‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season 3 Premiere Teases a Huge (Literally) New Villain
Spoiler warning: This article contains spoilers for the first episode of Star Wars Rebels season 3.
The first episode of Star Wars Rebels season 3 was premiered during the show’s panel at Star Wars Celebration 2016, offering our first look at what’s to come in its upcoming series. While most excitement was reserved for the debut of Thrawn, a fan favorite villain from the franchise’s expanded universe, the Bendu was by far the most interesting character that was introduced in the premiere.
Voiced by legendary actor Tom Baker, the Bendu is a giant creature that helps to establish a deeper connection between the blinded Kanan and the Force, helping him to overcome his visual impairment by “seeing” his surroundings via his spiritual connection with the world around him. The Bendu is a Force user but is neither Jedi nor Sith, instead referring to himself as “the middle” – a neutral being existing between both disciplines, where his use of the Force is a natural way of life rather than a learned skill. However, although he occupies a grey area in the Force in the debut episode of the season, there’s a strong suggestion that by the end of season 3, Bendu may come back to haunt Kanan & co.
During the episode Kanan confiscates the Sith holocron from Ezra, after learning that the young Jedi has been using it to help enhance his powers. Warning a petulant Ezra of the dangers of the dark side of the Force, Kanan then seeks to dispose of the holocron, causing Bendu to awake from his slumber in the process. Bendu informs Kanan that he has felt the presence of the holocron, before levitating it towards him and immediately opening it, an achievement that can only be accomplished by those who are able to control the dark side. Bendu then explains his connection with the Force, before helping Kanan form a greater understanding of it in a scene that shares similarities with Yoda and Luke’s Dagobah training.
But after Bendu has imparted his wisdom, Kanan makes the curious decision to leave the Sith holocron in his possession, which incites a pretty evil-sounding laugh from the neutral Force user. During the Star Wars Celebration panel, showrunner Dave Filoni explained how the Bendu will help shed a light upon the Force outside of its link with the Jedi and Sith, with there being no suggestion that the ancient creature strays from his position in the middle ground. However, this brief scene certainly suggested that the Bendu will not remain as neutral as has been suggested, and that his introduction to the Sith holocron could spell trouble in the future for the rebels.
Star Wars rarely touches upon the morally grey areas of the Force, with it routinely suggested that the actions of Force users fit solely in one of two camps; the light and the dark side. This makes the Bendu one of the most interesting Star Wars characters in recent memory, with it offering a new take on the Force that has rarely been explored outside of the expanded universe. Although the season 3 premiere hinted towards the Bendu becoming an antagonist for the Rebels to eventually come up against, I hope the Bendu’s character arc doesn’t retread familiar Star Wars territory by having the noble creature eventually corrupted by the dark side, and that it instead continues to explore the nature of the Force outside of its connections with the Jedi and Sith.