We’ve got two months, and the wait from now until the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be nothing but anxious anticipation. While we’re waiting for Rey to receive her Force training, it’s a good time to revisit one of the best training sequences in the franchise.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, what with Rey’s training featuring so heavily in Episode VIII’s promo material. After that integral sequence between Luke and Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, one character training another in the ways of the Force and the Jedi has become a recurring theme in the universe and its stories. Like so many moments in the original trilogy, it’s become a trope, or a motif, a recurring event and idea that serves to tie disparate parts of the world’s storytelling together.
And I love them. All of them. I’m a glutton for training sequences in fiction. I just like learning things, and a chance to combine that with character growth in a dynamic, dramatically necessary way is thrilling. They work for me, even if they’re bad. But Star Wars, even excluding Empire, has some great ones. And my favourite might be one that doesn’t even really involve the Force at all.
It’s a recent one, too, from the last season of Star Wars Rebels, when Kanan trains Sabine how to use the Darksaber. It’s intriguing because it’s, to my knowledge, the first time we see a Force user train a non-Force user in how to use a lightsaber. It gives Kanan some time to invest in Jedi mysticism, letting him muse about the life and energy of the kyber crystals that power lightsabers while spending most of the scene’s time on the practicalities of the technique and the character’s conflicts.
This scene ticks all the boxes for me. It showcases the flaws of both Kanan and Sabine. Kanan, as a Jedi who was only ever half trained, and who tends to be hot-headed and impatient even when he’s doing the right thing. Sabine, as a reluctant leader who holds herself responsible for evil forced on her by the Empire. In this training fight, they both nearly kill each other, Kanan knowing exactly what buttons to push and Sabine very nearly losing her cool entirely learning an essential lesson.
Every moment is taut and crackling, with as much cinematic flourish as Rebels knows how to deliver. The camera hanging high above the pair when the training begins, the off-kilter closeups as Sabine goes on the offensive and finally opens up. Even the moody lighting is above the show’s average here.
I’ve shared a snippet of it from the Disney XD YouTube channel above, and you can catch the whole thing in “Trials of the Darksaber,” the fifteenth episode of Rebels’ third season. I highly recommend watching. It gives me little shivers every time.