Recap: ‘Star Wars Rebels’ “The Lost Commanders”
After teasing us for months, keeping us on tenterhooks with a whopper of an opening episode, Star Wars Rebels is back, and it’s connecting the canonical dots and bringing back some old faces. “The Lost Commanders” delves into the history of the army that seems to have disappeared by the start of Series 1, and it explores the shredded trust the Empire’s rule has developed in the peoples of the galaxy. A strong episode opening the door for some brilliant adventures to come, Rebels returns in grin-worthy fashion.
Limping through space after their near death run in with Darth Vader, the small rebel fleet is looking for a base in which to solidify its presence, and Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) sends our rebels on a search mission for an old friend. Led to the desert planet of Seelos in search of this great commander, Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) comes face to face with a painful blast from the past: clones. Though able and willing to provide the rebels with possible base locales, Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker) feels he has outlived his usefulness and refuses to join the rebellion. The mistrust and anger radiating from Kanan, regardless of how much Ezra (Taylor Gray) tries to reassure his master, is made very clear from the start, and Rex cannot begrudge the Jedi his feelings, though he wishes to show Kanan that he and his friends are not evil. However, when the Empire comes knocking at their highly treasonous meeting, clones and rebels alike realize the danger they now find themselves in.
However much the promos and posters for this season ruined the return of some of our favorite clone troopers from The Clone Wars, there is still a massive bubble of excitement built up perfectly by “The Lost Commanders”. From the moment we hear Rex’s number (7567) repeated as the rebels home in on their location, to the reappearance of Baker’s familiar vocal performance, the return of the clones and the connection between the two eras in the Star Wars saga is incredibly exciting. With the introduction of Ahsoka into Rebels, it was only a matter of time, and this episode did a strong job presenting how Rex, Wolffe, and the amnesia ridden Gregor had dealt with becoming older, obsolete, and simply unwanted by everyone in the Empire. Taken to roaming a desolate wasteland in their relic to the past, the clone troopers are truly lost, believing they serve no purpose anymore. However, Wolffe still lives in fear of the Empire, desperately holding onto the chain of command despite their freedom in the face of forced retirement, and it brings into perspective how difficult it is to let go of everything that was known. It is sad, and coupled with Kanan’s harsh words and brooding manner towards them, Rex and his friends are truly tragic figures, saddled with a choice they made overshadowed by the deeds of their brothers.
Though “The Lost Commanders” is only the beginning of what is a two part story of coming out of the shadows and realizing full potential, what Rebels and the whole of Disney is doing so well at the moment is connecting the dots and creating a fully fleshed out history. Not only is there the physical connection between The Clone Wars and this new era, but Rebels has also brought into play the emotional turmoil that the Empire’s creation wrought that goes much deeper than missing parents and tyrannical rule.
Kanan’s story is what pulls us into Rebels: the secret Jedi living in constant hope that there are others out there while knowing in his heart that he is on his own regardless. To have to work with those he hates for crimes he must accept that they didn’t commit is the worst pain of all, and in putting him in this situation, “The Lost Commanders” is giving Prinze Jr. some great material to work with. Kanan’s comic has revealed exactly the nature of his escape from Order 66 as well as his lost ability to trust those he runs with until he meets Hera and her rebel cell, adding more for us to grasp onto when considering his internal struggle sitting in the same room as Rex. It is the growing canon that gives this episode a brilliantly poignant under current of emotion even as the band of rebels assists the clones in hunting down dinner.
Though superficially quite a simple episode introducing new yet familiar faces into the series and establishing what we can guess will be a worthwhile alliance, “The Lost Commanders” offers up so much more in that way that Rebels is so good at doing. Even with Wolffe setting in motion the Empire’s arrival, Rex is determined to prove that he is not just a carbon copy of the clones who destroyed the Jedi when faced with Kanan’s mistrust. The episode creates a great dynamic between master and student as well, with Ezra understanding Kanan’s pain but trying to get him to look past it. “The Lost Commanders” also adds to the final showdown scenario, with perhaps Rex being forced to face his old general before the season is over.
In true Rebels style, “The Lost Commanders” is fun, exciting, and well crafted, though we can guess that it will be one of the better, less kiddy episodes of the season considering what it is establishing. In the coming conclusion to this story, the stage is set for at least Rex to join with the rebels once the Empire makes their entrance on Seelos, and it will be fantastic to see another old face in with the new characters of Rebels as Season 2 moves forward.(4.5 / 5)
(Photos copyright: Disney, Lucasfilm)