RECAP: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – E4: Cornered

Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen)
Image: Lucasfilm

Ah, Fridays. A day that has become synonymous with Star Wars as much as the months of May and December. Yes, we’re back again to discuss another great episode of The Bad Batch, that sees our heroes try to restock on supplies and face off against a very familiar foe. All while managing to display the best animation we’ve seen so far on a Lucasfilm Animation project.

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.

After last week’s exploration of Crosshair’s indoctrination, you’d be forgiven for assuming that this episode would audiences a brief respite from the action. Nope! Instead, we’re flung into a sprawling, gorgeous metropolis and have a prequel-inspired bounty hunter chase scene. After debuting in the first season of The Mandalorian, Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) makes her first appearance in animated form. Ming-Na is no stranger to animation after having played Mulan for Disney, and it shows in her performance – which is utter perfection. 

The episode takes place on the moon Pantora, mentioned before in The Clone Wars, and is a Coruscant level beauty – a colourful city with elements of Russian architecture. The animation team really deserves to win an award for this episode, in particular, it’s definitely the best that Lucasfilm Animation has ever looked. We see The Bad Batch split up as they work to fix their ship, as well as pick up supplies for the foreseeable future. It’s a fun story beat that would usually be repetitive but is given a new lease of life through the lens of Clone Force 99 – soldiers who aren’t used to living life on the outskirts, making dodgy deals and trying to survive in this new environment. 

We do get to see more of the Galactic Empire’s expansion throughout the episode, although it’s not the core focus. It’s chilling watching these characters that we’ve grown to love over seven + seasons of the Clone Wars marching all together as Imperials – all sense of identity removed, and splashed in the identical white-clad armour. But what’s more frightening is seeing the citizens respond to this display with cheers and joy. To them, the Imperial forces marching through is a positive sign proving that war is over and that things are here to improve. It’s a great move on behalf of the storytellers to show us the reaction on Onderon and Pantora – both ‘saved’ by the Republic, but both showing a different response to the Empire’s occupation.

Hunter (Dee Bradley-Baker), looking for Omega
Image: Lucasfilm

Omega, still inquisitive as ever finds herself lost from the crew and into the seemingly safe arms of a kind stranger. And, just a reminder – don’t walk off with a stranger. Hunter catches up with Omega and the helpful woman who turns out to be Fennec Shand. It’s so much fun watching Fennec interact within this time frame and opposite clones, I wonder if she already had a professional relationship with Boba Fett at this point or whether that was just a fun story for her to tell him in the future. Either way, we get to see Fennec easily handle herself against the crew and it’s just by luck that they manage to escape. It’s not really a surprise to know that Ming-Na continues to kick ass in every conceivable format made available, but it’s still a joy to watch. 

We’d be remiss not to bring up Echo’s side adventure as he is sold off in disguise as a droid and is introduced to another cute array of Astromechs and a bossy Protocol Droid. Again, an array of non-humanoid characters that we’d die for despite only knowing them for a few minutes. There was some debate online whether it was rude of Hunter to let Echo be treated as a droid, given his traumatic experiences, but I doubt Echo would have gone with the plan if he was that against it – and the same with Hunter. It’s been a while since we saw them introduced in TCW, but I would have imagined that Echo and the group have bonded as much as he has with other clones we’ve seen in the series. It’s just a fun little comedic bit, where Echo gets to say “I know what I’m worth” – and you know what? Good for him.

Thankfully, The Bad Batch manage to escape with both their supplies and the knowledge that somebody is looking for Omega. But who would put a bounty on Omega’s head? The obvious thought would be the Empire, but why wouldn’t they have included the entire team? Perhaps it’s actually the Kaminoans, who as we all know have a long history working with Bounty Hunters. It adds another interesting layer to The Bad Batch’s current dilemma.

Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), facing off against the Bad Batch
Image: Lucasfilm

Overall, Cornered was a beautiful episode that displays some of the best animation displayed in Star Wars history so far. It also shows how The Bad Batch is an excellent conduit to look at the numerous ways the Galaxy changed so soon under the Empire’s grip, while being able to expand on others stories – whether that’s telling new ones with Omega or expanding on others, like with Fennec. 

Oh, And Another Thing: 

  • This episode was written by Christian Taylor – who wrote both the Mortis & Yoda arcs in ‘The Clone Wars’.
  • SNL alums and Star Wars fans Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam both appear in the episode as the Trader & Goatal/Depot Manager.
  • This is the first time we’ve seen Pantora, but not the first time we’ve seen the Pantorans. Of course, we met them in The Clone Wars Season One and in Revenge of the Sith, including Notluwiski Papanoida (played by George Lucas).
  • Shoutout to the Aqualish driver just chilling out to Space-Dubstep. We respect you.
  • How cute was the little Clone Trooper doll, designed to look like the Stormtrooper one that Jyn had in Rogue One? Can we have one…please?
  • This episode had a lot of AOTC vibes, with the sound design and visuals calling back to the chase between Obi-Wan/Anakin & Zam.
  • I think if The Bad Batch had a blue font moral at the beginning like The Clone Wars, this week’s one would be DON’T TRUST PEOPLE.
  • Where do you think The Bad Batch will head to next? – based on the trailer we’re still due to visit Zygerria and Captain Rex.

Ah, Fridays. A day that has become synonymous with Star Wars as much as the months of May and December. Yes, we’re back again to discuss another great episode of The Bad Batch, that sees our heroes try to restock on supplies and face off against a very familiar foe. All while managing to display … Continue reading RECAP: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – E4: Cornered

RECAP: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – E3: Replacements

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

Isn’t it fantastic waiting for new Star Wars content again on a weekly basis? It’s just a joy being able to watch these brand new stories and escaping into a galaxy, far, far away. Yes, The Bad Batch returns with an episode that explores a family coping with their loss while trying to look after a new member. Lucasfilm also explores the darker elements of this period, not shying away from the brutality of the Galactic Empire.

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.

In our review for the show, we talked about how the Bad Batch continues the themes of Hope & Tragedy. Replacements continues that trend, with both the A and B plots exploring those elements through the members of The Bad Batch.

Firstly, the A-plot revolves around the core Bad Batch group finding themselves crash land on an uncolonized moon. After narrowly escaping from Saluecami, the Bad Batch’s ship was damaged and needs its power capacitor replaced. It should be a simple task, but things become complicated when a moon dragon decides to steal the capacitor for itself. It’s a fun introduction to the episode and explores the state of mind of the entire group. While they haven’t wanted to admit it (although Wrecker does eventually say what they’re all thinking), they’re still reeling from the loss of Crosshair. It’s nice to see how the show reminds the audience of the greater tragedy, that Crosshair is also a victim of the Empire.

The exchange between Omega and the rest of the crew also seems to indicate that there might be a chance to save Crosshair and bring him back to the family. It would definitely be interesting if the show turns into a rescue mission of sorts, utilising characters like Captain Rex to help save their brainwashed brothers. But ultimately, more interesting would be exploring what that actually means in this galaxy – particularly *after* you’ve done insidious actions while in that state. We’ll get back to that later.

Hunter (Dee Bradley-Baker)
Image: Lucasfilm

The show once again focuses on Omega’s intuitiveness and genuine awe of her brothers’ abilities – looking up to Hunter and his expert tracking abilities. When he’s knocked out by a brief encounter with the Moon Dragon, and also a lack of oxygen, Omega takes it upon herself to pick up the blaster and look for the creature herself. We still don’t know what Omega’s specific mutation or skillset is, but her perceptiveness regarding the world around her seems to hint at a mixture of all the Bad Batch’s abilities. Not to mention an empathetic streak, seen on full display when she encounters the creature, realises that it means no harm and only wants to snack on some delicious energy. Much like the characters of Ezra and Rey, one of the best parts of the newer Star Wars material has been the focus on connecting with nature and finding non-violent ways to deal with situations – they may be gone, but the Jedi would be proud.

Meanwhile, over on Kamino, The Empire continues to mess with Crosshair and deliberate over the future of the clone troopers. Here we meet Vice-Admiral Rampart (Noshir Dalal) in person, beaming after the successful launch of his code-chain initiative. It’s here he introduces his new project to Admiral Tarkin, ‘War-Mantle’ – in which an elite squad of recruited humans would be trained by Clones (such as Crosshair) in order to implement a smoother transition for wider recruitment. Tarkin, intrigued by the prospect gives this new Elite Squad the task of ‘dealing’ with Saw Gerrera’s forces on Onderon, attempting to see if this new group could follow through with an order.

The New Imperial Recruits
Image: Lucasfilm

Immediately, we are witnessed to some of the pomposity of these new Imperial soldiers. With one trooper, ES-01 implying that the clones can’t be as good as they make out if the Empire is scouting for troopers like him and his squadron. It’s a reminder of how the Clones themselves are a physical embodiment of the Galactic Republic still, and that some people in the galaxy would rather they were swept away with some of the other changes.

But for all the bravado of ES-01’s bragging, it’s how they deal with the mission at hand that sets them apart. While Saw Gerrera has left with some other members, the remaining members of his group are sentenced to die on behalf of the Empire. The Elite Squad attacks the group, and Crosshair murders the leader after she refuses to reveal the location of Saw. He then orders his troopers to kill the rest of the villagers before being refuted by ES-01 who seems disturbed by the prospect of murdering citizens. It’s an interesting look at how some of the people in the galaxy adapt to these changes – do you go along with every single order? – do you rebel?

Not that ES-01 gets much time to think about those ideas, Crosshair kills him and reminds his squad that “good soldiers follow orders”. A line that already felt heavy because of the audience’s relation to both Order 66 and the Fives Arc from The Clone Wars, now has even more weight to it. The following soldiers follow said orders – framed away as they begin to purge their supposed enemies. Kudos to Lucasfilm for following through with the darker aspects of the show, while following the idea of ‘implying, not showing’ is the better way to go with these sequences. Many pointed out that this might be too dark for children? But I think this has always been something Star Wars has never shied away from, whether it’s Owen and Beru’s bodies or Anakin in the temple.

Tarkin deems the mission a success and gives full control over to the newly minted Admiral Rampart – giving the Kaminoans some thought about their next actions. We see the amphibious cloners discuss how the Jango DNA source is naturally degrading with age, and how they may need a new sample to prove their worth to the Empire. Could this be from Omega? The Batch? Boba Fett?

Crosshair (Dee Bradley-Baker)
Image: Lucasfilm

One of the standout shots from the episode was when we see the new Elite Squad take up the bunker which previously housed the Bad Batch, with the others sharing some sort of comradery while Crosshair sits by himself – alone. While Crosshair’s actions are abhorrent and redemption arcs are difficult to navigate, it’s important to remember that this character is also a victim – being brainwashed by Tarkin in order to fulfil a darker purpose. And it’s these moments where you wonder if a piece of him is still reaching out, yearning to be with his brothers – but knowing it’s too late. We know in The Clone Wars, that Rex seemed to be very aware of his actions after the chip was removed, so it would be extremely interesting to see how Crosshair will react if the Batch does attempt to save him. If this first season details that journey, it could be very interesting to see Crosshair try to save others that have also gone down that path in future seasons – like Commander Cody.

Overall, Replacements was a great episode that utilises some fun Star Wars tropes, while focusing on how evil and relentless the Empire was – right from day one. It also does a great job exploring the complexities of Crosshair’s situation and potentially sets up this season’s core story arc – freeing and bringing him home.

Oh, And Another Thing: 

  • Admiral Rampart is back, this time in person! He’s voiced by Noshir Dalal – who you may know as Varko Gray from Star Wars: Squadrons & Charles Smith from Red Dead Redemption II
  • We get to see more of Wrecker being an adorable uncle, making a little room for Omega! Awww, bless.
  • But also, should we concerned about his head? Maybe it was just a bump from the crash, but what if it has something to do with his inhibitor chip? Maybe Wrecker will be Tech’s first patient with his new tool.
  • If Project ‘War-Mantle’ rings a bell, it should! It’s one of the projects listed in Rogue One when Jyn and Cassian are looking for Project Stardust.
  • Like Dave Filoni mentioned before, the Jedi helped the Clones identify themselves – not by their birth numbers, but by giving themselves names. While these new human troopers have foregone their own names to be rebranded as ES-01 or ES-04. Haunting.
  • I’m glad that The Bad Batch is continuing to explore the wider scope of the Empire’s formation and seeing different viewpoints from different characters. For some, like Rampart – it’s fantastic. For others? Not so much.
  • Did anyone else have major ‘ESB’ mynock vibes in this episode? – or even the ice-cave episode from The Mandalorian. I’ve yet to see anyone call this episode filler yet, but when it happens – I can’t wait to go full 501st on them:

Isn’t it fantastic waiting for new Star Wars content again on a weekly basis? It’s just a joy being able to watch these brand new stories and escaping into a galaxy, far, far away. Yes, The Bad Batch returns with an episode that explores a family coping with their loss while trying to look after … Continue reading RECAP: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – E3: Replacements

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

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

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