Star Wars Rebels S3E5: “The Last Battle”
“The Last Battle” perhaps unintentionally raises the point that the Clone Wars animated series never had a proper wrap-up. In some ways it couldn’t, because Revenge of the Sith is the official conclusion of the Clone Wars as a Star Wars historical event. Nonetheless, there wasn’t much of a conclusion to the story or a drawdown to what characters like Rex were fighting for.
So “The Last Battle” gives us is a bit of Gilligan’s Island fun, where the Ghost crew takes a trip to the planet Agomar to find some easy munitions for the Republic. Turns out Agomar was the site of a major Clone Wars battle, and Rex recalls that there’s probably leftover weaponry there that the fledgling Rebellion can use. So while Hera and Sabine go off on a fuel-running mission (we don’t see much of them this week), the guys go on a scavenger hunt only to run into a surviving unit of Battle Droids who never believed that the war ended. Zeb is taken hostage, and it’s up to Kanan, Ezra and Rex to fight the last “official” battle of the Clone Wars to play out the Droids’ gamble on who would have really won the war.
Now here’s where the episode gets interesting: “The Last Battle” picks at everyone’s view of the Clone Wars–including that of us, the viewers–which skewed towards the Republic. The Jedi and Rex fought for the Republic, so they were “good,” while the Battle Droids and the Confederacy fought under Dooku, so they were “bad.” In Star Wars lore, this is explicitly a canard: we know that the Clone Wars were orchestrated by Palpatine and Dooku and that, at the top, there was no “good” side. It’s easy to think of the Battle Droids as the villains, but as the head Droid points out tonight, they were just following orders and supporting the Separatists, who at least on paper wanted freedom from the Republic’s oppressive policies.
This isn’t clear to Rex, who–as a good soldier–believed in following orders and fighting for his “side.” Throughout the episode, Rex views the fight with the droids as unfinished business from almost 20 years earlier. In his delirium from being knocked unconscious at one point, he awakens thinking he’s back in his old battles. Rex can’t be blamed for this–he admits that, like the droids, he’s been “programmed” to fight for the Republic. In many ways, soldiering–real or fictional–is a morally neutral act, as the soldier’s duty is to follow the orders of superiors without questioning the politics behind it. This makes Rex a good fighter, but it also prevents him from seeing the deeper issues involved.
It’s Ezra who forces both Rex and the Droids to come around on this. It’s a surprising turn for Ezra, given that to date, he’s been hotheaded and rebellious–lousy characteristics for a fledgling Jedi who’s susceptible to the Dark Side. In this episode, it’s Ezra who asks the question: wait, what exactly was the point of the Clone Wars, and who won them? The answer is the Empire, with Ezra realizing that the whole thing really was a sham that doesn’t need to be fought anymore. Which is just as well, because it’s at that point that the Empire shows up, and Rex and the Droids are suddenly forced into an alliance against a common foe.
It’s a bit of a silly wrap-up to the episode, but look, this is Star Wars. It’s all silly. The important thing is that it gives Rex some validation and, surprisingly, the Battle Droids as well. This isn’t quite the wrap-up to Clone Wars that people may have been expecting, but it does make for a nice coda to that show that gives meaning to Rex’s mandatory insertion into Rebels.
- Agomar is a planet that was literally a throwaway reference in a pre-2014 Star Wars novel, so good for Rebels for re-canonizing something else.
- However, Agomar has no trees. It’s got grass, but no trees. Come on, CGI artists. Give us a tree.
- No Thrawn this week either. I’m starting to get annoyed that for all the buildup Thrawn got for this season, we’ve barely seen him used. Hopefully when he does show up, it’s meaningful.
- No follow-up on Darth Maul’s last appearance either. I’m sure Obi-Wan and Luke are dead by now. That was a real nice rebellion we had once, folks.
- I suppose this episode could have been a good opportunity to introduce Mister Bones, a Battle Droid who’s featured heavily in the “Aftermath” novels. On the other hand, maybe his origins are too specific to insert him here.
- “Who’s Roger?” Apparently, the name “Roger” now canonically exists in Star Wars.
Rating: Four and a half Rogers out of Five.
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