Director: Nathaniel Villanueva
Starring: Dee Bradley Baker, Michelle Ang, Ben Diskin, Noshir Dalal
The announcement earlier this week that The Bad Batch is to receive a second season has somewhat taken the edge out of what should be a tense finale to this at-times awkward and uncertain series.
Nonetheless, director Nathaniel Villanueva and writer Matt Michnovetz have created a worthy first part of a finale that leaves me wanting more.
Last week Hunter had been captured and now it falls to the team (all Dee Bradley Baker other than Michelle Ang as Omega) to save him.
They return to Kamino, where Hunter is being held by Crosshair.
However, not all is as it seems, and Crosshair offers the Bad Batch one last chance to join the Empire.
It’s an eerily dark episode with plenty of twists and turns and, because it remains insular (that is, just focused on the Bad Batch with little shaking of hands with other characters from other shows), it is one of the best of the series.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch’s Crosshair’s Redemption Seems Uncertain
The episode’s action is set in the training arena where the clones learned how to fight.
There’s a distinct sense, if there wasn’t before, that this is the last time the Bad Batch resemble that group of eccentric fighters who fought for the Republic.
At the emotional high point of the episode, once the Bad Batch with Crosshair’s help have despatched a large troop of training droids, Crosshair announces that he has already had his inhibitor chip removed.
We’re led to believe that his aggressive attitude is just his personality.
Michnovetz manages to elicit a surprising amount of pathos for Crosshair, who says at home point: “I was one of you. You might have forgotten, but I haven’t.”
At the episode’s end, he has been stunned and is back with the Bad Batch.
It can’t helped, but be hoped that he overcomes his anger management issues, whatever their origin.
Also, and this can’t be stressed enough, somehow the animators manage to get Crosshair’s emotions to come across even though he’s wearing a helmet and that the show is animated.
It’s an impressive feat and a testimony to the ability of the show’s creative team.
The Destruction of Tipoca City
Speaking of emotions, arguably the saddest moment of the episode (and perhaps the series so far) is the orbital bombardment that destroys Tipoca City on Kamino.
A brief snapshot of the various rooms in the city – the mess hall and the cloning towers, for example – is surprisingly impactful before the scene pans to the Empire’s venators taking their ghastly positions.
Here again, the full artistic ability of the design team behind the show is on display, with the explosions lighting up the dark, grey and miserable setting.
Of course, the eradication of entire communities and planets is common to Star Wars: Alderaan’s destruction by the Death Star in A New Hope is one of the entire franchise’s earliest moments.
Here, however, feels different: the cloning facility quite literally gave life to the Republic through the clones it created, who in turn defended countless galaxies, planets and people.
At the same time, the fate of Tipoca City reminds us that The Bad Batch is not supposed to be a direct sequel to The Clone Wars, which tried so hard to present the human stories behind the Clone Wars.
There are no cameos this week, although Grand Moff Tarkin saying “You may fire when ready” was a nice nod to A New Hope.
Also present is John Williams’s beautifully unsettling ‘Mystery motif’, which was first used in Return of the Jedi but features more prominently in Attack of the Clones, and that is used here as the final evacuation preparations are made.
There’s the sense of the Kaminoan project coming to an end as their mysterious ways of life sink to the ocean bed.
If I’m being picky, there is one plot hole. In ‘ARC Troopers’, a season three episode of The Clone Wars, the droid army attacks Tipoca City.
As part of their attack, droids assemble ships from the debris of other ships that fall from the space battle above.
During this scene, there is no evidence of the presumably expansive tunnel network that connects the various modules of the city.
Moreover, Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress seems to have been surveying the underwater environment long before the battle.
How this tunnel network has not yet been discovered is beyond me.
It seems a minor inconsistency between the two shows, and one quite frankly I think we can all forgive, but I’m surprised that Lucas Arts (which includes a dedicated team of staff who ensure the canon is cohesive and consistent) seem to have missed this foible.
Star Wars (or, specifically, Dave Filoni) knows how to do a two-part finale: ‘Twilight of the Apprentice’, the finale to season two of Star Wars Rebels where Ashoka fought Darth Vader is some of the finest, most emotional Star Wars content available.
This episode follows in that tradition and what comes next week is anyone’s guess. I can’t wait.
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