Everyone is feeling the effects of the nascent Galactic Empire. The Bad Batch, besides Crosshair, are seen as deserters. The Jedi are all but extinct after Order 66 was carried out by the clones. Citizens across the galaxy are forced to have chain codes so that the Empire can keep tabs on them. The underworld is also feeling the effects as the Bad Batch travels to the Outer Rim planet Ord Mantell to get intel on the bounty hunter sent to go after Omega.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
Ord Mantell is one of the many Outer Rim planets, along with Tatooine and Nar Shadda, riddled with scum and villainy. I was introduced to the planet when I played the Pre-Disney “Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire” video game that centers around smuggler Dash Render. He helps Luke Skywalker and the Rebels fight the mysterious Black Sun criminal organization run by Prince Xizor. In that level, the player has to fight droid bounty hunter IG-88 in a junkyard to get information on the whereabouts of the frozen Han Solo.
To note, when it comes to my “Star Wars” experience, Ord Mantell has always been the nexus when it comes to bounty hunters. I felt it was pretty surreal to see this latest chapter in Bad Batch to seek inspiration throughout every corner of the established lore. I give props to Dave Filoni for the ability to position a narrative around our heroes going to Ord Mantell to find a piece of the past in the presence of an informant named Cid (a remnant once seen working with the Jedi during the Clone Wars) who could provide them with information on the bounty hunter (who we now know is Fennec Shand).
It turns out that Cid is a female Trandoshan who reveals that her business has been affected due to the Jedi being killed off. For the Batch to get information about the bounty hunter, Cid tasks the clones to find Muchi (who turns out to be an adolescent female rancor who belongs to Jabba the Hutt). However to note it does raise the question of if this is the rancor that Luke encounters during the events of Episode VI (Return Of the Jedi)
I feel the introduction of Cid and the underworld elements throughout the episode showcases a sense of despair and fear that reminds us this is the age of the Empire. The once war driven galactic republic drifting toward hubris and destruction have now succumbed to the fragility of balance. From the ashes of the republic is the grip of the Empire and now a cloud of fear lingers and resides in the presence of the galaxy. It’s clear to see the totalitarian regime is now center stage and their influence extends to the Outer Rim. We see this when during the mission to find Muchi, Echo tells the Zygerrian slaver that the Republic had outlawed slavery. The slaver responds that the Republic is no more, which I feel is almost a reminder to the Batch and the viewers that the Empire now rules the galaxy.
One thing that warrants praise is the writers positioning the Bad Batch, acclimating to the life of mercenaries and the galactic underworld. After revealing to Hunter that Fennec Shand was the bounty hunter sent to go after Omega. Cid reminds the clone that whoever hired Shand has to be someone powerful, with malicious intent for him and his crew. Cid also told Hunter that he would need friends and a lot of money to accomplish his task of disappearing in an era where the batch can’t acclimate to the fears of the future while residing in a past long forgotten.
As Clone Force 99, Hunter and the Bad Batch had the full support of the Galactic Republic and the Kaminoan government. But thanks to Order 66 and the Republic transitioning to the Galactic Empire, they are forced to live as deserters and turn to mercenary work. It’s clear to see the clones are now experiencing a paradigm shift and a mission they never dreamt of which is being soldiers without a purpose. A common real world issue that does occur when soldiers return from war, and try to acclimate to society. I give praise to the writers for invoking real world commentary through a fictional lens.
The concept is new to the clones, and Tech reveals this during the mission when being captured by slavers. Tech mentions that their mission is not a typical standard military operation that they usually take part in. Worse, there is no Jedi Knight or general out to command or galvanize them to fight.
This episode, similar to the first, showed that Clone Force 99 is from a bygone era that was full of promise. The age of the Galactic Empire is a new reality and the new normal. Slavery is not outlawed, and some can argue that it may even be flourishing under the Empire’s influence. It is probably not a wonder why the Rebel Alliance became so popular by the time it was born. Besides the Empire being an authoritarian state, some people probably felt that the Empire did not protect them as promised and instead turned a blind eye. After all, Palpatine did have some under-the-table dealings with the criminal underground, like Black Sun and Vader often did business with Jabba.
There were several things I found interesting about this episode. I found the first thing interesting was the scene where Omega learned about the horrors of slave trafficking from Tech and Echo. I felt that when Echo mentioned that slaves “don’t have a choice” and that they are “captives treated like property,” it alluded to how the clones were considered property of the Kaminoan government and the Republic (later Empire) and how they are programmed to carry out orders. I also thought of Crosshair being enslaved by Tarkin as the soon-to-be Grand Moff keeps on having his chip control him.
One thing I noticed throughout the episode was the complexity of Echo being able to shed light and relate to being enslaved since, after his accident that nearly left him crippled, he was treated as a drone for the Separatists. To note, In season six of the “Clone Wars,” the droid army used him as a computer to anticipate the Republic’s military tactics. Echo was outfitted with a droid tool and several mechanical parts that made him into a cyborg. The clone was eventually freed by the Batch and joined their ranks well before the war came to a halting close.
Another thing I found noticeable was Wrecker having a headache. Wrecker’s headache started when he hit his head during the third episode, “Replacements.” Several “Star Wars” fan YouTube accounts did several videos(like this one) postulating that Wrecker’s control chip might have been activated. If you look closely at the scenes where Wrecker is holding his head in “Replacements” and “Rampage,” you would notice that he is touching the area where the chip is found. It left me wondering if this is foreshadowing for a plot thread later on in the series; of course only time will tell going forward.
In addition to the presence of adult themes and commentary being weaved into the narrative of this latest chapter. I noticed some major easter eggs that showcase and pinpoint the placement of the series. To note, The Twitter account of the Boba Fett Fan Club posted a tweet that shows a photo showing Jango Fett’s WESTAR-34 blaster pistols being Cid’s office. In addition, the post mentioned a prototype of a Boba Fett-style Mandalorian helmet being on display.
As I close this recent episode did leave the viewers and the Batch with more questions than answers. For example, we still don’t know who hired Fennec Shand, and the reason why? Another huge plot point is there more to Omega than just being a clone? For example, Is she Force-Sensitive as Youtuber Star Wars Theory postulated? I’m starting to believe that she may very well be. I say this because she quickly reduced Cid’s identity with confidence and without second-guessing herself. There was also proof that she may even have made a bond with Muchi, the rancor, by unwittingly using the Force. It also incites the thought from the first episode of when she used a blaster on Crosshair without much difficulty? How else would she have been able to use a blaster? I highly doubt Nala Se taught her that unless she might have done some subtle programming on her
“Star Wars: The Bad Batch ”is available for streaming and new episodes release fridays on Disney+.