A Jedi’s connection with animals

I thought I’d return to my list-like format for a bit with a few post ideas I’ve been thinking about. This one’s been in my draft pile for awhile now, and it seemed as good a time as any to actually write it out and share with you.

I’m a big animal lover, and I’ve always loved how some Jedi are particularly connected to animals, either through the Force or just because they’re compassionate people. Here’s five examples that came to my mind:

  • Obi-Wan and Boga. We all remember how Obi-Wan made use of a veractyl, a lizard-like creature on Utupau, while he pursued General Grievous. We don’t learn too much about it in the movie, but in the novelization of Revenge of the Sith (by Mathew Stover, it’s fantastic, please please please read it!), we learn that Obi-Wan connected with the animal through the Force, and that her name was Boga. We learn of Obi-Wan’s preference for riding animals rather than starships in the book Master and Apprentice, by Claudia Gray. In the book, he rides another veractyl and enjoys the experience, while having a rather harrowing experience on a ship that causes him to hate flying. We also see in the series Obi-Wan Kenobi that he is simply kind to animals when he takes some meat from his butcher job to bring to his eopie.
  • Ezra and lothcats, lothwolves, purgil, and most other animals. While Obi-Wan (and probably most Jedi) can connect with animals through the Force, Ezra Bridger seems to have a natural talent for connecting with them. In Rebels he connects with lothcats, lothwolves, and the purgil, and probably some other ones I’m not remembering. While his companions, and even Kanan sometimes, dismiss the importance of animals in a given situation, Ezra seems to zero in on them and connect with them on a whole other level. Kanan is forced by Bendu to connect with the spider creatures on the Rebel base, and the lothwolf Dume is connected to him by relaying his special purpose on Lothal, but it’s Ezra that seems to understand them best. It’s one of the reasons I love that kid so much, lol.
Art by bel on Twitter.
  • Bell and Ember. In the High Republic books, a Padawan named Bell Zettifar has a pet charhound named Ember. The fact that a Jedi is allowed to have a pet shows how different this era of Jedi is. It’s not encouraged, but neither is it frowned upon, at least in Bell and Ember’s case. The two share a bond that is special, and while I’m not sure if it’s a Force connection, the two are very important to each other. Ember has also been a great help in several sticky situations that Bell found himself in, and without her he might have failed or died. They’re devoted to each other and it’s really very sweet. It makes sense, too, as Bell sees the Force as fire, and Ember can breathe flames. They’re meant for each other!
  • Rey and the vexis. In The Rise of Skywalker, Rey and her friends encounter a (very large and angry) serpent in some underground tunnels. Poe wants to blast it, but Rey intuits that there’s something wrong, and indeed, the beast has been wounded and is hissing aggressively. She bravely steps toward it and Force heals it. Once healed, it uncoils and slithers away. I don’t think Rey has a particular connection to animals like Ezra, but I like how, like a true Jedi, she doesn’t immediately want to destroy something that scares her (except maybe Palpatine, but that’s a different story, lol).
  • Ahsoka and Morai. Ahsoka is often seen trailed by a convor called Morai. We see the owl-like bird in Rebels, and also in The Mandalorian (and possibly The Clone Wars, I can’t remember). The bird is a guardian and protector of Ahsoka, and is linked with The Daughter from the Mortis arc in the Clone Wars. In that arc, Ahsoka dies and the Daughter resurrects her. The Daughter also dies in the arc, and Morai seems to be the spirit of the Daughter guiding and protecting Ahsoka. It’s a Force connection, but also a spiritual one that makes it a little more mysterious. Morai isn’t a pet or even a constant companion; she comes and goes depending on what’s happening.
  • Grogu and the rancor. In The Book of Boba Fett, Boba’s rancor is running rampant in Mos Espa, wreaking havoc and destroying everything in its path. He’s angry and lost without his master, but Boba is otherwise occupied at the moment with Cad Bane. Din Djarin tries to control him, but is thrown from his back. Grogu sees the beast’s distress, and toddles away from Peli to confront him. Not to hurt him, but to calm him. He reaches out his little hand and connects with the rancor, putting him to sleep. Drained, he then walks up to the creature and falls in a heap next to him to sleep as well. It’s the cutest thing, but then again, Grogu is cute all the time. But it shows how much he’s learned from his time with Luke; instead of lashing out fearfully at what scares him, he’s learned to connect with others and control his power.

That’s all I could think of. Did I miss anything? What’s your favorite Jedi/animal connection? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

Symbols in Star Wars Rebels

I’ve been rewatching Star Wars Rebels, and although this is my third rewatch, I’ve never looked into the various symbols I’ve noticed in the show until now. So here’s a few of them and their possible meanings:

Starbird or phoenix on Ezra’s jacket: Ezra has a very obvious symbol on the back of his orange and yellow jacket. With a little snooping around on Google, I found that it’s been compared to the Skywalker Sound symbol, below. Kind of like a little easter egg to those in the know.

Ezrra’s jacket symbol.
Skywalker Sound logo.

By the way, the Skywalker Sound symbol can be found in Attack of the Clones, on Coruscant during the speeder chase.

Attack of the Clones

Ezra’s jacket symbol could also be a precursor to Sabine’s phoenix symbol, below.

Sabine’s phoenix symbol: Perhaps Sabine was inspired by Ezra’s jacket, or she came up with this herself, but it’s the symbol that came to represent the Ghost crew Rebels, as well as Phoenix Squadron later.

Sabine’s Pheonix

The Rebel Alliance later adapted the phoenix symbol into their own, below:

Kanan’s armor: It’s been suggested that the symbol on Kanan’s shoulder armor is reminiscent of the symbol for the Jedi Order, below. It makes sense that Kanan would want to honor his former Order, without calling attention to himself as a Jedi.

Secret allusion?
Jedi Order

Kanan’s symbol is also found on the forehead of the lothwolf, which I never noticed before I looked it up. Kanan has a deep Force-level connection to this animal, who calls himself Dume (which is Kanan’s real name: Caleb Dume). The name Dume, while spelled differently, is an obvious foreshadowing of Kanan’s fate, although I don’t care for the connotation. Kanan selflessly sacrificed himself for those he loved; that’s far from being doomed, in my opinion.

Dume

Kanan’s mask: I often wondered about the symbols on Kanan’s mask after he was blinded. Clearly they look like some sort of eyes, and I thought maybe they were meant to represent wolf eyes, since he’s connected to the lothwolf.

Jaig Eyes

After some Google research, I was surprised to learn that some clones, including Rex, were bestowed with the symbols on their helmets after distinguishing themselves on the battlefield. They’re called “Jaig Eyes,” which I never knew. I love it when I learn something new about Star Wars!

Those are the most obvious symbols that I’d wondered about. I already knew Fulcrum’s symbol, the Empire symbol, etc. I thought it was pretty cool to learn about these (finally!)

Did you know what these symbols meant, or is it new to you? Any I missed? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

Rebels: Season Two Review

Rebels Season Two Spoilers Ahead!!!

I’ve been rewatching the animated series Rebels, and I’ve just finished Season Two. Not only is it longer (22 episodes rather than 15), but it was so much more emotionally satisfying. Several familiar characters make an appearance (or reappearance), and the finale was amazing. But we’ll get to that.

So much more happens in this season, and this post could be unbearably long if I mention everything, so I’ll try to point out the most important events and highlights.

Hera

So now the Ghost crew are a part of Phoenix Squadron, led by Commander Sato, along with Ahsoka. Hera and the rest of the crew are all gung-ho about it, but Kanan isn’t so sure–he’s reluctant to join the nascent Rebellion, remembering the Clone Wars and what happened to the Jedi because of it.

They receive a transmission from Minister Tua on Lothal–she wants to defect and she needs their help. She’ll give them important intel in exchange. But before they can retrieve her, she’s killed, engineered by Vader in a plot to draw the Rebels out. Kanan and Ezra end up fighting Vader, and it’s clear to them they are way out of their league–he’s more powerful than anyone they’d ever encountered. They hightail it out of there, but they’re stuck on Lothal. Lando makes another appearance here, as he owes them a favor, and he gets them off the planet.

Minister Tua and Agent Kallus

They escape, but Vader tracks them to the fleet. Ahsoka, on board the Ghost, feels his presence, and he feels hers; he murmurs, “The apprentice lives,” in apparent surprise. Ahsoka is shocked and passes out; later she tells Kanan and Ezra that she doesn’t know who he is, but I don’t particularly believe her. She suspects Anakin, I think, but says nothing to the others.

The Imperials burn Tarkintown on Lothal in retaliation, and the Rebels decide not to go back there; they don’t want to endanger anyone else. Ahsoka asks the Ghost crew to find an old friend of hers, believing that he can help them find a new base. The friend turns out to be none other than Captain Rex, along with two other clones: Gregor and Wolf. They’re in “retirement” on some desert planet, clomping around on some old Republic walker that has seen better days.

Captain Rex, Gregor, and Wolf

Kanan absolutely does not trust them, and understandably so. He’d seen clones turn on the Jedi and kill his own master, Depa Billaba. Rex states that he didn’t betray his Jedi, and explains that he and the others removed the chips in their heads that commanded the clones to kill their former generals, but Kanan’s prejudice runs deep. The others seem to like the clones, though. They need to fight some Imperials off, and the clones go back with them to the fleet. The reunion between Rex and Ahsoka is wonderful to see; and although it takes Kanan a while to come around, I love that Rex becomes an honorary member of the Ghost crew.

Unfortunately, Vader has sent out more Inquisitors, and they encounter two of them–Seventh Sister and Fifth Brother–on an old Republic medical frigate they’ve gone to in order to get medical supplies. They escape, but encounter them again when they discover they’re after Force-sensitive babies. They manage to rescue the kids, and we get to see a fabulous display of Ahsoka’s skills as she duels them both before escaping.

Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister

Ezra starts to feel a bit overwhelmed with his Jedi training with Kanan, on top of soldier training with Rex (and the chores Hera gives him on the Ghost), and while trying to escape his responsibilities he encounters Hondo Ohnaka. Since the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire, Hondo has come down a few notches in life–no longer the leader of a formidable pirate gang; he scrapes by in whatever way he can, smuggling and making deals with other pirates. He’s as funny and selfish as he was in Clone Wars, and he’s so fun to watch. He takes a shine to Ezra, who he considers to be his young protege in the art of the con.

Meanwhile, Hera brings an experimental B-Wing into the fleet, to be perfected and mass produced, and she becomes Phoenix Squadron Leader. Kanan and Rex go on a mission together to save Ezra and Commander Sato from the Imperials, and start to bond a little bit; Kanan even calls Rex his “friend.” Sabine has an adventure with an old friend, who’s now an enemy, and then becomes her friend again. I can’t remember her name, but she has gorgeous lavender eyes.

Ezra has Force visions about his parents, and is convinced they need to go back to Lothal. They encounter Ryder Azadi, the former Governor of Lothal, imprisoned by the Imperials–along with Ezra’s parents. He tells Ezra his parents heard the message of hope he sent out in Season One, and was inspired to help the other prisoners escape. But they themselves didn’t make it. It’s assumed they are dead, and Ezra deals with his grief.

Kanan comforting Ezra, as Ryder Azati looks on

Princess Leia shows up on Lothal as an ambassador from Alderaan, bringing three ships full of medical supplies and relief aid. Of course, she expects the Rebels to “steal” her ships, and in this way she helps the Rebellion in the best way she can. She’s about Ezra’s age here, and they have an adventure in getting the ships off Lothal for the Rebellion, without making Leia look guilty. She’s pretty good at making the Imperials look like fools.

In trying to find new, safer hyperspace routes, they encounter a group of Mandalorians on Concordia Dawn called The Protectors that work for the Empire. They take its leader, Fen Rau, prisoner, and get use of the hyperspace route. Zeb finds out he’s not the last of his people, and they help two survivors find a safe haven beyond the Outer Rim. They go on a mission with Hera’s father, the famed Twi’lek freedom fighter Cham Syndulla. Father and daughter have a strained relationship, but they resolve their differences and get a new ship for the fleet to boot. On a mission to get fuel for the Ghost, they encounter space whales called Pergil, and Ezra makes a Force connection with them (they’ll become an important plot point in a future season). Imperial Agent Kallus and Zeb are stranded on a frozen moon, and have to work together to escape with their lives (the experience leaves an impression on Kallus that bears fruit later).

Zeb and Kallus

Those pesky Inquisitors keep finding them, so Kanan, Ezra and Ahsoka go to the Jedi Temple on Lothal to find answers on how to deal with them. Kanan ends up fighting a Jedi Temple Guard, who turns out to be the Grand Inquisitor from Season One. Turns out, he’d been a Guard before Order 66, but became an Inquisitor afterward. He symbolically “knights” Kanan after Kanan admits to his fear that he can’t protect Ezra forever; he can only do his best. Ezra finds himself with Master Yoda, and talks with him about the war; only after Ezra insists that they must fight the Empire does Yoda tell him to go to Malachor. Ahsoka hears Anakin’s voice: “Why did you leave me? Do you know what I’ve become?” Her suspicions and fears about who Vader is, and her guilt over her potential part in it, hits home.

Chopper finds a new friend in AP5, and old Republic droid who now does inventory work for the Empire. They help each other on an adventure, and AP5 suggests a new planet for the Rebel base. It seems perfect at first, but then they discover it’s inhabited by–what else?–giant spiders. But they find a way to keep them away from the base itself.

The last two episodes of the season, “Twilight of the Apprentice” Parts 1 & 2, are the best episodes of the season, and possibly one of the best arcs in the entire show. Following Yoda’s advice, Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka go to Malachor, a “forbidden” planet to the Jedi. It contains a Sith Temple, and here they end up meeting Maul, who’s been slinking around there for years, apparently. They encounter three Inquisitors as well–Seventh Sister and Fifth brother, and one other–and they’ve gone there to find “the Shadow,” or Maul.

Ezra and Maul

Basically, Ezra gets separated from Kanan and Ahsoka, and meets Maul, who wants to use Ezra to get to the Sith holocron inside (as well as turn him to the dark side and have him become his apprentice). Ezra, innocent child, believes that Maul wants to help them, and once they get the holocron, he uses it to activate the Temple–he thinks he’ll get the knowledge they seek, but it really turns into a battle station. Ezra realizes this too late, and in the meantime, Maul has blinded Kanan in battle. They’ve managed to kill the Inquisitors and fend off Maul, but Vader shows up for the holocron, and they’re in real trouble. Kanan and Ezra together retrieve the holocron while Ahsoka battles Vader, and it’s this riveting and heartbreaking encounter that makes this episode epic.

Ahsoka battles Darth Vader

During the course of the duel, Ahsoka realizes that Vader is, in fact, Anakin. As the Temple starts to crumble around them, she tells him, “I won’t leave you. Not this time.” Ezra calls her name, but she closes the temple door on him, and they have no choice but to escape without her. We see an enigmatic scene of Vader leaving the Temple, and Ahsoka going into it. It’s a bit vague as to what actually happened, but it becomes more clear in a future season.

So I’ve already written WAY too much, but suffice it to say this was a great season, with an amazing season-ender.

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Rebels: Season One Review

Rebels Season One Spoilers Ahead!!!

Now that Season 2 of The Mandalorian is over, I decided to rewatch Rebels. I’ve just finished Season 1, and thought I’d just do a basic recap rather than an episode-by-episode review (there are 15 episodes in the season).

Rebels takes place in the few years leading up to A New Hope, when the Empire is in full control but some pockets of rebellion have flared up in response to their heavy-handed rule. Most of the main action takes place on or near the planet Lothal, an Outer Rim world run by the Imperials.

Obviously as Season 1 starts, we meet the Ghost crew: Hera Syndulla, the Twi’lek pilot, daughter of Cham Syndulla, who was a freedom fighter on Ryloth during the Clone Wars; Kanan Jarrus, the human male we quickly learn is a Jedi who somehow escaped Order 66; Zeb, the fierce Lassat who is often the muscle of the group, and who is the last of his kind thanks to the Imperials; and Sabine Wren, a young artistically-inclined Mandalorian woman who formerly attended the Imperial Academy on Mandalore but left when she became disillusioned with the Empire; and Chopper, their feisty, mischievous, and sometimes rude droid who sounds like the adults on the Peanuts specials. Their main mission is simply to make trouble for the Imperials and to help those who may need it; at this point, they are unaware of any other rebel cells at work. There is, however, a contact that Hera gets information from, a mysterious figure called “Fulcrum.”

Ezra doesn’t feel he belongs at first.

They quickly pick up a sixth member in Ezra Bridger, a teenager who grew up on the streets of Lothal. Ezra interrupts one of their theft missions, and Hera and Kanan recognize that he’s special–and a bit annoying–and ask him to join the crew. He’s not sure at first, used to being on his own, looking out only for himself, but when Kanan realizes he has Force powers–powers that he unknowingly used to survive on the streets–he agrees. Kanan, who never even got to finish his own training before Order 66 killed his Master, Depa Billaba, agrees to train him in the ways of the Jedi. We even get to see a hologram of Obi-Wan Kenobi sending out his message of hope to any surviving Jedi, from a holocron that Kanan has in his possession.

Sabine and Hera fight off some monsters.

We also meet the Imperials and Ministers of Lothal, but the main antagonists are Agent Kallus, member of the ISB (Imperial Security Bureau)–he kind of reminds me of a blond Wolverine–and the Grand Inquisitor, who shows up after Kallus reports a Jedi in the rebel faction. I have to say this guy looks really cool: bald, burning Sith eyes, sharp teeth, and a wicked double-bladed lightsaber that spins on an axis. When Kallus and the Grand Inquisitor fail to capture the Rebels or the Jedi, they bring in the big guns: Grand Moff Tarkin shows up to lay down the law and demand results.

One of the main story threads of Season 1 is the question of Ezra’s parents: who are they, and what happened to them? And will Ezra ever see them again? We find out they were ordinary citizens who spoke out against the Empire, and as a result, they were arrested and taken away. Ezra was only seven years old at the time. He’s fifteen now (born on Empire Day), and he has no idea if they are dead or alive; although on one of their missions, they encounter an old friend of his parents, a Rodian named Tseebo, who tells him his parents are alive, but that remains to be seen.

Sabine and Ezra with Tseebo.

In one of my favorite episodes, Kanan and Ezra visit a Jedi Temple located on Lothal. Kanan wishes Ezra to be tested to see if he’s ready to become a Jedi. In the Temple, Ezra must face his fears: his fear of Kanan being killed by the Inquisitor, fear that his new friends ridicule him behind his back, fear that he’s just not ready to become focused and disciplined enough to learn and will fail Kanan. He ends up hearing the voice of Yoda, who gives him a few words of wisdom before a kyber crystal falls into his hand. Kanan himself hears Yoda, and must face his own fears: the fear of not being able to train Ezra, of failing him. The fact that he couldn’t complete his own training, that he was never Knighted as a Jedi and is perhaps incapable of training Ezra, weighs heavily on him.

Ezra makes his own lightsaber from the kyber crystal, and it’s quite a unique one: it’s part blaster, part lightsaber. Clunky, but useful.

Kanan teaches Ezra while Zeb looks on.

There are a few appearances of familiar characters: the crew meets R2D2 and C3PO early on, who are working for Bail Organa. Kanan briefly meets Bail when he returns the droids, but he doesn’t know who he is. Bail is keeping an eye on this particular rebel cell, to see what they do and how they may play a part in the Rebellion he’s trying to build.

They also meet Lando Calrissian and become involved in one of his schemes, which seems sort of out of the blue, but it pays off in Season 2.

As the season starts to head toward its conclusion, we meet Senator Trayven of Lothal, who Ezra in particular greatly admires. He seems to be sending out messages of hope for those who hate the Empire, but when they meet with him it turns out to be a trap. They escape, but are disappointed and Ezra is heartbroken. They decide to commandeer the Imperial communications tower to send out their own message of hope.

However, during the mission, Kanan is captured by the Inquisitor. He sacrifices himself so the others can escape. They want to go after him, but Hera receives a message from Fulcrum, who tells her not to risk it, and that they must focus on the bigger picture. They decide to go after him anyway, of course.

Kanan and Ezra battle the Grand Inquisitor

He’s being held on a Star Destroyer in orbit around Mustafar, and they hatch a plan to retrieve him. Kanan and Ezra end up facing the Grand Inquisitor in a lightsaber duel; in the end, the Inquisitor dies–hanging from a ledge, he lets himself fall into a fireball below as Kanan looks on.

The crew is rescued from a TIE fighter assault by Bail Organa and his fleet of ships, and Fulcrum shows up as well–revealing herself to be Ahsoka Tano.

Back on Lothal, an Imperial shuttle arrives in Capital City, and Agent Kallus greets Darth Vader, who has arrived to clean up the mess and try to capture the Rebels that have been evading capture.

And that’s Season One, which I seemed to enjoy more the second time around, probably because I already know and love these people, whereas at first I wasn’t sure. I’m looking forward to getting into Season Two, which gets even better.

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