How will the rebels go about protecting Force-sensitive children? That’s a pretty potent question, and while “The Future of the Force” doesn’t answer that question long term, it does bring this idea up in a fantastic, tense episode that seems to be part of a three-part arc to end the year. It’s actually an important question too, since the Jedi order is destroyed, which will leave future kids with high Midi-chlorian counts (is this concept still canon?) lost, scared, and alone. The Inquisitors are now on their tail, with an eye on either training them to be servants to the Dark Side, or as this episode implies, straight-up killed. It’s creepy, dark stuff, but the episode keeps it light by keeping the true intentions of the Inquisitors vague, and making sure that Kanan, Ezra, and Zeb are heroic in their mission.
Also, Ahsoka is a badass, ultimately saving the day with sweet ass white lightsabers.
I’ll get into that climactic battle in a bit, but I want to discuss “The Future of the Force” and just how the episode executes its story, with a slightly better handle on the narrative than previous episodes in the past. For one thing, it brings back the Inquisitors, the Seventh Sister and the Fifth Brother. And while it’s a bit disappointing they’re no longer chasing after the rebels as Darth Vader commanded them to do, what they are doing is no less chilling.
The Inquisitors still lack a real personality or perspective, but writer Bill Wolkoff uses their ambiguous menace for the episode’s favor, making them into walking, lurching, almost unstoppable monsters. There’s a reason that when we see them board that ship in the cold opening, the entire encounter resembles a horror film. The lights go out, the creepy music begins, and the show’s storyboards track like serial killers them as they head towards the woman and her crying child. Later, as Ahsoka inspects the aftermath, it’s creaking corridors amidst the ruins. It’s kind of narratively unnecessary, but it showcases the Inquisitors’ power and the kind of horror these two can leave in their wake.
This episode plays around with tonal contrasts a bit, which usually tends to create atmospheric confusion, but it works here because it Wolkoff’s script sections off the shifting tones clearly. After the opening horror, the show shifts to a bit of comedy/warmth, as Zeb, Chopper, Ezra, and Kanan track down the missing children. It’s very easy going, with all the various characters exhibiting some level of dislike of the kids before slowly coming around to them. It works because you know there’s just that nagging threat right there, and you just aren’t sure when it’ll hit–until that robot gets destroyed. Then the Inquisitors arrive, and it’s a horror movie again, albeit one with a more action bent.
Similar to “Always Two There Are,” the episode involves tight spaces and a myriad of hallways that keep our four heroes on the run and always looking over their shoulders. There’s a great bit of subtle characterization of Kanan here, as somehow he knew Ezra’s fear was making the child cry (due to it sensing Ezra’s fear), but he doesn’t realize that it’s due to the children being Force-sensitive. This reflects Kanan’s nature of being a not-so-great Jedi, unrefined and unpracticed (I would wager that he originally recognized Ezra’s Force abilities due to his age, and due to the fact that Ezra caught his attention; after all, Ezra felt Kanan’s connection first.) Not that he isn’t a capable Jedi, holding his own as best he could against the the Seventh Sister/Fifth Brother combo admirably, but never quite standing a chance. Then Ahsoka arrives.
Ahsoka’s years of training in and out of the Jedi order (Lord knows what she was up to after she left the order way back in The Clone Wars days) has turned her into an incredible fighter, dual-wielding lightsabers and just otherwise throwing down. The best fight sequences both utilize a great sense of space and choreography, while also subtly reflecting the essences of the characters, and this sequence does just that. Ahsoka always has the upper hand, constantly dispatching the Fifth Brother with ease, and generally has the Seventh Sister on the ropes. And while the episode doesn’t divulge any more into any potential past relationship between her and the Seventh Sister, their fight indicates that there’s some kind of history there. Yet it’s not any kind of history that gives Ahsoka any real trouble, not unless the Sister throws some kind of trick at her.
If the schedule is to be believed, there’s two more episodes ahead, beginning with the fallout of the Inquisitors discovering the location of where the rebels are hiding (more on that in the Stray Observations). As long as the show can keep up the tension and maintain those well-flowing fight sequences, a hit-or-miss season could at the very least end on a strong note. A little more personality on the Inquisitors wouldn’t hurt either.
- “Bring Zeb as well, he proved himself against the Inquisitors before.” So did Sabine? This show really struggles with justifying who they send on missions.
- Ezra mentioning Garel to the baby in front of the Seventh Sister’s droid was such a forced narrative moment that it took me way out of the episode for a moment, especially since it was Ezra who saw it first earlier in the episode. That was just shoddy.
- Ahsoka refers to another time the Sith tried to kidnap Force-sensitive children during the Clone Wars. This event is most likely the three-part arc “Holocron Heist,” “Cargo of Doom,” and “Children of the Force,” all from the beginning of the second season of The Clone Wars. I don’t remember too much about this story, I think it was fairly okay.