Star Wars Rebels – The Last Battle Review
“I never really thought about it. I never asked. I know the Jedi were wiped out, the clones were decommissioned, and the droid army was just shut down. The Clone War ended, but why? If none of you won, who did?”
The Last Battle is not a good episode. It’s barely avoids being outright bad. On paper, there is a lot to like. It’s an episode that revisits some of the remnants of the Confederacy and puts our Rebels against the foe from the Clone Wars. There should be more than enough charm built into that premise alone to help carry the episode, but the writing in this episode is obnoxious, the characterization is wildly inconsistent, and the entire venture ends up feeling like a waste of time. The only significant event that occurs in The Last Battle is that they acquire a new shuttle for the Ghost. This means the entire episode could be replaced with the line, “Hey, we bought a new shuttle.” To be perfectly honest, I’d prefer that over the cheesy diversion that this episode proved to be.
So, you remember how Rebels has made a big deal about how Rex has serious PTSD from the Clone Wars and he finds himself constantly haunted by the events that occurred during it? Yeah, me neither. Rex has always been a mentor figure who has generally shown himself to be collected and aware of his own inner state, but The Last Battle throws that out the window. It’s a perplexing decision since the production staff could have had Wolffe or Gregor take his place on this mission. It isn’t like they would have had to change the cast; Dee Bradley Baker voices all the clones. I’m certainly not against focusing on how characters deal with trauma, but, if the trauma isn’t properly established, the entire venture can end up feeling cheap. Instead, we have an episode where Rex is guiding Kanan, Zeb, and Ezra to scavenge an old weapons supply from the Clone Wars. They end up coming across a unit of battle droids who avoided being shut down at the end of the Clone Wars due to an override from the commanding droid. The commanding droid challenges them to an odd battle exercise of sorts to prove the superiority of his forces. If this sounds like an arbitrary reason to have our cast going up against the old “Roger Roger” droids… well, welcome to the episode.
The ultimate crux of this episode seems to be some moronic message about both sides, namely Rex and the command droid, being unable to act outside their programming and bring an end to the fighting. I know it may seem like I’m harping on this, but the only way this would make less sense to me is if they swapped out Rex with Yoda. One could try to argue that it is the reemergence of the droids that triggered Rex’s trauma, but he was showing notably out of character signs of anxiety before the droids ever showed up. To top it all off, Ezra is the one to reason with both sides and “bring an end to the Clone Wars,” by pointing out that they were stuck in the past and ignoring the real enemy. There is overly earnest silliness and then there being abrasively cheesy, and, by the time this episode was trying to wrap things up, I was having none of it. This the worst episode of the season so far, and it is probably one of the worst episodes that Rebels has had to date. I’d have to revisit some early season 1 episodes to say definitively, but it’s certainly a strong contender, either way.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Rex calls out to Cody when he first wakes up. What ever happened to him? I know he appeared Episode III when he responded to the Order 66 command to attack Obi-wan, but I think that is the last we heard of him.
- I still haven’t gotten caught up in The Clone Wars, so I don’t know if, at some point, the droid army actually became intimidating, but, as someone who is primarily familiar with them via their appearances in the prequels and the first two seasons of Clone Wars, the attempts to make them a focus of PTSD seem a bit awkward since I still view them as comedic relief villains.
Instead of coming off as a worthy union of past and present, The Last Battle ends up feeling like a cringe filled venture which fails to stand on its own and lacks any impact outside of its own limited narrative. Strictly speaking, I'll admit that it isn't terrible, but by Rebels's standards it definitely falls short. Skip it.