The Last Battle is proof that Star Wars Rebels can be great, and episodes relying on nostalgia can work, when timed right.
by: Joshua Outred – Staff Writer
I’ve not been the biggest supporter of Star Wars: Rebels since the long and drawn out season 2. The second season of Rebels felt like it never really went anywhere, I’d compare it to the intro of a song, where the replay button is being pressed every time it’s about to break. People have said season 2 really honed in on the individual crew members of the Ghost, it never really felt that way for me either, in fact, season 2 seemed to be mission after mission where the crew would be stealing yet another supply of cargo from the Empire, or breaking prisoners valuable to their cause out of imperial incarceration. To cut my negative thoughts on Rebels down to the minimum, season 2 was a massive waste of my time and my feelings for the lead character, Ezra Bridger, couldn’t be lesser. Season 3 however, has gotten off to a strong start, with every episode adding depth to the Ghost crew’s inner turmoils, history and general struggles with who they are and what they’re trying to achieve.
The Last Battle was an episode steeped in nostalgia, though unlike a lot of content nowadays, especially in the case of Rebels season 2, this was a love letter well earned, a step back in time for not only our favourite Clone Wars veteran, Captain Rex, but for us, the fans who have been longing for closure ever since The Clone Wars’ abrupt ending a couple of years ago.
The episode begins as the crew of the Ghost arrives on the battle scarred planet of Agamar, with Kanan, Ezra, Rex, Zeb and Chopper on a salvage mission to retrieve weapons left over on a downed Separatist war ship. Like any curious teenager, Ezra has questions regarding the Clone War, Rex briefs him on the dangers of the droid army, and when Ezra makes a crack at the look of an old Battle Droid head, Rex shuts him down, stating that they killed a lot of his friends and aren’t to be underestimated. This episode doubles as a history lesson for not only Ezra, but for the younger generation of Star Wars: Rebels fans who may not have had the chance to see the The Clone Wars yet.
Rex, Zeb, our two Jedi and Chopper advance into the hangar of the downed vessel, after scouting and finding no apparent danger, they advance, only to be caught in an old Separatist ray shield. With our heroes trapped, Battle Droids approach and capture them, taking them into custody. When the three awake, Rex becomes overcome with anxiety at the site of an old Tactical Separatist Droid, Kalani. Kalani is best known for his appearance in the Onderon arc of The Clone Wars. Rex shows signs of post traumatic stress, evident when faced with an old enemy, Kanan earlier telling Ezra that Rex’s scars run deep, some of which you cannot see helps the viewer understand Rex’s internal struggle with the ghosts of his past.
Kalani goes on to reveal his long awaited plan for this veteran of the Republic and his allies. Keeping Zeb as a hostage, he sets his game in motion, allowing Rex, Ezra and Kanan a chance at rescuing the Lasat, and ending the Clone Wars for good. In the midst of all the fun and games, Chopper has conveniently found an old shuttle, sending a distress signal for Hera aboard the Ghost, hoping for yet another rescue. Unfortunately for them, the signal was intercepted by Governor Price aboard her Star Destroyer, she immediately sends for an imperial force to be dispatched to Agamar in order to catch the fugitive Rebels.
With Kalani’s game in full swing, Rex and the Jedi begin slicing their way through the droid forces, like the good old days. Rex uses his experience to get through the battle, not without trouble though, as Ezra again proves to be an irritating nuisance, Rex shuts him down and gives him the talking to he so greatly needed, in his book, experience outranks everything!
After finally breaking back into the bridge, our heroes confront Kalani, stating that they’ve won, and it’s time to release their friend. It’s at this point that the story really all comes together, with these old enemies standing face to face once again and both Rex and Kalani still adamant that they were both on the right side, Ezra states that both the Republic and Separatist forces were victims, victims of the real victor, the Empire. When both sides of the coin get their realisation (the only moment I’ve ever enjoyed Ezra’s contribution) the Empire arrives, armed with walkers and ground troops. A mutual understanding is met by the former enemies, Rex and Kalani, who use their knowledge (programming) and experience to outwit the cumbersome forces of the Empire, escaping Agamar and in so, finally ending The Clone War, though I’d say The Clone War ended a long time ago, this unlikely team of Battle Droids, Clone and Jedi finally united against a common enemy, gains a clarity and inner peace. It settles the score, putting an end to the conflict that they had all been so masterfully puppeteered to participate in.
The Last Battle was a thoroughly enjoyable episode, full to the brim with great visuals such as B1 Battle Droids greeting imperial stormtroopers, and emotional storylines like Rex’s and even Kalani’s. This was an episode that served as the final confrontation between old foes, finally joining sides to fight the galaxy’s common enemy, and giving clarity to characters like Captain Rex who so desperately needed it. Coming a couple of years after The Clone Wars and not a minute too early, The Last Battle is proof that Star Wars: Rebels can be great, and episodes relying on nostalgia can work, when timed right.