Star Wars Rebels Recap - S03E01-02 - "Steps Into Shadow"

Welcome to Critical Writ’s recaps of the third season of Star Wars Rebels! When we last saw the crew of Ghost they had finally found a secure location for the Rebel fleet and barely survived an encounter with Darth Vader on an ancient Sith temple world. Ahsoka is lost, presumed dead, Kanan lost his sight, and his padawan Ezra, under the guidance of Darth Maul, took another step into the Dark Side.

(Spoilers beyond this point)

The third season premiere, "Steps Into Shadow", takes place six months later and introduces the new status quo before future episodes (presumably) tear it all down. Following the loss of one of his senses, Kanan cut himself off from the rest of Phoenix Squadron and, most importantly, leaving his student without a teacher. This, and the feeling of blame over Kanan’s injury, in turn caused Ezra to seek Force training elsewhere: in the Sith holocron he found during last season’s finale.

Thanks to it, and the mysterious Presence dwelling inside it (voiced by Nika Futterman, also known as the voice of Asajj Ventress), Ezra grew exponentially more powerful. He also became more brash, bold, and dangerous. Which he proves during the episode’s opening mission: the rescue of Hondo Ohnaka, lovable scoundrel and a recurring character on both Star Wars animated series. When he and his team are faced with overwhelming odds, Ezra uses his new skills to take over the mind of an AT-ST Walker pilot and turn him against his fellow Stormtroopers. It’s unnerving to watch, both for the audience and other characters.

When finally confronted by Kanan, who finally finds about his new "study book," Ezra defends his choices by saying he’s going to use the Sith holocron for good. But he is definitely changing, the new powers and skills making him more ruthless and impatient. He proves it during a mission that’s the main focus of the episode: following up on Hondo’s tip about an Imperial Reclaim Station, where the Rebellion hopes to find a fleet of old Republic Y-Wing bombers that they could use in their war. What is intended as a quick recon mission goes sideways when Ezra and his team’s ship is discovered by an Imperial patrol, which in turn causes Station command to start melting down the Y-Wings.

Ezra, eager to prove himself after his fresh promotion to a Lieutenant Commander, practically strong-arms everyone into turning this recon mission into a recovery mission. And when the Station Commander (amusingly, a former Admiral that already had his life take a turn for the worse after meeting the Ghost crew) locks down the ships and destroys the console, Ezra doesn’t spare another thought before destroying the core powering the entire flying station. Naturally, everything takes a turn for the worse – the Y-Wings don’t have the hyperdrive, so Ezra’s team isn’t able to escape a newly arrived Star Destroyer. And Ezra himself ends up stranded on a falling station after his only escape shuttle gets destroyed.

Luckily, Kanan and Hera arrive to save everyone with three Rebel cruisers. Kanan is fresh after a lesson with a new Force-sensitive master, The Bendu (voiced by the Fourth Doctor himself, Tom Baker). The Bendu, named after George Lucas’s original name for the Jedi, "Jedi-Bindu," is effectively the Stick to Kanan’s Daredevil, teaching him how to replace his lost sight with the Force, and in the process helped him rebuild his connection to Ezra. That connection is what allows Kanan to find his wayward student and reach out from a light-filled vessel to the dark outside where his padawan was trapped, falling to his death.

In the end, Ezra gets seriously chewed over by Hera, and the salvaged Y-Wings are sent to General Dodonna, whom Star Wars fans might recognize as the head of the Yavin cell from A New Hope. The goal is to start building an intergalactic resistance movement that’ll be able to form a unified front against the Empire. It’ll be an uphill battle, especially now that they’re facing an antagonist like they’ve never faced before. And if you were following news about the show, you know who I’m talking about. Yes, Grand Admiral Thrawn: a mainstay of the now defunct Expanded Universe – makes his debut, and he’s everything we ever wanted.

Requested from Moff Tarkin by Lothal’s new Governor, Pryce, Thrawn (voiced by Lars Mikkelsen) proves his reputation by deducing from three seemingly unconnected facts (a sighting of a Ezra’s ship, recent rescue of Hondo and the identity of Hondo’s cellmate) what the Rebels aim for. And when later he learns his Star Destroyer engaged only three Rebel cruisers, he quickly realizes that it’s merely a fraction of the entire, and orders for them to be let go, not wanting to lose his new lead. The Rebels are facing their most dangerous foe yet, and they don’t even know about it.

Next week, we’re likely getting another Jedi-heavy episode with "The Holocrons of Fate." I’ll see you then!

Dominik Zine is a nerdy lad from northeastern Poland and is generally found in a comfy chair with a book in hand.