"Trials of the Darksaber" is the fifteenth episode of the animated television series Star Wars Rebels' third season. It is the fifty-second episode of the series overall. It aired on January 21, 2017, on Disney XD.
Return of the Darksaber
The episode opens with A-wings flying over Chopper Base on the planet Atollon. The astromech droid Chopper pushes several supplies past the rebel ship Ghost. Sabine Wren briefly argues with Chopper before moving on. The Mandalorian Fenn Rau walks aboard the ship's ramp. Kanan Jarrus has requested a private meeting with Rau to show him the Darksaber, which Sabine Wren had found earlier on Dathomir. Rau recognizes the Darksaber as the symbol of the leader of House Vizsla, later the leader of the group known as Death Watch. Rau then proceeds to recount the history of the Darksaber.
According to legend, it was created a thousand years ago by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian to be inducted into the Jedi Order. After his passing, the Jedi kept the Darksaber at the Temple until members of House Vizsla snuck in and stole it. They then used the Darksaber to unify the people of Mandalore and to strike down those who opposed them. One time, House Vizsla ruled all of Mandalore wielding the Darksaber. Rau stresses that the blade is a symbol of Mandalorian power. Kanan tells Rau that Sabine gave it to him for safekeeping, not wanting to go down this path. Rau thinks that it will be a good idea for Sabine to wield the Darksaber in order to reunify one of the most powerful houses on Mandalore. When Kanan asks whether Rau wants to raise an army, he envisions Sabine leading it.
In her room, Sabine is admiring her art when Chopper enters the room to tell her that all of the other Spectres and Rau have convened for a meeting aboard the Ghost's common room. Sabine tells Rau and the Spectres that she will not wield the Darksaber because it brought her and her family nothing but chaos after Maul took it. Rau replies that Maul used it to divide and conquer and adds that she can use it to do the opposite. Sabine thinks that Rau is crazy but Kanan urges her to listen to what Rau has to say.
Kanan does not think it is a coincidence that the Darksaber came into her possession. Ezra Bridger voices his opinion that she might not know how to wield it given the difficulty he had mastering the Force and the lightsaber. While Kanan thinks that Sabine may not learn how to fight like a Jedi, he thinks she can become proficient with the Darksaber. Sabine replies that she is skilled with wielding many weapons but doesn't think she can master a lightsaber. Rau reminds her of the importance of the blade.
Sabine is reluctant to lead her clan because she is estranged from her family. When Kanan suggests it can change, Sabine replies that he does not know what he is talking about. Fenn then steps in and says that he knows that family is important to the Wrens just like all Mandalorians. Sabine counters that the crew of the Ghost are her family and reiterates that she does not want her old family. Hera Syndulla replies that the rebellion does need her family's help to rally the Mandalorians to the rebel cause. Hera understands that family history can be painful but stresses that they can use the Mandalorians to launch their attack on Lothal.
Kanan adds that she can choose to walk away or take up the challenge. After some contemplation, Sabine reluctantly agrees to learn how to wield the Darksaber. He counsels her that once people know she has the weapon they will challenge her for it. Sabine responds that she will try but Ezra explains that there is no try but only doing. Sabine demands the sword so she can teach Ezra a lesson, but Kanan urges her to calm down. Kanan reluctantly passes her the Darksaber.
Kanan and Ezra take Sabine on a landspeeder into Atollon's wilderness to avoid the distractions of Chopper Base and, according to Ezra, to make sure she "does less damage". Sabine is reluctant to assume this responsibility and grumpily warns Ezra that she will damage him if he doesn't shut up. Two krykna spiders move in the background. They eventually reach a cave where the rebels set up camp. Sabine whines that she expected sword fighting when Kanan begins the training with sticks. Kanan explains that he wants to see her technique. When Sabine boasts that she can fight, Kanan responds that it should then be easy for her.
Ezra watches while Kanan and Sabine parry with sticks. Sabine advances on the blind Kanan but the Jedi Knight uses the Force to sense her movements and strikes her with his stick, knocking her to the ground. Kanan remarks that this technique might work on a stormtrooper but not on him. Sabine attacks Kanan again but he bests her and taps her neck with the stick. He warns her that every mistake is a limb gone and warns her not to rest her blade. Unimpressed with Sabine's melee combat prowess, he tells her to practice with Ezra despite her protests.
Ezra teaches her about the different lightsaber fighting strokes using the sticks while Kanan stands by. A couple of days later, Kanan is contacted by Hera via comlink. He tells her that Ezra is introducing Sabine to the basics of stick fighting. When Kanan tells Hera he is trying to be careful with Sabine, Hera replies that he did not make Ezra fight with a stick. Kanan reiterates that he is trying to do things carefully. Hera counters that Kanan doubts her abilities because Sabine can't use the Force. Kanan explains that the Force resides in everything but that Sabine has not opened her mind to it. He surmises that her mind is expressive but so tightly wound like a Mandalorian. When Hera tells Kanan she is sending out supplies, Kanan responds that the only extra provisions they need are patience and understanding.
The Mandalorian vambraces
While Kanan stands by, Sabine and Ezra continue to parry with their sticks. Kanan tells Sabine that her technique is not going to work. Ezra reassures her she is doing well. Shortly later, Fenn Rau arrives on a speeder bike with supplies from Chopper Base. Ezra manages to dodge Sabine's attack with his stick and manages to knock her to the ground. Rau surmises that Sabine over-committed but a frustrated Sabine is not eager to listen to any opinions. Kanan tells Sabine to take a break and orders Ezra to fetch the supplies.
Rau brings Sabine a box that came partially at his recommendation. Sabine discovers that Fenn has brought two Mandalorian vambraces. Sabine is amazed that Rau has obtained these weapons. He explains that the vambrace is equipped with paralyzing darts and cables meant to combat the abilities of the Jedi. He whispers for Sabine to take the Jedi Ezra down a peg or two.
Sabine and Ezra resume their training exercise. When Ezra asks what she has, Sabine remarks that she has got more things then he can handle. Ezra jokes about not going easy on her this time. The two parry with sticks and Sabine uses her Mandalorian vambrace to unleash a sonic boom that knocks Ezra to the ground. After some parrying, Sabine manages to knock Ezra to the ground and points her stick at him. Ezra complaints that the vambrace gives her an unfair advance and asks where she got them. Sabine says "special delivery" while Rau snickers in the background.
When Kanan asks Sabine if she is playing a game, she replies she is just outsmarting her opponent. Sabine then uses her vambrace to wrap a cord around Kanan. Despite being blind, Kanan uses his lightsaber to break free and knock Sabine to the ground. Kanan gives Sabine a history lesson that the Jedi won the war and that these tricks will not keep her alive in the long run. He warns her that only training and discipline will keep her alive in the long run. An exasperated Sabine remarks that Ezra must be really gifted to learn from a "lousy" teacher like Kanan. She drops the stick and storms off into the cave to spend some time alone.
While Sabine is contemplating, Ezra visits her to encourage her to persevere. He explains that Kanan may not be the easiest teacher but he means well. Sabine responds that she knows how to fight and reiterates her belief that she can learn to use that sword but doesn't want everything that comes with it. When Ezra asks her about her family, Sabine says that her family regards her as a traitor and disgrace. Ezra says that is not true but Sabine replies that he does not know her. Unable to come to terms with her family problems, Sabine believes she can't lead her people. Ezra apologizes but tells her at least she has parents to go back to unlike him. Sabine realizes that Ezra is right and starts to walk away. The Bendu then surfaces as the rock where Ezra and Sabine had been talking as he looks at her with pondering look.
Back at the rebel camp, Hera reassures Kanan that teaching Ezra was not easy but that he did it well. Hera tells Kanan that he will find a away to get to Sabine. Kanan explains that Ezra was much more eager to learn. Hera then points out that he is still not allowing Sabine to train with the Darksaber. Kanan responds that Sabine still has not found balance within herself and that it would be too dangerous to let her wield an actual lightsaber.
Hera counters that letting Sabine continue fighting with sticks will inhibit her commitment. Kanan fears that Sabine will get hurt but Hera points out that she has already been hurt far worse by her family. Hera tells him that she knows what it is like for people who love you not to believe in you. She urges Kanan to give Sabine the Darksaber so that she can claim ownership and face her demons. Kanan is reluctant but Hera reminds him that it is not about him. Later that night, Ezra and Rau are sitting by the campfire. When Ezra asks when Sabine will return, Rau cautions patience. Ezra says that Kanan is making Sabine learn everything at once and opines that she needs more time. Rau replies that time is a luxury that the galaxy seems to be running out of.
Sabine's inner struggle
Sabine soon returns to the camp and walks towards Kanan. Kanan admits that he owes her an apology and she admits the same. He gives her the Darksaber and tells her to take it because it is hers. Sabine ignites the Darksaber blade and finds it surprisingly heavier than she thought it would be. Kanan explains that energy constantly flows through the crystal, generating its weight, and tells her that her thoughts and actions guide the blade's power. He adds that her thoughts flow through the crystal and become part of the blade. Kanan ignites his lightsaber and explains that the blades will be drawn to each other before telling her to block high.
As the blades intersect, they generate a reaction. Kanan tells that she is clinging to a heavy thought. As the two parry, Kanan tells Sabine to block low, hard, and the middle repetitively. The two continue training and Kanan reminds her to remember the forms that Ezra had taught her. Kanan and Sabine parry with blades and increase their tempo. Kanan manages to knock Sabine to the ground and tells her not to make it easy. The two continue parrying and Sabine is gradually able to strengthen her connection to the blade.
Kanan cautions her not to rely solely on the Darksaber and to use all her skills together. Kanan manages to knock the blade out of her hand but she uses the vambrace to grab the blade. The two continue parrying and Kanan manages to knock her to the ground. Ezra tries to intervene but Rau holds him back. Kanan tells Sabine she is not fighting him but herself and that she has to lose herself. While training, Kanan goads Sabine about quitting and running from her people and family. As the two cross their blades, Sabine tells Kanan that she left to save everyone including her mother, her father, and her brother.
Sabine reiterates that she did everything she did for her family. Sabine tells Kanan that she helped the Empire to build weapons but that the Empire then used them on her friends and family. Sabine condemns herself for her role in helping the Empire to enslave her people as she continues to parry with Kanan. She explains that she spoke out to save everyone and manages to knock Kanan to the ground. When Sabine spoke out, her family did not stand with her but sided with the Empire. Sabine reveals that her family left her with no choice. The Empire wanted to destroy worlds and they have destroyed hers. Sabine then breaks down weeping.
A sympathetic Kanan tells her that the Empire rules through fear and that her family are living in a prison of their own making. He tells her she can free them. When Sabine asks why they would want to follow her, Fenn Rau and Ezra pledge to stand by her. Kanan reiterates that "this family" will follow her whatever she chooses.
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Notes and references
- Dawn of Rebellion dates the events of Star Wars Rebels: Steps Into Shadow seventeen years after the end of the Clone Wars, which Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates to 19 BBY; therefore, the events of Steps Into Shadow must take place in 2 BBY. According to Star Wars: On the Front Lines, Mon Mothma's denunciation of the Galactic Empire and the Declaration of the Rebel Alliance take place 2 years before the Battle of Yavin or 2 BBY. As "Trials of the Darksaber" is set between Steps Into Shadow and "Secret Cargo," it must also take place in 2 BBY.