This Star Wars: The Bad Batch review contains spoilers.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 6
As a story about what purpose-built soldiers do after the war, The Bad Batch has been as aimless as its protagonists so far. But an entertaining episode that finds them still deep in the underworld, “Decommissioned,” written by Amanda Rose Muñoz and directed by Nathaniel Villanueva, brings back some minor The Clone Wars characters and deepens the Batch’s scant characterization. It also goes into the fate of the battle droids from the other side, showing how the Empire erases the evidence of the prior war by melting it down to scrap.
The Trandoshan operator Cid has a new job for the Batch: go to a factory on Corellia and retrieve a Separatist tactical droid destined for the furnace. It’s not going to be easy, since there are a lot of police droids on the scene. Meanwhile, a minor B-plot shows Omega learning to use her cool new laser bow. The arc of that storyline is pretty predictable, but I’m also glad it was included; I would have asked how she learned to use that thing, otherwise. At the factory, the clones meet the Martez sisters, proto-Rebels (maybe) who have also been hired to capture the data in the droid’s head.
The majority of the episode consists of the three-way battle between the Bad Batch, the Martez sisters, and police droids. The flurry of people trading the droid head back and forth is entertaining, if not particularly revolutionary. It’s helped a lot by how convincing the factory is. Instead of the relatively sterile Geonosian factory full of ore where droids were created in Attack of the Clones, this one is filled with scrap, dirt, rust and, one imagines, the smell of oil and burnt electronics. The workers sound truly panicked when alarms go off.
As for Omega, she’s full of pluck and the desire to prove herself worthy of that fancy light bow. I like the balance of her competence and inexperience, and it’s refreshing to see her get to talk to and fight alongside other girls. Muñoz and company make sure Omega has at least a couple exchanges with the sisters that aren’t about the other clones.
However, I was a little bored with the factory sequence, a staple of action cartoons of all kinds. Maybe it’s because the team’s long-term goal still hasn’t been established. They’re taking jobs from Cid because they need credits (and she demands they do). But what’s their long-term goal, and how much of it includes Cid? Fortunately, Rhea Perlman’s character is entertaining without just becoming comedic relief.
Cid suggests without really saying it that having these droids will help the Bad Batch fight against the clones now employed as Imperial stormtroopers. I can’t imagine her as a revolutionary, though; she just seems happy to have some hyper-efficient hired guns who are too new to the world not to be bullied around.
Wrecker’s headaches are getting worse, and this time are obviously a symptom of his inhibitor chip trying to reassert control. The team’s tank was always one of the more one-note of the clones, but he becomes at least a bit more complicated here. There’s a lot going on with him: his fear of heights, Hunter’s quasi-comic demands that he get over it and just complete the dangerous mission, and the problem with the inhibitor chip. I wonder whether this will create a rift between Wrecker and the other clones that isn’t all due to the chip. If he feels he’s being overworked, he’d have a much more personal and smaller-stakes reason to butt heads with Hunter than the brainwashed traitor Crosshair did.
Speaking of the dynamics within the Batch, shoutout to Echo for punning on his name again. This was one of the things that endeared him to me in The Clone Wars, and now that he’s changed so much (both physically and in terms of his goals and loyalties), it’s nice to have it back. Joking about his own name also shows he’s comfortable with his identity now, with the way the new Echo exists in continuity with the old one. I’m also growing more fond of Tech, whose usefulness doesn’t prevent him from also being obnoxious sometimes.
Rafa liking Wrecker more than Hunter is also very funny. In general, I’m glad to see the sisters, who befriended Ahsoka Tano in the final season of The Clone Wars, back on the scene. While the main topic of their previous arc (their opinions about the Jedi) isn’t relevant here, they still feel like the same loving, bickering people. While Rafa’s dialogue (and maybe voice acting) sound a little rough, Trace is much more naturalistic and fun. Her bond with Omega is convincing, and, after all, she was always the one more willing to make friends.
In the end, the Batch take the loss; they still don’t know who Cid’s buyer is, and they didn’t capture the tactical droid. Neither did Trace and Rafa, whose patron (Bail Organa, maybe?) is trying to fight the Empire. But the fact that Hunter gives Rafa the droid’s data means he’s having some second thoughts about whether working with Cid is the right thing to do. His reasoning is more a statement of one of the themes of the show than interesting characterization (“things were clearer when we were just soldiers”). But, as far as Star Wars goes, actions tend to speak louder than words. Hunter chooses the side of the Rebellion here, even if he doesn’t know it.
I’m looking forward to this show having a clearer sense of its own identity, but the clones are probably hoping for the same answer about what they’re even doing. “They don’t know” is a perfectly fine answer to that question for now, though. It even affords the show the chance to do some storytelling between the lines: What don’t they have? What exactly don’t they know? From which blind spots do enemies leap?
This episode isn’t quite as focused as last week’s “Rampage,” and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of what The Bad Batch can do so far. It continues to be inessential Star Wars viewing, but at least the array of enemies and allies we see now is beginning to feel like a complete world that gives the members of the Batch more conflicts, people, and ideas to bounce off.