Spoiler Warning: If you haven't seen the most recent episode of Star Wars Rebels or don't want to know what happened, turn away now. Or, y'know, go watch and come back so we can talk about it.
Show of hands: Who got all misty-eyed watching "The Last Battle"?
For many fans, Star Wars: The Clone Wars ended abruptly and without a resolution due to the Season 5 cancellation. They were left with an unexpected ending and the knowledge that more of the story existed but was never completed. Over the years, Lucasfilm and Dave Filoni have done what they can to make those lost episodes available, but there's still been a feeling in the fandom that there was no real resolution to both the series and the Clone Wars themselves.
With "The Last Battle," Star Wars Rebels brings a close to both the Clone Wars and The Clone Wars and does so in a way that, I think, will give fans the closure they need.
The episode also gave Ezra a better understanding of what the Clone Wars were really like, didn't take itself too seriously, and built upon the camaraderie and cohesion the entire group is building as Season 3 moves on.
Hera and Kanan's teasing, “You’re sure you don’t need help?” “I’m sure everything will go horribly wrong” made me laugh. As did Rex's continuing inability to call Kanan "Kanan." It's so nice of the show to put me at ease right before we find out this is a recon mission. For weapons that once belonged to the Separatists. With a downed Republic battlecruiser as a background.
Considering how it got to me, imagine how it affected Rex. He's quick to anger when Ezra treats the Clone Wars like no big deal. It felt fitting to have Kanan be the one to explain battle scars, both visible and invisible, to his padawan. He and Rex have some of each, and this trip has thrown both into the wayback machine.
The sudden capture by the battle droids starts off events that feel like someone literally hit unpause on The Clone Wars. Once again, the Separatist alliance has captured the Republic invaders and, just like old times, super battle droid General Kalani is there to give the orders.
Scars and flashbacks. Poor Rex. We all miss Cody. For a second there, Kanan even sounded like Cody. I wonder if that's deliberate?
Enough pondering. Let's get to the meat of the battle. It took a while, but we finally got the Last Battle between the Republic and Separatist armies. Rex and Kalani reverted back to a pattern of behavior (or programming) each knows well, with Kalani using that programming to his benefit against Rex. Kanan, who was in his teens during the Clone Wars, found himself pulled between the past and the present depending on the situation. But it's Ezra who really made the difference here. I'm sure there's a better phrase than "out of the mouths of babes", but Ezra's lack of information on the Clone Wars means he comes to it with a different perspective than anyone else.
It's that perspective that ultimately ends the Clone Wars in a way I think works overall. His reasoning is likely the same reasoning that's gone back and forth between fans for years now, but hearing it laid out in this episode was the first time I'd actually given it some thought. In my mind, The Clone Wars ended and I saw the Emperor's rise as the final word on the matter. Watching this episode, I realized how much information Star Wars Rebels has given us about the Clone Wars over the years.
The war just...ended. It makes sense when you look at it from outside. Palpatine helped create the clones and the droid army. Once Palpatine became Emperor, he didn't need them anymore. The clones were forcefully retired and pretty much forgotten. The droids were decommissioned. Both were replaced by Stormtroopers and the band played on.
Of course, it also meant we get an alliance we never expected when Rex and Kalani team up to take out their true enemy: The Empire. We get a crazy plan (the best kind), battle droids shooting at Jedi (with their permission), proton bombs, exploding walkers. We get Droidekas, a Clone Trooper, and two Jedi against Imperial forces in a standoff that shouldn't work, but does. You get a daring escape and a little humor between comrades in arms who would never have been comrades in arms back in the day. We even got a new Phantom! Talk about a win all the way around.
We also got a Star Wars: The Clone Wars-style end title card. Sundae-topping cherry, right there.
According to Rex, this was “One last glorious day in the grand army of the Republic.” I think it may have been the best day and I'm glad this day finally came.
Star Wars Rebels airs Saturdays at 8:30 PM ET/PT on Disney XD