Holy hell, I LOVED this episode of Rebels. As most everyone knows I am a HUGE Clone Wars fan and the nostalgia, execution, animation – everything – was SOOOO on point here. We start off with our band of Rebels (Rex, Kanan, Ezra, Zeb, and Chopper) being dropped off on Agamar, an old Separatist stronghold planet in search of munitions, as Rex obviously has intimate knowledge of the war and the locations the CIS was set up on. What starts out as a seemingly in-and-out mission for proton bombs and the like quickly turns ugly, as our heroes run into the classic Clone Wars trap – Ray Shields – and come into contact with large amounts of B1 Battle Droids (yes, I love these guys, so sue me) as they enter the bunker where the munitions they are seeing are located. There is a hilarious moment when one of the Battle Droids says the iconic line ‘Roger Roger’ and Ezra replies with ‘who’s Roger’. Seriously, that was so hilarious to me, and I would imagine it was pretty damn funny to any fan of TCW.
At this point our heroes are captured by the B1’s and taken to their leader who just so happens to be Kalani, the Super Tactical Droid from the Onderon arc of TCW (Saw Gerrera nod anyone?). This moment is probably the best single moment Rex has had so far in Rebels, where he awakes and thinks for a second that the Clone Wars is still being fought and that Cody is beside him. This is a very serious character moment for Rex in my opinion, and it shows Rex is most definitely suffering from some PTSD, which is great considering Rebels has generally skewed more towards pleasing a younger crowd. Kanan quickly snaps Rex out of it and tells him they are going to need him to get through this.
Kalani’s character is really flushed out here, as he goes into detail about the fact that statistically the CIS should’ve won the war, while Rex and Kanan try to make him understand that it was all orchestrated in the name of creating the Empire. After a little back and forth, Kalani offers our heroes a choice – essentially play his war game to finish the Clone Wars once and for all, with Zeb being his prisoner of war that they need to rescue. Of course Ezra jumps in and says we’ll do it, much to the chagrin (at the time) of Rex and Kanan. At this point we really see our three heroes working in tandem in a very familiar fashion if you’re versed in the Clone Wars. Rex is leading the attack, while Kanan and Ezra are deflecting blaster bolts from the Battle Droids for maximum efficiency and destruction. I loved how Rex took charge here and Kanan deferred to him repeatedly. It was great to see Kanan and Rex working together and bonding, as we hadn’t seen a ton of progress in their standoffish relationship since the midway point of last season. We also see Rex taking a much more authoritative tone with Ezra when he perceives the younger Jedi to be not following his command and jeopardizing their mission. Oh yeah, Chopper. In the meantime while all this is happening good ol’ Chopper is securing transportation (more on that later). In the end, Rex and crew end up making it to the command room and confront Kalani telling him that they won his game and Zeb needs to be set free. There is some pushback here from the Super Tactical Droid, as he says his unit wasn’t up to snuff and statistically Rex and crew wouldn’t have stood a chance had they been. Ezra quickly intervenes here and explains that nobody won the war. The CIS and the Republic forces were essentially duped by the powers that be working behind the scenes with the endgame being the creation of the Empire. This is (too) quickly resolved (but hey, it’s a 22 minute show, more on that below as well) and Rex, Kanan, and Kalani come to the conclusion that the Empire is actually their common foe now.
Also while this is going on Hera and Sabine are going on a fuel run and are subsequently ambushed by the Empire, with Governor Pryce and Agent Kallus in tow. They intercept a distress call from Chopper and quickly decide to send a garrison to Agamar to try and capture Kanan, Ezra, and crew. Just as the conversation Ezra initiated above is wrapping up the Empire arrives on Agamar en force, with Star Destroyers, troops, and Walkers. The combined forces of Kalani’s droid army and the Ghost crew come up with a plan to escape, which leads to a humorous comment from Kalani about his Battle Droids not being very accurate, which I found hilarious.
After a quick skirmish with the Empire’s forces in which teamwork prevails, the heroes board the shuttle that Chopper had commandeered (which is actually an old CIS transport, similar in design that Nute Gunray and the rest of the Separatist leadership used frequently – another cool nod to TCW) and Kalani’s forces escape in two transports, one of which is quickly destroyed. Once in the safety of space we get a nice exchange between our heroes and Kalani, and quite frankly I was really hoping he was going to join the rebellion. But alas, he analyzed the numbers and decided the Rebellion had a 1% chance of defeating the Empire, so he went his separate way. I have a strong feeling that this is not the last we will see of the Super Tactical Droid, and after this episode I am all for that.
One last quick detail – it looks like the Ghost crew has found their new Phantom, in the form of a Sheathipede Class Shuttle from the Clone Wars. Seems odd, but any nod to the Prequel / Clone Wars era I’m all for.
What worked for me:
- Rex. This was a great episode for Rex, and seeing back in his Clone Wars helmet and armor was so good. Also the PTSD moment, while short, was really cool, as it showed how difficult the war was for the Clones.
- Kalani. I loved him in this episode, and he was most certainly my wild card going in. I was always a fan of the design of the Super Tactical Droids from TCW, and he looked even cooler in Rebels. I really do hope that he pops back up and joins the Rebellion in some capacity in the future.
- B1 Battle Droids. Again, sue me. I love these guys. I hated them in the Prequels, especially early on. However, I grew to love them during TCW and you even kinda felt for them. Sound weird? Who cares. I thought it was great seeing them in action and even hearing the classic ‘Roger Roger’ again.
- The realization between Rex and Kalani that they really weren’t all that different, both bred/built for the purpose of destruction, and both sides were duped by Darth Sidious/Palpatine in an effort to form the Empire. I liked this short but poignant a lot, it worked for me.
- Kanan. Just a really quick note that I’m liking blind Kanan more and more, as he is embracing his situation and not letting it hinder his ability to be an effective leader, Jedi, and mentor to Ezra. Keep it up.
- The new Phantom. Ok, ok, this one might be a stretch, but I’ll say again how I think it’s cool the Ghost crew has procured an old Clone Wars Separatist shuttle as the replacement for the Phantom that was destroyed in the season three premiere. I’m interested to see how this will shape up, but I trust the storytellers to make it pretty rad.
- Nod to Onderon. The crew behind Rebels didn’t have to use Kalani specifically. They chose to, and I think his connection to Onderon was the big reason why. If you ask me it was a quick nod to the arc and to Saw Gerrera in general. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, who knows, but I like believing that.
- Pryce and Kallus. Yeah, yeah, we didn’t see much of them but I’m loving Governor Pryce. I like her look, her voice, and just how cold and calculating she is. And as far as Kallus goes, his demeanor and tone further cement the fact that he’s most likely going to defect and is probably the new Fulcrum.
- Last but certainly not least, the graphics and music at the end! A total Clone Wars nod and I freaking loved it! Wasn’t expecting it, but maybe I should’ve been. Two thumbs way up on that one.
What could’ve been better:
- I do NOT like the reference to this actually ending the Clone Wars. The episode didn’t need any reference to this and quite frankly it was more or less filler nonsense. I personally would love another TCW centric episode complete with Battle Droids, etc., but it doesn’t look likely at this point.
Overall this was a very good episode of Rebels, and while I can see come people saying this might be the first ‘filler’ episode of season three, I don’t feel that way at all. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip down memory lane. As I’ve stated before, season three is off to an amazing start and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon!
Also, if you’re not watching Rebels Recon you’re blowing it. Lots of great insight after every episode from cast & crew, hosted by the ever-charming Andi Gutierrez.