Star Wars is a cinematic icon, but it is much more than its movies. Blaine and Josh dive deep into the universe of Star Wars Rebels, the fantastic animated show on Disney XD, with reviews of the third season of this exciting series. As a show aimed at kids, but also clearly for the kid in every adult Star Wars fan, they’ll also have a discussion section to talk about the themes covered in each episode.
Every Wednesday since school started is a special time in my home. My two girls have dance from 5-7 PM. I end my work day an hour early so I can be at home on Wednesday evenings with my two boys, ages three and eight, and make sure they eat supper, clean up, and get ready for Thursday. I’ll typically make an easy supper worthy of the laziest dads by making some dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, a staple of a 21st century child’s diet, or maybe some leftovers or macaroni and cheese–which I think is actually on the food pyramid now it’s so necessary for kids. I’ll bust out our green and red flannel picnic blanket and our super cool blue TV trays from IKEA, and we will sit in the living room to eat supper and watch two or three episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, as any Star Wars father should be doing with his kids.
The show has become a regular staple in our home and I will frequently watch a story arc of episodes if I find myself with nothing to on a Saturday or a lot of laundry to fold on a weekday night after the kids go to bed. I had seen episodes of The Clone Wars here and there during its syndicated run, but I was a young father working lots of hours to make ends meet and TV and I weren’t really friends from 2008-2012. However, I really got into the show once it was released on Netflix and all the seasons were at my disposal. I devoured the entire show from Episode 101 through Season 5’s harrowing conclusion and even into the scattered arcs of Season 6 concluding with Yoda’s vision of the Jedi’s downfall. Then, to make sure I was officially hardcore, I re-watched the entire series before Rebels came out and watched them in chronological order. I still keep an open browser on my phone with the chronological order at all times in order to always know exactly which episode falls where in the timeline of the show.
Needless to say, I am a bit of a The Clone Wars junkie, and I was floored by this week’s full-fledged throwback to the show when Rex, Kanan, Zeb, Chopper, and Ezra scrounge for proton bombs, only to run into and are captured by a still active droid army led by a super tactical droid, General Kalani. Once again, we get to see animated battle droids, destroyers, and even the Sheathipede-class shuttle! And, once again, it’s clones versus droids as Rex, Kanan, and Ezra must fight the battle droids under the command of Kalani. As Rex quips, “One last glorious day in the Grand Army of the Republic.” Their fighting proves to be a secondary concern after the trio of rebels fight their way to rescue Zeb and fulfill Kalani’s goal of reliving one “final battle” to resolve the Clone Wars. The Empire has been alerted to the Rebels presence by Chopper’s distress signal. At the urging of Ezra, the two warring factions put aside their differences to face the real threat and winner of The Clone Wars, the Empire. They eventually escape, through an ingenious plan utilizing proton bombs and lightsaber-deflected blaster bolts, and the rebels part ways with Kalani and his droid army.
An incredibly straightforward episode, “The Last Battle” is a symbolic one for clone commander Rex and for fans of The Clone Wars. I’ll admit it got a little dusty in the room when Rex uttered his previously mentioned line and when he music for the old series started at the end. For Rex, it was a chance to gain some closure and stamp “mission accomplished” on his tour of duty as a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. However, while this episode may seem like nothing more than a throwback for cast and crew of Rebels, an important observation is made by Ezra as a result of Kalani’s little war game. While we as fans are somewhat aware, the whole of the Clone Wars was merely a ruse by Palpatine to gain power, build a large military, and cause galaxy-wide chaos into which the Empire could step in. Ezra realizes the true winner of of the previous war was the Empire. It led to the previous consequences orchestrated by Palpatine, and also led to the downfall of the Jedi Order and the rise of the Sith. While many within the Star Wars universe have become aware of this reality, this seems to be another confirmation in Ezra’s mind of the necessity to destroy the Empire. They have already taken everything from him and from his friends, now he is starting to see the machinations behind the rise of the Empire and the sinister web spread out by Palpatine, Vader, and the Imperial Army. It remains to be seen how he will ultimately come down on dealing with the Imperial threat, but it seems to me this is far from the last time Ezra will encourage enemies to work together to take down the Empire.
Star Wars Rebels is a family show. Parents love watching as much as their kids. Infusing the spiritual with the fantastic and adventurous, Rebels continues the spirit of what makes Star Wars great. In order to foster the young minds and hearts of your Reel World Theologians, each week there are questions you can use during or after the show to talk about with your kids. Enjoy the show and then enjoy conversation, but always remember that story is powerful and Star Wars Rebels is not mindless.
- Is it always true that someone who is the enemy of my enemy is an ally or friend? Why or why not?
- Why do you think Ezra is able to see past the conflict and differences of those involved in The Clone Wars (Rex, Kanan, & General Kalani) and see who the real enemy is?
- In another tie to the Onderon arc from Season 5 of The Clone Wars, General Kalani was tasked by Count Dooku to defeat a group of rebels on the planet led by Saw Gerrera, who will appear in Rogue One. The rebel group was advised and trained by Jedi Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ahsoka Tano and also included Rex, Anakin’s commander.
- Another fun tip to the Onderon arc is Rex throwing his helmet at the Destroyer and deactivating it’s shield. Rex and the Jedi advisors teach the Onderon rebels to throw grenades with the right finesse to roll slow enough to penetrate the Destroyer’s shields and then deactivate the droid. This might be part of the reason why Rex says with surprise, “It worked!”
- In continuing to outfit their Y-Wings stolen in an earlier episode, the proton bombs the Ghost crew sought were used in an episode of The Clone Wars by Y-Wing bombers and also by the Sepratists fro their heavy artillery guns. The same design was used both in The Clone Wars and in last season’s episode wher ethe crew stole an Imperial Cruiser over Ryloth.
- The end credits feature the original music used in The Clone Wars as well as redesigning the Rebels logo to look like the one used in The Clone Wars.