Star Wars Rebels: Shroud of Darkness
March 3, 2016 6:23 AM - Season 2, Episode 16 - Subscribe

After repeated encounters with the Inquisitors, Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka, return to the Jedi temple on Lothal in search of answers and perhaps, the guidance of a certain small, green, Jedi Master.

  • The planet at the start of the episode is listed in the script as Oosalon.
  • The outfit Anakin Skywalker wears in the holocron recording was created originally for that scene and was not used previously.
  • The ancient artwork seen in the Jedi temple includes humanoid beings riding what appear to be giant wolves.
  • The design of the Jedi dojo, created for this episode, was previewed in Marvel's Star Wars: Kanan, issue no. 7, which was published in October, 2015.
  • The lightsabers in the training dojo were repurposed/redressed animation props, including ring-less Inquisitor lightsabers. This also included the Temple Guard lightsabers, and lightsabers belonging to Ki-Adi-Mundi, Luminara, Unduli, Kit Fisto, and Adi Gallia.
  • For Anakin's lightsaber training, the Rebels tv team reviewed Episode III-era reference footage of stunt coordinator and sword master Nick Gillard giving a lightsaber lesson to a video games team.
posted by Atreides (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
That scene where Ahsoka figures out who Vader is must be one of my favourite scenes in the history of animation, and I fear for Ahsoka.

I would also like an Ahsoka movie. I think she's earned it.

I really, really hated the Yoda CGI model.

And I'm really to sure what to make of Ezra's Rey-Sue powers.
posted by Mezentian at 11:12 PM on March 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm running out of superlatives for this run of episodes. "That's some mighty fine animated entertainment you got yourself there, mister." All three of those visions were great – I even liked Ezra's version of Yoda. One theory is that Yoda didn't look "quite right" because Ezra has only heard of him, never seen him, so Yoda appeared how Ezra expected him to. Meanwhile the two Inquisitors continue to fail to impress; are they merely toying with Kanan & Ezra?

As a fan of the Old Republic period I'm really excited to see some of that lore trickle in. Hammerhead cruisers! Malachor!
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 5:39 AM on March 4, 2016

Hammerhead cruisers! Malachor!

Okay, Malachor I know (not sure why). but Hammerhead? Help me out.
posted by Mezentian at 6:05 AM on March 4, 2016

Yoda looked like his design was leaning toward the original concept art.

I'm a bit confused by what happened with the temple guards. It looked like a circle of them closed in on the inquisitors, but then afterward the inquisitors are fine. Illusion?
posted by Fleebnork at 6:12 AM on March 4, 2016

Fleebnork is right on, here's McQuarrie's original idea for Yoda. We absolutely know that Rebels has really drawn upon McQuarrie's work for inspiration in design and concept for the show. So there's one reason for this decision, but I also believe there's another and one only has to look at current marketing of Yoda over the last so many years to understand it.

We essentially have four iterations of Yoda:

1) Original Trilogy Yoda, the puppet, and the Jedi Master who thought wars did not necessarily make one great, and also, that weapons aren't always needed.

2) Prequel Trilogy Yoda, a CGI creation (True, in TPM he was a puppet, but Lucas edited that version out for the blu-ray release and replaced him with CGI) - who, while presented as wise, is also presented as a warrior.

3) The Clone Wars Yoda - CGi animated Yoda, who incidentally, is much less a warrior and more akin to Original Trilogy Yoda.

4)Rebels Yoda - another CGI animated Yoda, who has repudiated the belief that the Jedi should have gone to war and exists almost entirely to offer sage advice - essentially a lead into Original Trilogy Yoda.

If you wander to your nearest Star Wars merchandising selling establishment, almost without a doubt, a great chunk of anything involving Yoda, involves him wielding a light saber. Yoda, for marketing purposes, has been reconfigured into Prequel Trilogy Yoda, a guy that people are only interested in because of his warrior abilities. If the folks who worked on The Clone Wars and now Rebels have shown us, they really don't believe in that Yoda, but Original Trilogy Yoda. So they try to differentiate, visually, this belief by breaking from that representation and offering a slightly different one. The Clone Wars Yoda, understandably, could not hew too far from Prequel Trilogy Yoda, given its time and place, and I don't think they could create a Yoda that looked close enough to the Original Trilogy Yoda without running against the CGI version created for Prequel Trilogy Yoda. Hence, they fall back on McQuarrie's work, figuratively going back to Yoda's origins, to present a Yoda they believe best representative of the Yoda they admire.

The Hammerhead Cruisers are things I wasn't familiar with, either, but Knights of the Old Republic, KOTOR, had a really big influence on fans and they originate from that game franchise. I've yet to ever play it, but I have seen folks talk about characters with as much passion as anything in the written EU.

I also really enjoyed this episode, though felt a little too much time was expended on the fight in the beginning. Ezra's skills are advancing quickly, though they've laid the ground work for them, be it his affinity to communicate with animals, or him studying the lightsaber lessons of Anakin Skywalker. Just compare Ezra now to the Ezra at the start of the season, incredible advancement.

With that Jedi temple, I think there's a very big question mark on anything you see actually being real. It's definitely playing up the mysticism of the Force and the Jedi, such as when Kanan sauntered off to go through the door, a door of brilliant light that Ezra and Ahsoka couldn't see for themselves. This happened the last time, as well. My speculation is that the Temple Guards were just a vision of some sort.

Speaking of which, it appears the Emperor or Vader, corrupted the Temple Guards into becoming the foundation of his Inquisitors. Creeeeeepy.

One thing gave me a little hope for Ahsoka. Before they entered the temple, she confirmed she was no longer a Jedi. This would give her continued existence after Rebels more of a chance and not make Yoda a liar when he tells Luke that he's the last of the Jedi. I also fear that I'm dipping into a well of wishful thinking and drinking my fill. I actually see Ahsoka trying to save Anakin, convinced there's still good in him, and being killed. This would raise the stakes for Luke in Return of the Jedi, even while he doesn't know it, but the last person who tried what he did ended up dead.
posted by Atreides at 7:19 AM on March 4, 2016 [6 favorites]

Atreides gets a PHD in Yodaology from Me U!
posted by Mezentian at 7:32 AM on March 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

The Hammerhead cruisers are a design from the Knights of the Old Republic games and The Old Republic MMO – all set in a period well before the trilogies/TCW/Rebels: like, 3500-4000 years before. In the episode in which they appear, the one with Princess Leia, someone (Ezra?) makes a jibe about their ancient design. All of the lore surrounding those games is now in "Legends" territory, but little bits have been sneaking back into the canon via Rebels, which pleases a lot of the fans of those games. ("Recanonization" is the term I've seen.) Malachor specifically played an important role in the KOTOR II story, with themes that directly presage the issues Ezra is confronting. So as not to spoil those stories, and not to veer wildly off topic, I'll stop there: there's plenty of info out there if you want to load up on some speculation fuel during the little break.
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 7:47 AM on March 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Hammerhead cruisers are a design from the Knights of the Old Republic games and The Old Republic MMO

I am down with this.
posted by Mezentian at 7:49 AM on March 4, 2016

Malachor also pops up in The Visual Dictionary of The Force Awakens, and someone helpfully quoted it so I don't have to wait to get home. It's on a page concerning Kylo Ren's lightsaber and refers to as, "an ancient design, dating back thousands of years to the Great Scourge of Malachor.”
posted by Atreides at 8:45 AM on March 4, 2016

I found at least three Wiki pages dedicated to Malachor (Rebels, EU), which mentions that "at least one Crossguard lightsaber was used by an unknown individual during the scourge".

It also comes up as a phrase used by everyone's favourite Clone Wars character, Meebur Gascon:
The word "Malachor" later became part of several colorful phrases used during the Clone Wars and later, similar in use to the word "Hell". For instance, during a tense situation while on a mission, Republic Colonel Meebur Gascon started a complaint by saying "There's no way in Malachor...". During the era of the Galactic Empire, the pirate Cikatro Vizago once yelled the phrase "What in Malachor are you doing?" when he discovered Ria Clarr handing out his credits to poor people on Lothal.

I think we saw a crossguard sabre in the Rebels trailer at the start of the season (the one with Darth Maul), so I guess we're all off on a picnic to Malachor to see Ahsoka die or someone get seduced by the dark side.

(At least it's not Trek, or you know there would be time travel).
posted by Mezentian at 1:08 AM on March 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

The trailer for the back half of this season prominently shows Ezra hefting a green bladed lightsaber like Ren's, so that's right on. I think Ahsoka's fate will be revealed in the season finale. All eyes on Ezra for the tempting! He's getting a bit too focused on power, though both Ahsoka and Yoda pretty much told him to cut it out. (Purple is good!)
posted by Atreides at 8:42 AM on March 5, 2016

I like the possibility of Ezra falling especially as he is power hungry so that he ca better fight the empire and protect his new family "I ask only for the strength to defend my people" OK oK I'm mixing mythos but I like the motivation. Very similar to luke but good.

I'm concerned if it does happen it'll be like for 20mins of 1 episode, which would be a tad lame. But this episode? so great! I really loved it.
posted by French Fry at 5:10 AM on March 8, 2016

We've been thinking of the finale of season two, currently titled, "Twilight of the Padawan," as concerning Ahsoka, but what if it's actually referring to Ezra? There's definitely an Obi-Wan Kenobi comparison occurring with Kanan, if we recall Kenobi's words to Luke, that he thought he had what it took to train Anakin to become a Jedi, but ultimately failed, it sounds kind of similar to Kanan's own admission in this episode to trying his best with what he knew, even though he realizes it's limited.

Given Ezra's obsession with power, even for its altruistic means, it lines up with Yoda's own warning, that the Jedi set out to fight the Clone Wars for good, but became under the influence of the Dark Side because of that reach for power. Given that we know they've already got a season three to work with, so don't have to worry about having a happy ending, and they could even view Season Two as their The Empire Strikes Back, I wonder if they wouldn't have Ezra's fall be a cliff hanging element to the season finale and make the aftermath, his recovery or what not, be a central focus to season three.

The last time Ezra really touched upon the Dark Side was in Season One, when he thought the Inquisitor was about to put an end to Kanan. We know Vader is coming up on the radar. Things may not be looking too good for Mr. Bridger.
posted by Atreides at 7:36 AM on March 8, 2016

My last post inspired me to write a little bit more indepth on the matter of Mr. Bridger and the Dark Side, for any who might be curious. Though, the above comment could probably work as something close to a summary.
posted by Atreides at 2:12 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm finally catching up on Rebels, and this one was outstanding even with a funny-looking Yoda.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:16 PM on March 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just to expand a little, I really loved the visions in the temple. What gave me goosebumps though, was when Vader came to inspect what the Inquisitors had found. Something about the way the scene was composed pushed my buttons.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:12 PM on March 14, 2016

It's just an awesome framed/directed scene. We have the outside aerial shot, kind of reminiscent of police helicopters scoping out something focusing their beams down on the temple entrance and then spot Vader walking in. We then have what amounts to a steady cam shot following a pair of troopers from inside a dark hallway toward a brightly lit atrium (contrasts), which then pulls back to reveal Vader reaching the room.

One, it's just a fun shot. Two, it's a great example of animators really drawing upon camera technique to tell a story. It reminds me of the Making Of doc for Wall-E, where Stanton made a point of trying to create the illusion that everything (at least prior to the move to the Axiom) was filmed as if a camera was on the spot in that environment. That results in change of focus, zoom, and atmospheric elements, like dust motes, entering shots.
posted by Atreides at 8:25 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

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