Monday night’s Rebels episodes “Wolves and a Door” and “A World Between Worlds” delved in the mystical side of Star Wars, and left us all in wonderment. The two penultimate episodes were brilliantly crafted, with an Indiana Jones feel accompanied by a beautiful score by Kevin Kiner. Put together, it amazed Rebel audiences and delivered a final goodbye to Jedi, Kanan Jarrus. That amazement, lay in part to a story tool never used before in Star Wars- time travel.
The time travel trope is a dangerous and unwieldy tool in storytelling. I don’t care which franchise or genre you galavanting wield it; ultimately it confuses the audience, makes continuity almost impossible and most importantly, eliminates the feeling of any risk. The only exception to this rule, are stories that are entirely about time travel, like the classic ” The Time Machine” or modern day hits like “Looper”.
You don’t have to go very far to see time travel in the sci-fi space, just take a gander at the other side of the road at Star Trek. There you will find countless stories from hanging out with the first guy who invented the warp drive to Kirk dancing with humpback whales. All of which still sits sour in my stomach, given the countless other stories you can tell in space. For me, time travel has always been a lazy storytelling device.
One of the joys of Star Wars is in its episodic continuity, which accentuates risk. If beloved characters die or make big mistakes, there is no going back. There is no undoing the train wreck of bad decisions that lead to incalculable death and destruction. It’s a one way street of peril, for a saga that barely dives underneath the waves of danger. A lesson for children, that decisions have final consequences. We should never see our heroes in a moment of impending doom and think, “Oh it’s ok, they will just enter the Star Wars Gate, and bring them back.” The very notion gives me shivers of distaste. Like putting a hot plate of liver under your nose.
The marvel of “World Between Worlds” is how Dave Filoni brandished this otherwise lazy storytelling tool and created a joyful experience from it. Ezra’s journey into the space between, had our mouths open and our Star Wars heart beating loudly. The visual of seeing all these doors in Star Wars space and time, had us all wanting to run and gather a peek. Especially when hearing all the great lines from the films and animation, all echoing in this monochromatic space. To see the conclusion of the wonderfully caped Vader battling Ahsoka, was candy for my eyes, but a splinter in my mind. To see her pulled out and saved, had me frozen. This has never happened before and should never happen again.
I trust the story-tellers at Lucasfilm for good reason. They have shown time and again their ability to push barriers and deliver. Their craft serves as a benchmark for the industry and recognition earned a thousand times over. However, by having Ezra save Ahsoka via time travel, opens a Pandoras Box. This is now canon, never to be taken away. A tool that people can insist would only be used once today but could be used by future storytellers at Lucasfilm in the future.
The release of this genie from the bottle just to save Ahsoka, (which could have been done a dozen other ways), is like using a shotgun to open a stubborn jar of tomato sauce. Sure it’s fun to watch splattered across the kitchen, but I never want to see it happen again. My conclusion on this is not alone either. Many folks took to Star Wars Twitter and my compatriots at other Star Wars sites have chimed in on this as well. We love this episode, but Lucasfilm should shove this genie back in its bottle and chain shut Pandora’s box when it comes to time-travel in Star Wars. We trust in today’s storytellers but worry about the future.
The Star Wars Rebels finale airs next Monday on Disney XD at 9:00 P.M. EST.