When Star Wars: The Clone Wars ended, one of the many unanswered questions left behind was what happened to Captain Rex leading up to Revenge of the Sith? Did he perish in battle with an honorable death? Was he somewhere else when his organic chip activated during Order 66? Or, did he defect from the Grand Army of the Republic?
Fans of Captain Rex had an exciting weekend at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, where those in attendance had the opportunity to see his character interact with “The Bad Batch” in The Clone Wars and return as an older comrade to Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars Rebels, finally putting to rest the question about his fate. Granted, we don’t know every detail and the thought process behind his decision (besides the fact that Fives was a major influence), but for now, we know he’s alive.
Before joining the rebel cause, however, Captain Rex had other significant missions during the Clone Wars, such as leading an experimental group of clone commandos to retrieve a stolen algorithm he created.
War on Anaxes! The home of the Republic shipyards is under attack from Admiral Trench’s Separatist forces. Jedi Generals Mace Windu and Anakin Skywalker lead a crude clone attack in the ground and in the air, but after weeks of heated battles and mounting losses, the Republic’s grip on Anaxes begins to slip away…
Description: With droids overrunning a main Republic production facility, the fear is that the Separatists will take over Anaxes completely and compromise the Republic’s reserve fleet. Captain Rex informs Mace Windu and Anakin Skywalker about why they keep losing. Having studied battle droids and created an algorithm to predict tactical weaknesses, Rex believes Admiral Trench has his algorithm and that he’s using it against them to predict all of their strategies. Though he keeps his data files heavily encrypted, the only other two people who knew about his algorithm were Fives and Echo. Echo used to recheck the algorithm every day in order to cut the tension of battle, and Rex believes that he might have had the algorithm on him when he died. Mace Windu orders Rex, Cody, Kix, and ARC trooper Jesse to take a small unit of clones behind enemy lines to the Separatist cyber center and find evidence of the algorithm there. Cody recommends they take Clone Force 99, also known as the Bad Batch.
The Bad Batch have genetic alterations, desirable mutations, and don’t necessarily follow protocols, making them perfect for the job. The leader, Hunter (heightened senses), apologizes for being late, since they were putting down an insurrection on Yavin Prime. The other members of the squad include Wrecker (burly, penchant for blowing things up, and possesses super strength), Tech (super intelligent), and Cross Hair (enhanced accuracy). They call other troopers “Regs” or regular clones.
The target for the mission is the cyber center, the brains of the entire Separatist campaign on Anaxes. The droid armies along the way attack their ship, forcing them to crash land. Cody remains trapped underneath the downed ship, but using his super strength, Wrecker lifts the ship off of Cody. The Bad Batch eliminate the approaching droid units by attacking head on, a rough and crude approach from Rex’s perspective, since his method involved holding their position from one location.
Admiral Trench is informed by his tactical droid of an irregular infiltration by a squad of clone troopers, using tactics that they had never seen before.
With Cody severely wounded from the crash, Kix stays behind with him, while Rex and the Bad Batch continue on foot to the cyber center. Along the way, they stumble upon an outpost. Since it’d take more time to go around it, they decide to take the outpost and go through it. Hunter defers to Captain Rex for a plan, but Rex surprises him by telling Hunter that they should attack head on, taking a page from the Bad Batch’s book in irregular strategies. From the inside of the outpost, they see the cyber center in the distance, but pick up on the fact that a platoon of droids is headed their way.
Admiral Trench is notified of the fact that they have taken over the outpost and comes to the conclusion that the clones are on their way to the cyber center in search of the algorithm. By the time Trench figures it out and gets in touch with the cyber center, the squad is already on the attack. Rex and Tech infiltrate the cyber center and use a specific sequence to find a program. Tech finds the program, but he clarifies the fact that it’s not an ordinary program but a life signal originating from Skako Minor, the headquarters of the Techno Union. More droids arrive, forcing the rest of the team to go inside the cyber center to find Rex and Tech. When Rex asks Tech to play the signal, he hears a clone repeating “CT-1409”.
Rex and the squad retreat to Republic lines before they’re overrun by Separatist forces. Admiral Trench wants to know if any information was downloaded. The tactical droid informs him that no intel was extracted, but that a connection was made to Skako Minor. When Tech asks Rex what the number means, Rex tells him that that was Echo’s number.
Conspiracy! After repeated attacks on the planet Anaxes, an elite clone squad was deployed to investigate the Separatist tactical advantage. Led by Commander Cody and Captain Rex, this special unit called the Bad Batch infiltrates Admiral Trench’s cyber center to steal a strategic algorithm capable of predicting the Republic’s every move. What the heroes found was a live signal from the ARC trooper known as Echo, a clone long believed to be dead…
Description: Back at Fort Anaxes, Rex devises a plan to follow the trail of the algorithm to Skako Minor. Hunter suggests that they use the Bad Batch’s ship, since it doesn’t scream Republic. Obi-Wan Kenobi makes his disapproval of the mission known, but Rex insists that if Echo’s alive, they can’t leave him in Separatist hands as a hostage. Obi-Wan finds the personal crusade to a neutral planet without Jedi Council approval reckless, but Rex reminds him that even if Echo isn’t alive, the Separatists still have his algorithm, giving them the tactical advantage over Anaxes. Anakin supports the plan, stating that it’s a simple snatch-and-grab mission.
As they leave for Skako Minor, Anakin finds Padmé drawn on the side of the Bad Batch’s ship. Wrecker turns to Anakin and Rex, and says, “She can negotiate with me anytime!”
Far from being pleased, Anakin turns to Rex, and says, “That is not staying there.”
Trench contacts Wat Tambor, a Skakoan and overseer of the Techno Union, and warns him of the incoming squad of clones headed his way. As they enter Skako Minor, Rex and Tech tell everyone that Skako is also the home to a primitive species who worship flying reptiles, one of which attacks the ship. After a rough landing, they step out of the ship to find that the flying creature is being navigated by a local native. Anakin is taken, but Hunter manages to attach himself to the creature with a cable, dragging him along as they fly to the nearest village. The rest of the team locks in on Hunter’s signal and position. They attempt to rescue Anakin, and after the air settles between the two groups, Tech communicates with the leader of the village in his language, a tall, deep purplish blue alien who tells Tech that they don’t want the war on their planet.
Rex tells Tech to translate the fact that they’re on Skako Minor for one purpose only and that it’s to save one of their men who is being kept as a prisoner. Once they’re able to extract him, they promise to leave the planet for good. The leader agrees to help, providing them with scouts to the nearest city. Along the way, Tech finds that he’s no longer picking up on Echo’s signal and explains that it could be a latency issue with the frequency caused by the surrounding atmospheric disturbances. Cross Hair suggests that Echo could be bait and that the whole thing is a trap. Rex puts that possibility aside and reinforces the fact that they have to find the source of that algorithm and shut it down. Cross Hair goes at it again and says that Echo might be a traitor, which Rex quickly denies. Cross Hair pushes Rex’s buttons again and Rex doesn’t hesitate to punch him.
Anakin steps in to stop them, ordering Hunter and the rest to look for an entrance, while he talks to Rex. He tells Rex that Echo turning against the Republic also crossed his mind, but Rex is adamant that Echo would not do such a thing and that he’d rather die than become a traitor.
Tech picks up on the signal again and follows it to a neighboring tower. What was meant to be a stealth mission quickly falls apart as they attack the droids within the tower. Tech loses the signal once more and discovers that the signal is only active during data transmissions. In that case, Anakin suggests that they all split up to find Echo. During the search, Tech picks up on the signal again and pinpoints the location with Rex. Upon finding the room that contains Echo, Wat Tambor makes his presence known through a communication terminal nearby. He tells them that Admiral Trench informed them of an irregular clone unit, that Rex’s algorithm predicted every move precisely, and that their mission violates the neutrality of the Techno Union. Rex replies by saying that he himself violated the neutrality by holding a Republic soldier prisoner. In response, Tambor sends more droids after them.
Tech manages to open the door to the room where Echo is located. In it, they find a stasis chamber. When Tech opens it, Echo falls out, his body hanging off of cables and electrical wiring. Rex catches him and holds him close, taking in his pale and altered form with robotic limbs. Echo doesn’t remember what happened to him, but Rex reassures him that he’s safe and that they’re going home.
On the sentence to rescue ARC trooper Echo, General Skywalker, Captain Rex, and the Bad Batch travel to Skako Minor, headquarters of the Techno Union. After a terrible encounter with the natives, our heroes infiltrate the city only to find themselves surrounded by Wat Tambor’s forces…
Description: Since Echo is connected to the tower’s system, Tech first has to decrypt Echo’s cerebral interface before disconnecting him. Anakin asks Rex how’s Echo doing and Rex tells him that Echo is disoriented and that the last thing he remembers is being at the Citadel. An extraction squad was called in, but they’re unable to leave until Echo is given the all clear by Tech. With no escape, Wat Tambor contacts Anakin from the neighboring room and informs him that the clone was purchased from the Separatists as a research tool and that he’s legal property of the Techno Union. He asks the Jedi to surrender, but Anakin refuses and calls Tambor out on the fact that his neutrality status is a joke, especially given his clear alliance to the Separatists. Tambor takes the opportunity to try out the new Organic Decimator on a captured native, a device that uses energy tentacles to seek out organic matter and vaporizes it and a potential weapon against clone troopers. Tambor states that being neutral is the more lucrative option in the war with technology, like the Organic Decimator, going to the highest bidder.
After vaporizing the native, Tambor lets the Decimator cut its way into the room, while Hunter and Cross Hair seal the door from the other side. Time is quickly running out, but Tech manages to decrypt the interface, allowing Echo to be safely detached from the system. With the Decimator continuing to cut through the doors to them, Echo points up to an exhaust vent at the top that leads to the cooling systems. Wrecker tosses everyone up to the vent, but before he joins them, he makes sure to set charges everywhere. Anakin uses the Force to extract Wrecker from the room before the Decimator could get to them and before the room explodes.
Echo helps lead the way, proudly sharing the fact that in addition to the schematics of the tower, he also has access to the Techno Union database–all of their plans, inventory, building schematics, everything. Echo provides an escape outside the top of the tower. As they start to walk over a narrow cable connection between the tower and the building nearby to get to a landing pad, droids block them from behind and ahead, forcing them to use the flying lizard creatures as their mode of transportation out of there. Echo and the others jump onto the backs of the creatures. A worried Rex follows quickly behind Echo to make sure he’s alright.
“I’m beginning to feel like a trooper again, Rex,” Echo says as they fly off.
Rex replies, “You never stopped being one, Echo.”
The specially modified droids follow them, since they also have the ability to fly and pursue. They fly back to the local village because they have no place else to go. The leader and the rest of the natives want nothing to do with them or the war, but Rex responds, “Tell him that we didn’t plan to drag his people into war, but look what the Separatists did to one of our people,” he says and points to Echo. “They took away his freedom. His humanity! They tried to turn him into a machine. The Techno Union claims it’s neutral, but they have chosen sides. Now, your people have to choose!”
Hunter senses more forces coming, but instead of backing down, the natives decide to help. The fight between the two separate forces breaks out with immediate losses on both sides. Anakin, the Bad Batch, Rex, and Echo manage to bring down these massive Techno Union “walkers”. (The scene reminded me of the Battle of Christophsis, specifically when Anakin flips onto an octuptarra magna tri-droid.) Wat Tambor sees the loss of the clone as a devastating blow to his profits, and instead of informing the Separatists of the loss, Tambor decides to put that on hold for another time.
Anakin thanks the leader of the local tribe for the assistance. The leader responds by saying that the Jedi now have an ally on Skako Minor. Echo also thanks Rex for rescuing him, and Rex replies, “Couldn’t have done it without you, my friend. It’s going to be just like old times.”
War rages on! With ARC trooper Echo rescued from the Techno Union, the Republic returns its attention to the battle for Anaxes . . . Admiral Trench and the Separatists have lost the upper hand, but the question remains. Can Echo’s newfound ability to access Separatist computers help the Republic regain control of the vital ship lines?
Description: There are a dozen active battlefronts on Anaxes, but with Admiral Trench no longer in possession of the algorithm, the Republic has the opportunity to retake the entire planet. Mace Windu proposes an airdrop over the center of the assembly complex on Anaxes in order to end Separatist control for good.
Echo volunteers to be asset for the mission, since he’s their best chance to do the job right. Rex is wary, but Windu gives him the opportunity to present his plan, “While Master Windu leads a team to retake the assembly complex, the Bad Batch will escort me into Trench’s new comm point, which, according to current intel, is now located in this Separatist dreadnaught above Anaxes. Once I’m plugged in, I can feed Trench strategies, but this time, you’ll know every move before he makes it.”
Echo’s confident that Wat Tambor hasn’t said a word to Trench because of the financial loss he’d suffer from revealing that fact and potentially losing his own life in the process. He’s also convinced that he can control Trench’s forces to bring about a victory for the Republic. Boarding the Bad Batch’s ship for the mission, Echo uses his abilities to send a signal to the command ship to mask their signature as another Separatist shuttle. In the meantime, Mace Windu and Obi-Wan Kenobi infiltrate the assembly center back on Anaxes.
Tech assists Echo in patching into Trench’s computers. To assist the Jedi on the ground, Echo decides to send a feedback pulse to overload and shut down the droids all at once. Trench discovers the manipulation and source of the energy coming from his ship. When the infiltration team is ready to evacuate, Echo scans a new order sent by Trench. Trench initiated a bomb hidden in the assembly complex, one large enough to destroy most of Anaxes. Echo attempts to stop the detonation from his side, while Anakin goes off to find an alternative solution. Mace receives word of the bomb and he goes to the location to help disarm it, but the bomb is ray shielded.
Echo works hard to decrypt the sequence to disarm the bomb, passing along the numbers for Mace to input by using the Force from a distance. Trench and his droids discover Echo’s location and send an energy pulse towards him, knocking him unconscious. Mace needs one last number in the sequence to stop the detonation. Anakin manages to find Trench and forces the Admiral to tell him the sequence. Trench refuses, fearing that Dooku would kill him if he lost Anaxes. Anakin tells him that he can also kill him, but Trench doesn’t believe him due to the fact that he’s a Jedi. Trench gives in after Anakin physically threatens him. He gives Mace the last number in the sequence, but before Anakin leaves, Trench attempts to kill him. Anakin evades the attack and kills him instead by stabbing him with his lightsaber. On his way out, he picks up the detonator that would destroy Trench’s dreadnaught.
After they all escape, Anakin gives Wrecker the detonator, since Wrecker was saddened by the fact that he wouldn’t get a chance to blow something up.
“This is the happiest day of my life!” Wrecker says as he pushes the button on the detonator and Trench’s ship explodes behind them.
The mission is a success and the Republic reclaim Anaxes, allowing their shipyards to be fully operational again. Captain Rex, Corporeal Echo, and Clone Force 99 are given awards for their brave service.
Writers Matt Michnovetz and Brent Friedman joined Dave Filoni and Dee Bradley Baker at the Q&A portion of the panel. Topics of discussion included how Dee developed the voices for the Bad Batch, Echo becoming the fifth member of the Bad Batch, the movie references throughout the arc and character development, Republic Commando influencing the characters, fan questions, and much more.