Rebels, Season 2, Episode 1: The Lost Commanders
This is the first part of a two-part episode.
You know how, when Rebels first came out, a lot of people were like “pfft, this is such a goofy kids’ show”? (Which is, you know, pretty much the same thing everyone says about all of Star Wars when they first see some part of it?) Even though, really: right out of the gate with this show, Star Wars started busting out its patented Pathos Sneak Attack, and was like “HERE TAKE THIS REMINDER OF THE CRUSHING SADNESS LOL”?
So, it is with this proud tradition of The Cutesy Fun Stuff juxtaposed with sadness in mind that this episode set gets down to business, and…well, let me put it this way: it’s like the ending of The Phantom Menace, or seeing Han and Leia in Return of the Jedi: you want to be happy for everyone, because something kind of good or sweet has happened, and yet you can’t help but think about how A) people we like died before we got to this point, and/or B) there is still SO MUCH TRAGEDY AHEAD OF US ALL.
Today’s episode reunites us, here in the near-OT era, with some friends from a ways back — and for old time’s sake, our older, wiser characters spend a lot of time taking a spin through Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Greatest Hits: The Desert Hermit/Mystical Sacrifice Years. It’s like…a warm-up round for Episode 4. Naturally, these Special Guest Appearances and the Callback-ery that follows also force us to recall, again, the last time that we saw the 501st, or, you know, the handsome and heroic general that fought alongside them. For example. Which is always, uh, not at all depressing or anything.
All right. We ready? Let’s do this!
Recurring Theme: Our Insignificant Rebellion
I feel disoriented writing Rebels recaps because there is no Voiceover Recap Guy to give me a setup, so we get dropped off into the action more so than usual. (I’ll try to carry on with my noble mission somehow.) As the episode opens, we’re traveling through space with our friends from the Ghost crew, and they’re strategizing about their next move and what the Rebellion needs to do now. Hera is lamenting their lack of resources and allies, and the fact that they have no good place to stash a Hidden Rebel Base…
…when Her Royal Supreme Awesomeness, Ahsoka Tano, pipes up that she knows a guy:
…but there’s a slight impediment to calling on this Secret Superhero: Ahsoka’s not exactly sure where this guy is, uh, precisely. He hasn’t responded to any of her emails lately either, but maybe his internet is just being weird or something.
Maybe The Gang could go look for him! There’s one thing she hasn’t tried yet…
Recurring Theme: Let Me Give You This Old Artifact And a Vague Story About Me and Anakin Skywalker Being Heroic A Long Time Ago
On board the Ghost, Ahsoka gets the ball rolling on our Kenobi Mirroring and hands the gang an old droid head. At first, Sabine is kinda confused:
She tells them the last she heard, Mystery Man was in the Seelos system. Maybe the droid head can help you there. Isn’t Ahsoka going to be coming with them, you ask? Well, you see, she’s got some stuff to take care of. Nothing big or anything, just, uh, gonna quick go check and make sure that her old mentor wasn’t consumed by darkness or anything.
Kanan knows what’s up:
Recurring Theme: You Stay Here With Your Rebel Friends, Gifted Orphan, I’m Gonna Go Deal With Anakin’s Bullshit
Ezra pulls the Luke Skywalker “take me with you, Ben” card, and says he wishes he was going with her on her Quest of Sadness. In return, Ahsoka plays another Obi-Wan card here and tells him that his destiny lies along a different path than hers, which involves confronting the living shirtless nightmare that is Anakin Skywalker and his gigantic, epic fuck-up.
Ahsoka says she’s got questions, and they need answers, and I am going to presume that they are as follows:
- Seriously it can’t be Anakin right? (Uh…)
- Because that would be insane right? (Well, yes, but that has never stopped anything from happening in this universe before, so…)
- There is no possible way the Sith Lord is Anakin Skywalker RIGHT? (As if anything shitty happening to you, Anakin or Obi-Wan is really going to surprise you at this point, Tano. Face the facts here, girl. Just be glad Darth Maul isn’t still alive or anything OH HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.)
Recurring Theme: Back on the Same Side
Ahsoka also leaves them with some mysterious words of warning aimed specifically at Kanan:
Kanan’s like, “You said this guy is awesome; why wouldn’t I trust him?” and without elaboration, Ahsoka says:
As they approach Seelos, Hera realizes that the hyperdrive isn’t fully functional because this is Star Wars SO OF COURSE THE FUCKING HYPERDRIVE IS BROKEN AGAIN, so she and Chopper are gonna hang back on the Ghost to do some repairs while Kanan, Zeb, Ezra and Sabine take off in the Phantom to find this Fabled Commander.
They flip on the droid head that Ahsoka gave them, and notice that it’s making some sounds:
All of a sudden, it starts lighting up and saying this:
This leads them to one hell of a jalopy of an AT-TE trekking through the barren wasteland here, which Sabine is super impressed by:
Kanan, however, is not exactly reminded of happier times at the sight of this thing. It’s like the kind of tanks…
They land the Phantom nearby, and set about finding out who’s inside, and as they start walking Kanan warns Ezra that he’s got a bad feeling about this:
Recurring Theme: That’s A Name I’ve Not Heard Since Before My Life Fell Apart
A trio of old men step out of the AT-TE’s front door, and before I go any further I need to call out that THERE ARE WIND CHIMES on this thing. This is the sweetest touch ever and I’m blowing a kiss to the writing staff right now because sometimes you guys are just the absolute best at squeezing my heart.
OK, so these old guys step out and at first, the Rebels are less than impressed:
…so, uh, Ahsoka did TELL them he was a great old commander, yes? What the fuck were you expecting him to look like, guys?
Ezra tosses out the number 7567. This ring a bell at all, sir?
And this guy, well, he remembers those numbers. But that’s a name he’s not heard for a long time. A long time. Before Ezra was born!
Man, everyone’s playing from the Obi-Wan deck this episode! It’s almost like this guy was part of the Space Family too or something OH WAIT GUYS HE WAS BECAUSE IT’S TOTALLY CAPTAIN REX 💙💙💙💙
Kanan has a realization. Oh, he’s seen that face before…
And poor Kanan and his understandable Clone Wars PTSD just immediately goes into ass-kicking mode, and who can blame him BUT STILL.
Wolffe is like OH SHIT IT’S THE REVENGE OF THE JEDI:
And Rex has to be like DUDE CHILL:
OH. WHY. STAR WARS.
Rex is like “hey sorry about my friends, guys, uh, we sort of haven’t seen a Jedi since the, uh, unpleasantness where, you know, the Clones sort of wiped you guys out of existence because Ultimate Evil put chips in our brains to force us to do it ha HA our lives have all been just a whirlwind of fun, haven’t they, WRITING STAFF?”
Rex introduces the crew. They’re not numbers, you know:
Ezra tells him that they’ve been sent by someone he knows:
Rex is like “here everyone have some extra-strength Bittersweet Nostalgia and Wistfulness”:
Any friend of Ahsoka’s is a friend of his, natch, so the crew is welcomed aboard.
Recurring Theme: I’m Getting Too Old For This Sort of Ridiculous Crap
Once inside, Ezra checks out this old fossil:
And Rex inquires: how’s our girl Snips doing these days?
Rex just can’t see himself being a soldier anymore. He’s too old to fight, and the Empire’s decommissioned the Clone Army, which makes me wonder about how big of a hit THAT was to Kamino’s economy, damn:
Ezra counters that, well, if Rex won’t personally join them, then maybe he can help them identify a good spot for a Hidden Rebel Base?
Recurring Theme: I Don’t Like This Plan
Rex agrees to put together a list of coordinates, and ushers the crew outside so the clones can talk amongst themselves:
Wolffe expresses his concerns about aiding the Jedi, knowing that the Empire is, well, decidedly less pro-Jedi than the last government was. Gregor, on the other hand, senses an opportunity.
The group is hanging out outside when Gregor comes out to mention that, hey, we’re scratching your backs here — any chance you can scratch ours, friend? We need someone to be Not the Bait or Anything to help us catch some food…and Gregor knows just the guy to help them hunt it down! Pointing at Zeb, he says:
The gang agrees: it’s a deal! Kanan, meanwhile, is not super enthused about helping them out in any way whatsoever, and pouts his way through this scene.
We’ll Follow Up
Back aboard an Imperial Ship of Evilness, Agent Kallus is informed that a clone has alerted the Empire to the presence of a Jedi out in the middle of nowhere:
They’re not all that sold on this being a legit tip, but Kallus insists they need to do their due diligence or it’s gonna show up in their metrics for this quarter or get flagged as an improvement opportunity on his performance review or whatever because you KNOW the Empire is all about that Boring Corporate Stuff. Watch out, gang, because Evil’s on its way (as usual)!
Recurring Theme: …And Then Everybody Died
BONUS Recurring Theme: I’ve Got Master Baggage
BONUS Recurring Theme: You Don’t Understand My Pain
Kanan is sitting inside the Phantom, which is hitching a ride on the clones’ AT-TE, and reflecting on his Inner Turmoil and Sad History, because he’s a Jedi and they all do that all the fucking time because all of their lives are terrible. I would also like to mention that as this scene goes on, Kanan points his lightsaber at his own face like 3 times and COME ON, Billaba, surely you taught him better than that.
Ezra is like “dude, what the hell, Rex is is so nice!” and Kanan gets mad:
Ezra presses him: but WHY are they dangerous? They’re just some nice old dudes living in a weird RV!
Ezra turns to leave, sadly, when Kanan, again, whips out the Kenobi Playbook and is like “OK FINE, we’re post-Episode-3 here and apparently the new thing is to sometimes maybe actually talk to your apprentice about your own feelings and your sad backstory instead of just beating your head against a wall trying to get them to talk to you about theirs, so…”
Poor baby Kanan. He needs a hug.
Rex, overhearing, explains that:
And, importantly, he says this:
I find it a really interesting little twist here that the writers pull with Rex and Anakin. We have Rex, a clone who is literally programmed from birth to turn on the Jedi, circumventing this programming and ultimately remaining faithful to his comrades (Author’s Note: OK, obviously as we’ve since learned Ahsoka had a lot to do with this but still), while meanwhile over at Mustafar Volcanoes National Park, Anakin — a man Rex no doubt admired, fought for, and trusted with his life, a man whose destiny from birth was supposed to be that he’d destroy the Sith — was turning on all of his comrades and loved ones and burning it all to the ground. They fight side by side, and ultimately they both reject what they were “made for”, in a way.
Anyhow, Rex leaves, and Ezra tells Kanan he trusts Rex, although honestly? From what we’ve seen of Ezra so far, he’ll trust pretty much ANYONE, including Darth Fucking Maul, so don’t let this one go to your head or anything, Rex.
Then Ezra leaves, too, and Kanan is left to reflect on his sadness alone. Geez, I wasn’t kidding: everyone IS borrowing from Kenobi this time. Meanwhile, in the distance, an imperial probe droid arrives. DUN DUN DUUUUN!
Recurring Theme: Here’s Some Lightheartedness To Break Things Up
Back in the B-plot, wackiness and hijinks ensue as Zeb becomes increasingly aware that he wasn’t recruited to hunt, but to be the bait in the Clones’ little scheme here:
He gets pulled underground by this enormous space worm they’re hunting, and the gang has to help rescue him. Gregor hands Kanan a weapon, and says this:
And Kanan has a Clone-Wars-Related Angst Attack again. Hey, it happens to all of us sometimes, Jarrus.
Ultimately, they save Zeb (of course), the clones land their big catch, and Zeb gets spat out of the creature’s mouth:
Kanan is like OMG YOU ALMOST DIED ZEB, and Gregor ‘s like “Nah Zeb, you were The MAN” and Gregor and Zeb have a hilarious and adorable bonding moment and God I hope they became Facebook friends after this:
Recurring Theme: You Must Learn to Let Go
Kanan reports back to Hera that it turns out that Ahsoka’s mystery dude is a clone, telegraphing his uneasiness. Hera is sympathetic, because she knows that Kanan’s got some Super-Sized Scars as regards the Clones, but she reassures him:
…and mentions that they’ll be stuck there for a bit longer while they get the ship repaired.
Recurring Theme: Someone I Used to Know
The Rebels, now having held up their end of the deal, are awaiting Rex’s coordinates of his Top Secret Hiding Spots. Sabine heads into the AT-TE to get some data tapes to record this information on. Now alone, Rex is chatting with Ezra, and gets a little wistful-sunset-staring in as he says that Ezra really held his own today when they fought that giant space worm.
He tells Ezra that a great Jedi once told him that the best leaders lead by example and I cry a thousand tears because WHAT KIND OF EXAMPLE ARE YOU SETTING NOW, SKYWALKER?! HMMM?!
Ezra is touched and says:
Rex somewhat ruefully says he doesn’t think Kanan likes him, or ever will, and he’s within his rights to feel that way:
Ezra asks Rex if he won’t reconsider joining them, and Rex somberly says he’s too old, he’s outlived his usefulness.
Recurring Theme: They’re On To Us
Sabine comes busting in with the Bad News:
Kanan feels validated and responds with an AH HA! I KNEW IT:
At first, Rex is insistent that she’s wrong.
Eventually, however, the Truth comes out and Wolffe comes clean:
Rex is aghast — these Rebels aren’t their foes; the clones don’t work for The Empire anymore; ANAKIN CHANCELLOR PALPATINE IS EVIL! They’ve gotta Do What’s Right!
Wolffe is contrite:
Eventually, the probe droid that’s been stalking them is discovered, and is making its getaway when Ezra hands Rex a blaster and tells him to “make things right.” Rex, as we all know, is awesome, so he takes aim, and:
Gregor and Zeb are basically going to start making friendship bracelets in about 45 seconds here as they provide color commentary on the droid’s demise:
And, as we bring things across the finish line for Part I of this episode set, the team inspects the destroyed probe droid:
…and so, it stands to reason:
I stand around awkwardly now, since there was no iris-wipe to send me on my way, just a sudden cut to a logo screen with blaring fanfare. Eventually I get over this (…maybe, someday — I just don’t understand WOULD IT BE SO HARD TO IRIS-WIPE OUT FOR CONSISTENCY WITH LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE FRANCHISE OMG WHY DOES THIS BUG ME SO MUCH) and this episode is d-o-n-e!
Next time on Rebels: Kanan works on overcoming his clonophobia, the Empire seems to think the Jedi are a way bigger threat than they’re letting on considering that OMG they’re so much more powerful than the Jedi and they don’t even think about them anymore or cry themselves to sleep over them every night in their little Vader pod or anything, and Ahsoka gets a heartwarming reunion with her least-sad space dad.