RECAP: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – E2: Cut and Run

The Bad Batch (Dee Bradley-Baker) and Omega (Michelle Ang)

What’s better than a new episode of Star Wars Animation? TWO episodes in the same week! Yes, that’s right. After celebrating Star Wars Day (a very belated May the 4th Be With You), we’re back with The Bad Batch crew for another adventure in a galaxy, far, far away.

As per usual, a quick reminder that this recap will contain spoilers for the episode and so if you haven’t caught up yet – please do not read any further! Well, watch the episode and come back, but if you need something to pass the time away, don’t forget you can watch our new discussion show The Bad Betches.

Are we allowed to let out an excited squee yet? Because what an episode, full of returning characters/creatures and a look at how fast fascism can set in.

Firstly, the episode kickstarted off with a simple title card and no narration from Tom Kane. This emphasises the usage of it in the first episode and reinforces the fact that we are not in The Clone Wars anymore. This is The Bad Batch, post-war, and their journey through this new twisted galaxy.

But not everything is evil in the galaxy, as we see when we get to see a glimpse of Hunter and Omega asleep on the ship looking absolutely adorable. After Episode 1, it was clear these characters were some of the audience’s favourites and I think this episode gives us even more of that. A delightful respite from all the evil-doing that’s going on elsewhere.

At the end of the last episode, The Bad Batch said that they were going to find an old friend who could help them out. That journey takes the squad to the planet Saleucami, which is the first planet outside of Kamino that Omega has ever set foot on. In a moment that feels very much like the scene in The Force Awakens when Rey first steps on Takodana, we get to view Omega’s joy and giddy enthusiasm about something new – even if it’s just dirt. The characters find their ‘old friend’, who is revealed to as an old friend of ours too, – Cut Lawquane!

The character, a deserter clone, first appeared in the second season of The Clone Wars alongside his Twi’lek wife Suu and her children Shaeeah and Jek. Here we see the Bad Batch get to interact with another Clone who would be considered ‘an outsider’, as they ask for his advice on laying low and avoiding being found. It’s a lovely moment, which is sure to elicit some fond ‘homely’ memories as they use the sound effects from A New Hope – namely from the Lars’ homestead. A nice touch.

Cut informs the group that Captain Rex has visited the family recently too, informing him of the situation regarding the inhibitor chips and presumably looking to see if it had affect Cut in any way. Omega lets The Bad Batch know about the specifics of the chips, as Tech once again thought that it would have been obvious to everyone else – another bit of levity in an otherwise heavy scene. We also get to see more of Wreckers’ adorable side when Cut’s children Shaeeah and Jek call him ‘Uncle Wrecker!’ – which continues throughout the episode.

We see Omega learning what it’s like to have a somewhat normal life, examining and learning games alongside her new friends. We still don’t know the full details about Omega, which has led some people to theorise that she may have force sensitivity. That mystery is helped set up by Cut’s intrigue, noting “The Kaminoans don’t create without a purpose”.

Speaking of the Kaminoans creations, we see how the Clones and newly-found Empire are really clamping down (both metaphorically and literally) on the Galaxy. Outposts are being set up, ships are being clamped and the Empire has now introduced a new system of chain codes, practically a government-issued number that puts you on their database. The idea of chain codes was first introduced in The Mandalorian but adds an even more chilling note in this series. They’re practically the Star Wars equivalent of ‘identification papers’, something used by fascists like the Nazis during WWII, particularly in countries that they had forcefully invaded. It’s a chilling representation of a police state, giving the Empire full access to details regarding their citizens.

The core struggle in this episode is Hunter’s unease around raising a child, and whether it’s safe for Omega to stay with The Bad Batch. Especially, since the Clones themselves were created for one purpose – to fight. There’s a scene in which Omega accidentally endangers herself trying to receive a ball back, and the difference of approach between Hunter (a soldier) and Cut (someone who has been a parent longer than a soldier, practically) is interesting. It shows that these core characters are learning as much as Omega is, for her, it’s visiting planets for the first time, for them? It’s living their lives.

The Squad work together to create false codes for Cut’s family so that they can escape the planet before the Imperial lockdown begins. We see a nice nod to ANH, with the Clones investigating the ’empty’ ship only to find that Tech, Echo and Omega are stashed away in secret. You know the Clones are officially part of the Empire when they implement those extremely shifty black and orange Astromechs, who quite frankly are no good.

The sequence where Hunter stays by Cut and the family as they slowly but surely make their way through the spaceport while waiting for their codes is fantastic. The tension is built superbly through the music, and the Cut’s anxiety in everything not working. Thankfully, all does eventually go to plan.

There’s the classic “go with them, you’re safer there” trope where Hunter thinks it might be safer for Omega to go with Cut, but thankfully she decides that she wants to stay with her brothers (uncles? how are we phrasing this? Lucasfilm, please clarify!)

Overall, Cut and Run was another fantastic episode and continues a great introduction to this series. After the action-packed 70-minute opener, it was nice to have a relatively quieter episode that delves more into the impact fascism is starting to affect the galaxy.

Oh, And Another Thing: 

  • We get our first look at a new Imperial Bad Guy! Vice Admiral Rampart (whose figure was seen recently online) makes his first appearance in the episode as a hologram.
  • Tech makes a great point about how the Clones tried so hard to give themselves their own identity away from their designation numbers, while ordinary citizens line up to be given numbers instead of a name.
  • But seriously, fuck that Astromech and its snitch-scream sequence.
  • This episode was written by Gursimran Sandhu, who wrote for Game of Thrones!
  • You know this an official Star Wars Animation when the ‘Generic White Mandalorian Woman’ (pictured below) makes an appearance.

What’s better than a new episode of Star Wars Animation? TWO episodes in the same week! Yes, that’s right. After celebrating Star Wars Day (a very belated May the 4th Be With You), we’re back with The Bad Batch crew for another adventure in a galaxy, far, far away. As per usual, a quick reminder … Continue reading RECAP: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – E2: Cut and Run

RECAP: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – E1: Aftermath

After what feels like forever since we last visited Star Wars, we finally have new content and on May 4th too! (Happy Star Wars Day to you, reader.) Yes, The Clone War may have ended but we are far from escaping this world just yet as The Bad Batch work their way out of one conflict and into our hearts. So, let’s get into it!

Although, just a quick warning – these recaps will be diving into spoiler territory. If you’re wondering what our non-spoiler thoughts on the premiere were, you can check out our review here.

 

Are you sure you want to continue? Last warning, forever will it dominate your destiny and all that!  Alright, come on then:

Wow. What a way to open up a new chapter in the Star Wars Saga.

Kudos to the team for the genius move of starting the show out as an ordinary episode of The Clone Wars. While many will continue to claim this is a continuation of that show (it isn’t), having Tom Kane and the opening graphic trick the audience into that belief before diving straight into the nitty-gritty of Order 66 and the end of the war was a brilliant idea. It lures the audience into a false sense of security before reminding them that this is a brand new story, that focuses purely on Clone Force 99’s view on the Republic becoming the Empire.

Not to mention the fact that we finally see a cameo appearance from Depa Billaba played here by Archie Panjabi, (aka Pinky from ‘Bend It Like Beckham‘) and young little Caleb Dume, once again portrayed by Freddie Prinze Jr. The story of how Order 66 happened for Caleb and Depa had been told in another format and in a different way, but I think we can forgive the creatives for wanting to once again demonstrate how devastating Order 66 by using a character that fans have a deep connection with. Although, even if you’re not aware that this child will one day become Kanan Jarrus, it’s still a very emotional sequence that also gives us a sense of how The Bad Batch is dealing with this strange new order.

Watching the Clone Troopers, who we of course we’ve grown to know and love in a more profound way through The Clone Wars series, become these automatons is heartbreaking. Maybe even more so now that we get to see this altered behaviour through the eyes of fellow Jango duplicates who aren’t being affected (The Bad Batch). It gives the audience even more of a connection with these characters because we are feeling the exact same way – apprehensive, worried, saddened. All of Clone Force 99 seems to be quite perturbed by this new order embedded in their DNA except for Crosshair, who tries to follow through with the order and kill the Jedi padawan. He later interrogates Hunter’s lack of loyalty, despite the fact the squad themselves were never too big on following the rules. Anyway, we see the team head back home to Kamino where things seem amiss – changes are already in foot, surprisingly fast.

What this episode nails from the get-go are the horrifying nature of the Empire. Palpatine doesn’t slowly introduce elements one by one or decides to introduce elements after he’s formed his Empire, he and others like Tarkin have planned this for years. So, it’s no surprise that they’re already debating the removal of Clone Troopers (citing costs) and already beginning to clamp down on planets that they had previously tried to help ‘liberate’. A point that is further delved into when the team are sent to wipe out Separatist Insurgents only to find out they’re the same villagers that were previously on their side, headed by Saw Gerrera. Saw is played once again by Andrew Kishino, who does a brilliant job at adding in subtle elements of Forest Whittaker’s portrayal of the character, helping to blend those two versions of the character together well. The mission further divides the team and Crosshair, whose inhibitor chip has been causing him to lose some of his free will.

We’re also introduced to the magnificent Omega (Michelle Ang), an inquisitive young girl and duplicate of Jango Fett. While the nature of Omega’s creation is still unknown so far, it was nice to see that the Kaminoans aren’t all bad after all. And the shared connection that some of the cloners seem to have with their creations was sweet to witness, especially as we’re also tuned in to automatically go against the Empire. It was also fun to watch Omega blend in with the rest of the outsiders, while the normal army mock derides them over their differences. But now we know the perfect way to defeat a group of brainwashed, clones of the most feared fighter in the galaxy – FOOD FIGHT!

It’s also a great idea of introducing a new member to the Bad Batch while losing another to the dark side, it helps add to the shake-up of the galaxy as a whole, while also giving these characters another key objective – protect their little sister.

Of course, the core crux of the episode is watching Crosshair’s struggle with his malfunctioning brainwashing chip and his role in this new galaxy. For the others, who haven’t been affected – it’s easy for them to vilify Crosshair. In fact, I guarantee most viewers will immediately feel angry about his actions in the episode. But if anything, it’s clear that Tarkin and the Empire are the real villains here, manipulating and forcing Crosshair against his will and own nature to become a brainwashed killing machine. Much like Bucky Barnes as ‘The Winter Soldier in the Marvel Universe, it’s easy to forget that under the brainwashing is someone struggling for their own will. But the creatives cleverly get around this by having Omega, the adorable empath openly says to him that she forgives him for what he’s about to do – because she knows it’s not his fault.

Crosshair’s journey is one of the most fascinating parts of this series and it will be interesting if we see a redemption arc for the character at all. In a way, I’m hoping that we don’t see it because it highlights one of the core themes of this time period – and that’s tragedy. Post ROTS, we see both Hope and Tragedy being key forces throughout the galaxy, and we see that both in Omega and Crosshair. One allowing the others to escape and bring some good into the Galaxy, the other a physical representation of how the Emperor has brainwashed countless worlds.

By the end of the episode, the show leaves the audience understanding that this is an entirely different show to The Clone Wars – those days have long gone, and like our other favourite heroes in this time period, it’s time for The Bad Batch to go on the run… 

Oh, And Another Thing: 

  • How horrifying was it watching the Clones all celebrate Palpatine’s speech from Episode III? Haunting. Also, very nice to hear Ian McDiarmid for the first time in TCW style, even if it’s Audio from the original movie.
  • Omega is just adorable, and it’s SO good to hear an NZ actress voice the character. It makes all the difference! – and to all those who doubted what accent that was and suggested this was a Palpatine clone, I want you to go to your room and think about what you’ve done.
  • Can we talk about Wrecker’s little cuddly bear? – what a sweetheart. Who’s your favourite member of The Bad Batch? Let us know in the comments below!
  • The Red Coruscant Guard *really* are that “it’s always you 3” Harry Potter meme, aren’t they?
  • Have no fear, we only need to wait 3 more days until the next episode of The Bad Batch! – get in.

 

After what feels like forever since we last visited Star Wars, we finally have new content and on May 4th too! (Happy Star Wars Day to you, reader.) Yes, The Clone War may have ended but we are far from escaping this world just yet as The Bad Batch work their way out of one … Continue reading RECAP: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – E1: Aftermath

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Series Premiere

The Bad Batch - Crosshair, Echo, Wrecker, Hunter & Tech.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is Lucasfilm Animation’s latest project, which focuses on Clone Force 99 (AKA: The Bad Batch) after the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and the Rise of the Empire. First developed by George Lucas and Dave Filoni during the original The Clone Wars run, these troopers were designed to have specific genetic mutations to improve certain aspects/skill-sets. When Disney+ brought back The Clone Wars for its final season, the original episodes were completed and introduced the world to this intriguing and unorthodox band.

But, make no mistake – this isn’t a new season of The Clone Wars in everything but name. If anything, saying so would be a disservice to the storytelling being told in this new show. While the characters, art style and stories are lifted from the other show, The Bad Batch gets to focus on these specific characters and their outlook towards the end of the war and the sudden rise of the Empire. While the characters originated over a decade ago, this new show has Jennifer Corbett as head-writer and Brad Rau as supervising director – their energy and creativity are found all over the DNA of the show, helping to distinguish this as something fresh.

With the Bad Batch already being different from the other troopers we’ve watched over the years through Attack of the Clones through to The Siege of Mandalore, it’s fascinating watching these characters observe how their brothers and their sudden change in attitude now the war is ended. We’ve seen a little bit of this exploration in Star Wars: Rebels, but that was set many years after the events of Episode III. With this show, we get a direct look at how the Galaxy quickly adapts to this new world order and status quo, it’s haunting.

That’s not to say the show is 70 minutes of doom and gloom, that’s far from the case with Dee Bradley-Baker delivering such hilarious jokes and managing to somehow find a way to add more life and originality into these characters, despite having voiced *HUNDREDS* of them. With The Clone Wars, Rebels and Resistance under their belt, it’s no surprise that the animation throughout this premiere episode was absolutely on point, reiterating how this medium is not merely ‘secondary’ to the live-action content, but equal. Whether it’s the consistently rain beaten planet of Kamino or a jungle planet, every location is rendered brilliantly.

Like much of Star Wars, while you will be rewarded as an audience member that has watched The Clone Wars or consumed other media in a galaxy, far, far away – you don’t need to enter this story knowing every single detail. Even the story beats, which will have watchers jumping out of their seats, are crafted in such a way that it still delivers the necessary emotional and story-driven points that it wants to relay. This is a mark of great storytelling – putting an interesting story first and foremost. If it happens to connect to other parts of this world? Even better.

The Bad Batch introduces Omega, a curious and bright child who seems very inquisitive about the Bad Batch and knows all about their various exploits during the war. Omega is voiced by New Zealand actress Michelle Ang who delivers a wonderful performance, portraying both Omega’s caring and inquiring nature with such joy. While first appearing in this show, Omega is definitely going to be a character that fans fall in love with straight away and we wouldn’t be surprised if she rises up people’s favourite character lists. No pressure, Grogu!

Overall, much like the time period in which it’s placed, The Bad Batch is a story of both hope and tragedy. It’s a clever new entry in the Star Wars universe that knowingly takes audience expectations and turns it on its head rather quickly – emphasising how this time in the galaxy is equal parts frightening and exciting.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is available to watch on Disney+ starting today.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is Lucasfilm Animation’s latest project, which focuses on Clone Force 99 (AKA: The Bad Batch) after the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and the Rise of the Empire. First developed by George Lucas and Dave Filoni during the original The Clone Wars run, these troopers were designed to … Continue reading REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Series Premiere

REVIEW: Star Wars: The High Republic – Light of the Jedi

Star Wars: The High Republic – Light of the Jedi, written by Charles Soule and published by Del Rey, kickstarts a brand new era in the Star Wars galaxy. The High Republic is a publishing initiative which tells multiple stories 100 years prior to Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, showing readers the Jedi during their heyday – looking after a relatively peaceful galaxy. These stories, which are being told through different companies such as Del Rey/Marvel/Disney Publishing, focus on how the Republic attempts to expand into the outer-rim – while facing a disaster hyperspace event and a new mysterious threat – the Nihil.

Light of the Jedi has a lot hinging on its success. As the first novel in this brand new period, I don’t envy Charles Soule’s task of introducing readers to this new set of characters & context for the galaxy in general. Thankfully, much like Soule’s work on other Star Wars properties (Marvel’s Star Wars, Lando, Darth Vader etc), he manages to succeed and leave you desperate to read more about this period. The novel has an explosive opening which sets up the bulk of the problem that the Jedi have to face in the story, in fact, it felt almost like a Bond movie – with a pre-credits scene introducing how deadly these baddies can be.

Soule spends a good amount of time throughout the novel introducing this brand new age of Jedi, who resemble the noble keepers of the peace far more than the Jedi we see in the Prequel Trilogy (although one or two of those Jedi make appearances here). Reading about this diverse group of individuals who devote themselves to helping others just because it was the kind/right thing to do was actually really refreshing to read at the end of 2020, and no doubt a great way to kickstart off the new year. Of course, this is merely just coincidental – it was still uplifting to see how a galaxy could work together. It’s also an interesting reflection of the Jedi in Episodes 1-3, who feel very distant and distrustful of the politics of the Chancellor, whereas we see a more positive – almost symbiotic relationship between the Republic and these peaceful negotiators. Soule also introduces concepts very relatable to the prequel trilogy too, particularly regarding Avar Kriss and Elzar Mann, which is intriguing – especially if these enticing seeds plant into something bigger down the line.

The novel also sets up the villains of this new era, the Nihil – who feel very much like the pirates/highwaymen of the galaxy, with a post-apocalyptic twist that I’m sure would please George Miller. Much like the heroes of the story, Soule really diversifies these villains – they’re from different walks of life, class, species, but all with the joint goal of taking whatever they want, regardless of the consequences. In terms of criticism, you could argue that the Nihil feel very scattered and that their ramshackle existence feels very different to the specific goals of villains we’re used to like The Empire. However, I think that Light of the Jedi also acts as an origin for these villains as well – providing some extra context and fuel for later appearances. Thankfully, this story should grip you enough to follow through these other mediums/stories to find out what damage they will go on to cause.

I will admit that personally, I was very cautiously apprehensive about this new storytelling initiative. I love the storytellers chosen to bring these books and comics to life, but I wasn’t certain that I would enjoy the pre-skywalker saga stories. I can say without a single doubt, Light of the Jedi has removed all of these worries and I can’t wait to read more about these characters and their journey through the galaxy. Charles Soule writes an awe-inspiring entry that makes you fall in love with new protagonists, fear the new villains, and leaves you on the edge of your seat. I very much recommend picking up this book!

Star Wars: The High Republic – The Light of the Jedi will be released on January 5th, 2021 by Del Rey Publishing.

Star Wars: The High Republic – Light of the Jedi, written by Charles Soule and published by Del Rey, kickstarts a brand new era in the Star Wars galaxy. The High Republic is a publishing initiative which tells multiple stories 100 years prior to Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, showing readers the Jedi during their … Continue reading REVIEW: Star Wars: The High Republic – Light of the Jedi

The Science of Lightsabers

“An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.” -Obi-Wan Kenobi

Lightsabers, as we know them, consist of a plasma blade powered by a kyber crystal. The blade is emitted from a hilt, usually metal, although there are examples of wooden lightsaber hilts.  While it is not necessary to be force sensitive to use a lightsaber (Sabine Wren’s training with and use of the Dark Saber is proof of this) they are perhaps most useful when used in combination with the force, and are considered practically synonymous with the Jedi or their counterparts, the Sith.  Kyber crystals lack the distinctive color of lightsabers, only adopting color once they were chosen by a Jedi and force bonded with them; the crystal color and subsequently the saber color shifted to match the nature of the force-bonded owner. Kyber crystals themselves are fascinating- they are force attuned crystals, which focus energy by resonating with it through the force.

This article could be a dissertation on what we know about the in-universe science of lightsabers and kyber crystals- as a PhD student myself I like to think Galen Erso also spent a stupid amount of time holed up in a library somewhere writing about his theories and worrying what his thesis committee would think of them. However, given that Dr. Erso has already covered this (and you can find it on Wookieepedia) lets dive into some potential ways lightsabers could become a reality in our own universe.

OK so let’s start with the concept of a ~plasma~ blade. Plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter and is made up of a gas of ions and free electrons, which becomes so highly electrically conductive that long-range electric and magnetic fields dominate its behavior. Lightning (looking at you Palpatine you lightning crazed bastard) and neon lights are common generators of plasma.  TL;DR plasma is high-energy ionized gas. Unfortunately, in our universe plasma, much like gas, liquid, or cats, will expand to fill the space it is in (or undergo plasma recombination and become a gas again). This makes it rather useless as a sword.

Darth Vader GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Now instead of thinking about plasma lets think about light. Photons have long been thought to be massless particles that don’t interact with each other, and for the most part that’s what they are, unless they are under a very specific set of conditions.  When in these specific conditions, the photons interact so strongly that they start to act as though they have mass and bind together to form molecules.  The physics of how these molecules interact isn’t too far off from what we see in the Star Wars universe. How did researchers convince the photons to behave in this way?  First, they pumped rubidium atoms into a vacuum, and then they used lasers to cool the atoms to just a few degrees above absolute zero.  They then shot a photon through the chamber.  As the photon moves through the cloud of super cold atoms, it passes some of its energy to them, slowing itself down dramatically.  When the photon exits the cloud of rubidium atoms, its identity is preserved, similar to the refraction of light through water.

What’s really interesting is what happened when two photons were fired into the cloud- they exited together, as if they were a single molecule. Why? The Rydberg blockade! The Rydberg Blockade states that when an atom is excited, the atoms around it cannot be excited to the same degree.  Practically, this means that the two photons push and pull each other through the cloud, which makes the two photons behave like a single molecule. As research on this phenomenon of light has progressed, researchers have demonstrated the ability to realize and control strongly interacting quantum states of light, and that such strong interactions can be engineered in specially prepared quantum optical systems.  Recent work has opened a route to study strongly interacting dissipative systems and quantum matter composed of light such as a crystal of individual photons- a complex three-dimensional structure made entirely out of light.

Perhaps as the technological applications of this new understanding of light become clear, we will be able to develop more elegant weapons, for a more civilized age.

Citations

  1. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130925132323.htm
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/nature12512
  3. https://www.nature.com/articles/nature20823
  4. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/339/6124/1164?casa_token=bm3dzLdlJx0AAAAA:xUWcDakHPdONpjfzVBb0An3z1-Rta2O05AoIMAcNCa_T9rD3WV9Uv61WJTrXCe574Xtf39CiQEt3BA
  5. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6377/783.abstract?casa_token=YRXIoDeOQSgAAAAA:YTI9HcypL-uc2qlODsLy95iwXYrm9GfiLIweVx2bYplaR9uQZr4j6Wgn7wPB0pyyIf1Pun5SD-aWMw
  6. https://arxiv.org/abs/1911.02586
  7. https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Kyber_crystal

“An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.” -Obi-Wan Kenobi Lightsabers, as we know them, consist of a plasma blade powered by a kyber crystal. The blade is emitted from a hilt, usually metal, although there are examples of wooden lightsaber hilts.  While it is not necessary to be force sensitive to use a lightsaber … Continue reading The Science of Lightsabers