“The Last Battle”
For some soldiers, the war never ends. For two veterans of the Clone Wars, Captain Rex and the droid General Kalani, they never got closure on the war and their programming continues to push them to a victory that may never come.
Kanan, Ezra, Rex, and Zeb have gone to Agamar to search an old Separatist ship for ammunition and supplies. However, they quickly realize that on Agamar, the Clone Wars never ended and they are forced to play out a final battle. This episode is the first time that I can recall seeing the in-universe characters address the war and how it was really a play for the Empire to take over. There was no mention of a connection to the Sith though, it may not have been relevant, or Palpatine may have been able to keep his identity a secret after all.
The story itself is pretty simple, Kalani says if they make it to the command center, they win. It’s Rex, Ezra, and Kanan against a few dozen old droids. At first, we see Rex almost enjoying himself. I’m sure fighting the droids is easier than fighting the Empire. However, it quickly becomes apparent that maybe the war never really ended for Rex either. The creative staff really drives home how both the droids and the clones were manufactured for one purpose. We also see the scars left behind by the war, both physical and mental. After this episode, it’s clear why Rex and the other clones fled the galaxy and retired to the backwater planet where we met him last season.
For an episode with this much action, it is a very character-focused episode. In between action beats, we get a peek under the helmet, so to speak, and see what drives Rex. For most of his time on Rebels, Rex has been a very fun character, mostly warm, almost fatherly at times. Here, he gets a bit scary as he yells at Ezra for not sticking to the plan, it’s a darkness we haven’t seen in Rex for a long time.
The connections to the Clone Wars, both in-universe and in reality, make this a really enjoyable episode. Once the battle starts we hear some of the classic themes from the Clone Wars show. I admit, I enjoyed the return of the battle droid humour, including what may be my favorite battle droid scene of all time, after the Empire shows up, a battle droid runs only to be squashed by an AT-AT foot. The mashup of the Rebels and Clone Wars logo at the end was a great touch to wrap it all up.
I don’t know if a Star Wars story has ever really dealt with issues facing soldiers once the battle is over. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say Rex has a form of PTSD, but he is certainly still dealing with a lot of issues from the war. This episode forces him to confront those issues head on. It’ll be interesting to see if his character changes any after this encounter. I doubt we will see a softer and more gentle Rex, but he is definitely changed by this episode.