For the second-to-last week, Star Wars Rebels returned on Monday night as it nears the end of its run.
As has been the custom this season, two episodes aired back-to-back, and “A World Between Worlds” followed incredibly closely behind “Wolves and a Door.” You can read my review for that episode here, but right now we’re going to focus on the second episode that aired, which answered the questions about Ahsoka’s fate, introduced a game-changing aspect of the force, and revealed Sheev Palpatine.
There’s a ton to unpack in this episode, but it should be noted that ***full spoilers are ahead*** – so don’t read any further if you don’t want to be know details.
After finding his way into the temple, Ezra finds himself in a mysterious place – surrounded by space with walkways, and all around him are familiar voices echoing inthe space – Yoda, Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, Rey, Kylo Ren, Leia, Jyn Erso, Maz Kanata, Chirrut Imwe, etc. Ezra eventually makes his way around and finds the Condor, which he notes always showed up with Ahsoka. The bird shows him a portal of sorts, and he sees Ahsoka facing Vader on Malachor. In the scene, she pushes Ezra away (like we saw her do in Twilight of The Apprentice), and we get the rest of the battle. She duels Vader tough, and as the temple starts to explode she uses her lightsabers to stab the floor, causing it to crack. Vader swings at her, but in that moment Ezra reaches into the portal and pulls Ahsoka out, right before the floor collapses under Vader and he falls. All of the sudden, Ahsoka is in this space with Ezra.
This space is a world between worlds, a mysterious force pathway that transcends both time and space. In other words, Ezra had in a sense traveled through time and pulled Ahsoka out of harm’s way from the events recorded in season two. Ezra realizes that the wolf Dume – a manifestation of Kanan – must have sent him to the temple not only to rescue Ahsoka but to rescue Kanan too. Ahsoka cautions him against it, but Ezra takes off running to find the portal to save Kanan. He arrives at it and sees the scene from last week’s episode unfold: Kanan using the force to repel the explosion to let the others escape. Ahsoka catches up and tells Ezra that Kanan died so that others might live, and if Ezra were to save Kanan he would actually undo everything they had accomplished. She pleads with Ezra to do the hardest thing possible: let go. She tells him that he can’t save his master… just like she can’t save hers. So Ezra watches as Kanan dies, learning the final lesson.
At that point, the Emperor appears in one of the portals, working dark magic with blue smoke and saying, “Ezra Bridger and Ahsoka Tano, mine at last!” Ahsoka moves in front of Ezra and uses the force to defend against the blue smoke, but it overpowers her. The two take off running from Palpatine, who extends his arm and sends more dark magic after them, catching Ezra and dragging him toward Palpatine. Ahsoka severs the bond with her lightsaber, and the two take off running again – Ahsoka promises that she will reunite with Ezra once her journey is completed, and they then head their separate ways. Ahsoka back to the portal to Malachor, where we see her walking into the temple (like at the end of Twilight of the Apprentice) and Ezra back to Lothal.
During all of this, the Minister had brought Sabine before him and wanted to have a friendly conversation about art, but Sabine wouldn’t indulge him: “I’m smarter than you,” she tells him. The Minister eventually has his deathtroopers use force to ensure Sabine’s cooperation, and the two study the art together – and Sabine soon realizes that just as the way into the temple had to do with the hand of the Daughter on the mural, so the way to close the temple had to do with the hand of the Son. Hera, Zeb, and Chopper meanwhile had rigged the mobile command center that Sabine and the Minister were in to take off, rescuing Sabine. They head to reunite with Ezra right as he emerges, and he tells them they have to close the door to the temple. Sabine tells him how, and Ezra shuts it off, destroying the temple in the process. The Minister is killed as the temple collapses, and the Ghost crew just narrowly escapes. After the dust settled, the temple is completely gone and Ezra and Hera have an emotional moment where Hera realizes Kanan is now truly gone. Ezra tells her that he’s learned the last lesson from Kanan and now knows what they have to do, and as Ezra remains alone in the dust, he sees a loth-wolf turn and leave and mutters, “Goodbye, Kanan.”
Where to begin? Well, I guess we’ll start here: AHSOKA LIVES!
Ever since the vague ending of Twilight of the Apprentice, which showed Ahsoka descending into the Malachor temple, fans have wondered what happened to her, and Dave Filoni promised we’d get the answer. We did indeed, and it turns out that the answer had always been there in the trading cards Filoni had drawn (wolves and a door), though nobody could possibly have guessed it would have played out like this: Ezra from the future reached through time and saved Ahsoka from Vader’s lightsaber at the last moment. But at the end of the episode we see Ahsoka head back to Malachor and walk into the temple (and we now know that she suffered the arm injury from Palpatine, not Vader), so in a way we’ve gotten no further details on what Ahsoka is up to after Malachor – but we did get the incredibly important details on what happened on Malachor during her fight with Vader. It did gives a chance to see Ahsoka again (which is always nice), and she helps teach Ezra the final lesson, of letting go. Additionally, she’s a more formidable match against Palpatine than Ezra is, but neither of them are even close to equal with the Sith Lord.
I thought the best way to end Ahsoka’s story would be to have her die at the hands of Vader in Twilight of the Apprentice, but that didn’t happen. It’s hard to be too mad, though, because it’s really cool to see Ahsoka again, and the episode didn’t actually explain what happens to her after Malachor but only how she survived the events on Malachor. So I’m totally ok with the decision that was made, but it does introduce something that could be dangerous in Lucasfilm storytelling moving forward: time travel. We now know that the force is far bigger than we ever thought, and there’s a portal out there between worlds and between time. This, obviously, could create some huge problems moving forward if the storytellers aren’t careful. I’m not referring here to Dave Filoni – who gets Star Wars on a deep, deep level – but future storytellers. That’s why having the portal closed and temple destroyed at the end of the episode was really the only thing Rebels could do, because they can’t leave that open-ended. The only question is whether that’s the only such portal out there in the universe or not.
Again, though, the way this episode handled things was really well-done, and was incredibly interesting. And the portal itself was absolutely incredible, as the collection of voices from all eras of Star Wars was amazing. We heard the voices of Yoda, of Obi-Wan Kenobi (including Alec Guinness’ Ben Kenobi!), Qui-Gon Jinn, Ahsoka Tano, Kanan Jarrus, Maz Kanata, Chirrut Imwe, Jyn Erso, Kylo Ren, Rey, Anakin Skywalker, Poe Dameron, Leia Organa, and others. It’s an incredibly nostalgic atmosphere that helps to show the peculiarities of this place – it’s a world between worlds and between time, connecting all eras of the Star Wars storytelling so far. It’s pretty incredible and really well-done.
Oh yeah, and the Senate himself appears in this one. The Emperor is interested in the mysteries of the temple and, upon discovering that Ezra found a way into this place, eventually finds a way to find Ezra through the force. The Emperor wants access to this space, and we know that if he were to obtain possession of it his power would be unlimited (and he would truly be able to cheat death… which, on the subject, is it possible that this is the way Darth Plagueis was able to?). We get to see a side of the Emperor we haven’t before – using dark magic – but perhaps the coolest moment was simply hearing Ian McDiarmid (back to voice the iconic character once again) say the names “Ezra Bridger and Ahsoka Tano” – this really is one big, connected universe.
And though we won’t discuss it much here, the interactions between Sabine and the Minister were really well-done too, as the two of them study the art of the temple together. And then Sabine really takes charge as she escapes (thanks to Zeb and Hera) and knows how to close the portal.
Lastly, while I didn’t think it was possible, this week’s episode managed to pack perhaps even more of an emotional punch than last week’s did. Last week, we saw Kanan die. This week, we saw Ezra watch it happen again – only this time, knowing all the way that he has the power to save him. Ezra truly has to learn to let go. That makes the moment at the end of the episode more heartbreaking, as Ezra sees the wolf walk off into the sunset and says, “Goodbye Kanan.”
All things considered, this is one of the absolute finest episodes of Star Wars Rebels there is. It’s been a good show during its four seasons, but recently it’s been at another level. “A World Between Worlds” gets the highest possible rating from me.
My grade: 10.0