[This is a review of Star Wars Rebels season 1, episode 8. There will be SPOILERS.]

Star Wars Rebels delivered big on its followup to last week’s exciting cliffhanger ending. A mid-season finale should be filled with a few surprising developments and thankfully, creators Simon Kinberg, Dave Filoni, and Carrie Beck did not disappoint.

This week’s episode, entitled ‘Gathering Forces’ was Ezra’s moment to shine, as the young padawan got his first taste of the dark side. It’s hard not to remember Yoda’s words to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back when they were training on Dagobah. The dark side may be a faster means of obtaining power, but it’s not necessarily more effective.

Ezra’s use of the dark side to lure the giant Frynock out of its layer was chilling to watch. There was something sinister and uncomfortable about the way he summoned the beast. In a series that’s been labeled “kid-friendly,” the writers continue to toe the line in an exceptional way, by balancing the comedy, drama, and everything in between with the greatest of ease. Surely that will continue when the series returns in January 2015.

The moment when Ezra made peace with Tseebo was another well constructed scene. Ezra may have demonstrated an aptitude for the dark side this week, but he also proved his willingness to forgive those who have wronged him. Even the Rodian’s mood shifted, like a great weight had been lifted off of his shoulders. Forgiveness and overcoming your fears are not easy subjects to portray on screen. They can easily come off as being forced, or even corny, yet ‘Gathering Forces’ showed that good old fashioned values still have their place – not every hero needs to be ambiguous.

star wars rebels season 1 episode 8 kanan Star Wars Rebels Mid Season Finale Review

In an episode filled to the brim with fantastic stories, it’s not easy to pick one’s favorite. This may be Ezra’s week, but Kanan revealed some interesting details about himself that will likely effect the series down the road. While watching Kanan duel with The Inquisitor, it’s evident that the Jedi is out of practice. We have to remember that it’s been fifteen-years since the Jedi Order was dismantled, so there’s no telling how far the Cowboy Jedi got in his training. For arguments sake, let’s say he’s around 30-40 years of age – then his training would have ended when he was about 15-20 years-old. The Inqusitor, like Kanan, has received minimal training too – using a partially mechanized lightsaber so he can preform moves that Darth Maul could do in his sleep.

Both wielders of the force have skill, but it was interesting to see Kanan using his blaster in the middle of the duel. Obi-Wan would not be proud of him using such a “primitive weapon.” Kanan is currently Ezra’s teacher, but it seems that he might be in need of some training himself. Do you think he’ll meet up with another master, or will Ezra and Kanan learn from each other? After witnessing Ezra’s power in the Frynock cave, there’s no denying the kid’s a powerful force-wielder.

After an impressive end to the first half of Star Wars Rebels, what have been your favorite moments and what are you most looking forward to seeing when the series resumes? Stay tuned to find out what happens next.

Star Wars Rebels will continue with ‘Path of the Jedi’ on Monday January 5, 2015 @9pm on Disney XD. Check out a behind the scenes look below:

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