One of the opening stories in Rebels Season 3 was Ezra’s propensity toward the Dark Side. Season 3 showed us the heights of Jedi compassion and wisdom, the depths of despair from the Dark, and the instability of life in the middle. All of these would be expert object lessons for Ezra, which makes it stranger that he wasn’t there to experience any of it.
Early on in Season 3, while rescuing Hondo Ohnaka from Imperial custody, Ezra used tricks learned from the Sith holocron to rescue his friends from an AT-DP and troopers. All that Ezra does is to protect his friends, and he told Yoda as much in the Jedi Temple on Lothal. Not necessarily drawn to the dark side for its own benefit, Ezra saw it as the best means by which he could protect his friends. It offered immediate results, and fast. This was the natural trajectory that was set for him from the beginning.
Ezra’s darkness was one of the earliest themes of the series. On PM-1203, uses the Force to awaken a giant frynock to attack the Grand Inquisitor. He became brash and thoughtless at time went on. His interactions with Maul on Malachor seemed to awaken a further darkness in him, a drive for more power to protect his friends. The series has developed his darkness more gradually than The Clone Wars did for Anakin. Despite this, it was still an underlying thread that wove throughout the series. Now, it just seems gone.
The series has shown us a lot of different sides to the Force and to the galaxy at large. We’ve met former Jedi like Ahsoka; turncoats like Kallus; former Sith Lords like Maul; current Sith Lords like Vader; and those who exist somewhere in between, like the Bendu. Ezra has slid over the spectrum, as all of these characters could have or have driven him further in his development.
The Bendu, the original inhabitant of Atollon, held as his claim to fame that he was the one in the middle. He claimed neither side in the Force; neither light nor dark. In a world where it was against the law to practice the Jedi ways, it would have been possibly wise to stay on the middle course. You wouldn’t have been hunted, mostly because you weren’t being active.
But, the series shows us that you can’t stay in the middle. At some point, sides have to be taken. Even in Thrawn’s surprise attack on Atollon, the Bendu’s reaction was leveled against both sides. The Bendu proves that you can’t stay in the middle. I’m tempted to think his reaction wasn’t out of the goodness of his heart. It was selfish; he wanted everybody off his planet. I would imagine that the show would say that to be considered a good guy, he would’ve needed to aid the Rebels alone.
For another example further along the spectrum, Ezra and Kanan face Darth Vader early in Season 2 on Lothal. The fight, and almost calamity caused by the fight, drive Ezra further into his Jedi studies. He becomes bold in his hatred for those who threaten his friends. He attacks the Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister on Garel, rushing straight into danger to let everyone else escape. This brashness, brought about by the confrontation with Vader, contribute toward his growth to the Dark Side.
In his haste to defeat the Sith, Ezra is eager to learn from Maul. They have similar vendettas, and both have a bone to pick with the Sith. As the Rebellion’s concerns don’t seem to coincide with his, it is easy to see why Ezra was tempted to follow Maul. On Malachor, Maul seems to have the answer to defeat the Sith. Again, easy to see why Ezra believes him: Yoda made a similar comment! It seemed to Ezra that everyone was pushing him toward Malachor, and whatever it ended up showing him.
This led toward his obsession with learning from the Sith holocron. It was faster, and it showed results for him. But then, Maul was just as obsessed. Maul served a great purpose in Rebels. Half of his role was a demented Yoda/Ben/mentor figure. His riddles were secretly disguised Sith teachings, all of which would have led Ezra to put his trust into Maul rather than Kanan. Rather than learning how to fight for others, he would have learned self-interest. He might have gained the power that the dark side wrought, and may have been able to kill Vader.
On the other hand, he showed what could happen if Ezra was swallowed by his vengeance. As Ben took down Maul on Tatooine, Maul sees his chance of being avenged disappearing. His final hope in death is the one Ben protects. He hopes that Ben protects the Chosen One, the one who will destroy the Sith. In a sense, Ezra has the same hope: someone who will kill or destroy Vader. But Maul sees that this is futile: he can kill neither Ben nor Vader nor Palpatine. His quest for vengeance leads only to his own death.
Either way, Ezra would have learned that the dark side only leads to despair. Hatred, misery, suffering; all he would have to look forward to is death, either his or someone else’s. He would have seen that the middle doesn’t work, either. It can be just as selfish; in the end, you don’t help anybody but yourself.
All of these would have been great lessons. Which makes it all the weirder that Ezra doesn’t see any of them. I trust that the series has some big ideas going forward, but it seemed off to me that these object lessons were avoided in terms of teaching Ezra. I’m not sure why he was off on other directions when these lessons were going down.
I’m not sure I have an entire point to this article; rather, I just want to point out that I thought this was kind of weird. I would love to see Ezra himself, who gets so much screen time, start to see these lessons firsthand. Why focus the show on his Jedi training and remove him from a lot? Maybe I’m missing a point.
So I’m throwing it to you guys. What am I missing?