Thursday, October 15, 2015

Rebels Review: 'The Lost Commanders'

By: Dominic Jones

The second season of Star Wars Rebels kicked off last night (for real this time)  with "The Lost Commanders."  The episode picks up where we left off after "The Siege of Lothal," with the Rebels dealing with the ramifications of their encounter with Darth Vader.  The episode also saw the return of some fan favorites from The Clone Wars, with clone Captain Rex, and Commanders Wolffe and Gregor making their debut on the series.

It would be unfair to compare this episode to this summer's movie event/Season Two premiere "The Siege of Lothal."  "The Lost Commanders" is not "The Siege of Lothal" and is not really supposed to be.  "The Siege of Lothal" was about tearing our heroes down from the heights they reached in the Season One finale "Fire Across the Galaxy."  It was a solemn reminder that this era of Star Wars is almost entirely devoid of hope.  A small victory by the Rebels is met with the Emperor dispatching Darth Vader to remind the Rebels, and the population of Lothal, what can happen when you stand up to the Empire.

"The Lost Commanders," on the other hand, is about rebuilding - or at least starting to rebuild.  We see that both in the form of the Rebels trying to regroup and form a secret base after the empire took out their command ship.  We also see that in Ezra and Rex beginning to rebuild the trust that once existed between the Jedi and the clones.

The interactions between Kanan, Ezra, and Rex were the standout moments from the episode.  We get to explore the aftermath of Order 66 on personal levels from both the Jedi and clone perspective, with Ezra serving as a (mostly) unbiased moderator between the two.  The clone perspective was especially interesting as it's something we've never really explored in Star Wars before.  The Jedi perspective, specifically Kanan's, has been explored in books and comics already so it was good to see the other side represented.  It's clear that Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor know that what happened was wrong and Rex in particular shows great regret for how the Clone Wars ended.

Wolffe's reaction was particularly telling about how the clones feel about Order 66.  He cries out "Jedi!  They've come for revenge," when Kanan draw his lightsaber when they first meet.  Clearly there's a sense of wrongdoing on his part, but he doesn't know how to deal with his guilt.  The fact that he even fires a few shots at Kanan before Rex stops him makes me wonder if perhaps his chip wasn't properly removed and the Order 66 programming still exists within him as some sort of first instinct.  This may be a bit of a stretch but Wolffe clearly shows more loyalty towards the Empire than Rex or Gregor.

What was also interesting was the way the episode left it ambiguous as to what Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor actually did following the Clone Wars.  Rex reveals they had their chips removed - a nice call back to season 6 of The Clone Wars- so we know they didn't turn on any of their Jedi (the episode guide on verifies this).  It's also clear that he knows what happened to clones once the empire deemed them unfit for service and he does give the Rebels a few Imperial clearance codes.  This could leave the door open for them to have served as stormtroopers, but it seems more likely that they left the army once their chips were removed (what they might have done after that is anyone's guess).

Gregor's role, however, is where this episode stumbles for me.  Gregor's main purpose seems to be to get Zeb to agree to be bait for the joopa, a massive slug-like creature that lives beneath the planet's surface, turning the rest of the episode into a Jaws tribute.  I love Jaws as much as the next guy, but I'd have rather spent more time exploring Kanan, Ezra, and Rex's reactions to one another than watching the Star Wars equivalent of Deadliest Catch.  I also found it odd that Rex was on board with this plan.  It seemed out of character for Rex (who seemed to be very much the same character we know and love from The Clone Wars) to let Zeb agree to this without knowing exactly what he was getting himself into.

My only other grievance with this episode was the sidelining of Hera for most of it.  She likely could have helped mediate between the clones and Kanan given that, as she says in the episode, she was once saved by clones and Jedi working together.

Ultimately, I'm glad I was able to see this episode at the New York Comic Con screening where next week's episode "Relics of the Old Republic" was screened immediately afterward.  Knowing where some of this is going helps put this episode in perspective.

Creature attacks in Star Wars have never been my favorite aspect, so all the time spent on the joopa is where this episode falls short for me.  That being said, the interaction between Rex and Ezra, as well as Rex and Kanan is what really makes the episode worthwhile.  I'm looking forward to seeing those relationships explored more this season.
Score: 7/10

You can follow me on Twitter: @DominicJ25 

This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writer, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization.

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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