*Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episode “The Lost Commanders.”
In the wake of Darth Vader’s decimation of the fledgling Phoenix Squadron–and its command ship– during the climax of “The Siege of Lothal,” Commander Sato’s troops (which now include Ahsoka Tano and the crew members of the Ghost) find themselves in need of a new base from which to launch their offensives against the Empire. With their options severely limited, Tano suggests a radical solution–a great military commander with extensive knowledge of the Outer Rim who just might also have some ideas for secure bases.
However, the former Padawan does not join her friends in this quest but rather leaves the group to pursue the Sith Lord they recently encountered. I’ve previously gone on record as stating that she has some idea of his identity, and there’s nothing presented here to suggest otherwise. As she departs, Ahsoka’s last admonition to the group are to “trust” her friend– a concept that could very well be considered the theme of this episode. As a final bit of help, Ahsoka gives the crew of the Ghost the head of an old tactical droid to help them find her friend.
Arriving at the Seelos system, it is discovered that the Ghost’s hyperdrive is still broken due to Chopper’s oversight and failure to tell Hera about it. Consequently, both of them resign to staying aboard the mother starship while the others take the Phantom down to the planet. Soon, Kanan, Ezra, Sabine, and Zeb are skimming the surface of Seelos in the landing craft and are led by the tactical droid (which is continually speaking the number “7567”) to an old republic AT-TE tank.
Once they reach the AT-TE, a confrontation breaks out as Kanan discovers that its occupants are clones. He immediately fires up his lightsaber and one of the clones begins to fire a blaster at the Jedi. But then the leader of the clones steps in and calms things down. From the rebels side, Ezra steps in with a cooler head and brings up Ahsoka which causes Captain Rex (who quickly reveals himself as the friend to which Ahsoka was referring) to reveal his identity and proclaim that any friend of Tano’s is a friend of his.
Shortly, the negotiations begin and while the method of how to help the rebels is discussed, the clones introduce themselves. There’s Rex (CT-7567) of course, but also The Clone Wars veterans Wolffe and Gregor (from the “Droids” arc of Season 5). Very little is revealed about how this trio ended up on this planet together, but it’s great to hear Dee Bradley Baker voicing clones again, plus we are given some tantalizing hints about a siege on Mandalore.
The clones are reticent to help as the Emperor has proclaimed their kind retired and decommissioned. For his part, Rex is not up for a fight, but he is willing to help with finding a base. However, there is one thing Kanan and company must first do–help the clones catch a giant worm-like creature called a joopa. And they plan on using Zeb as bait.
But unfortunately, not everything is going as smoothly as it appears, for one of the clones has secretly sent a signal to a nearby Imperial Star Destroyer that is received by Agent Kallus. Never one to discount possible leads in tracking down rebel cells, the IBS agent sends a probe droid to investigate.
As our heroes close in on the joopa, a conversation between Kanan and Ezra reveals a steep disparity of trust regarding the clones. Kanan does not trust the clones due to his experiences in the Clone Wars and he relates to Ezra what he’s heard about the inhibitor chip which caused the troopers to turn on their masters. Ezra doesn’t understand what Kanan is telling him as much of this is brand new information, but he still wants to trust their newfound allies. Standing nearby, Rex overhears the conversation and explains that he and his compatriots removed their chips because everyone has a choice. With his comrades in desperate need of a new base, the only choice Kanan has left is to trust the clones.
As the group finally catches up to the giant joopa (nicknamed Big Bongo by Gregor), Zeb is sucked underground and seemingly swallowed up by the beast. A great struggle ensues and everyone pitches in to help. Soon, the creature is forced to the surface and Captain Rex delivers the killing shot, allowing Zeb to be recovered from its mouth. Initially furious at being used as bait, Zeb soon becomes very proud of his role in the hunt and enthusiastically proclaims an intent to feast on the giant beast feast just as it was almost to feast on him.
During this time, the imperial probe droid has located the Phantom and begins to sabotage the craft. But it won’t be until a little later that the rebels will become aware of its presence.
As Kanan reports back to Hera of whom they have found and what the plan is, the Twi’lek pilot convinces him it’s not a bad idea to trust the clones as they once fought alongside the Jedi. What’s more is that their desperate need of allies makes this the only move to make.
True to his word, Captain Rex comes up with a list of bases and instructs Sabine to download the information to data tapes. While they’re waiting, the Rex compliments Ezra on both his bravery during the joopa hunt and on his ability to lead by example. Humbly, the boy in turn complements his own master Kanan as one who has taught him those traits. While sincere in his words, Ezra’s respectful response is certainly also designed to foster better relations between the Jedi and the clone.
As the crew of the Ghost prepares to disembark, Rex express regret about his part in the Clone Wars. Despite all he and his troops accomplished, Rex feels a sense of uselessness and wonders about the point of it all. It seems that he wants to make things right, and in fact he may very well have a chance at some point.
Then things get complicated. While uploading the list of bases, Sabine finds the transmission that was sent to the Empire and several unanswered messages from Ahsoka. Very shortly afterwards, Wolffe confesses to sending the message and it is determined that he sent it out of a misplaced trust in the Empire. Without the purpose they were bred for, the clones have seemingly outlived their usefulness. The cause they fought for no longer exists. Perhaps fighting with the rebels will provide the purpose they are missing.
At this point, the protocol droid reveals itself and is pursued by Kanan, but it is Rex who shoots down the droid from an incredible distance. However, the damage (quite literally in the case of the Phantom). The Empire is on its way and Kanan, Ezra, Sabine, Zeb, and their new-found allies are stranded with no obvious means of help.
This episode closes without resolution and we’ll have to wait until next week’s “Relics of the Old Republic” to see what happens next. Be sure to tune in next Wednesday on Disney XD!
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And don’t forget to check out Rebels Reactions for even more insight, discussion, and analysis of this episode.
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