"Star Wars: Rebels" Episode 6 – The Last Battle (9 out of 10) – Based on characters and situations created by George Lucas; Directed by Bosco Ng; Written by Brent Friedman; Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Taylor Gray, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar, David Oyelowo; Guest Starring Dee Bradley Baker, Matthew Wood. Rated TV-Y7, Airs on Disney XD 10/22/16. It is currently available on the Disney XD app.
This review will contain mild spoilers.
Never has there been a more "Clone Wars" centric episode of "Rebels." Rex, Kanan, and Ezra (with Chopper in tow) are sent to an old Separatist outpost in order to obtain munitions for the burgeoning Rebellion. What they don't expect is a contingent of battle droids, led by a Super Tactical Droid named Kalani still being active and wanting to settle the Clone War once and for all.
This proposes an interesting situation in and of itself that could possibly tie to "Rogue One." Kalani was the tactical droid in charge of the Separatist Forces and advisor to king Sanjay Rash on Onderon. The rebellion against Separatist control of Onderon was led by none other than the Gerreras, Steela and Saw. Based on how this episode leaves off, I'm wondering if it could have ramifications that play into "Rogue One." Or perhaps this is simply just a fun easter egg for those of us who pay enough attention to tell droids apart. Who knows?
This episode is a rollicking good time and cuts to the heart of the philosophy of the "Clone Wars" and really exemplifies the theme that punches audiences in the gut at the end of "Seven Samurai." In the classic Kurosawa film, the audience is asked by Kambei Shimada (played by the redoubtable Takashi Shimura) who really won the conflict. The bandits were vanquished, the Samurai were either dead or forced to move on... The only people who benefitted were the architects of the situation. This episode explores that dynamic on the scale of the Clone Wars.
Who won? The Jedi? The were wiped out. The Battle Droids? Decommissioned. The Clones? Phased out.
Those who win a war aren't those fighting it, it's those orchestrating it. I love that we have this idea layered intelligently into an episode that feels more like an adventure. It shows how deep the show goes in its storytelling. The minds behind the show have really learned all of George Lucas's best habits and put it to use every week.
It was fantastic hearing Matthew Wood back this episode as the voice of the B1s and I loved the PTSD trauma Rex went through in having to encounter them again. It's something that's intense for a kid's show, but it's also important. What responsibility does the Empire have, or even the Old Republic, in taking care of Clones and the psychological disorders caused by war? Why wouldn't the Kaminoans made PTSD an impossibility in their army? Just the notion fired off a dozen fascinating questions of science fiction.
That's what I always loved about the episodes of "The Clone Wars" that dealt with the moral and ethical implications of Clones. And while this doesn't delve as deeply as, say, "The Deserter," it does offer those tantalizing bits that make this show a much watch for any fan of both science fiction and "Star Wars."
There was a fascinating point Ezra was able to make, too, as he's part of the generation who was born literally at the twilight of this conflict. He doesn't know or care why the Separatists or the Republic were at war then, all he knows is that the Empire is bad now. Why bother refighting the conflicts of his forebears? That's a potent point to make and one that's particularly important for children growing up in an era where their country has been at some level of war with someone since they've been born.
In effect, this is the central conflict of Ezra: he needs to be part of the generation that ends the conflict, rather than perpetuates it. How he navigates the system to do that is an incredibly influential example for the children of the world today.
This is why I love the storytelling of "Star Wars."
And can we talk about how great the ending credits were this week? It almost brought a tear to my eye hearing that old familiar strike of music and the yellow logo again...
All in all, I say bring us more Clone Wars era stuff. I want more B1s in the galaxy and more tactical droids and anything else from the era they want to throw our way. For bringing "The Clone Wars" into the world of "Rebels," for making hints at "Rogue One," for the wonderful moral and philosophical ideas the episode raised, and for doing it all against a beautiful backdrop of some of the best lighting and animation they've done on this show, I'm giving this episode a 9 of 10.
Season 3 Scorecard:
- Steps Into Shadow (8 of 10)
- Holocrons of Fate (9 of 10)
- The Antilles Extraction (8 of 10)
- Hera's Heroes (8 of 10)
- The Last Battle (9 of 10)
Season Average: 8.4 out of 10