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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Rex and the clones show their mettle in an exciting Rebels

Illustration for article titled Rex and the clones show their mettle in an exciting Rebels

If you were craving some classic Rex/clones action, well, “Relics of the Old Republic” is right up your alley. I caught up on The Clone Wars via Netflix so there was no nostalgia factor for me, but if I got excited seeing Rex, Gregor, and Wolf smoothly getting re-acquainted to battle, then I can imagine those of you who grew up watching The Clone Wars will be ecstatic. We also get some genuine emotional heft, as not only does Kanan accept the clones as genuine allies, but we see the clones instantly designate Kanan, the Jedi, as their commander and leader. It’s not a huge emotional moment but it is satisfying, and coupled with a tense, Mad Max: Fury Road-esque sandstorm standoff, “Relics” is just a damn fine episode of the show.

This may sound weird but this episode reminded me of A New Hope a lot for some reason. I think it was because the atmosphere felt really pulpy–energetic and full of action and tension. It was just fun, you know? Nice and straight-forward, without the kind of excess that tends to clutter the more recent batch of Star Wars entertainment. We rejoin our heroes stuck on the desert planet with the clones, with the Empire on its way, and both the Phantom and the Ghost badly damaged. An Imperial starship arrives without wasting any time, sending TIE fighters down to investigate (Hera goes dark just in time to avoid scanning), and the fun begins.

In retrospect, making this a two-parted was a good idea. The first episode allows viewers, particularly newer ones and those who aren’t familiar with the clones, to get a sense of who they are, not only as an isolated group but as individuals. The second episode is watching them coolly handle their business while being shot at and chased around. The episode doesn’t hem and haw over Wolf and his attempts to throw Kallus off their trail when he contacts them. The fighting starts pretty much immediately–and ends immediately when Gregor blows the TIE Fighter right out of the sky with a shrug. It’s such a great little moment–contrast the tense, panicky nature of the Ghost crew with the casual saunter of the clones themselves (Rex’s advice to Zeb’s shooting technique is pitch perfect), and you can just see how useful these guys will be. Although… I was a bit thrown off when the Star Destroyer sent out four ships but they only were attacked by one. I assume the other three just crashed into each other, because, you know, Stormtroopers.

“The Lost Commanders” and “Relics of the Old Republic” is about bridging the gap between past and present Star Wars. This is done physically, like when the clones marvel at the AT-ATs and their weird four-legs, and thematically, as Kanan struggles to accept the clones as characters, as people, worth saving. Kanan still can’t quite forgive them for their roles in Order 66, but as the episode goes along, the clones become so ingrained in their military duties that they instantly start calling Kanan their leader and become thrilled in fighting along side a Jedi again, even going so far as to sacrifice themselves for a cause greater.

This occurs in a genuinely tense moment as the old Republic tank and the AT-ATs have a crazy game of cat and mouse in the midst of a sandstorm. The clones instantly recognize the power of having Jedi among them, trusting both Kanan and Ezra to lead them out of the mess. (Rex having confidence in the young Ezra is particularly resonant, since he also worked with a young Ahsoka back during the Clone Wars). Knowing the clones were one hundred percent willing to sacrifice their lives to allow the Ghost crew to escape adds poignancy to their accepted roles as soldiers, so when Kanan does come back to save them, I’ll admit my heart grew three sizes that day. When Kanan says, “I have my problems with clones, but I don’t want those men to die,” he implicitly accepts his role as commander (note how proud Rex is when he sees Kanan, Ezra, and Zeb leap down to infiltrate the AT-AT; just like the old days indeed). The Jedi may still have his problems with clones, but he’s working through it. And he’ll have to, as a new, darker presence is on his way.


  • I’m always amused when generals in Star Wars give out military directions, because they rarely, if ever, actually happen on the field. Kallus yells something about going thirty degrees left and flanking a turn while in the sandstorm, but it’s not like the AT-ATs actually do that. This is more noticeable during space battles.
  • Rex doesn’t know Darth Vader is Anakin either. That reveal may kill the poor guy.
  • The episode ends with the introduction of a new Inquisitor. So far he hasn’t distinguished himself from the previous one, so we’ll have if the show will make him stand out in any way.