Right, so I know this blog is about films and film music, but I simply had to make an exception when I heard THIS:
If you’re not familiar with Star Wars: Rebels, let me explain (and I’ll try to be brief). In a nutshell, Rebels takes place in the years between Episodes III and IV when the Rebel Alliance is just beginning to form and Darth Vader is still on the prowl for remaining Jedi. At the conclusion of season 1 (or maybe the beginning of season 2, I forget), it is revealed that the contact for our particular group of heroes is none other than Ashoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s one-time Padawan, last seen in the final episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (which ends not long before the events of Episode III). Having for years believed her master died in the Jedi purge, Ashoka has come to learn the terrible truth: Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader are one and the same. And once Vader becomes aware that his former apprentice is still alive, a conflict between them is inevitable.
Fast forward now to the end of season 2: Ashoka, Ezra (a young Padawan in training) and Kanan (a surviving Jedi training Ezra) travel to a dark planet named Malachor to retrieve a Sith holocron before the Inquisitors can seize it for the Emperor. While on the planet, our heroes come across a number of surprises (including a still-alive Darth Maul, there’s a long story in and of itself), but ultimately they reach the holding place for the holocron. But now they’ve got company: Darth Vader himself has arrived (James Earl Jones returned to reprise his role as the Dark Lord of the Sith).
Vader is confronted by a furious Ashoka, who vows to avenge Anakin’s “death” at Vader’s hands. The two engage in a lightsaber battle for the ages, and the fight (along with the music) really has the feel of a Star Wars film, not an episode from a television series. As the two fight on a ledge, Vader succeeds in Force-pushing Ashoka off and she disappears, but she isn’t dead! As Vader attempts to pull the holocron out of Ezra’s hands, Ashoka comes running out of nowhere and lands a direct blow on Vader’s helmet. With the holocron removed, the Sith temple everyone is standing in is getting ready to explode (the holocron was keeping it stable), and Ezra is screaming for Ashoka to hurry and join them, but then…
“Ashoka…Ashoka…” Gasps all around because that isn’t Darth Vader’s voice…that’s Anakin’s voice (both in-universe and in real life, the voice actor who portrayed Anakin in The Clone Wars returned specifically for this episode). Ashoka has always felt guilty about leaving Anakin and vows that this time, she will not leave him. Vader considers this for a moment, but the one visible eye hardens and Vader growls “Then you will die!” The last we see of them before the temple explodes, Ashoka and Vader are furiously dueling.
(apologies for the long description, but it’s the only way to set up this musical moment properly).
“It’s Over Now” begins as Kanan and Ezra are returning to the planet Lothal and Kanan comforts Ezra by telling him “It’s over now.”
As the ship descends to land, the music becomes so very powerful. There’s a full chorus and a strong brass melody that screams the style of John Williams (even though it isn’t). Even if you never saw an episode of either The Clone Wars or Rebels, you know that this is a profound moment of sadness for all of the characters. The main brass theme sounds like a cross between the main “Force theme” and “Yoda’s theme” both from the original Star Wars films. This music though was not composed by John Williams but by composer Kevin Kiner (who has scored both The Clone Wars and Rebels)
The most powerful moment of all comes immediately after this reunion, when we return to the surface of the planet to see Vader staggering away from the temple, badly injured. Given the ferocity of the fight, since Vader is the one walking away, one could presume that Ashoka is dead…but is she? There is a brief glimpse of Ashoka disappearing back into the temple, but is she alive or is that her Force ghost? Either is possible, but we won’t find out until season 4 for sure.
After I listened to this piece, and then watched the scene in context, I could not stop listening to this music over and over again. The one word that keeps coming into my mind is powerful, you can feel the emotion surging through the soundwaves.
I had not watched any of Star Wars: Rebels until I heard about the Ashoka-Vader fight, but if this gorgeous music is typical of the series, then I will be making plans to go back and watch the entire series. I hope you enjoy “It’s Over Now”; like I said, I don’t normally do television music, but I think you’ll agree after listening that this piece of music is special.
*poster image is the property of Walt Disney Studios
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