Director: Saul Ruiz
Starring: Dee Bradley Baker, Michelle Ang, Rhea Pearlman
At the opening of ‘Battle Scars’ (written by Jennifer Corbett), the seventh episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, the crew are being chased after another mission. It’s traditional Star Wars: pacey, fun action with dialogue flying through the air as they wait for the hyperdrive to come online.
Throughout the season I’ve found this animated show a good addition to the universe. Good, but not great. This all changed with this episode. Atmospheric and tense, again with unquestionably brilliant art design, as the show reaches almost half way through the season The Bad Batch has fully hit its stride.
The Bad Batch episode 7 sees the return of Captain Rex
After the brief opening space battle, the team (you know the drill, all Dee Bradley Baker other than Michelle Ang as Omega) are back on Ord Mantell. Wrecker and Omega sneak off for some Mantell Mix (space popcorn), which has become a post-mission tradition that, according to Wrecker, “makes the kid happy.” Nonetheless, the glee on the big man’s face when Hunter says allows the trip shows he too has a vested interest in this ‘tradition’.
Things get slightly more serious, however, when Captain Rex (also Bradley Baker) turns up at Cid’s bar. Rex was last week’s male contact of Rafa and Trace Martez, and whilst he talks with the Bad Batch Wrecker reveals his headaches are back and, even worse, they’re becoming more frequent.
After a tense standoff, the batch agrees to have their chips removed, which leads them to Bracca, “a starship graveyard” for Republic frigates and ships. The plan? Sneak into one of the Jedi cruisers and use the medical bay to have the chips removed (as Rex had done in Season 8 of The Clone Wars).
The brightly lit palate of rusting ships in a sun-drenched world is soon swapped for the dark, collapsing interior of the ship. There’s possibly some of the best water animation work I’ve ever seen on screen – Andrew Kirk’s art direction is, simply, a marvel.
En route, Wrecker battles an underwater monster (of course) that wasn’t dissimilar to the Dianoga that Luke, Han, Chewie and Leia escape in A New Hope in the garbage disposal. But it’s when the team reaches the medical bay that the episode fully kicks into gear.
Wrecker’s inevitable turn in The Bad Batch Episode 7 was awesome
Perhaps because of Tech’s equipment Wrecker’s chip goes into overdrive and the gentle (at times) giant we’ve come to love turns against his team in a display of pure power. The animation team does not skimp on the fighting: two characters are strangled and the weight of each punch is felt.
The turn itself is also made all the more effective by the sound design. There’s a moment of silence before Wrecker is released before the music turns towards a frenetic and at-time strikingly ominous tone.
The lighting further adds to this: Wrecker is kept mostly in the dark as he rampages, symbolising his change.
Omega is barely saved by Rex and the chip is then successfully removed. Afterwards, all the team members have their chips removed and Wrecker and Omega celebrate with some leftover Mantell Mix.
The team are not out of the woods yet: the scrapper guild that controls Bracca spot the intruders and go to alert the empire.
It feels as if The Bad Batch is about the kick into overdrive (or is it hyperdrive?) The empire is coming, Rex has gone off to join a contact and the Bad Batch might now have some higher purpose that’s still to be revealed.
Cid’s insistence on being paid and not asking questions makes me wonder how she’ll be involved in the future of the series also – I sense a disturbance in the force there, and wonder what will happen.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen plenty of impressive scenes and met characters old and new. Next week’s episode will mark the halfway point in the show and I do think we’re about to see some of the best Star Wars animation yet. Now I’m excited.
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