- "It is the quest for honor that makes one honorable."
"The Deserter" is the tenth episode of Season Two of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series. It aired on January 1, 2010 and concluded a two-part storyline started with the previous episode, "Grievous Intrigue."
Hot on the trail of General Grievous, Obi-Wan Kenobi lands with his troops, Commander Cody and Captain Rex on Saleucami. Grievous, having had to abandon his landing ship due to damage sustained during his escape, landed on the planet's surface in an escape pod, as did many of his battle droids. However, the radio transmitter on Grievous' pod has been knocked out of commission, and as a result Grievous is forced to locate one of the other pods in order to send a message to the Separatist fleet before Kenobi and his forces find him. Grievous' droids find the General a reek for him to ride, and some eopies as pack animals. Grievous refuses to allow the battle droids to ride, forcing them to drain their power reserves marching along with him.
As Kenobi's forces scour the area, Rex informs him that the cruiser which landed them has returned to orbit, just before the Jedi General spots the wreckage of Grievous' landing craft. Scouring the crash site for any clues, the clone troopers only find droids that are too destroyed to retrieve any intel from them, and Cody informs Kenobi that the ship's power intakes are still warm. Rex reports that the ship's landing compartment has been almost entirely destroyed. Kenobi orders Rex to take troopers Jesse, Hardcase and Kix on patrol to search some nearby wetlands, while he, Cody and Crys keep searching in this area. As Rex and his men leave, Cody remarks that the Captain is a smart man, and Kenobi concurs, noting that he's always thinking on his feet.
On patrol, Rex and company are riding speeder bikes through the wetlands when two surviving commando droids take aim with a sniper rifle, shooting Rex in the chest and knocking him off his bike. Jesse sends Kix, the medic, to look after Rex while he and Hardcase run down the commando droids, destroying them. Taking a look at the injured Captain and removing his helmet, Kix comms Jesse to tell him he had better get back.
Back at the crash site, a clone trooper finds an intact droid, and Kenobi orders it loaded onto an AT-TE for inspection on the go. Analyzing the data, Cody reports that the droid had adjusted the descent of its pod to avoid collision with another one, and Crys tells Kenobi he can calculate the location of the other pod from the data. Kenobi tells Cody to inform the men that they've picked up their quarry's scent.
In the wetlands, Kix tells Jesse that Rex's injuries are severe, but he can't know more without removing his armor. Wondering what they are going to do, Jesse notices some eopies nearby and realizes they are domesticated, indicating there is likely a farm somewhere nearby, and decides they're going to find it. Meanwhile, Grievous becomes more and more frustrated as, one by one, his battle droid escorts lose the last of their power and keep dropping where they stand. When Kix arrives at the farm, he's startled when the farmhouse door opens to reveal a Twi'lek woman who greets him by aiming a blaster rifle at him, causing him to raise his hands. Jesse, arriving moments later, manages to defuse the situation with the woman, telling her that all they want is a place to tend their injured captain for the night, as they already have a medic. The woman, ordering her two children back inside the house, comments that her husband is away and tells the clones there are some benches back in the barn they can use.
After nightfall, Rex wakes up as Kix is bandaging his wound, and is quickly filled in on what happened. He's startled to realize he can't feel his left arm, and Kix tells him he has some nerve damage. Rex tries to order Kix to just patch him up so they can get back on patrol, but Kix refuses, stating that when it comes to the health of the men, he outranks everyone. The woman, who introduces herself as Suu, arrives with a plate of fruit, and Jesse thanks her, insisting that the food is enough. Suddenly, a ball comes rolling into the barn, stopping under the table Rex is lying atop. Suu's daughter Shaeeah follows the ball in, ignoring an admonition from her mother that she should have stayed in the house and claiming that the toy got away from her. Coming out from under the table, she sees Rex's face and stares at him for a moment before, to his confusion, remarking that he looks like her father. The other clones are confused as well, but Suu tells her daughter not to bother Rex, who with a slight shake of the head assumes she meant nothing by it. After mother and daughter have left, Rex reluctantly orders his men to resume the search without him, putting Jesse in charge. Hardcase puts one of Rex's blaster pistols on the table next to him as he lies down to get some sleep.
Elsewhere, Kenobi and his men locate a Separatist escape pod, but find no one there. Deducing that Grievous must be headed to another escape pod, Kenobi attempts to contact Rex and gets Jesse, who informs him of the captain's condition and that they found him shelter for the night. Kenobi orders Jesse and his patrol to swing around so they will meet up with his forces at the final escape pod.
Later in the night, Rex is briefly woken up by an eopie licking his face, forcing him to shoo it away. Not long afterwards, however, a man enters the barn by the side door, grabbing a farming implement as a weapon. The man slowly advances across the room. Rex, waking up again, slowly grabs his pistol and shuts his eyes again, waiting until the man gets close enough before sitting up and pointing the blaster at him, only for it to be smacked out of his hand. It turns out that the man is another clone, to Rex's shock, and he walks over to turn on a light, remarking that it seems the Clone Wars have finally made it all the way out to Saleucami. Rex accuses him of being a deserter, but he retorts that he's just a simple farmer and, asked for his identification number, introduces himself as Cut Lawquane. He explains that he left the army because he didn't want to have to kill for a living, although Rex doesn't see it as Cut's choice to make since he swore an oath to the Galactic Republic. Cut retorts that he swore an oath to his family, and asks if that still counts, or does Rex plan to turn him in? Just then, Suu and the kids arrive, and Shaeeah and her younger brother Jek are happy to see their father, Jek presenting him with a drawing. Shaeeah tells Cut that she had told Rex he looked just like him.
Suu fills Cut in on why Rex is there, and Rex is forced to explain that he has a name as well after Cut asks him what his ID number is. Cut invites Rex to dinner and, uncomfortable, Rex turns him down but is persuaded to change his mind when Shaeeah and Jek insist otherwise, and Cut says they won't stop begging until he agrees. Over the meal, Cut and Rex have an argument, with Cut insisting that the clones are still individuals, and asking why it is that Rex has a name instead of just a number. Rex hesitantly suggests that maybe the army's leaders see it as a more efficient way of distinguishing between the clones, but Cut retorts that the Kaminoans likely don't see it that way, saying that names make them feel unique in an army where everyone looks and sounds the same, and calling out Rex when he denies ever having thought about it. Cut points out to Rex that just by being there he must be thinking about what would happen if he chose the life he wanted, and Rex retorts that maybe, by staying in the army, he is, since he can't imagine what kind of evil might fall on the galaxy if the Republic loses. Afterwards, he brusquely asks if he's met with Cut's approval, and Cut says so, which prompts Shaeeah to ask what exactly "to each his own" means, and her father tells her it means she can do whatever she wants with her life.
Grievous manages to reach the remaining intact capsule and prepares to send a distress call. Informed by a droid already at the pod that there are lifeforms approaching from the east and west, Grievous orders his forces to prepare for battle. When Kenobi and his men catch up, a battle ensues. When a Separatist shuttle arrives, the last AT-TE is unable to take it down, and Kenobi engages Grievous in personal combat to prevent him from leaving. However, Grievous hooks himself to the shuttle by a grappling cable and manages to escape yet again, leaving Kenobi disappointed.
In the meantime, Rex and Lawquane play dejarik, in which Rex asks why Lawquane left the army. Lawquane tells how after the First Battle of Geonosis, his transport was shot down and his brothers onboard were slaughtered. Knowing that there was nothing to be done, Cut ran away - an experience which still haunts him. While playing outside, Shaeeah and Jek stumble upon a crashed Separatist escape pod in one of their fields and accidentally activate a platoon of damaged, but still-functional commando droids inside. The droids promptly attack the farm, and Lawquane prepares to defend his family. Rex offers his help, and although the droids manage to invade the farmhouse, the two clones put up a brave fight and destroy them all, with Lawquane saving Rex's life.
The next morning, Rex prepares to leave on an eopie. Although it would be his duty to report Lawquane as a deserter, he respects his clone brother's wish for a peaceful life greatly enough to conveniently forget about the whole incident. He refuses Lawquane's invitation to stay, parting with the words: "This is your home, Cut. My family is elsewhere."
The Jedi Temple Archives feature on The Complete Season Two Blu-ray includes the deleted scene "Commando Droid Snipers."
The original episode guide slideshow mistakenly displayed an image of Hardcase, without his helmet on, attending to Rex after he had been shot off his BARC speeder. In the aired episode, it was Kix, the team medic, who stopped to attend to Rex, and his helmet remained on.
In the episode's opening scene, Grievous says that he needs to find an escape pod, but only in the next scene he appears in is he informed by a battle droid that the transmitter on his escape pod is not working, prompting him to make that decision.
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- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Character Encyclopedia - Join the Battle! dates the events of "The Deserter" to be 21 years before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, which corresponds to 21 BBY according to Star Wars: Galactic Atlas.