Spoiler Warning: If you haven't seen Season 4, Episode 11 of Star Wars Rebels or don't want to know what happened, turn away now.
"Never give up hope, no matter how dark things seem." - Star Wars: The Clone Wars
We start in the aftermath of the fuel depot explosion and learn that, while Pryce may have succeeded in killing "The Jedi," she's also brought Grand Admiral Thrawn's TIE Defender program to a grinding halt. But, instead of doing what she can to remedy the problem, Governor Arihnda Pryce decides to hold a parade. Nothing to see here, folks!
The real devastation, of course, is much closer to home as Hera, Sabine, and Ezra return to the Lothal base, where each of them finally has a moment to process what's just happened and we the audience are given a voice in their reactions. Anger, pain, confusion, denial, loss, and even comfort -- it's all there. It struck me as especially poignant because we don't always get the chance to grieve the losses of our heroes in Star Wars. Oftentimes there's just so much going on that grieving has to wait, but Rebels' perspective on this one crew, this one fight, allows for the time.
Which, if I'm being honest, is a gut-punch as much as it is appreciated. Dave Filoni creates characters we grow to love, which makes the loss of them even harder to deal with. Not to mention, seeing Hera cry is just heartwrenching.
It's those emotions that set up the next parts of the episode. Sabine and Zeb immediately decide to channel their anger into action against the Empire while Ezra seeks out time alone and searching for answers.
Those answers come in the form of the Loth-wolves, and it's clear from the moment we see them again that things have definitely changed. Whatever tameness they've shown in the past, this current incarnation is feral and all apex predator.
Speaking of apex predators, Grand Admiral Thrawn, who was called away to Coruscant by the Emperor himself, has heard about the explosion at the fuel depot, and there's no doubt he will be exacting punishment upon his return. Knowing he can no longer count on Pryce, Thrawn pivots to Rukh as his main representative on Lothal. I wonder what he'll think about Rukh being returned to him with a Sabine Wren original paint job?
In addition to making artwork out of Rukh, Sabine and Zeb have figured out what the Empire and Pryce have desperately been trying to hide; Kanan didn't just save Hera, Sabine, and Ezra, but in those last moments, he used the explosion as a weapon against Thrawn and the Imperial factories on Lothal. Pryce may have blown up the fuel, but Kanan made sure the factories were damaged in the process and struck a blow against the Empire for all of Lothal and the Rebellion.
Throughout the episode, however, the big question is "What comes next?"
It's Ezra who gets the answer, and it comes in the form of a huge Loth-wolf who calls himself Dume. Is Dume the Wolf Kanan? His markings are familiar. His eyes and face feel more human than wolf, but Dume is part of the Force and, like Bendu, he's not here to give easy answers.
Dume pushes Ezra to move past his fear and sets him on a new path back to the Jedi Temple. His words give some explanation. There's danger at the Temple, but there's also knowledge. Secrets and also destruction. Still, Dume is adamant that Ezra's path leads there and arms him with a piece of stone inlaid with drawings, clearly part of something larger.
Ezra wants more answers than Dume is willing to give, but the gist is clear in his words. "Restore past. Redeem future." What that past and future are, we don't yet know, but we know this: Kanan Jarrus had a connection to Lothal and the Loth-wolves. Dume is also connected to Kanan and Lothal. If Ezra's looking for guidance from his Master, something tells me he just got it.
Was it a Force vision? Was it a dream? Was it real? We don't know quite yet. But the stone and the mission are both very real, and those are what Ezra returns to the base with as we step into the next phase of whatever's coming.
And I noticed something as I was looking at that piece of stone. Remember the Mortis mural we saw in the trailer? Look at them side by side.
Something about this feels connected to what Hera says to Chopper when explaining what she'll miss most about Kanan.
"Whenever none of us could find the answer, Kanan could ... and always in the most unexpected way."
One mission complete, another one about to start. When the episode started, our Rebels were lost, heartbroken and feeling beaten, but Kanan Jarrus did his part to bring things into balance, and now our Ghost family is ready to move on to the next step.
It doesn't mean Kanan won't be missed, but it does mean he never really left them.
Star Wars Rebels will air two episodes each Monday starting at 9 p.m. ET/PT until the series finale on March 5 on Disney XD.