Both of these episodes feel like they’re throwing back to the Clone Wars show in various ways. Although I feel like my brain has been corrupted by listening to too many hours of intellectuals talking about the politics and real world parallels between the Clone Wars and Post 9/11 American politics.
There has been very little of that in Rebels by comparison. Or maybe I’m just no cleaver enough to spot it all out.
Season 3, Episode 06: The Last Battle
Remember The Clone Wars? This episode sure wants to remind you all about it at its most basic, surface level. In this episode, all the male members of the Ghost, plus Rex arrive on the snowy world of Agamar; to scavenge some Proton Bombs from a fallen Republic Cruiser.
The sight of the downed ship seems to be giving Rex some PTSD flashbacks, as he gets confused and frustrated at being around these relics of the past again. Which gets even worse when they bump into a last bastion of Battle Droids, who capture the crew and take them to their commanding Tactical Droid.
While the setup to the episode seemed cool to me, by the time it gets going, it loses me a little. Initially, I thought the Droid had lost it’s mind and still thought the Clone War was going on, but that’s not the direction the writers decided to end up going. Instead they show the droid is dissatisfied with the end of the Clone War and wants to prove its ability by defeating a clone and Jedi duo once and for all.
And so we queue a “war game” of sorts. One that ends on a note as dissatisfying to the droid as the war itself did. His forces are so old and reduced at this point, that their malfunction was the main reason the group managed to fight their way to the bridge of the downed ship and win the game. Before things can get bloody, it’s Ezra who talks both parties down as the one who never really had any skin in the game.
He correctly observes that neither the Clones or the Droids came out of the war victorious, both being decommissioned as soon as the Empire was declared. Seeing seven seasons of war between Clones and Droids talked into compromise by Ezra Bridger of all people feels a little laughable, especially considering the scars both Rex and Kanan carry from the conclusion of that war.
But the arrival of the Empire, responding to Chopper’s distress signal forces the droids to work together with our heroes to escape. Ending on a note of Rex thanking Ezra for giving him some closure on the war and his place in it.
Given a wide perspective, this seems like a massive oversimplification of what Rex went through during the Clone Wars. But, from Rex’s perspective, I suppose it always was just fighting droids. He never did see much of Dooku, Grevious, Ventress or any of the other major players that led the war against the Republic, to say his closure needed to come with droids makes more sense than anything else.
Seeing that the foot soldiers in both sides of the war were tossed aside as soon as it was over must be some piece solace to him. Man, it’s a bummer for Rex. He spent his entire life fighting, only to be thrown aside as soon as the war was over. Now, as a man, physically in his late 50s, is still fighting. I hope he enjoyed those 15 years of semi-retirement hanging out on Steelos. I don’t think he’ll get much more time to rest before the fight against the Empire is done.
One cool little feature at the end was the Rebels logo getting styled like the Clone Wars one. Nice Touch.
Season 3, Episode 07: Imperial Supercommandos
In this episode, we get another nugget of the ongoing Mandalorian storyline, further detailing their muddled existence during the time of the Empire. This episode acts as a direct followup of the events of the Season 2 episode; The Protector of Concord Dawn. The one where the Rebels take the Mandalorian mercenary Fenn Rau captive to ensure their passage through the system.
In this episode, contact with Concord Dawn has been cut. Worried it might be an Imperial trap; Sato sends Sabine, Ezra and Chopper to investigate. With the captive Fenn Rau in tow. The ever absentminded Ezra takes his eyes off of Rau only for him to jump and stun the pair holding him captive.
After some bickering between Sabine and Fenn on the nature of being Mandalorian and their place in this Galactic Civil War, we learn that the outpost was destroyed by Gar Saxon; a fellow Mandalorian of clan Vizla and his crew of supercommandos who have pledged themselves to the Empire. Saxon is something of a storied character in the franchise; first showing up in a Dark Horse comic book focusing on Darth Maul.
This all comes from the unusual conclusion of the Mandalore storyline when Clone Wars was all but cancelled at the end of its fifth season. A storyline that did get told in the series’s eventual seventh season. In which Saxon appeared, after first showing up here, as an older man. It’s confusing.
Saxon is 100% behind the Empire and believes aligning with them is the only way for Mandalore to recover. He admits that he was going to kill Rau regardless of his capture by the Rebellion for his faction’s refusal to take a side in the war. This reduces some of Rau’s rage at Sabine for taking him away from his men while they died, but not enough to steal the new Phantom 2 and leave the others for dead.
Just prior to a thrilling jetpack chase through some canyons, we get some more nuggets of information about Sabine and her history as Saxon tries to talk her away from the Rebels and to come back to the Empire. He even claims Sabine’s mother has sided with the Empire out of shame of her daughter abandoning her post and joining the Rebellion.
Something Sabine doesn’t seem to believe. Sabine really does have a story, but it’s really being drip fed to us over the course of these seasons. I can see why the Empire want her though, despite her young age, she seems like a hugely powerful combatant. In the previous episode, she defeated Fenn Rau in single combat, and here, once again she defeats the much older and more experienced Mandalorian in a fist fight.
I swear Sabine needs to be put up front every mission, she seems way more reliable than either Kanan or Ezra, especially considering Ezra was in peak doofus mode this episode, something we haven’t seen much of this third season.
The state of Mandalore is something Star Wars really is putting a lens on at the moment. With both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett heavily featuring Mandalorian characters and how they relate to their cultural homeworld and the culture of their people. In terms of both Boba Fett and Din Djarin, their stories seem to be about them striking out on their own and not really worrying about the planet of their namesake.
In Rebels, a lot of the older Mandalorians really worry about the future of their world and their culture in the face of the Empire. The Purge of Mandalore was en event didn’t exist yet as this episode of Rebels aired, its first mention being during the events of The Mandalorian, which came out much later. So I can only assume that the bombardment of the planet has yet to take place within the Rebels timeline.
It’s a shame really, the Mandalorians would have made perfect soldiers for the Empire if they’d just kept them sweet. I guess they really were just too willful for the Emperor and Vader and they just dediced to do away with them just like the Jedi.