Directed: Steward Lee
Starring: Dee Bradley Baker, Michelle Ang, Ferelith Young, Vanessa Marshall, Phil Lamarr, Robin Atkin Downes
The focus of this week’s episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, ‘Devil’s Deal’, shifts away from our usual group to the planet Ryloth where the Empire is asserting its control.
But all is not well as Cham Syndulla (Robin Atkin Downes), leader of the Twilek resistance against the droid army, must fight against his desire for peace and the needs of his people.
Ryloth was a central planet in The Clone Wars – several episodes and arcs were staged here, including the unsubtle death of Jedi Master Ima-Gun Di.
In being the focus, Ryloth became the poster planet for the difficulties and horrors of war.
Starving citizens were forced to flee their homes, entire towns were ravaged by droids and young children were left orphaned.
It’s a key place for the show to now turn to.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 11 brings back Rebel characters
No less, of course, because Cham Syndulla and his daughter Hera Syndulla (Vanessa Marshall) have also been key parts of the Star Wars universe.
Cham was present in both The Clone Wars and Rebels whereas Hera was a main character in the latter.
The return of Chopper, Hera’s nefarious droid, was also surprising and a delight.
Anyone who enjoyed his cheeky personality should immediately check out Rebels.
Vice Admiral Rampart (Noshir Dalal) feels less and less like a series villain – he is calculating but there’s not been enough consistency with his character.
The death of Senator Orn Free Taa (Phil Lamarr) marks a poignant moment in Star Wars history because he acts as an unsubtle caricature of self-interested, self-serving and satisfied (both of appetite and class) politicians whilst his people are mistreated and abused.
We know from Rebels that Eleni Syndulla (Ferelith Young), Cham’s wife and Hera’s mum, does not survive long into the Empire’s regime.
Next episode, in continuing this arc, may see more tragedy (it is, after all, Disney, and what’s Disney without some dead parents?)
Is The Bad Batch leaning too heavily on nostalgia?
Now I love a nostalgia trip, but this episode has got me thinking.
Do we really need The Bad Batch?
The ability of this group to sustain a show named after them has been in question throughout the series.
Their missions increasingly feel like filler and the show’s wider story has often been unclear.
The show lacks, I think, any sense of propulsion.
Yes, the issue of their inhibitor chips dominated early episodes, but since they’ve been removed the show has lacked any distinct sense of urgency.
Maybe, then, it would have been better for Dave Filoni and team to hone in more on this show’s transitional moment in the Star Wars universe.
The Bad Batch could have had an arc, for sure, but why not move then on to bounty hunters, Ryloth or any number of other events happening at this key time.
We’ve seen the dissolution of the droid army and the Separatist movement and the end of the clone army is a real possibility.
The Bad Batch Episode 11 explores Star Wars history
The show has certainly proved that this was a vital moment in the history of the universe, but its insistence on including the Bad Batch often takes away from this.
People often complain about the political subplot of The Phantom Menace and yet that same factor is one of The Bad Batch’s most interesting qualities. A series of shorts akin to the upcoming Marvel What If…? series would give the flexibility needed.
Instead, the show feels as if it’s awkwardly being tethered to the Bad Batch who, frankly, have been not as efficient or effective as we first thought.
Let’s call a spade a spade (or a lightsaber?): The Bad Batch is a sequel to The Clone Wars and a prequel to Rebels without the consistency or strong characters of either.
As Star Wars content, it’s top-notch; as a show focused on a group of renegade clones, it’s lacklustre.
Maybe the final episodes will change my mind.
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