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Warning: major spoilers ahead for Episodes 10 and 11 of Star Wars Rebels Season 4, "Jedi Night" and "DUME."
The final season of Star Wars Rebels is quickly coming to an end, and there simply aren't many episodes remaining. Rebels finally returned to the airwaves after several months of hiatus with a midseason premiere event that will change everything for the characters in the remaining episodes. A member of the Ghost family is no more. Kanan was killed in the final moments of "Jedi Knight," and "DUME" featured the rest of the characters attempting to deal with his death.
On the one hand, Kanan's death probably doesn't come as a huge shock to longtime Star Wars fans. After all, Star Wars Rebels is fast-approaching the timeline of the original Star Wars trilogy, and the only Jedi who turned up in the original trilogy were Obi-Wan, Yoda, Luke, and technically Anakin by the end of Return of the Jedi. Nowhere was another Jedi knight mentioned, and surely somebody would have introduced Kanan to Luke. Yes, Kanan was always likely to die before the end of Rebels.
On the other hand, the manner of his death in "Jedi Night" may have come as a big surprise to many. There are still several episodes left in the series, and Kanan is one of the lead characters. If he was going to die, viewers might have expected his death to come closer to the very end of the series. Alternately, many of us probably thought that Kanan would be killed by Thrawn or Rukh or even a surprise appearance from Vader courtesy of the Emperor. Instead, Kanan was killed in an explosion.
Now, death via explosion might sound kind of underwhelming for the character who has been the protagonist of some of the most impactful arcs of the series to date, and fans would have had a lot to be upset about if Kanan was killed off in some anticlimactic way. Fortunately, Star Wars Rebels gave Kanan a worthy sendoff that should help us deal with his absence in the rest of the remaining episodes. Here's what happened.
It was pretty evident from the beginning of the episode that something was up with Kanan, and not just because the previous episode ended his story on a distinct feeling of doom. After meditating alone and then telling Ezra to taking a leadership role, Kanan cut off his hair and shaved his beard with a knife, which... is really one of the biggest signs that Kanan is powerful with the Force. Only a deeply Force-sensitive man could shave his face with a knife without the use of his eyes.
On a more serious note, Kanan was playing things close to the chest, and he got a special final moment with each Ezra, Zeb, and Sabine before setting out on his mission to rescue Hera. He was ultimately successful in rescuing Hera (and her Kalikori), although he lost his lightsaber to Rukh. If the lost lightsaber wasn't enough of a sign that Kanan's time was running out, he tried to tell Hera something that was probably along the lines of "Hey, I'm totally going to die soon." Arguably the final nail in the figurative coffin for Kanan came when Hera confessed her love and kissed him on top of one of the fuel pods at the TIE Defender factory just as Ezra and Sabine flew in to save the day. It was very sweet... until Governor Pryce ordered her men to fire on the containers, blowing up the fuel inside.
The good news is that Kanan sensed the impending disaster with just enough time to jump in front of the explosion and hold the flames back with the Force. The bad news is that there was no way he could hold the flames back and escape with his life. Panicking, Hera tried to jump out of the ship and return to him, but Kanan used the Force to hold her back. His final act was to use the Force to move the ship safely away from the blast. Kanan was killed in the act of saving his family and destroying the fuel depot.
It was heartbreaking to see a man who survived so much die so close to the victory we know is coming in the not-too-distant future with the destruction of the Death Star. Kanan was a Jedi who managed to do what Anakin could not: fall in love and build a family without turning to the dark side. He grew from a guy who could could barely handle a lightsaber with any form in the beginning of Season 1 into a Jedi who could use the Force to hold back an explosion and stop Hera from running to him. Surely he deserved to live, original trilogy continuity be damned!
That said, Kanan's death was also a pretty perfect end to his story. He gave up his life to save others just as his master gave up her life to save him, and he clearly went into the situation expecting -- or at least guessing -- that he wouldn't be coming back. Besides, his death via explosion means that he was able to heroically sacrifice himself without falling victim to Rukh or Thrawn or anybody else. We didn't have to watch him struck down or even see his body. He died with dignity.
For a character whose journey on Rebels always seemed destined to end with death, Kanan got as good a sendoff as we could have hoped. It was never likely that he was going to get a happily-ever-after. At least he got one of the best deaths of the Star Wars saga to date. The quick glimpse of his eyes turning green again for the first time since he was blinded is worth a rewatch on its own! He got to see Hera one last time.
We'll have to wait and see how his family on the Ghost carries on without him. Hera wasn't able to contribute to the mission in "DUME" due to her grief at Kanan's death, but adding him to her Kalikori seemed to give her some degree of closure. We do know that she has quite a while to live without him.
Zeb and Sabine were all about avenging Kanan for most of "DUME," and Zeb was well on his way to beating Rukh to death to send a message before Sabine stopped him. Revenge is not the Jedi way; to honor Kanan, the Ghost crew may not actively try to avenge him. Ezra hasn't had much time to really absorb the fact that his master is dead, mostly due to the fact that he got lost in the Lothal wilderness and ended up on a spiritual journey with those mysterious loth-wolves. The only thing we can really be sure of is that the rebels are lacking one of their most powerful assets with the death of Kanan. His final act did help wreak a lot of havoc on the Imperial forces on Lothal, so the rebels have that going for them.
For more on the events of "Jedi Night" and "DUME," check out our rundown ofbig ways Rebels just set up Rogue One. The midseason trailer for Rebels reveals that there's a whole lot still in store, and we're still waiting on Ahsoka. New episodes of Star Wars Rebels air on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Disney XD. For more viewing options, take a look at our 2018 midseason TV premiere guide. Don't forget to swing by our picks of Star Wars TV characters that need to appear in the movies. Now that Kanan is dead, we can only hope that he'll pop up somewhere else.