Warning: This recap contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episode “The Last Battle.” Jump into hyperspace and away from this page if you haven’t watched the episode yet.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the Star Wars story nearest and dearest to my heart, so the latest episode of Star Wars Rebels was, as the kids say, my jam. “The Last Battle” pitted Captain Rex against a super tactical droid, General Kalani, and a squad of battle droids. The catch? The droids were marooned on a planet and didn’t know the Clone Wars were over. In fact, being extremely intelligent, Kalani interrupted the shutdown command issued after Order 66 was completed because he thought it was a Republic trick. The episode featured a ton of touchstones to The Clone Wars series–the credit music, you guys!–and explored some heavy issues about the meaning of the war, the duty of human and droid soldiers, and droid feelings.
Captain Rex, Kanan, Ezra, and Zeb found the confused battle droid squad on the planet of Agomar. A battle occurred on the planet during the early years of the Clone Wars, and Rex thought they could find some proton bombs on an old transport. They were successful in that regard, but while they scavenged, they encountered Rex’s old enemies. Having the battle droids back was a delight. They have a particular brand of humor that’s not found elsewhere in Star Wars. Plus, it’s fun to hear Matthew Wood saying, “Roger, roger” again (Ezra’s reaction to that was priceless, by the way).
Whenever I see the battle droids and laugh at their amusing and often dim comments, I can’t help but feel sympathy for them. Like the clones, they were created to be fodder in a war. They may not be human, but they were manipulated and wasted in the same way. So many droids and lives were lost and only because Palpatine used everyone as pawns in his game. No one except Palpatine won.
“The Last Battle” took a hard look at the point of the war. The battle droids captured the rebels and took them to their leader, Kalani. Along the way, you can see how being pitted against droids again brought up memories of hard times for Rex. He chided Ezra about being dismissive towards battle droids. Like he pointed out, those droids took the lives of countless numbers his comrades. Rex has never left the war behind–I think it’s hard for any soldier to fully let go–but now it’s shoved back in his face because Kalani thinks he still needs to fight the Republic.
They enter into a war game, the last battle of the Clone Wars if you will, and the whole business is fascinating commentary on what the war meant and what everyone fought for. You can see the layers as the fight plays out. Kalani has a wealth of data to examine and calculate what the Jedi and clone trooper will do, and Rex has his emotions and gut instincts. It’s the entirety of the Clone Wars captured in a microcosm.
Though I know it wasn’t easy for him, Rex jumped back into captain mode without blinking an eye. Fighting is what he knows. As he told Ezra, the clones were born for combat and with the exception of a few, there was no other way of life for them. I liked seeing the brush against one of the shining parts of The Clone Wars series: the exploration of individual personalities among the clones.
As the war game came to an end and Kalani insisted they won and threatened to kill Zeb, the Empire arrived. Ezra pointed out neither the Republic or Separatists claimed victory in the war; Order 66 happened and the Empire was created. Palpatine took advantage of the weakened state of the galaxy to build his new government. Ezra’s logic convinces Kalani to work alongside them in order to fight the approaching Imperial force. The combination of precise information and strategy with Rex’s and Zeb’s skills and Kanan’s and Ezra’s lightsabers was successful, and both the rebels and the droids escaped on separate shuttles (finally, a replacement for the Phantom).
The more I consider the episode, the more impressed I am with what was accomplished. Brent Friedman, the writer on this installment of Rebels, wrote multiple episodes of The Clone Wars and married the two series seamlessly with relevant and important themes.
One more thing before wrapping up: General Kalani also appeared in The Clone Wars. Specifically, he played a role in the Onderon arc–that’s where we first met Saw Gerrera, a character in the upcoming Rogue One.
Did “The Last Battle” make you think about the Clone Wars any differently? Tell me your thoughts in the comments. The first person to comment “Roger, roger” gets a cookie.
Images: Disney XD