A Look Back at Kanan Jarrus' Story Arc in Season 1 of Rebels
This week, I'm writing about Kanan yet again. My good friend Sal of The Rogue Rebels' birthday falls on a Friday this year, my usual posting day, so I figured I might as well write a little Kanan article today to celebrate. Also, I understand that there have been plenty of articles this week (and a few more yet to come) but hey- it's Star Wars holy week! Don't blame me!
Anyway, this week I'm writing about Kanan's story arc, specifically in season 1 of Star Wars Rebels, and why I like it so much. His arc is a little unique, because he doesn't have a more straightforward hero's journey like Ezra Bridger does. In fact, he fills a role in Ezra's hero's journey as the mentor, a role which usually doesn't leave room for that character to have an arc on their own. But Kanan still does, which is a testament to the amazing writing on behalf of Lucasfilm Animation. Kanan is such an interesting character, and I'm excited to explore his season 1 story arc today.
One thing I like about Kanan's season 1 arc is how relatable it is. A lot of it is about his insecurities. He seems to be a fairly confident man in most areas, but when it comes to his newfound purpose- teaching Ezra how to be a Jedi- he lacks a lot of confidence. He tries his best at first to copy things he learned from Jedi like Yoda or his master, but he can't seem to always get it right. He even gets lured into a trap trying to rescue the dead Luminara Unduli so that she can train Ezra instead, since he thinks she'd be a better teacher. Kanan truly wants what's best for Ezra... he just doesn't think that's him.
But, as Kanan comes to realize, he is the best teacher for Ezra. The pair grow a strong bond, and both of them grow thanks to it. Kanan grows as a teacher, and throughout the series becomes much better at learning how he can get Ezra to learn, and he becomes much more confident in his teaching abilities and calling himself a Jedi again.
But what I adore most about Kanan's arc is how it mirrors Ezra. See, one important part of Ezra's story arc, as a whole and especially in this first season, is about his insecurities too. Ezra is unsure that he can be a Jedi, a rebel, or that he has a real place in the galaxy at all. His life totally changes when the Ghost Crew picks him up, and he doesn't know much about the galaxy beyond Lothal- certainly not anything about the Jedi. What makes Kanan and Ezra's bond so strong- and their story so compelling- is how their arcs mirror each other in this sense.
While Kanan is technically Ezra's master, they're both still learning. They both have various insecurities that they need to overcome, and they both help each other overcome them. Kanan, obviously, as an older mentor and father-figure to Ezra, is able to provide him support he needs to adjust to his ever-changing life in a side of the galaxy he never would have explored without his new family. Ezra, on the other hand, reacts to the different training methods that Kanan tries out with various forms of feedback, letting Kanan know which ones don't work- and which ones that Ezra reacts positively to. As Kanan gets to know Ezra and is able to better provide training that he'll connect to, Ezra reacts more positively, and Kanan grows more confident in his abilities as a teacher.
Kanan and Ezra's arcs are obviously intertwined, and while different, have similar themes about these insecurities and their unsureness of what the galaxy has in store for them. But what I love about them is how they use this common ground to build each other up and make each other stronger- and I think that's what made so many of us connect to them so readily.