The Bad Batch, Episode 6: “Decommissioned” Review

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(E chu ta!)

As part of a recent, friendly bet (which you can see outlined here on Twitter) I have committed to not only watching every single episode of this season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, but I must also write 500-word (minimum) reviews about the series!

Yay!

That’s not actually sarcasm. I’m excited to write about Star Wars again, and am using this as an excuse and a bit of a prod to kickstart myself back into some writing. Without further ado…



A (Too) Familiar Caper(?)

This (past) week’s episode, “Decommissioned,” saw the Bad Batch sent on a retrieval mission by their new benefactor, Cid, to a familiar locale where they ran into some familiar faces and got into familiar clone-squad hijinks. Sounds pretty fun, right?

The return of industrial Corellia from Solo was a welcome sight, and I really enjoyed the intricacies of the reclamation plant—the conveyors and droid parts reminded me favourably of Attack of the Clones—but I have to admit that I did feel some trepidation while watching the episode. At this point the series has fallen into a (potentially detrimental) pattern of guest rôles given to established characters or at least familiar types (species, creatures, etc.) and so with the appearance of Corellia, a fear started building in my stomach—I worried we might see young Han (not-yet-Solo!) show up! Even during the initial skirmish with the newcomers who stole the droid head they were sent to collect, my first thought was, “Oh, are these going to be White Worms?”

Thankfully (for me) those fears were quickly allayed. I welcomed the reappearance of the Martez sisters from Season 7 of The Clone Wars, as I thought they were some of the more interesting additions to that final season. Here, they’ve clearly established themselves a bit more since the last time we saw them, but they’re still somewhat “green” and haphazard in their teamwork. The interplay with the clones was both interesting and funny, and the action sequence against the droid security force (and the eventual need to rescue Omega) allowed for the Batch to shine and be the cinematic action heroes they’re modelled after.

Wrecker once again injured his head, and this time we got some confirmation of where all this teasing and trauma seems to be headed: Whispering to himself before passing out, he begins to say the mantra of the activated clone, “Good soldiers follow orders.” On the one hand it’s good to have that particular theory validated, while on the other, I think they’re going to have to bring this thread to a head sooner than later or else the schtick might wear thin. We’ll see if this resolves in the near future or if we’ll have to wait much longer…

The end of the episode echoed Solo in the choice by Hunter: Faced with the “greater good” against his own need, he decides to give the  information gleaned from the now destroyed droid head to the young women—mirroring Han’s choice to hand over the coaxium to Enfys Nest. I have to admit that I bought Hunter’s decision a little more than I did the scoundrel’s; it’ll be interesting to see if the failure of this mission sours their relationship with Cid, as well as to eventually find out who the Martez sisters are working for, a mysterious becloaked figure in holo. Rumours abound there for the obvious and not-so-obvious choices; I just hope we don’t see another major clash with a Canon source if it’s who we all think it is!

The Bad Batch, Episode 2: “Cut and Run” Review

Numero deux…

As part of a recent, friendly bet (which you can see outlined here on Twitter) I have committed to not only watching every single episode of this season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, but I must also write 500-word (minimum) reviews about the series!

Yay!

That’s not actually sarcasm. I’m excited to write about Star Wars again, and am using this as an excuse and a bit of a prod to kickstart myself back into some writing. Without further ado…

I Liked Dirt as a Kid, Too

After the premiere episode, I was looking forward to The Bad Batch‘s second–in spite of my distaste for the continuity clashes in the first and the reactions to that online (from both fan and creative). But enough has been spilled about that online for the time being…

Yesterday’s episode, “Cut and Run,” saw the ragtag team of deviant (but not defective!) clones travel to Saleucami, one of the most beautiful and interesting worlds from Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars, seeking advice from Cut, a clone who deserted the Grand Army years before. Cut and his family, the Lawquanes–a Twi’lek mother, Suu, and her two children, Shaeeah and Jek–return from The Clone Wars, where we previously saw them interact with fan-favourite clones like Rex and Jesse; in this episode, we learn that, obviously, the clones of the Bad Batch had also met and interacted with Cut. One has to wonder when that occurred, and I hope it would be neat if that story gets fleshed out one day. As has already been established in “Aftermath” and The Clone Wars, the Bad Batch is less susceptible to the Kaminoan’s conditioning (at least regarding their aptitude or lack thereof for following orders), and so I have to wonder if that could have extended to their opinions about Cut having deserted the Grand Army and gone against what he was created for–whereas regs like Rex notably had reservations about the decision, for a time.

One of the more interesting (if slightly unrealistic) moments occurs early in the episode, right after the heroes arrive on Saleucami: Omega, exciting the Bad Batch’s ship, is confused and awed by a new substance underfoot–dirt. This is seemingly intentionally reminiscent of Rey’s wonder at the beauty and diversity (and relative lush nature) of the galaxy in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, but seems (on first glance, at least) slightly less realistic that a child who would ostensibly have been educated by her Kaminoan creators is unaware of…what dirt is. Or perhaps that’s a too simplistic read of the scene; after all, Omega doesn’t react with further confusion when Tech informs her the substance is “dirt,” so perhaps what’s happening here isn’t ignorance of the concept but of the reality–having been “born” and raised on Kamino, a stormy waterworld, she hasn’t actually had a chance to see some of the common, earthier elements. No matter how we’re actually supposed to interpret the sequence, I hope they kept this aspect of the character in mind when writing later episodes, because it could be a core aspect of Omega’s character and place in the plot, if her ignorance or perhaps innocence were to drive the action forward (or forestall it in some way).

Throughout the episode, I have to admit that I felt tense–Internet rumour and a foreboding about the formulation and execution of the Bad Batch’s plan in the episode led me to believe that things would not end up well for Cut, Suu and the kids; things could still go awry if the Bad Batch is traced there and connected to the clone-looking man who got on that transport. We’ll have to wait and see. But I did ultimately enjoy the fact that in this episode, the Lawquanes were able to escape unscathed–assuming they felt it, the writers reined in the destructive force of the Empire that could otherwise have come down on their heads.

This episode seems to establish that chain codes, previously mentioned in The Mandalorian, came into being following the Clone Wars under the Empire. This is interesting because, as others have pointed out online already, it suggests that the Republic didn’t have a centralized system of registration and identification of its citizens–something that’s portrayed as forebodingly fascist in “Cut and Run,” but is something anyone of at least working age is usually subject to in our world. (Do you have a SSN?) The seeming fact that the Republic lacked this might help explain (on the one hand) how seedy some elements in that society seemed and how something even as socially destructive and evil as slavery could occur under the Republic’s watchful eye, yet at the same time, it seems to clash with that government’s depiction as overly bureaucratic and capitalistically corrupt. It’s probably most likely that some form of registration existed under the Republic, but perhaps it was decentralized and sectors (or some such) had some autonomy in its implementation; no matter that largely lore-connected question, I was happy to get some background info on a concept that hitherto we knew frustratingly little about, and can’t wait to see if we get even more of that in the episodes to come.

“Cut and Run” was a good episode. I thought it had nice character work with Omega and Hunter, and it was good to see Echo be useful–although his pairing with Tech may have reinforced a sort of doubling effect with those characters and their mechanical/technical aptitudes. I hope future episodes continue to build-out the post-Clone War world, and I’m excited for next week’s!

The Bad Batch, Episode 1: “Aftermath” Review

And here we go…

As part of a recent, friendly bet (which you can see outlined here on Twitter) I have committed to not only watching every single episode of this season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, but I must also write 500-word (minimum) reviews about the series!

Yay!

That’s not actually sarcasm. I’m excited to write about Star Wars again, and am using this as an excuse and a bit of a prod to kickstart myself back into some writing. Without further ado…

A Brilliant Premiere Marred by Inconsistency

I’ll cut to the chase: Overall, I think the series premiere of The Bad Batch was a success. It balances character moments well within the larger scope of the galactic-scale issues facing them in the nascent days of the Empire, and as a result, I think the titular Bad Batch flourishes here in a way they did not in their The Clone Wars Season 7 début. Unlike others, I didn’t even dislike that arc of the series, but I did think those episodes were tonally inconsistent with the more “mature” latter-day Clone Wars–something about the characters and what they accomplished was hard to square with other events that late in the series, with other Season 7 episodes (not to mention those of Season 6) feeling much heavier and more down-to-earth. I’ve said before that, to me, the Bad Batch arc wouldn’t feel out of place in Seasons 1 or 2.

The core aspects of the characters that harken back to the old Clone Wars, including a playfulness and an immaturity, isn’t gone in “Aftermath,” the premiere of this new series, but as I said above, I feel like it’s more balanced and the focus on the characters themselves and their place in the early Imperial period serves to ground the story and provide a good “in” for the audience. While some expressed reservations about Omega, a new female clone character and (as revealed in the episode) a fifth member of the aberrant batch that led to the creation of Clone Force 99, I really enjoyed the dynamics she brought to the team and the episode, even if it’s not exactly a novel concept to have a young, student-like character who follows (and even at times mimics) her mentor(s). An equally pleasing aspect of the episode for a Canonphile like myself was the appearance of Saw Gerrera, who has clearly matured somewhat even since we last saw him (chronologically) in The Clone Wars, yet he is a far cry from the physically crippled and pathologically paranoid figure he will eventually become in Rogue One.

I could honestly be overly effusive about the aspects of “Aftermath” that I enjoyed. I suspect that the development team behind the series has used or been made aware of concepts regarding the clone army and their replacement by conscripted/recruited soldiers from the sadly abandoned TV series Underworld, as the episode concerns itself greatly with questions about the future of the clones. I absolutely loved those aspects of this episode and can’t wait to see how and where the series takes us next; however, there is something that marred (and will likely always mar) my opinion of not only this premiere episode, but perhaps also the series.

It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room: What does “Canon” really mean?

I’m mostly joking; I’ve talked and debated this issue many times, mostly to no avail, and I frankly don’t want to be bogged down in the morning following the premiere of The Bad Batch getting too into the weeds. Nevertheless, I do find it gravely concerning that previously established narratives are becoming more and more fluid and retconned–and, I’d argue, to the detriment of the overall story. In the opening minutes of the premiere, the creatives behind the series decided to place the Bad Batch on Kaller during Order 66–an event already depicted in the absolutely brilliant Star Wars: Kanan comic series from 2015-2016. Put simply, there’s zero way to make the two depictions of the same event cohesive: One does not feature the Bad Batch (among numerous other differences), and one features them so significantly that it forms one of the emotional bases on which the rest of the episode itself rests. Gone in the series are the clones Styles and Grey, friends and fellow soldiers alongside Depa Billaba and Caleb Dume (later aka Kanan Jarrus), replaced by the “reinforcements” of the Bad Batch. On the one hand I understand the desire to tell this story in animation and to connect these characters together, but something about the way the series does it–completely overriding the story depicted in the comic–comes across as lazy and petty, like a child complaining about not getting to play with the toys they want to they way they want to. I feel like more competent and frankly interesting storytelling, especially IP writing, would find a way to tell the story in a way that doesn’t contradict what came before. The recent trends in animation and live-action to do the opposite annoys me and, honestly, makes it far less likely that I’ll continue to buy things like comics and novels and reference books. It’s hard to see the point when the stories and information depicted therein are treated like suggestions and not actually considered part of the overall story.

A brilliant series, cut down in its prime…

Does this point aggravate me to the degree that I won’t watch the series? No. But I sincerely hope we don’t see more of this going forward, and that all the things I enjoyed about the premiere continue instead! Build characters and worlds, but not at the expense of what you already have!