"Star Wars: Rebels" 2.1– The Lost Commanders (7.5 out of 10) – Directed by Dave Filoni and Sergio Paez; Written by Matt Michnovetz; Based on characters and situations created by George Lucas; Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Taylor Gray, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar, David Oyelowo; Special Guests: Dee Bradley Baker, Ashley Eckstein; Rated TV-Y7, Aired on Disney XD 10/14/15.
This review contains spoilers.
"The Lost Commanders" was the first regular episode of "Star Wars Rebels" Season 2 and reintroduced characters many thought had been lost in the Clone War.
The episode opens with the burgeoning rebel fleet looking for any place they can use for safe purchase. They're on the run and can't help anyone or launch offensives against the Empire if they can't help themselves. Ahsoka Tano remembers an old friend she'd lost contact with who might be able to help. Instead of seeking him out herself, she sends the crew of the Ghost, warning Kanan to trust her friends even though he might not feel like it's the best idea.
Where is Ahsoka going?
Presumably to hunt down her former master.
The rest of the episode plays out like a trust exercise on the set of "Jaws" and I very much enjoyed it.
Obviously, since it's been teased ad nauseum, the friends Ahsoka sends the Ghost crew to find turn out to be clones who beat their Order 66 programming. Of course Kanan is upset by this proposition, having watched his master die at the hands of clones and spent so much time on the run from Styles and Grey, but Ezra works as a balance on him.
Hera would have worked as a much better balance, but the hyperdrive conveniently fried so that Hera couldn't be planetside to talk sense into everyone.
There are two major things I loved about this episode. The first is the "Jaws" aesthetic. The walker used by the clones is very much a "Star Wars" version of Quint's Orca. And each of the clones even take on brief aspects of Quint's personality. As they wait for Captain Rex to provide them the required information, former ARC trooper Gregor gets the crew hunting joopa (spelling?). And what do these creatures love to eat more than anything? Lasat. So they use Zeb as the chum to the shark of the joopa. Even the Kevin Kiner score invoked the more "Jaws" side of John Williams, rather than the more "Star Wars" influence.
The second thing I loved were all of the tantalizing clues about what might have happened between now and the last time we saw Rex and the rest. He mentions one thing in particular, the siege of Mandalore, that had my head spinning with possibilities. Mandalore was last in the hands of Darth Maul and Deathwatch and that's who controlled it when Ahsoka Tano had left the Jedi Order. Mandalore was a neutral system and had no part in the larger Clone War, which was why Obi-Wan's involvement there had to be largely incognito. The last time we saw Rex, he was getting hints about his programming chip. And some time after both of these things, Rex and Ahsoka teamed up to...for some reason...invade Mandalore?
And thanks to Sabine in season one, we know Mandalore in the present has an Imperial Academy on it.
This is probably the first time I've been truly interested in Mandalore, and I love it.
The episode is entertaining enough on its own, but feels far too short. At New York Comic Con I was able to see this episode and the next back to back and so it didn't seem to end quite as abruptly as I remembered. The next part is a treat and easily the better half of this two parter, but I'm glad to see them spreading out their storytelling into larger episodes and arcs again.
After "The Siege of Lothal," any episode might have felt a little muted, so it was good that they swung the pendulum on the tone. The last one was full on "Star Wars" intensity and emotional drama, this episode was very light and funny, though any fan of "The Clone Wars" found themselves tearing up here and there.
I have a feeling that this episode is memorable for what it does in bringing characters from previous shows into this era of canon, but we're going to be wowed by many more episodes this season. 7.5 out of 10.
Season 2 Scorecard:
- The Siege of Lothal (10 out of 10)
- The Lost Commanders (7.5 out of 10)
Season Average 8.75 out of 10