they don’t risk Hera or Ezra or others being captured. For hope to stay alive, the crew has to stay alive. They can’t go after Kanan and risk having more of them being captured.

Behind Hera’s back, Ezra and Sabine concoct a plan to reach out to Visago for help in finding Kanan. In order to gain Visago’s trust, and to show him he’s serious, Ezra tells Visago that he and Kanan are Jedi. Ezra promises that they – two Jedi – will owe Vizago a favor if he helps. Vizago agrees, and shows Ezra that the Empire is using courier droids to transfer data between Lothal and the ships in orbit, now that the communications tower is down. Hera arrives at Vizago’s outpost, and is beyond angry that Ezra told Vizago about their Jedi identities. This is a huge gamble, and potentially life-threatening for all of them.

Despite the risk, the crew goes ahead with a plan to swap out one of the Imperial courier droids with their droid Chopper, so that Chopper can get aboard an Imperial ship in orbit to access the data network and find out where Kanan is being held.

The Inquisitor’s mind tricks are not working on Kanan.

Meanwhile, the Inquisitor and Tarkin are torturing Kanan, and are impressed by his will. “He’s no good to me dead,” Tarkin says to the Inquisitor, echoing Boba Fett’s line to Vader when testing out the carbon freezing chamber on Cloud City. They begin to wonder if Kanan truly knows nothing of other Rebels – revealing the wisdom of the rebel cell structure, which prevents any of its members from sharing information they don’t know.

“Even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed … For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:14, 17-18). Suffering, hardship, sacrifice – these were understood to be a part of the Christian life, especially in the times before Christianity became aligned with culture and power and no longer was an oppressed, marginalized religion. Christian faith does not guarantee us comfort and luxury. Instead, it invites us to give and to lose for the sake of the Gospel.

The crew’s mission works – Chopper gets onto the Imperial cruiser, downloads data, and gets back to the Ghost. They find where Kanan is being held – on Governor Tarkin’s destroyer. And it’s about to leave – for Darth Vader’s adopted home world of Mustafar.

S1E15 Fire Across the Galaxy
The crew steals an Imperial transport ship and fly to Mustafar to rescue Kanan. There are several star destroyers in orbit over Mustafar. Ezra has to use the Force to determine if Kanan is really there, and which ship he’s in.

Inquisitor continues to torture/interrogate Kanan. Inquisitor says that Kanan’s loyalty to his crew is admirable, but that he knows the truth about Kanan – that he ran away when his Jedi Master died. Do your friends know this? Do they know you’re a coward who fled? He gets in Kanan’s head somewhat. But still … he gets no information from Kanan.

The crew disables the ship’s power and they board under cover of chaos. Ezra frees Kanan while Sabine, Zeb, and Hera race around to distract the troopers. Ezra and Kanan run into the Inquisitor. They have a pretty good two-on-one fight until Ezra falls, and Kanan fears that he’s dead.

Kanan: That was a mistake.
Inquisitor: Why? Because you have no one left to die for you?
Kanan: No. Because I have nothing left to fear.

Kanan starts kicking ass, using both his and Ezra’s lightsabers and forcing the Inquisitor to a ledge on one of those notorious Star Wars catwalks. It’s amazing the confidence and strength that comes when we let go of fear. As Bob Dylan sings, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”

That’s why, in the Bible, angels always tell us to not be afraid – because in God’s love and promise, we have nothing to lose. Basically, Bob Dylan is one of God’s angels.

Awesome duel.

Kanan: You were right. I was a coward, But now i know there’s something stronger than fear. Far stronger. The Force. Let me show you how strong it is.

Kanan destroys the Inquisitor’s saber, pieces of which fall into the ship’s reactor starting an explosion. The Inquisitor, at this point, has fallen and is hanging from the ledge over top of the burning reactor.

Inquisitor: You have no idea what you’ve unleashed here today. There are some things far more frightening than death.

With that ominous remark, he lets go of the ledge and falls to his death into the exploding reactor core.

Kanan and Ezra, along with Sabine, Hera, and Zeb escape the disabled Star Destroyer. The crazy dog fighting with a million ties is a spectacular sight to see. More rebels emerge from hyperspace and they save the day. Chopper, it seems, summoned reinforcements. They all escape from over Mustafar. Fulcrum reveals herself to be Ahsoka Tano. “This is a new day for you, Ezra Bridger, a new beginning.” It’s a new day for the Rebellion, too.

Tracy Chapman sings about a new beginning.

The Bible has a thing or two to say about new beginnings. “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating” (Isaiah 65:17-18). This is one of God’s many promises to renew the world in the promised day to come, on the Day of the Lord. Saint Paul takes this concept and applies it to the life of each believer, writing, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; look, new things have come into being!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are promised new beginnings, new life, a whole new world.

Agent Kallus greets Tarkin when he returns on a shuttle to Lothal. Kallus tells him that there is unrest in the streets as people are starting to think the Empire is weak – almost verbatim proving that what Tarkin was worried about a few episodes earlier has come true.

“Don’t worry about that, Agent Kallus. The Emperor has sent an alternative solution.”

Darth Vader walks off the Imperial shuttle. The episode – and the first season of Star Wars: Rebels – ends with the soundtrack of Vader’s mechanical breathing.

S2E1 Seige of Lothal Part 1
The episode – and the new season – starts with a space battle. The Ghost, along with other members of Phoenix Squadron, are attacking and stealing cargo from an imperial transport. In her battle banter, Hera mentions that she likes having back-up. “Better than flying alone,” she says. Kanan responds, snarky, “Alone were you?” As if to say, “what about me? what about us?” This will set up some tension between Hera and Kanan on working within a wider rebellion.

Back on Lothal, Minister Tua and Agent Kallus are talking about how to capture the rebels. She’s frustrated that even with increasing personnel and patrols, they’ve come up with nothing. Enter Darth Vader. “We will squeeze Lothal until someone reveals the whereabouts of these traitors.”

Minister Tua is afraid of Vader and the increasing violence of their effort to stop the rebels. She wants to defect from the Empire. She reaches out to the crew, who decide to help her. Meanwhile, Kanan is frustrated. Working within a larger rebellion requires procedures, protocol, process … He liked stealing from the Empire and giving to the needy, calling it “a noble calling.” But “getting drawn into some kind of military thing” is not to his liking. He went through one war (the Clone Wars), and saw what it did. He doesn’t want to be part of another war.

Zeb isn’t sold on the idea of helping Minister Tua. “After all she’s done to us, why should we help her?” Ezra: “Because that’s what we do, help those who can’t help themselves.”

Ezra’s wisdom here betrays the fake proverb so many think is actually in the Bible – that “God helps those who help themselves.” Nope. Not in the Bible. Not even a Biblical concept. God’s help for the weak and vulnerable, the widows and orphans, the small and disregarded is notorious. God doesn’t help those who help themselves – God helps those who have no other help or hope. And this is what God’s people do, too. We seek not our own good, but the good of others (Philippians 2:4).

The getaway didn’t go as planned; the Imperials blew up the shuttle as Minister Tua boarded. Chase ensues, and the Rebels get shot down while still in Capital City. They are on the run. Hiding in the Briders’ old house, they get found. They keep running. Kanan suggests going to the Imperial Complex. “Are you crazy?” Hera asks. “Does anyone ever answer “yes” to that question?” Kanan retorts. With all the troops on patrol in the city, the Imperial Complex itself is relatively unguarded. It’s not as crazy as it sounds.

Kanan, dressed as a trooper, and Ezra, dressed as a cadet, enter the complex. A trooper is standing guard. Ezra tries to do a mind trick, but it doesn’t work. Kanan takes over and performs the Jedi mind trick on the trooper, who lets them through. Ezra says, “I wish it worked for me.” Kanan retorts, “I wish it worked on you.” The writing in this episode includes a good dose of humor.

Enter Vader.

As they get to a landing platform to steal a shuttle and make their escape, Vader appears. Ezra and Kanan feel his cold, evil presence before they get to the shuttle. Episode ends as Vader ignites his lightsaber with a squad of troops right behind him – in a shot that draws comparisons to the newly anointed Darth Vader entering the Jedi Temple at the end of Episode III.

S1E2 Siege of Lothal, Part 2
Episode opens right where we left off. Kanan and Ezra duel with Vader, who basically handles them pretty easily. Their body language and facial expressions show that they immediately realize that Vader is an adversary unlike any they’ve faced before. Sabine and Zeb throw some explosives at two walkers. As the walkers crash to the ground, Ezra and Kanan Force push Vader into their path. The walkers collapse on top of him … and he survives, lifting the fuselages of the walkers with the Force. The crew flees in a stolen Imperial shuttle. The shuttle has no weapons, and will never make it out of the atmosphere. They go in search of Lando to be smuggled off planet.

Meanwhile, Vader orders Kallus to burn the refugee camp known as Tarkintown in order to draw out the Rebels. “The compassion of the rebels is a weakness.”

In 1 Corinthians 1 we learn that God chooses what is weak to shame the strong, foolish to shame the wise. Evil inverts God’s truths. Vader calls compassion a weakness. No. Compassion is actually the rebels’ greatest strength.

The crew arrives at Lando’s mining operation, where they work on an escape plan. Ezra sees smoke on the horizon – from the burning of Tarkintown. He takes a speeder and is horrified to see the entire encampment burnt to the ground. Kanan tells Ezra that everything is more intense now, everything they do will provoke a stronger reaction. Ezra wants to fight, while Kanan knows they’re up against an enemy – with Vader – that they can’t easily dispatch. “I’m not afraid,” Ezra says. “That’s what worries me,” Kanan responds.

Working with Lando they get off of Lothal and past the Imperial blockade, en route to meet up with the Rebel fleet. Cut back to Lothal, where Vader tells Kallus that there’s a tracking device on the shuttle they’re flying. “Prepare my ship,” Vader says. At that moment the audio is silent for a few moments as the reality sinks in that the Empire is going to find the rebel fleet, and likely destroy it.

Teaming up with a bigger rebellion.

When the Ghost crew returns to the fleet they discover that a tracker had been activated on the shuttle they stole. Much to their surprise, only one Imperial ship arrives – Vader’s tie fighter. He picks off the rebel fighters one by one, and seriously disables the capital ships. The Ghost crew, with Ahsoka, take off in the Ghost to engage the lone Imperial tie. As they’re fighting Vader continues to hit all his targets. Sabine asks, “Who is this guy?” (echoing the questions of S1E1, but now in a much more worrisome way). Camera pans to Ahsoka, who closes her eyes slightly, as if sensing something with the Force.

Ahsoka: The Force is strong with him. Kanan, lets find out how strong.
Kanan: How can I help?
Ahsoka: Just remember your training.
They both reach out with the Force to feel their adversary’s presence

“Just remember your training.” Remember. So much of the Bible is filled with commands to remember. “Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt,” the Lord says in giving the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5) and again in framing the meaning of God’s decrees and statues (Deuteronomy 6:20-21). “When your children ask you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the decrees and the statutes and the ordinances that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your children, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” We are to remember.

To help us remember, we are to “keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

Ezra senses that they’re facing off with the Sith Lord they battled on Lothal. As he says that, Darth Vader senses movement in the Force, looks up from his tie fighter and says, “The apprentice lives!” Ahsoka, still in the cockpit of Ghost, shouts, “NO!” and passes out.

Vader continues to pursue the Ghost, but Ghost the gets away as a tractor beam from one of the Star Destroyers meant for the Ghost ensnares Vader’s tie fighter instead. The ship’s commander lays blame for that error on a junior officer.

On the Ghost, Ahsoka, Kanan and Ezra talk about the Sith Lord. Ezra asks Ahsoka if she knows who or what it was. She says, “no,” but her face belies the truth. She knows its her former Master Anakin Skywalker, but she can’t bring herself yet to say that out loud. Ahsoka, Kanan and Ezra realize now that the stakes have only gotten greater in their fight against the Empire. Kanan seems to have found a new resolve. “We must find the strength to fight, but the greater courage is knowing when not to fight.”

Back to Vader. He calls the Emperor – whom we don’t see, but we hear his distinctive voice – and tells him about Ahsoka. “The apprentice of Anakin Skywalker lives.” The Emperor orders Vader to send another Inquisitor to hunt her down. The Empire now has two main objectives – one focused on capturing the Jedi, and the other on defeating the growing Rebellion.

Published by Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. Veteran. Jedi. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.

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