The Bad Batch
The Bad Batch season two has been a bit of a frustrating affair. The season raised some fascinating questions that add to the mythology and world-building of the franchise, expanding the role of the clones and their tragic fate as well as connecting to other corners of the franchise’s universe.
But the season has also been plagued by an uneven mix of sequential and episodic storytelling with most of the episodes devoted to inconsequential side missions. Granted, some of these were wholly entertaining (it is hard to be mad at any Star Wars show that brings back some racing element), such as the Indiana Jones episode that suddenly turned into a Horizon Zero Dawn crossover. Overall, however, it felt like a show at odds with itself, which is why something like this two-part finale is kind of frustrating, because this is what The Bad Batch could be every week but isn’t.
The first episode, “The Summit,” is a classic Star Wars story of infiltrating a heavily fortified building to rescue someone, a plot that has been part of the franchise since the very first Star Wars movie. Now that they know Crosshair is alive, no longer working with the Empire, and has been captured, the members of the Batch concoct a plan to infiltrate a summit at Tarkin’s personal fortress on Eriadu so that they can plant a tracking device on Dr. Hemlock in the hopes of finding his secret facility. Even though Hunter is initially unconvinced about the mission, Tech and the others force him to go along with it, arguing that Crosshair is their brother and they don’t leave one of their own behind. (No foreshadowing here!)
The infiltration is a fun sequence with effective humor — particularly the jokes about Wrecker’s inability to be stealthy. Inside the facility, Tarkin is holding one of the classic Imperial summits at an exotic location. There are a handful of officers sitting around a table discussing budgets and prospects for their projects — all very ominously dull stuff. But there are some gems here, like one of these officers being a very familiar face. Making his animated debut, it’s Ben Mendelsohn’s Orson Krennic himself! Kevin Kiner even reuses the character’s leitmotif from Rogue One. Sadly, we don’t hear about his progress on Project Stardust, but I have a feeling it’s going to take a while.
As for Hemlock, we still don’t know precisely what he is planning (it doesn’t seem to be connected to the Dark Troopers program, unfortunately), but we do know some things. Emperor Palpatine himself commissioned the project, and he wants to re-create the Kaminoans’ cloning technology while also adding DNA alteration. It seems very likely that this is the beginning of the emperor’s contingency plan that will lead to the creation of the First Order and his many, many clones. In order to conduct his experiments, Hemlock admits to kidnapping a few dozen clone troopers.
Surprisingly, though, one of the Imperial officers all but defends the clones, asking if they wouldn’t be best used as soldiers given that he fought alongside them during the war and recognizes their loyalty and bravery. Of course, it is Tarkin who immediately shuts that notion down, saying he also fought with clones but found them rebellious. Oh, and it seems there are several clone uprisings happening throughout the galaxy, which Tarkin dismisses, but that still serves as an interesting hint of future plots.
Just as the Batch implants a tracker on Hemlock’s ship, it comes across another familiar — and always unwelcome — face: Saw Gerrera, who is sabotaging the summit and rigging it with explosives to kill everyone inside. Just like in Rebels, Gerrera has tunnel vision and can only think of hurting the Empire in any way, even if it means hurting any chance of fighting the Empire. Unsurprisingly, when the Empire finds out about the attack, the Batch is trapped in the cross fire, literally, as its escape tram is left without power and hanging from a very, very high altitude.
The finale, “Plan 99,” starts with a tragedy. In order to get the tram moving again before a squadron of V-wings blows them all to pieces, Tech gets out of the tram to activate the power again. Just as he’s getting back to the tram with his comrades, however, the tram breaks apart. Wrecker tries to rush over to pull Tech up, but he tells him to follow the titular Plan 99 as Tech falls into oblivion along with the Tram, sacrificing himself for his family.
Granted, there is no body, and Star Wars characters have come back from worse injuries. (Darth Maul, anyone?) What’s more, Hemlock later shows Tech’s slightly broken glasses as proof of his demise, but how the hell would those glasses be mostly intact? It seems as if Tech may not really be dead and this is the beginning of a comeback story, but his presumed death was a rather emotional moment regardless.
The moment is especially powerful not just because of Tech’s fall but because it is clear there is no going back from this for the Batch. Heavily injured after jumping from a speeding tram as it crashed into a squad of stormtroopers, the survivors rush to Ord Mantell to have AZI treat Omega. To the surprise of absolutely no one with a pulse, Cid finally betrays them and sells them to the Empire. Hemlock’s forces surround the members of the Batch and quickly defeat them.
Omega, foolishly, tries to beat them all herself, and Hemlock’s forces kidnap her and take her away. We are now left with only Echo, Hunter, Wrecker, and AZI, alone and hell-bent on getting Omega back. At the very least, this should mean we’re finally done with the one-off missions for Cid!
Meanwhile, the Empire brings Omega to Nala Se — not as another experiment but as an incentive for the Kaminoan to aid the Empire in its research. If she refuses — or fails — to produce results, Omega will pay.
This is a rather sour end for the season but also very appropriate for the darkest of the Star Wars animated shows. The first season ended with the destruction of Kamino and Crosshair’s betrayal, and now we get the Empire Strikes Back ending with the team split up and losing. This raises the question, How the hell can this show end? Is there any chance for an ending that is not super-bleak?
We’ll find out next season.
The Mission Report
• In retrospect, the writers did throw many death flags at Tech. There were a lot of episodes centered on him, expanding his relationship with every member of the Batch and even hinting at a potential romance with Phee.
• Why is the Batch cursed to always be one member down? Any time it gains someone new, it loses one of its own.
• Turns out Doctor Emerie is also a clone? Or at least related to Omega?