Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Prophecy nonsense aside, Star Wars Rebels provides Zeb a spiritual awakening

Illustration for article titled Prophecy nonsense aside, Star Wars Rebels provides Zeb a spiritual awakening

Generally speaking, prophecy stories are the worst. Admittedly, I’m pretty biased against them, but let’s be honest: not only are they overused to the point of pure laziness, they’re just narrative shortcuts that automatically declare the hero “the hero,” and everyone else doesn’t do anything but prop up said hero until he fulfills his destiny. In that regard, “Legends of the Lasat” is fairly typical as prophecy stories go. But, to the episode and writer Matt Michnovetz’s credit, it at least provides Zeb with passive, but clearly defined, stakes: the eventual acknowledgement and acceptance of his people and its culture as alive and thriving.

Granted, the episode takes a clunky way to get there. For one thing, this is probably the first episode in awhile in which the entire Ghost crew is involved–which makes for a wonky visual to see all six characters trying to be stealthy. Secondly, because the episode doesn’t seem confident enough in letting Zeb’s story reveal itself on its own, it enlists Hondo as a sort of comic/narrative buffer. Jim Cummings’ pirate sleezeball is a delight no matter what, but it’s still a bit disappointing to see him command so much attention early on. Thirdly, it feels kind of weird to see Ezra leap so willingly into the Lasat’s cultural rituals. I get it: the show wants Ezra’s more positive mindset to butt up against Zeb’s broken pessimism, but Zeb’s confused, depressed state is a pretty big deal, and it kind of gets lost in Ezra’s energy. In other words, Ezra really needs to take it down a notch.

Ezra does finally calm down a bit after partially participating in the “Ashla” ritual, sitting with Zeb and letting the former “last Lasat” speak. Apparently, Zeb was not only a member of the Honor Guard but was the captain, who protected his people from the Empire up until a bomb went off, and he was the last one alive. Steven Blum sells Zeb’s guilt and pain remarkably well, but it feels like a lost opportunity that he doesn’t present that emotion towards his fellow survivors. He spends a lot of the episode moping about what he thinks are nonsensical traditions and not, you know, appreciating the fact that he’s no longer alone. It makes sense, though, since he’s so wracked with guilt and self-loathing, and seeing his fellow Lasat only reminds him of his tragic failure.

The episode tries to comment on Zeb’s emotional dilemma through the prophecy, which I have to admit is a commendable way to bring a bit of thematic power to Generic Prophecy Story #67. The whole thing is clunky and overwritten, essentially going through a lot of terrible red herrings of who is the fool, the warrior, and the child, only for the revelation to be that Zeb is actually all three. It’s disappointing that Chava just had to come out and say it, as opposed to Zeb realizing this on his own, which makes his overall passivity to everything fairly dull. Two-thirds of the episode is mostly just exposition and time-wasting; it’s the final third that’s makes this episode stand out.

The third act manages to put so much emotional stock into a guy holding up a stick that shoots lightning, and a lot of that has to do with the subtle aesthetic changes in how the episode portrays Zeb’s final shot at his destiny. For the first time in the show’s run, the entire aesthetics seem to change and channel one character’s slow, methodical emotional transformation, separate from the first half’s wonky dialogue and questionable prophetic announcements. Zeb, the skeptic, the self-hating failed soldier who shrugs off those Lasat predictions because he thinks he has to, silently embraces his triple role as the child, fool and warrior and forges the ship forward through a gravity-destroying hole. The exploded star cluster is rich with yellows and blues, adding a “heavenly” vision forward, along with the musical switch to strong, dramatic string instruments, a score that hasn’t been used before until now.

Star Wars has, for the most part, mostly been a soft sci-fi fantasy tale with broad allusions to spirituality, but on occasion it has delved into the spiritual profundity of its universe to mixed results. (The Clone Wars arc with Yoda starting with “Voices” was strong, the Mortis arc starting with “Overlords” was not.) And while it would have been preferable if the episode could have leaned a bit more on Zeb’s crisis of conscious throughout, credit Michnovetz’s script and Ruiz’s direction in keeping things fairly strong overall. Decent action, strong Hondo bits, and a powerful third act overcomes the more awkward moments, allowing Zeb to engage with his new perspective about his faith and see where it leads him–fortunately, to his original home world.


“If we meet any other Lasat, I will show them the way.” Sure, it’s wonderful they found Lyrasan(sp?) and other Lasat still alive, but it’s in that one line where Zeb has truly found his peace.

Stray Observations

  • There’s a brief but pretty cool camera pan when the Ghost crew battles the Stormtroopers to rescue the Lasat, starting when Zeb jumps in and starts attacking; I would love the show to push these kind of single takes more often. (The Clone Wars would do this on occasion.)
  • “I can’t imagine… I lost my parents, but you must have lost everyone.” Yes, Ezra, Zeb literally just said this.
  • Apologies if some of the names of things are spelled incorrectly. Since they look like they were just introduced in this episode, none of the wikis have them listed, which is odd, since Star Wars wikis are viciously accurate.