From a Certain Point of View: What is the Best Moment of Star Wars Rebels Season Three?

Two StarWars.com writers debate which moment ranks highest in a season filled with action, drama, and revelations.

One of the great things about Star Wars is that it inspires endless debates and opinions on a wide array of topics. Best bounty hunter? Most powerful Jedi? Does Salacious Crumb have the best haircut in the saga? In that spirit, StarWars.com presents From a Certain Point of View: a series of point-counterpoints on some of the biggest — and most fun — Star Wars issues. In this installment, two StarWars.com writers discuss which scene in the third season of Star Wars Rebels arriving today on Blu-ray and DVD ranks highest.

Obi-Wan versus Maul is the best moment, says Kristin.

Bathed in the light of Tatooine’s dual moons, Maul finally meets his end some 30 years after Obi-Wan Kenobi first left him for dead.

The scene is a masterpiece, a hauntingly beautiful visual feast that seems to offer up a fresh detail, a new brutal twist, a previously unnoticed allusion, with each viewing. Yet, it is also precisely controlled, a brief encounter in which the creators exercise restraint to allow the emotional impact of all that has played out before for this pair to resonate in a stripped-down last act that spurns excess on every level.

A delicate pas de deux around a campfire sets things into motion, hurtling toward Maul’s death at a  frenetic pace to match the crazy-eyed animal he’s become. But although much has changed since Maul and his foe met on Naboo, Kenobi still needs just three calculated moves to swiftly dispatch his vengeful opponent, a defeat delivered with calm precision and the stoic stare of a man resigned to his duty.

Everything here is a brilliant study in contrasts, and its multifaceted execution in the penultimate episode of Star Wars Rebels Season Three makes it the finest moment this season.

The interplay of verbal barbs and raw emotion cracking through Maul’s tattered psyche, unfolding here in visually arresting and finely choreographed cinematic splendor playfully lit in the glow of saber light make for a beautiful, heartbreakingly rendered scene.

Far from being a simple confrontation, the moment is steeped in duality — shadow and illumination,  a literal light side versus the dark — and the showrunners play off that theme by choosing elements in such a way that what is present is as important as what remains a mystery.

As Maul, actor Sam Witwer gives an arresting final performance, seething with rage and pure agony, blistering vocals that clash against Stephen Stanton’s reserved Kenobi with as much sizzle as their interlocked lightsabers.

Maul’s defeat plays out amid the darkness and desolation of the vast desert, a surprisingly lush palette of blues and blacks like a deep and painful bruise. A strikingly beautiful sky glitters with stars above while they are enveloped by a wasteland of nothing all around them, the confluence of the inevitable here and now and the future of shining possibilities and outcomes always in motion.

Even the gentle soundtrack locks into this sensibility, a subtle overlay with mournful strings reminiscent of a funeral dirge accompanying Maul’s stunning defeat, shocking in both its abrupt delivery and a focus on Kenobi and Maul’s facial reactions that leaves some aspects of the final blow unknown.

What is clear is that their quarrel has become one-sided.

In Kenobi’s youth, the snarling apprentice had cut down Maul with unrelenting anger, a seething reprisal for his fallen master in the moments after Maul skewered Qui-Gon Jinn with his blade. But a Sith Lord cannot be undone by such hate, the very basis of his relationship with the Force and the source of his power, and such cruelty and unfettered aggression is not befitting a Jedi, dedicated to using of his abilities for knowledge and defense, not attack. In that moment, Kenobi was flirting with the dark side, striking down Maul in a fit of loathsome rage.

By contrast, their final duel is Kenobi’s absolution and, in a way, Maul’s redemption. Here, Maul embodies the untethered roiling emotions of the dark side, while Kenobi is the serene and stoic light.

This time, Kenobi is defending himself only out of the need to protect Luke Skywalker, not to avenge his friend, yet his swift execution harkens back to their first meeting and brings the poetic dualism of their union full circle.

The formation of the Rebellion is the best moment, says Kelly.

“This, my friends, this is our rebellion.”

It’s this sentence, said by Mon Mothma with the first glimmer of hope, that I think marks the best moment of Star Wars Rebels’ third season.

“Secret Cargo” is a turning point for the rebellion. In A New Hope and even Rogue One, to an extent, we see the Rebel Alliance already organized on Yavin 4. Without much background story to go on, it felt like they were always a united front.

Why is it called the Rebel Alliance? What is Mon Mothma’s story? What has she personally done as a rebel? “Secret Cargo” and Star Wars Rebels answers some of those questions once and for all.

“Secret Cargo” also has other small moments all put together to create one of the best episodes of the series, not just the season. From Hera’s “Stay on target!” to Gold Leader and the sounds and sight of his familiar targeting screen, this episode feels like Star Wars. Throw in incredible space battles and a maneuver we’ve never seen before in Star Wars (or anywhere, really — how awesome is purposely blowing up a nebula?), and you’ve got an episode for the ages.

Of course, there are other amazing scenes in this season, like the long awaited showdown between Darth Maul and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and pretty much everything Grand Admiral Thrawn says and does. But it’s this moment, this sentence, that defines the beginning of the Rebel Alliance.

“We will not rest until we bring an end to the Empire, until we restore our Republic. Are you with me?” Mon Mothma asks. The ragtag fleet that arrives over the atmosphere of Dantooine is a familiar sight, and even though I knew they’d come, I couldn’t help but hold my breath when she implores them to unite in her stirring speech.

Every episode of Star Wars Rebels adds more to the weight the Rebel Alliance is carrying on their shoulders, and this one speech is the culmination of all of that effort. Everything they fought for during Season Three brought them here, hovering over Dantooine, waiting to see if it was all worth it.

Each conflict in Star Wars, from Scarif to Yavin 4 to Endor, is given that much more meaning when we see how far the rebellion has come, thanks to the amazing moments like these in Rebels.

And their united fight truly starts with that one sentence.

“This, my friends, this is our rebellion.”

What do you think is the best moment of Star Wars Rebels Season Three? Let us know in the comments below!

Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBaver.

Kelly Knox is a freelance writer who loves creating crafts with her daughter. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox, and take a look at her blog the st{art} button for more Star Wars art projects and craft ideas.

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