'Star Wars Rebels' S3 Episode 12 Recap: 'Trials of the Darksaber'

A stolen blade has found its way back to a worthy owner, but she's reluctant to wield it.

At the rebel base on Atollon, Fenn Rau (Kevin McKidd) has been summoned by blind Jedi Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.) to discuss the Darksaber after its recovery from Maul's hideout on Dathomir.

Assisted by a really cool graphic, Rau recalls the legend surrounding the weapon: it was created more than 1,000 years ago by Tar Vizsla, the first Mandalorian to join the Jedi. After he died, the Jedi kept it in their temple on Coruscant until members of House Vizsla stole it back. They used the blade to cut down any rivals and unite all of Mandalore.

Some fans will note that the art style here is very similar to the one used for Anakin Skywalker's dark vision in the 2003 "Clone Wars" series.

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Rau remembers that Sabine Wren (Tiya Sircar) told him that she was a member of "Clan Wren, House Vizsla" during their first encounter and wonders about her reaction to finding the weapon. Kanan notes she simply handed it to him and hasn't mentioned it since.

"She doesn't want the responsibility," says Rau. "Kanan, if Sabine can wield this saber then she can reunite one of the most powerful houses in all of Mandalore."

It would appear that Rau wants to see Sabine to leading an army.

Chopper brings Sabine to meet the rest of the Ghost crew, but she immediately refuses to take the weapon. When Kanan suggests that she reconsider, Padawan Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) pipes up to remind everyone how difficult it is to wield a lightsaber.

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When Rau pushes, Sabine highlights the fact that she isn't very popular with her family (finally giving us some hints about her past).

"I have a family, here on this ship," she says forcefully. "I don't need them."

Captain Hera Syndulla (Vanessa Marshall) adds her voice to the mix, imploring Sabine to do it so they can use Mandalorian warriors in their long-planned assault on Lothal.

She finally agrees and Kanan announces that it's time to begin her training.

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Sabine, Ezra and Kanan take a speeder out to Bendu's desert hideout, with plenty of fun banter between the three. The elder Jedi throws a training stick to Sabine and she lunges at him, only to find herself getting knocked to the ground effortlessly.

"And that's your head," says Kanan. "Every mistake is a limb lost; the blade is never at rest."

He walks away and leaves the teenagers to run through basic forms, which makes the episode seem like an old-fashioned samurai movie. Hera contacts Kanan for an update and they discuss the challenge of training someone who can't use the Force, especially someone as "tightly wound" as a Mandalorian.

Rau arrives with supplies just as Sabine over commits to an attack and falls to the ground. He quietly gives her a pair of Mandalorian vambraces and informs her that they contain a grappling hook, paralyzing darts and a repulsor — all specifically designed to counter Jedi powers.

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"Go take Bridger down a peg or two," he says with a smile.

When Sabine and Ezra battle again, she uses the repulsor (which acts like a Force push) to knock him to the ground. She gets cocky and decides to take on Kanan, immediately binding him with her grappling hook like Boba Fett did to Luke Skywalker in "Return of the Jedi."

Much like Luke, Kanan cuts himself free and knocks her down, before angrily lecturing her on the ineffectiveness of such tricks on fully trained warriors. After all, the Mandalorians lost their war against the Jedi. Sabine slams his teaching ability before storming off.

Ezra follows her and she tells him that she knows she can learn to wield the Darksaber, but doesn't want to accept the responsibilities that come with it. As far as her family are concerned, she's a traitor to Mandalore.

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"At least you have parents to go back to," says Ezra, before walking away.

Feeling guilty, Sabine kicks a nearby rock and goes her own way. She doesn't see that the rock is a part of the hidden Bendu, who gazes quietly at her (suggesting that the Force is guiding her path).

Via holo, Hera encourages a crestfallen Kanan and convinces him to let Sabine use the Darksaber in her training.

"I know what it's like when people you love don't believe in you," she reminds him, continuing the episode's trend of bringing up Ghost crewmembers' family problems.

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Sabine apparently finishes her soul searching that night, when she returns to her allies and shares apologies with Kanan. Interestingly, the Jedi has taken off his helmet to reveal his sightless eyes — making him seem more human. He hands Sabine the Darksaber and she ignites it dramatically.

When she points out that it's heavy, Kanan tells her that she and the blade have a symbiotic relationship, before swinging his lightsaber and forcing her to block. The sequence that follows is beautiful, with Kanan adopting an elegant fencing style — Form II — that resembles the one used by the late Grand Inquisitor.

The Jedi's blows come at increasing speed and Sabine easily blocks each one, but is ultimately knocked to the ground. When she gets up and blocks the next series of blows, she realizes that the Darksaber feels lighter.

"You're connecting to it, it's becoming a part of you," says Kanan. "But cannot rely solely on the blade — you must use all your skills together."

When he knocks the saber from her hand, Sabine uses her grappling line to retrieve it — much as a Jedi would with the Force. However, she loses this ability as she hits the ground again and her wrist brace is damaged by the weapon.

Kanan taunts her and Sabine attacks with greater ferocity, talking about how she sacrificed her relationship with her mother, father and brother to save them and her home planet.

"I built weapons, terrible weapons, but the Empire used them on Mandalore, on friends, on family, people that I knew" she shouts, finally revealing the guilt she feels.

"They controlled us through fear — Mandalore feared the weapons I helped create. I helped enslave my people."

Sabine says that she spoke out against the Empire, but her family failed to support her and she was forced to leave.

"The Empire wanted to destroy worlds," she says. "And they did. They destroyed mine."

This gripping exchange stands out as one of the finest moments in "Star Wars" animation, as the Ghost crew's most mysterious member simultaneously tells everyone about her past and accepts her responsibility to her people — with a spectacular performance from Sircar — in a beautifully choreographed sequence.

Kanan tells Sabine that her family is in a prison "of their own making" and she must free them. Rau and Ezra say they'll both follow her on this mission.

"This family will stand by you, no matter what you choose," says Kanan.

"Star Wars Rebels" returns on Saturday Feb. 18 at 8:30 p.m. on Disney XD.

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