A review by Elisa and Johnamarie. This review contains spoilers.
Captain Rex and his brothers, Wolffe and Gregor, finally made their Star Wars Rebels debut in the latest episode, “The Lost Commanders”. Heroes and veterans of the old Republic, hidden away in the Seelos system, the three clones are roped back into a conflict from which they had long since walked away. Old emotions surface and new friendships form, but will the clones continue to live in seclusion? And will the rebels escape the impending visit from the Empire?
Although the long hiatus between “Siege of Lothal” and “The Lost Commanders” still remains to be a head-scratching move on the part of Disney and Disney XD, it was well-worth the wait. The series returned on a high point, bringing back old and familiar faces and introducing those faces to new fans in the audience. The designers and animators continue to excel in bringing more detail and movement to the backgrounds, characters, and vehicles. And Kevin Kiner’s compositions never cease to amaze and capture the essence of Star Wars, the highlight of the episode being the “You’re the Bait” audio cue.
Left: Ezra trying to understand why Kanan has been so distant. Right: Kanan talking to Hera about his concerns regarding the clones. (Photos: Lucasfilm)
This was the episode for Ezra to shine and he certainly did when it came to leading the conversation and negotiating with the former clone troopers. Although Hera’s presence was sorely missed, Chopper slacking with the maintenance of the hyperdrive benefitted Ezra, since Hera’s involvement and natural inclination to lead and negotiate would have put a pause on Ezra’s development. She still played a vital role as Kanan’s emotional rock, however, going from annoyed and frustrated with Chopper to reserving a calmer and more understanding tone for him.
As someone who is meant to be a role model for Ezra, Kanan and his own teachings took a step back, internally deciding that a beneficial relationship with the clones was not an option as well as foregoing any attempt to pursue any level of friendly communication or interaction with them. His emotional past clouded his present and vision for the future (after all, if he cooperates with the clones, then they’ll get a base and that will make it more possible to help people in need, as he originally suggested to Hera at the beginning of the episode). Instead, he effectively reverted back to a younger version of himself, shutting himself down from those around him. Also, this is the perfect opportunity to state that it’s essential to read Marvel’s Kanan: The Last Padawan, since the comic book series informs and enhances the emotional pain felt by Kanan in this episode. It’s still a fresh wound for him, and the fact that Ahsoka withheld Rex’s identity from him makes the situation worse.
Rex assuming the role as the wise and experienced mentor and comrade to Ezra brought a giant smile to our faces because that’s exactly what he did for Ahsoka when she was Ezra’s age. And just like Hera was Kanan’s reliable foundation during his emotional unrest, Rex was also the rock for Wolffe and Gregor. It begs the question, how did these three individuals come together? Did it happen before Order 66 or after? The gap between Revenge of the Sith and Rebels for all of these returning characters is as equally (if not, more) interesting as the present story taking place on Seelos. When Ahsoka stated that she had questions that need answering, it’s safe to say that the audience easily identifies with that!
Left: Rex and Ezra talk about the Clone Wars, while Kanan listens silently. Right: Gregor helps Zeb out of the mouth of the joopa. (Photos: Lucasfilm)
Joyful and eccentric, Gregor’s personality is a stark change from when we had last seen him in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Despite any differences he gained from the explosion, his character continued to come off just as warm and kind as he ever did before he regained the memories of who he truly was.
A moment that stood out was when he nodded his approval at helping the rebels by giving them a list of locations the Empire didn’t know about. His expression and gaze was harder and sharper than what we see from him before that moment or any after, furthering the idea that when it comes to a serious decision, that the trained clone we all know him to be is still in there.
A welcome surprise of the episode was the friendship that formed between him and Zeb despite the former using the latter as bait. Even directly after the fishing scene, Zeb’s 180 turn from being upset, to having pride in pulling the largest Joopa they’ve ever caught was an amusing sight to behold.
Besides being bait, Zeb’s presence in the episode really came down to him calling the clones “old geezers” upon first seeing them. Without a doubt, Zeb can be the ‘bratty’ one, at times. This is a trait that would often be given to kids, like Ezra, which can help alienate the child character from the audience. Instead, with it being Zeb, he came off as judgmental, while Ezra remained being the kid who’s open and willing to take chances but was also cautious. It’s a nice twist on the more traditional take of the adult always being in the right and the kid hardly ever making the right choices.
Left: Wolffe regrets having contacted the Empire out of fear. Right: Rex asks Sabine for her assistance in looking after the regular as they chase after the joopa. (Photos: Lucasfilm)
As for Wolffe, there have been two times when people reacted poorly to what he did in response to Kanan drawing his weapon. First, the initial teaser riled people up due to how it was edited to make Wolffe look as if he were shooting at Kanan for only drawing his weapon, and second, what we actually got in the episode.
Taking it all as a whole, there were no issues whatsoever with Wolffe’s character and everything he did made sense to me. We saw his trauma. He voiced it, so it’s not even wholly left to our imaginations. He was frightened of the Jedi and of what the Empire would do if they were found helping or speaking to them. It’s very telling when he first said, “The Jedi have come for revenge,” which makes me wonder if his wording is a play on the original Return of the Jedi title.
He disapproved of helping the rebels, surely because of Kanan being a Jedi. He argued about assisting them, citing fears about the Empire finding out about what they were doing, but he alerted the Empire himself. And not only did Sabine find out that he had given them up, but she also discovered that he had been blocking Ahsoka’s messages to Rex, losing a vital contact and friend in the process. None of this was done out of malice, and the sadness and distress was evident on his face when he realized he was wrong in how he judged them. He needed to protect his family, and finding out he had done the wrong thing when he believed he was doing the right thing, the results were visible on his face, and it was a painful moment to take in.
While Sabine’s role wasn’t a massive one in this episode, she did share some subtle and great scenes with other characters. For example, when Gregor was asking them to do a favor in return for the information, she looked to Kanan. She is strong and independent, but she knows the hierarchy of a team and knows that, for this trip at least, Kanan is in charge and respects that.
During the joopa chase, Sabine’s job was to keep an eye on the regulator, and while there’s nothing Jedi-like about it, it felt like a role that Ahsoka would be assigned if this episode were taking place in The Clone Wars series. Sabine being a mechanic on the fly and being eager to help were things we really enjoyed seeing from her, which makes us all the more excited for the exploration of her background in future episodes. The final scene of note was Sabine being the one to find the probe droid, and even if she didn’t get a hit in on it (neither did Kanan), it’s appreciated how it wasn’t made to feel cringe worthy. The sequence of events felt natural or plausible and there are other shows that could learn a lesson from that.
Finally, we know the series suffers from time constraints, but it’d be great to see Sabine ask Rex about what he did during the Siege of Mandalore. Sabine is very much a part of her culture, even going so far as to have an idea of ‘imposters’, as seen in the Rebels chapter books. It would have been fascinating to see how she personally felt about the Siege, what she knows of it, and if knowing he was a part of it changes any views she has about Rex.
Overall, the episode blends Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels exceptionally well and sets the stage up for the ultimate action to take place in the following episode, “Relics of the Old Republic”, on October 21, 2015, at 9:30PM EST on Disney XD.