*Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episode “The Last Battle.”
When it was first announced that Dave Filoni and company would be producing Star Wars Rebels, the logical question was how much this new venture would share with its predecessor, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. As it turns out, the two shows share quite a bit in common both behind the scenes and on-screen–whether it be composer Kevin Kiner or characters (and their respective voice actors) such as Hondo Ohnaka, Captain Rex and Ahsoka Tano. All the same, the creators of Rebels have always strived to give the new show its own identity so that it could emerge from the shadow of The Clone Wars instead of serving as a simple sequel.
However,“The Last Battle” (the most recent episode of Rebels) is very much a conclusion to the galactic conflict known as “The Clone Wars” if not a true end to the eponymous animated series. Because this episode heavily features not only Captain Rex but also the super tactical droid Kalani (introduced in the Onderon arc of The Clone Wars), we viewers are finally witness to the end of the Clone/Droid conflict that once permeated virtually the entire galaxy.
“The Last Battle” opens with Rex, Kanan, Ezra, and Zeb landing on Agamar (a planet that was the scene of a brutal Clone Wars battle) in search of weapons, but what they discover instead is an entire battalion of battle droids under the command of Kalani, a fascinating droid for many reasons–starting with the fact that it has a name. Hawaiian for “chiefly one,” Kalani is an apt moniker for a highly intelligent commander whose superiors clearly perceive it with some manner of respect and value. Time and energy have been invested in this remarkable droid, and Kalani has taken it upon itself to live up to expectations–even to the point of overriding Palpatine’s shutdown command at the end of the Clone Wars. The parallel with Rex is here is obvious as the clone captain circumvented his own programming to execute Order 66 and kill Jedi by removing his inhibitor chip.
For Kalani, the war cannot have ended the way it did because the odds had turned overwhelmingly in the droids’ favor due to the sheer number of their forces. Interestingly, when compared to the Empire’s method of employing vast quantities of substandard warriors in the form of Stormtroopers over the more efficient clones, it appears that Palpatine’s philosophy regarding troops has not evolved much in the last two decades.
As Kalani asserts that quantity trumps quality, the tactical droid is eager to prove its hypothesis when given the chance due to the arrival of Rex and the others. He proposes that a type of war game be staged between his droids and the clone/Jedi unit to determine superiority and prove who would have won the Clone Wars. And to raise the stakes, Zeb’s life is put in the balance as the Lasat is taken hostage by Kalani’s forces while the rebels will receive the droids’ proton bombs if they are victorious.
There is much to like in this next sequence of events as Kanan and Ezra defer to Rex’s experience and battle Kalani’s forces through multiple scenarios that feel like they were lifted directly from The Clone Wars. But unlike that show that remains relevant years after it last aired, the droids are revealed to be remnants from the past and unable to legitimately mount a defense against the rebels which enables Rex and the Jedi to easily complete their mission.
But this discrepancy allows a moment of clarity to shine through as Ezra notes the actual Clone Wars could have been staged as a means for the Empire to come to power. But since both the Separatists and the Republic lost the war, their representatives and spiritual descendants now have a common enemy in the entity that took advantage of their weakness.
So as Kalani and his troops find themselves philosophically aligned with Rex and the Jedi, the Clone Wars come to their final end just as Imperial troops arrive on Agamar. Working together for the first time, the rebels and Kalani and several of his troops escape due in large part to the large amount of disposable battle droids who serve as a distraction while being destroyed.
Having proved himself to be a valuable asset to their cause, Kalani is nonetheless reticent to join the rebellion as he calculates that they have only a 1% chance of succeeding against the Empire. But even though he’s a super tactical droid, it’s not possible for him to have hope. Rogue One’s Jyn Erso tell us, “Rebellions are built on hope,” and when that hope takes the form of a Skywalker, the Force ensures that calculations are not to be trusted. This is the hope that the heroes of Rebels have and it’s why the Empire, like the Separatist Alliance before it, will fall.
Thank you for reading! If you have feedback or just want to say hello, you can leave a comment on this page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact me on Twitter @influxman or check out my Rogue page on “Star Wars in the Classroom.”
And don’t forget to check out Rebels Reactions for even more insight, discussion, and analysis of this episode.
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