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Star Wars Rebels

Visions and Voices (Star Wars Rebels - S03E11) - Animated Series

Series: Star Wars Rebels

Title: Visions and Voices

Season: Three

Episode: 11

Original Air Date: December 10, 2016

Runtime: 22 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Mike Taber; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

“Of course, it ends where it began.” SPOILERS. 

This was a strange episode of Star Wars Rebels for me. “Visions and Voices” almost feels tailor made for me, and yet I walked away somewhat disappointed. It borrowed from Star Wars: The Clone Wars more directly than any previous episode and once again shined the spotlight on Sam Witwer’s enthralling portrayal of Darth Maul. An episode like that should be a slam dunk, but “Visions and Voices” disappointed in a few key areas. First and foremost, I think this episode was essentially a retread of the previous Darth Maul episode. Darth Maul forced Ezra to go along with his plan to meld their minds together through a powerful Force ability and discovered that Obi-Wan Kenobi is still alive. Am I describing “The Holocrons of Fate” or “Visions and Voices?” The answer is both. Sure, Maul learned the final detail that Obi-Wan is on Tatooine and Ezra learned that Obi-Wan may be the key to destroying the Sith. Those are important revelations for Maul and Ezra, but why drag this out? The audience already knew both halves of the information. In retrospect, Ezra and Maul should have seen both halves of the Force vision in “Holocrons of Fate.” I have frequently complained that Rebels tires to cram too much into one episode, but I don’t think that applies to this storyline. This is second episode that focused on Maul and Ezra learning about Obi-Wan and it felt perfunctory. It added some very interesting layers to Maul once he arrived on Dathomir, but his Dathomir home could’ve easily replaced the space station in “The Holocrons of Fate.” It honestly feels like the creative team was stalling with this episode. They needed to bring Maul back, but they couldn’t move the story closer to Obi-Wan at this point in the season. Therefore, they used Nightsister ghosts and a return to Dathomir to mask the repetitive plot.

   

The episode began with Ezra having nightmarish visions of Maul during a briefing at the rebel base. At one point, Ezra almost killed a rebel soldier because he thought the soldier was Maul. I actually really liked this scene. Bosco Ng’s direction during this scene perfectly captured the nightmarish nature of Ezra’s visions. Ezra’s visions also demonstrated how powerful and terrifying Darth Maul can be. In an attempt to understand what was happening to Ezra, Kanan took him to visit Bendu. I’m still loving Tom Baker’s performance, but Bendu has become more of an exposition machine than a character. Bendu explains parts of the plot when necessary and then disappears. Maul arrived and threatened to expose the location of the rebel base if Ezra didn’t journey with him to Dathomir. I’m thrilled that they decided to return to Dathomir. Dathomir and its people were among the most fascinating additions to Star Wars: The Clone Wars. As I mentioned earlier, this episode borrowed from The Clone Wars more directly than any previous episode and I loved it. It was great to see Dathomir again and I was impressed by how much it looked like the planet we saw in The Clone Wars. The animation on Rebels is far more simplistic than that of The Clone Wars, but they did a great job recreating this familiar environment. The return to Dathomir also provided a perfect opportunity to help us understand Maul’s mental state more completely. There was some great character development for Maul in this episode. Maul is a terrifying and truly evil villain, but he can also be strangely sympathetic at times. That is thanks almost entirely to Sam Witwer’s wonderful performance. As usual, Witwer gave an absolutely fantastic performance as Maul. It’s amazing how he has crafted a character who is terrifying and sadistic yet also vulnerable and broken. There’s something sad about how Maul is living on a dead world surrounded by the memories of the family he lost. Maul can’t let go of the past so he decided to immerse himself in it. That brings me to Maul’s home. Maul filled it artifacts from his past like Mandalorian helmets and battle droid heads. He’s spent years obsessing over the power he lost and created some sort of monument to his lost power. The most interesting aspect of Maul’s home was a painting of Satine. He had crossed out her eyes with blood or red paint and placed the darksaber in front of the painting. It was a twisted shrine to commemorate his greatest triumph over Obi-Wan Kenobi, the moment he took the life of the one women Kenobi truly loved. It’s a pretty dark and twisted idea for Rebels. Maul created this shrine to relive the moment he killed Satine over and over again. He’s lost everything, but Maul can still cling onto that moment.

   

Maul initiated an ancient Nightsister spell merging his mind with Ezra’s once again. Maul and Ezra received the information they were looking for, but the spirits of the Nightsisters demanded payment for the use of their magic. Kanan and Sabine arrived but the Nightsister ghosts took control of them. For me, the Nightsister ghosts didn’t work. I loved the Nightsisters in The Clone Wars, but I didn’t like how they handled the Nightsister spirits in this episode. We’ve seen Force ghosts and the Nightsister’s magic bring people back from the dead before, so I don’t think the idea of Nightsister ghosts is inherently flawed. The execution just didn’t work for me. All I could think about was that they combined the Nightsisters with Slimer from Ghostbusters. Besides, I’m not a big fan of the “a mysterious force makes the heroes fight each other” trope. The Nightsister spirits couldn’t leave the cave and Maul tried to convince Ezra to leave Kanan and Sabine behind to become his apprentice. Maul told Ezra to forget about the past and his memories. That line almost felt like Maul was talking to himself as well. Maul had become consumed by his memories and his connection to the past. My favorite moment in the entire episode was when Maul told Ezra that they could walk the path to find Obi-Wan together as brothers. Witwer’s delivery of the “as brothers” line was gut wrenching. More than ever, I understand Maul’s obsession with Ezra. He doesn’t just want an apprentice, we wants to have a family again. Think about it. Maul was ripped away from his family when he was child only to be raised by a cruel and sadistic master. Then when he lost everything, his brother found him and gave him new purpose. When Maul reached the height of his power, Palpatine returned to kill Savage and stripped Maul of the power he had accumulated. I liked that the connection between Maul and Savage was genuine. Maul cared about his power, but the only person he truly cared about and even loved was his brother. It makes perfect sense that Savage’s death would haunt Maul for decades and he would to try force a similar connection between himself and Ezra. Maul left but Ezra freed Kanan and Sabine by destroying the altar. Oh, and Sabine now has possession of the darksaber. After “The Holocrons of Fate”, I was skeptical that this show would actually introduce Obi-Wan Kenobi, but it seems inevitable at this point. It’s pretty exciting to think that we could actually see a final showdown between Maul and Obi-Wan. I have some issues with “Visions and Voices”, but it was great showcase for Darth Maul.

   

What Worked

  • Wonderful character development for Maul and Sam Witwer’s performance
  • The Return to Dathomir and Maul’s home
  • Is this really leading to a showdown with Obi-Wan Kenobi?

What Didn’t Work

  • Repetitive plot
  • Nightsister ghosts
External Links:
Added: December 15, 2016
Category: Star Wars Rebels
Reviewer: Mike Taber
Score:
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