The Padawan and the Mandalorian of the Ghost crew have faced their pasts this year -- but not without conflict.
Studying Skywalkers is an exclusive column that investigates the characters, themes, and lessons of Star Wars from an educational, literary perspective. In this installment, StarWars.com looks at Ezra and Sabine’s growth in the first half of Season Two of Star Wars Rebels.
Recently, we examined Kanan and Hera’s growth throughout Season Two of Star Wars Rebels; the two heroes have gone through multiple adventures that add to the texture of who they are, and these experiences enhance our appreciation of them. While they are the leaders of the Ghost crew, the remaining members are no less important, and have experiences in their own right that help expand our understanding of them. Ezra Bridger and Sabine Wren continue to evolve in interesting ways, as they grow in maturity, as well as in their relationships with their surrogate family. These poignant moments increase our empathy, as we experience the levels of gradation that take place amongst each one.
The Padawan of Kanan Jarrus, Ezra is compelling for a multitude of reasons. In the beginning of Season One, Ezra is the member of the Ghost we know the least about. While the rest of the crew have a history together, and know about one another’s past, Ezra’s formation is revealed to him as it is revealed to us. From a metacognitive perspective, Star Wars Rebels features characters that Star Wars fans were not familiar with at the onset, so having Ezra as the bridge between the audience and the Ghost makes him that much more important.
Ezra is also a focal point of many of the episodes in Season Two thus far, but perhaps the most important is where Ezra learns the fate of his parents in “Legacy.” Ezra is desperate to find the whereabouts of his parents, and must learn to balance patience and inner peace as he races back to Lothal. This journey is not without obstacles, however; on his way to find his mother and father, his surrogate Ghost family is threatened by the Empire. Ezra is enraged, and rushes headlong into battle, aggressively Force-pushing Agent Kallus. He then charges the Seventh Sister and Fifth Brother, and if not for the timely nature of Kanan separating them by blasting the blast door, Ezra may have let his anger hold sway. Kanan’s action literally and figuratively closes the door on Ezra’s aggression.
He has to train himself to let go, but more conflict awaits on the outskirts of Lothal. It is there that he meets Ryder Azadi, the former governor of Lothal, who shares with Ezra his parents’ fate. The loss is greatly felt by the young man. But to move forward, and resist the dark side tendency to give into anger, Ezra must find peace.
This comes to fruition soon after; in a powerful scene, Ezra has a vision of his parents, who tell him never to lose hope. The scene then morphs to Ezra standing side by side with Kanan, his surrogate parent and mentor. Ezra’s story once again show us that family takes on all shapes and sizes; while Kanan is not Ezra’s father, he represents the embodiment of hope for the burgeoning Jedi, and reminds us that a major crux of the Star Wars universe points to hope through faith in the Force, letting go of what you fear to lose, and the development of the surrogate family unit. Ezra, and his ever-evolving journey, truly is the bridge on many levels.
Sabine continues to be the enigma of the Ghost’s surrogate family, which adds even more intrigue when snippets of her story are revealed. She's proven herself to be heroic, resourceful, and loyal, but her past has not yet been fully revealed. Much like the Mandalorian armor she proudly wears, Sabine is captivating and mysterious, and the audience is drawn to her. In the episode “Blood Sisters,” Ezra, Chopper, and Sabine go to meet a courier, and the arrival of a former ally helps to bring more information on Sabine to the forefront. Much like Ezra above, Sabine relies on the lessons of her adopted family in the present, in order to help her with demons from the past.
In this episode, we learn that Sabine and Ketsu Onyo once worked together and broke out of the Imperial Academy. The ominous Ketsu left Sabine for dead, with little detail provided. Even Ketsu’s ship, the Shadow Caster, has an air of the mysterious, as Ketsu’s presence cast more shadow on her past, then on that of Sabine. The irony here is that when a shadow is cast, there must be light, and that light is shown to be Sabine.
In fact, throughout the episode, Sabine spends more time with her helmet off than Ketsu does; Sabine has nothing to hide from: no fear, no guilt, and no regrets. She even forgives Ketsu for deserting her, explaining that her friends have given her a second chance, and now she believes in doing that for others. Sabine provides strong evidence of being able to overcome adversity, and to embrace her past when facing her future. Her leadership, though not always as vocal, is a clear revelation of her growth so far in the series.
Sabine again comes into contact with her Mandalorian heritage in “The Protector of Concord Dawn.” In this episode, Sabine challenges Fenn Rau, the protector of a Mandalorian colony that Hera wishes to traverse, so as to find a safe hyperspace route to Lothal. Hera is wounded in dramatic fashion aboard her A-wing, and Sabine vows revenge. The juxtaposition between Sabine and Ezra is fascinating; both characters seek to protect their foster families, and both appear to have potentially sinister intent.
This is not lost on Kanan, who expresses real concern, but Sabine asks Kanan to trust him. Kanan does just that, and Sabine disarms Fenn Rau with her blaster, instead of delivering a fatal blow. She is as in-control of her emotions as she is her weapon. Sabine is at peace, showing her growth, leadership, and the light she represents for her friends. This continual evolution showcases her skill as a warrior, and her dedication to her ideals, both as a Mandalorian, as well as a member of the Ghost’s crew.
We didn’t forget about Zeb or Chopper. Their evolution will be explored as we experience more of Season Two of Star Wars Rebels; stay tuned to future Studying Skywalkers for a deeper analysis of the Ghost and their adventures, and let us know what you’d like to see discussed in upcoming blogs in the comments below!
Dan Zehr is a high school English teacher with an MS in Teaching and Learning, and runs Coffee With Kenobi (with co-host Cory Clubb), a Star Wars podcast that analyzes the saga through critical thinking, analysis, interviews, and discussion. He is also a member of the Rogues (as Blue Leader), a network of teachers that incorporate Star Wars in the Classroom.