Scene it? – ‘Ezra surrenders to Thrawn’ and ‘Ezra sacrifices himself to liberate Lothal’

Time for another Scene it? post! scene it 2The two awesome scenes we are going to discuss are from the very last episode of Star Wars Rebels: ‘Ezra surrenders to Thrawn’ and ‘Ezra sacrifices himself to liberate Lothal’. Let’s discuss these scenes in more detail and dig into them a bit more, compare and contrast them. They are beautifully orchestrated in terms of animation, wording, soundtrack and their deeper meaning. The latter of the two scenes just incorporates everything that the Star Wars saga is about: sacrifice, love and family. In just under three minutes of sublime animation we see how Ezra saves those he cares about and his whole home planet by following the right principles he has learned from his Master – Kanan, from their bond and from the circumstances that he went through in his life.

Ezra finds Grand Admiral on the bridge of Chimaera when Thrawn had just given the order of the full scale bombardment of the capital city of Lothal. Let us just re-watch this awesome scene again, to make it fresh in our minds:

Having heard shots by the opened door, Thrawn got slightly irritated, because he thought that the Emperor would fully possess Ezra by now. Ezra told Thrawn that he lost, but Thrawn did not want to see a bigger picture there – despite his many abilities to forward think everything tangible and tactical to minute details he lacked the understanding of the Force. This was clearly mentioned in the reverse scene where Thrawn had his moment of victory by getting Ezra to voluntarily surrender to him. In that scene, ‘Ezra’s surrender’, Thrawn gets to intimidate Ezra and preach him his part of the story about how Jedi are weak, and how power is the only ultimate weapon. Let us re-watch this scene as well:

During that scene they exchanged the following crucial words:

“I must admit: the mysteries of the Force are an enigma to me. But for all those abilities, the power, the Jedi lacked the vision for how to wield it.” – Thrawn

“The Force isn’t a weapon, but you will never understand that.” – Ezra

We see here that Thrawn, despite not being a Sith, believes in the same as Darth Sidious – the ultimate weapon – power to overcome all the obstacles. Just like numerously shown in the Original Trilogy – the follow up to power through something tangible and visible and intimidating – weaponry, is something that Thrawn believes in firmly, after having just become aware of the project of the Death Star. The soundtrack in this scene is heavy, conveys the emotions of the Dark side and everything Thrawn believes in; it is just making everything Thrawn says seem even more oppressive and destructive. Thrawn augments his knowledge with the facts that the Jedi had almost become extinct by now having dwelled in thousands before. However, what Ezra is saying is strongly hinting at what is to come – even if Ezra’s own plan would not work, at this point in life he knows his final lesson and now he is ahead of Thrawn, or even the Emperor, in understanding this: the Force is not a weapon. It is something that binds all the living things together. Their conversation continues beautifully with Thrawn insisting on his own and Ezra not giving up on what he has learned and believes to be true.

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“You think you can take whatever you want. Things you didn’t make, didn’t earn, things you don’t even understand! You don’t deserve to have this art or Lothal.” – Ezra

“Who deserves what is irrelevant. What matters is – who has power.” – Thrawn

In the reverse scene on the bridge we clearly see how all the choices in life that Ezra had made up to that point had gathered into something truly great, something that Thrawn could not see, because of his lack of connection with the Force. The soundtrack has the heroic motives, is broad and tells the viewer that this is the liberating moment they were waiting for. All the connections Ezra has made with the surrounding world through his intricate sensitivity to the living things around him had come into play here and grew into something great not even Thrawn himself could imagine. Having had his ship surrounded by Purrgil Thrawn had swiftly noted at that point that:

“Whatever happens next, happens to both of us.”

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“That’s the idea.” – Ezra replied.

This is the accumulation of momentum where we realise that Ezra is willing to sacrifice himself for his new living family, for his home world, for those who are alive on Lothal, for those who are yet to live; and for his deceased parents – to finish what they started when they were alive. Ezra clearly knows that the Purrgil came to help because of the call to the oppression and suffering of Lothal where the Balance had to be restored, but they cannot be his assassin tools and that is why, when the creatures were about to jump into hyperspace Ezra knew it and was ready for what lies ahead.

Another stark contrast which is shown amazingly here is the characters’ actions coming through from their affirmations sort of confirming the opposing sides. When constrained by the Purrgil, Thrawn was not afraid to shoot at Ezra’s back when he was distracted by the incoming stormtroopers and make an attempt at his life. This cowardness is opposed to Ezra’s braveness not to take an ‘easy way out’, just like a true Jedi would. He does not shoot Thrawn when he got unarmed and does not make attempts at the Purrgil to strangle him to death. Ezra knows that there is another way out and something can be done about that and that it would take him on a new, unfamiliar path that he is yet to discover.

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It was also very beautiful when Sabine was trying to contact Ezra to find out whether the purghil were his idea to find Ezra momentarily loose his seriousness and reply with almost joy of a child: ‘Pretty cool, huh?’ In this very moment we see that confirmation that it is still our Ezra, the boy we know and love, although just a second ago we all had clumps in our throats because we could not believe that our boy was faced to make such difficult choices alone so early in his life. We know that what he did in the episode was all that the Star Wars was teaching us already before in the Original and Prequel trilogies. Ezra forgoing his friends is a sacrifice in both ways. It is the decision that Ezra made that will affect the Ghost crew in the future, but which will help them to have this major victory now. Nevertheless, Ezra’s act is completely selfless, as without it all his friends would have died. Having just forgone the opportunity to reunite with his parents, albeit being a lie that was so close and painful, Ezra had to make this choice to leave his newly acquired family once again, to let go of what he feared to lose. By making this loss, Ezra makes his ultimate sacrifice and leaves his friends with a hope:

“It’s up to all of you now. And remember: the Force will be with you. Always.”

OK, I could already not see the screen at that point 🙂 Let us just conclude what is this exactly that Ezra seems to understand in his final lesson: these main themes that all the previous Star Wars movies try to teach us. Ezra does not follow the path of the Jedi nor the Sith religiously. Ezra got to see the Force powers from the Light side from his Master, albeit not as much as someone living in the age of the Jedi glory would. Having been tempted by the Dark side as well during his adventures with Maul Ezra, albeit being initially eager to learn its powers, rejects it all consciously. He had realised how much suffering it may bring to the living things. Knowing Ezra’s character it is almost intuitive he would react this way having discovered what the Dark side is, as he is so attuned to the living world around him. Ezra is deeply sensitive and emotional, but he learned to let go. Ezra learned to let go of his Master, and his parents by having this strong bond with the living things and realising that the life that is happening is happening here and now, that this life matters, and it is not the lie that Ezra wanted to live in. It gives him incredible strength and helps us, the viewers, too, at our own level to see what Star Wars is teaching us about and to understand a bit more how to apply what we learned in our lives. Here is to magnificent storytelling of Star Wars Rebels!

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