The [Spectral] Appearance of Jedi Master Luminara Unduli in Star Wars Rebels

Kanan watching hologram communique of Luminara Unduli
Kanan watching hologram communique of Luminara Unduli

In last week’s episode of “Star Wars Rebels” (“Rise of the Old Masters”), we see the members of the crew of the Ghost receiving a communique sent out that Jedi Master Luminara Unduli is not only still alive, but that she is being held at a specific detention facility of the Empire (“One of the Republic’s greatest peacekeepers, Jedi Master Luminara Unduli, is alive. She has been imprisoned unlawfully somewhere in the Stygeon system.”).  Avid watchers of other Star Wars television shows will remember Master Unduli from her appearances both on “Star Wars: Clone Wars” as well as “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and the viewer, as well as Kanan (who describes her as “a great Jedi Master brave, compassionate, disciplined”) are curious as to what had happened to her (“There’ve always been rumors she survived the Clone Wars, but they never came with a specific location before”).  When we see the hologram communique, we also see her being led in chains, so there’s a real excitement that she’s still alive, which would be a huge boon to Kanan, Ezra, and the rebels, in general.

Luminara Unduli approaching Ezra and Kanan
Luminara Unduli approaching Ezra and Kanan

When Kanan and Ezra reach the detention facility, Kanan announces that he feels her presence and they make their way to her detention cell.  When they reach it, they see her, but she is eerily unresponsive.  She then gets up and walks toward the wall, not speaking to them the entire time.  It is very peculiar, as Eric Geller points out, “The moment when we and the characters learned that there was something off about the Luminara they found in the prison cell was positively eerie.”  Then, it “got weirder when she walked into the containment pod, revealing herself to be a hologram.”

Luminara Unduli looking at Kanan
Luminara Unduli looking at Kanan

It is, at first, unclear what is going on, although, as Dave Filoni told Eric Goldman, “Order 66 didn’t wipe them all out. Some of them were captured and probably executed later, which is what you see the holographic recording of. It’s actually Luminara’s execution in that chamber. She’s used for a very nefarious purpose.”

When we begin to realize that the Inquisitor is using her and Kanan seems totally stunned, the Inquisitor tells him, “Yes, I’m afraid Master Luminara died with the Republic,” confirming her being dead.  And, as to his sensing her energy, the Inquisitor continues, “But her bones continue to serve the Empire luring the last Jedi to their end.”    This is really incredible: somehow not only did the Republic keep a hologram of her walking, but also kept her bones, which somehow radiated her energy, which is startling.  Geller observes, “This is deeply disturbing stuff, more so than just about anything else I can remember in any Star Wars media.”

Luminara Unduli bidding farewell
Luminara Unduli bidding farewell

As to what the hologram is, Filoni says, it is Master Unduli “sitting, waiting to be executed. It’s a recording of that event. So when they walk in and see her, they’re actually standing where the Inquisitor was standing [when it was recorded]. And so when she walks up and looks at them kind of distantly and not very friendly, she’s looking at the Inquisitor and that’s what the recording is of. Then she steps over into that chamber and obviously she gets killed there. It’s really wicked when you think about it.”

With Master Unduli’s bones there to lure Jedi – Kanan may not have been the first Jedi led there, perhaps others had died by the Inquisitor’s blade set by this trap, as Geller considers, “The idea that other Jedi might have been lured to their deaths by news of Luminara’s (or other Jedis’) survival was fascinating to consider. It added another piece of information to our understanding of the Empire’s continuing efforts to stamp out remaining Jedi. We’ve known that, during this time, Darth Vader was pursuing leads on other Jedi as an extension of his leading role in the Jedi Purge, but to see the Empire devoting other resources to the task puts a new spin on the Emperor’s level of concern about Jedi stragglers.”

Luminara Unduli going to her bones
Luminara Unduli going to her bones

However, is it really that her bones gave off enough Force sense for Kanan?  According to Filoni, yes: “The material of her body is the essence that Kanan is somehow sensing through the Force. But he knows there’s something off about it. But since he didn’t really know Luminara, he doesn’t really know. That’s one of the interesting things about death and then the dark side and all these different ways you can use the Force. The sensing of people is one of the biggest dilemmas, I think, in all of Star Wars, because people want to use it like a metal detector. I am very, very certain that it really just relates to how much you know somebody and intention of threat.”

In the end, we are left not only with a further sense of despair relating to the existence of scattered remaining Jedi masters out there for Kanan (and the rest of the crew of the Ghost), but we also get a sense of how nefarious the Inquisitor is (to be explored soon).

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