My friends over at the Rogue Won Podcast just asked me a question regarding the latest episode of Star Wars Rebels: The Last Battle. I can usually give my answers pretty concisely on twitter but this question is a bit more complex….
SPOILERS for THE LAST BATTLE Star Wars Rebels Episode!!
So Grasso’s question revolves around the question posed during the conclusion of the episode:
Who won the Clone Wars?
We all know the story….
With Kenobi’s defeat of Grievous and Anakin’s discovery of Palpatine’s Sith knowledge, the war ends with the Jedi’s failed arrest of Sidious, the execution of Order 66, Vader’s execution of the Separatist leaders and shutdown of the droid army, and Palpatine’s reorganization of the Republic into the Galactic Empire.
Now there’a lot going on there.
So I’ll start with one thing first. Grasso, you’re not wrong. The Republic “won” and became the Empire. So on paper, you’re kinda right. And I’m guessing Galactic Empire history books agree with you.
From a certain point of view.
Ezra isn’t wrong either….
And you’re missing a few important things.
So with all that in mind, you also have to see who’s point of view we are seeing.
From my point of view, I agree with Ezra. The Empire won. Palpatine was the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic before appointing himself Emperor but he was also the Sith Lord leading the Separatists. In fact, the entire war was orchestrated to place the galaxy exactly where it was needed to tip into Palpatine’s hands.
But to be more precise you’ve got to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Let’s take the Jedi for instance. Or from Ezra’s point of view, Kanan. The Jedi were part of the Republic, protectors, and eventually generals. Does it look like they won? No. They were slaughtered and betrayed by the very clones they fought beside. Hunted down by red blades across the galaxy until not even whispers of their existence were heard. The Jedi fought for peace as ironic as it sounds. Kenobi even says during his encounter with Vader.
Anakin my allegiance is to the Republic, to democracy!
So while Vader agrees with you, I think most of the Jedi would feel they were the ones betrayed. Kenobi even feels the very thing they fought for was lost. Kanan himself is haunted by his short time in the war. He was a kid about Ezra’s age on the front lines of the war until his master was gunned down in front of him and he lost everything he ever knew. A life the Jedi temple never prepared him for. Surviving by whatever means he could. I imagine most surviving Jedi have similar horror stories. So Kanan knows what he’s talking about when he says
Battles leave scars…
Now, what about Rex? A being born and bred for one purpose. To fight and to kill and to die for the Republic. A life cut in half never given a choice. Through hell and fire and pain with his general only to discover that he is meant to betray the one person he trusts the most.
Rex is one of the presumably lucky few who removed their chips and actually had a chance to make a choice. To fight alongside his brothers and the Jedi for years only to strike the Jedi down and then be decommissioned and cast aside by the new Empire, their usefulness outlived. Do you think he feels like he won the war?
In some ways, Rex is probably one of the lucky few clones able to feel used and betrayed by the Empire.
Rex also talks about how much he and the droids have in common. Their “programming” is such a part of them that it’s a burden that can never be forgotten. Rex has to fight just like the TX droid does. That’s their purpose, it’s all they know.
Sometimes if one is to understand the great mystery one must study all it’s aspects (which may include reading) not just the dogmatic narrow view of the Jedi.
You say Palpatine won and Palpatine was the Republic and the Empire.
I agree that Palpatine won the Clone Wars.
But countless beings who populated that Republic that Palpatine led to victory probably didn’t win. I’m sure some of the military leaders and core worlds celebrated that victory with him. But much more “victorious” systems were enslaved, occupied, and subjugated by the government they fought for and stood by. You can say the Republic became the Empire. But I can say through fear and death, the Republic was conquered by the Empire. Sure the logo was similar and most of the upper management stayed, but the Empire is not the Republic. The very ideals which made the Republic what it was were destroyed in the name of safety and security. Like Padme said. the Republic died with “thunderous applause.”
Now about Ezra. Did he win the Clone Wars?
Ezra is able to see without the narrow view that those trapped in the wars saw.
Ezra saw the result.
And while he didn’t really win anything short of replacing a ship he lost a few weeks ago, he was able to do something much more instrumental and intangible. He was able to show 2 (3 if you count the TX droid) people what they fought for. Ezra was able to show them the truth of what all of their fallen brothers and sisters died for. They were pawns. Their ideals, hopes, dreams, and programming amounted to nothing more than to pave the way for an Emperor… or… Empire… depending on your point of view.
He was able to help Rex and Kanan (and maybe even TX) find their end to the war.
So from their point of view, he kinda won the Clone Wars.
I don’t know if that’s the answer you were looking for but remember.
How Jedi choose to win the question is.