Spoiler Warning: If you haven't seen Season 4, Episode 10 of Star Wars Rebels or don't want to know what happened, turn away now.
The sound of Hera Syndulla screaming Kanan's name as he fended off a wall of flame and Force pushed her to safety keeps echoing in my mind, and neither time nor rational understanding is making it any less hard to hear. As Obi-Wan said about Alderaan all those years ago, "It's as if a million voices suddenly cried out in terror," only this time it was Star Wars Rebels fans around the world who felt that scream in their hearts.
Many fans have been convinced this day was coming for years, and others thought it was certainly a possibility but they hoped they'd be wrong. Personally, I held out hope that, somehow, Kanan Jarrus would find a loophole that allowed him some wiggle room in the whole "last of the Jedi" thing. But somewhere I knew the truth, and now it's time to face it.
Kanan Jarrus, Jedi Knight, is gone. He gave his life to save those he loved and in service to the larger rebellion in a heroic moment that will long be remembered. His origin unknown, Kanan Jarrus started his Jedi training as young Caleb Dume and became padawan to Jedi Master Depa Billaba. When the Emperor executed Order 66, Billaba ordered Caleb to run and gave her life to save his. For years, he wandered. Caleb Dume became Kanan Jarrus, the furthest thing from a Jedi possible and may have lived on in relative obscurity were it not for a fateful meeting with Hera Syndulla on Gorse. That chance meeting (or was it chance?) turned the wanderer's path into a new journey, and along the way he found a family, a crew, a padawan, the love of his life, and true mastery in the Force.
Looking at the structure of this episode, the end informed so much of the beginning, and you see the steps Kanan took in preparation for his final moments. There's nothing that says he knew exactly what would happen, but the signs are clear that he knew something was going to change in a fundamental way.
As he sits meditating, we hear voices. Some sound like the past, others we'll hear in this episode. But are there some we've yet to hear? One of the phrases shows Kanan has a good idea of what's to come before he ever leaves on the mission; "There's something I need to tell you." When he says those words to Hera later in the episode, we don't learn what he wants to say, but looking at it, it's hard to miss. Kanan may not have known the exact circumstances, but he knew he might not make it through.
Is that why he gave Ezra the mission? I don't think there was ever a doubt that Kanan would be the one to actually free Hera, but handing planning over to Ezra and having him lead was a passing of the torch. Ezra may not have known that and he may not think he's ready, but Kanan knows better. He knows it's time.
Speaking of Hera, let's not forget that Dave Filoni isn't one to just let someone as competent and strong as Hera be a damsel in need of rescue. She may need someone to get her out of there, but she's going to fight every step of the way. In his speech about the Kalikori, Thrawn reveals that he considers Hera one of his greatest adversaries. While his intent is to be cruel, especially when he reveals the information about Hera's deceased brother, it's very possible Thrawn's hubris in thinking he has Hera beat will be his ultimate downfall. We also know Dave Filoni doesn't drop information without a reason, so it's a good bet we'll hear more about Hera's brother in the future.
I also have to give both Ezra and Sabine some attention, because it's no easy feat to infiltrate an Imperial base, steal a ship, and take out some Imps on the way to rescue someone. Not to mention Ezra taking out a gunship with a lightsaber! There are times I take their thrilling heroics for granted because they're both so skilled, but it needs to be said. Especially when you consider both of them are part of the legacy Kanan leaves behind.
The legacy of Kanan Jarrus. No matter what, it comes back to that, doesn't it? And it's what he leaves behind that hits the hardest. It's what remains unsaid. It's what the future could have been.
It's Hera Syndulla finally speaking the words "I love you" even when we've all known it from the start.
It's Kanan Jarrus making good on his promise to the woman he's loved since the first time they met and seeing her again.
And it's Caleb Dume doing what his master did all those years ago, giving his life so others could go on.
Whatever becomes of Kanan from here on out, whether he reappears in a different form or we never see him again, there's no doubt he's cemented his legacy within the Jedi Order and with the larger pantheon of Star Wars heroes throughout time.
May the Force be with him.
You can read my recap of the follow up to this episode here.
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.