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Recap / Star Wars Rebels S3E13 "Trials of the Darksaber"

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To help recruit her people to join the rebels, Sabine reluctantly agrees to learn to wield an ancient Mandalorian weapon but finds the challenge more difficult than expected.


Tropes in this episode:

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  • Absentee Actor: Just like in "Brothers of the Broken Horn", Zeb has a cameo, but no dialogue.
  • An Aesop: Don't bottle up or run away from your problems; coming to terms with them is the only way to move forward.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Sabine says that she never ran away and dismisses it as lies, Kanan asks her what the truth is.
  • Art Shift: When Fenn Rau explains the origins of the Darksaber, his shadow transforms into a series of images showing its history. The animation subsequently shifts over to a 2-D animation style, akin to the kind seen in Star Wars: Clone Wars.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The episode indicates that Sabine doesn't want to see her family because they think she's a traitor. It turns out that Sabine's clan knows she isn't but abandoned her anyway to save themselves, and it's Sabine who believes she's unworthy because she helped the Empire enslave Mandalore.
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  • Berserker Tears: Sabine breaks down crying at the end when she recounts her past, after attacking Kanan with increasing desperation before she finally gets the upper hand and collapses.
  • Break the Haughty: Kanan has to force Sabine to know and understand her own motives so that she can efficiently use the Darksaber and carry the responsibilities that come with it.
  • Breather Episode: The episode focuses more on fleshing out Sabine, setting her up for the Mandalorian plot for the next episode. Nonetheless, the episode is pretty tearjerking and heartwrenching.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Kind of. After a lifetime of being The Ace, Sabine almost Rage Quits because she can't grasp lightsaber combat right off the bat. This is Truth in Television for many gifted individuals, who are used to succeeding easily, which makes failing and having to put effort into something that much harder.
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  • Broken Bird: This episode clearly shows that Sabine is more broken than her hot-headed behavior suggests. The Empire took her home, her family abandoned her when she spoke out and defected, and she's a mess because of it, not to mention that she has shut herself out from others.
  • The Bus Came Back: Fenn Rau returns to help mentor Sabine alongside Kanan and Ezra.
  • Call-Back:
    • Fenn Rau suggests that Sabine take up the Darksaber, which was recovered in "Visions and Voices". Sabine has refused to use it, as she doesn't want the responsibility it represents and doesn't know how to properly wield it regardless.
    • The Darksaber was previously used as a symbol of power and unity by Pre Vizsla back in The Clone Wars. Maul is also mentioned as being the previous user and hoarding it for the next seventeen years.
    • Hera understands what Sabine is going through with regards to family history, referring back to the events of "Homecoming".
    • Ezra's talk with Sabine mirrors the one they had in "Empire Day", with Ezra being the one to encourage her to take whatever chance she can to reconnect with her family before it's too late.
  • The Cameo: We find out the Bendu has been hiding near where Kanan set up camp. The fact that he appears without playing a role in the plot highlights the distance Sabine's arc has from Force-matters like the Jedi.
  • Continuity Nod: In order to for Sabine to be able to use the Darksaber and truly deserve it, she has to come to terms with her past and understand her motivations, similar to how in order for Ezra to receive his first kyber crystal and be deserving of a lightsaber he had to come to terms with his past and understand his motivations back in "Path of the Jedi".
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Unlike his training with Ezra, a now blinded and post-Character Development Kanan cannot be soft on Sabine, because that only increases the risk that she won't be able to defend her position and life. Plus, Kanan knows that much is at stake with greater battles ahead of them soon, and there is no better time for Sabine to be prepared.
  • Curse Cut Short: Sabine tells Ezra she's going to kick his ass, but get cut off before she can say the last word.
  • Dirty Coward: Sabine's family chose the Empire to save themselves rather than stand by Sabine to save their own people.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Sabine reveals her family betrayed her by refusing to stand with her when she spoke against the Empire, and she's mad at them for it. Unfortunately for her, family honor doesn't work that way in Mandalore.
  • Exposition Dump: Kanan asks Rau how the Mandalorians got a hold of a lightsaber. Rau reveals that long ago, Tar Vizsla, the first ever known Jedi of Mandalorian blood, forged the Darksaber. After his passing, at some point, Mandalorians participated in a raid on the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. A member of House Vizsla stole the Darksaber, and as we see in The Clone Wars, it was eventually passed down to Pre Vizsla. And now, it belongs to Sabine Wren.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Mandalore was at first in a willing partnership with the Empire, giving them their best and brightest to aid in their war effort. The Empire then took the weapons Mandalore had helped build and turned it on them, subjugating them.
  • Hot-Blooded: This episode showcases the passionate, hot-headed side of Sabine, being so fiercely dedicated towards being the best at everything she does. Kanan explains that her hot-headed nature is what keeps her mind closed to the Force.
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • Even when Ezra tries to empathize with Sabine, he tells Sabine at least she has parents to go back to. Ezra was flat-out told twice (first by Saxon, and during this conversation) that Sabine's defection shamed her family's name, so Ezra telling her that only added insult to her injury. Unlike Ezra's parents, Sabine's family isn't dead, yet Ezra doesn't understand that there are parents who are absent emotionally, while being present physically. In hindsight, it ended up being insensitive when Ezra learned that Sabine's family disowned her and threw her out to the streets.
    • Likewise, Sabine saying no one knows what it's like to be separated from her family. While she's speaking about the specific circumstances she's in, Ezra's reply is just that at least her family is still alive. She seems to realize how he took it as he walks away.
    • Kanan taking Sabine's training so slowly is for him an attempt to keep her safe because he worries that with all her inner turmoil she will just end up hurting herself, but as Hera points out this just affirms to Sabine that she isn't capable of wielding the Darksaber at all.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: At one point, Kanan comments that Sabine's hotheaded nature keeps her mind closed from the Force. The implications of this comment could have a massive bearing on all of Star Wars canon. Until this point, for the most part one was either Force-sensitive or not Force-sensitive; very few characters were left ambiguous, and there was never anything said about the subject. Kanan implies that while not everyone can be a Jedi, anyone with the proper mindset can feel the Force.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Sabine gets cocky with her new equipment, leading to Kanan angrily telling her that she can't rely on fancy gadgets to always get her way and that none of this is a game. To prove his point, when Sabine tries to incapacitate him with her electrowhip, he easily cuts it off and makes it clear that if it were a real fight, her head would be sliced clean off.
  • Kneel Before Frodo: Rau, Ezra, and Kanan all kneel before Sabine once she finally claims the Darksaber.
  • Mage Killer: The gauntlets Rau gives Sabine are meant for counteracting the abilities of the Jedi. Showrunner Dave Filoni explains in the audio commentary for the episode how a Mandalorian would use these tools during wars against the Jedi to knock a Jedi Knight off-guard and take advantage by finishing them off. Deconstructed quickly as Sabine thought herself invincible with the gauntlets, only for Kanan to overpower her and telling that the Jedi beat the Mandalorians despite the gauntlets. They give an edge, but they do not guarantee victory.
  • The Mentor: Kanan takes on Sabine as his second apprentice (though obviously not his second Force-sensitive apprentice). Rau is also there to help her with what to expect from their people once she steps up with the Darksaber, as well as supervise the training. Ezra also instructs Sabine on Kanan's orders, showing her the basic forms.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade:
    • Sabine is finally taking up the sword... or should we say, Darksaber. She now also has new vambraces with an electrowhip and repulsors, designed for fighting Jedi.
    • Rau switches from his piloting armor to some rather bulkier armor, similar to the Shadow Collective supercommandos. It bears similarities to the uniform of the New Mandalorian Duchy's Royal Guardsmen. He also has a Jet Pack now.
  • My Greatest Failure: Sabine fled her family out of guilt over weapons of mass destruction she helped create which were used on Mandalore; her family branded her a coward and traitor all the same.
  • No Antagonist: There aren't Imperials, criminals, or hostiles of any kind around, just Sabine's own demons.
  • Not a Game: Sabine play-fights Ezra after Rau gives her new equipment to toy around with, which causes Kanan to angrily call her out for this.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Throughout the episode, Sabine behaves like a Jerkass towards Kanan, Ezra, and Rau. She protests against using the Darksaber, saying that she can already use any other kind of weapon. When Kanan applies a dose of Cruel to Be Kind, she breaks down and reveals that she had helped the Empire design weapons of mass destruction, which they then turned on Mandalore. When she spoke out against the Empire, her family abandoned her as a traitor.
  • Opposed Mentors: Kanan and Rau are having a "Jedi vs. Mandalorian" rivalry through instructing Sabine; Kanan is a lot more vindictive and eager to hand Sabine her ass any moment she feels cocky, while Rau is more playful about it and tells ger to "go knock Bridger down a peg or two" when he gives her combat accessories.
  • Parental Abandonment: This episode reveals that not only did Sabine's parents choose loyalty to the Empire, they flat out did not want her and abandoned her because she took the risk and spoke out.
  • Parental Substitute: We see Kanan and Hera's roles as parent figures come up in this episode. The two even argue over how best to train/treat Sabine.
  • Phlebotinum-Handling Requirements: Lightsabers normally require the Force to even handle safely, and are very difficult to wield otherwise. Sabine nearly cuts her own hand off training. Simply put, any non-Force-sensitive Mandalorian who has ever wielded the Darksaber had to dedicate an incredible amount of time and practice to do so.
  • Psychoactive Powers: The Darksaber, and by extension all lightsabers, are revealed to bond with their wielders. Without training, the blade feels heavier than it should.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: While both version agree on the general outline, the specifics of the way House Vizsla acquired the Darksaber from the Jedi Temple vary between Pre Vizsla's and Fenn Rau's account of the event. Considering that they are mortal enemies, of course they would have a different way of seeing things.
    • According to Pre... "this lightsaber was stolen from your Jedi Temple by my ancestors during the fall of the Old Republic"; implying it was war booty taken during a raid on the Temple during a battle.
    • According to Fenn... "After his passing the Jedi kept the saber in their Temple. That was until members of House Vizsla snuck in and 'liberated' it"; implying a far more covert and underhanded affair with more in common with burglary than glorious battle.
  • Reality Ensues: Despite Sabine getting a hold of the Darksaber as a Mid-Season Upgrade, she's had to refrain from actually using it until now, because she doesn't actually know how to use a sword. The only time she ever used it was because she was possessed, and those who possessed her were Dark Side Force Sensitives. In addition, she isn't sure if she wants to take up the responsibility of being the leader of her people.
  • Refusal of the Call: Sabine gave the Darksaber to Kanan for safekeeping and hasn't brought it up since she recovered it, since she's not sure if she wants the responsibility of uniting House Vizsla and leading the clans. It's a combination of factors such as Maul abusing his power after taking the Darksaber, and her being an outcast to all the clans of Mandalore.
  • The Reveal:
    • This episode further dives into the murky backstory of the Darksaber that had been left unanswered in The Clone Wars. It was made by the first Mandalorian Jedi over 1000 years ago, then stolen from the Jedi Temple after his death.
    • Sabine reveals that she designed weapons for the Empire, weapons they promptly turned on Mandalore to keep her people in line. When Sabine spoke out against the Empire, her family sided with the Empire instead of her. She also reveals that she has a brother and her father that may still be alive.
    • During her Motive Rant, Sabine reveals that she has a brother, something that was never mentioned anywhere else before.
  • Reverse Psychology: Kanan goes into I Shall Taunt You mode with Sabine to get her to admit what really caused her to leave Mandalore and break the mental block that's keeping her from giving the training her all.
  • Shout-Out: The Art Shift during Rau's narration of the Darksaber's story calls a tale of a certain other set of powerful relics to mind.
  • There Is No Try:
    Ezra: First lesson: Don't try. Just learn.
  • True Companions: Kanan reassures Sabine that even if her Mandalorian family abandoned her, her family among the Ghost crew will not.
  • Warrior Therapist: Kanan acts as this to finally help Sabine confront the pain and betrayal of her past.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Deconstructed. Kanan's insistence that Sabine train with wooden sticks just amplifies her fears that she's not ready to use the Darksaber.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: A more heartwarming example, but Hera calls Kanan out on his reluctance to let Sabine train with the Darksaber. He feels she is too conflicted to properly wield it without seriously hurting herself, Hera basically tells him to push Sabine into voicing and confronting those issues.
  • You Are Not Alone: When Sabine asks who would ever follow her, Rau tells him that he already has, and Ezra and Kanan agree.


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