The Clone Wars Rewatch: Captain Rex and “The Deserter”

Faced with a fugitive, Rex must confront his own choices.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the all-new episodes coming thanks to #CloneWarsSaved, we’re undertaking a full chronological rewatch of the five original seasons, The Lost Missions, and the theatrical release. We’d be honored if you would join us and share your thoughts on the award-winning series.

37: “The Deserter” (Season Two, Episode 10)

“It is the quest for honor that makes one honorable.”

A scene from "The Deserter."

Synopsis:

When General Grievous is shot down over Saleucami, Obi-Wan leads an expedition into the wilderness to find the droid general. Captain Rex is injured during the search, leading to the accidental discovery of Cut Lawquane, a clone deserter.

Analysis:

Born and bred for battle, neither the Kaminoans nor the Republic intended for the clones to have autonomy and the freedom to choose. But in the aftermath of the Battle of Geonosis, Cut Lawquane chose to run. “I was just another expendable clone, waiting for my turn to be slaughtered in a war that made no sense to me,” he says.

Disillusioned with the futility of war, living a life that felt devoid of all meaning, and watching his brothers being senselessly killed, Cut chose to be free.

A scene from "The Deserter."

In discovering the deserter, Captain Rex must confront aspects of his own personality, thoughts he’s tried to ignore. As Cut puts it, “I’m as close to you as any lifeform can be.” If he could, would Rex choose a different life? Is it a thought that crosses every clone’s mind at some point?

A scene from "The Deserter."

The clones swear an oath to the Republic, but even that pledge is something that’s ingrained at such an early age it can’t really be called a choice. They have a duty to uphold as soldiers in arms, but again, it’s not something they sign up for so much as it’s something they’re born into.

Among the ranks, there are hints of unrest. Clones seek out nicknames, face tattoos, unique hair, anything to distinguish themselves from the other faces that look exactly like their own. They’re not content to be part of a mindless, identical hive of fighters.

A scene from "The Deserter." A scene from "The Deserter."

Most of them soldier on. They stop short of asking too many questions about what it means to be individuals, whether or not they deserve the right to choose their own path, to decide against killing and demonstrate compassion instead, or fight for something they love.

A scene from "The Deserter."

Rex routinely demonstrates an unimpeachable allegiance to the Republic, and there’s no question of his loyalty. But looking at Cut, his life, his family, Rex must confront his options both as an individual and a soldier. He has to at least consider Cut’s decisions, an alternate path that shows what his life could be. And he has to consider his sworn duty. If he followed strict orders, he would turn Cut in for the deserter he admits to being.

In this case, Rex exercises his own freedom to choose. Healed and rested, he goes back to the frontlines, but Cut and his secret are safe from prying eyes. In the end, Rex’s allegiance is ultimately to what he feels is right.

A scene from "The Deserter."

Intel:

  • Supervising Director Dave Filoni and the animation team took great care to make sure their dejarik table looked and moved just like the stop-motion version created for A New Hope.

What did you think of the episode? Tell us in the comments below and share on social with #CloneWarsRewatch!

Next up: Come back next Thursday when a pickpocket steals Ahsoka’s ancient weapon in “Lightsaber Lost.”

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Want to talk more about The Clone Wars? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver what you thought about today’s episode.

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