This Star Wars: The Bad Batch review contains spoilers.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 7
The found family is strong with this one. And all it took was bringing in an outsider.
After a brief, exciting introduction, “Battle Scars,” written by Jennifer Corbett and directed by Saul Ruiz, gets right to the point. The Bad Batch still have their inhibitor chips, and the clock on Wrecker’s is ticking. Whenever he gets stressed out — including by the thought of the chip itself — he gets closer to going Order 66 on his “traitor” friends. Luckily, the Batch have a guide to how to remove the chips: Captain Rex. He helps them find a decommissioned Republic cruiser with the kind of medical facility they need, but not before Wrecker’s chip goes off.
One artful shot, showing Rex standing in a dusty shaft of light in the door as the Bad Batchers doze inside, puts him in good Star Wars company: heroes set aside from even their closest peers by private sorrows, private stakes. It’s easy to imagine Rex is thinking of the people he’s lost, or of Ahsoka Tano, the person he survived with.
He also enables this episode, more than the others, to truly move forward. Many fans were speculating that the inhibitor chips might come into play in the season finale, but now that we know that’s not the case, it’s a relief to see them off the board. And Wrecker being rendered a blind follower of Palpatine’s murderous rule has a lot more pathos than Crosshair’s turn did. We know Wrecker is a guy who loves his pals — especially Omega, who has basically the same sense of humor as him. So it was truly upsetting to see Wrecker turn on them, as well as how far he was willing to go, knowing it was out of his control. The fact that he didn’t instantly recover from a field surgery in a rusting, rat-infested ship was a nice touch, too. The episode didn’t spend very long pretending Wrecker was never going to wake up, but it applied enough tension to fully express how worried the characters were — and then contrast them nicely with Rex’s older grief. Silence does a lot of work in this episode.
Some of the louder moments work, too. Cid is skimping on the clones’ pay, and Hunter is beginning to ask questions about who exactly benefits from her jobs. (Both morally and financially.) Rex and Omega have a fun little conversation where she instantly groks he’s a “Gen 1,” which is both a reminder that she grew up surrounded by cloning doctors and a funny, roundabout way of saying he looks old from her pre-teen perspective. Rex takes the control chips very seriously — enough to almost draw his blaster in the bar — which very much helps sell the seriousness of the stakes.
Omega’s characterization is getting closer to feeling complete, especially when she reveals in a moment of vulnerability that she’s most afraid of being left alone. She’s a child used to being visibly different from all of her caretakers and peers, so finding people she feels like family with is the entire universe to her. Whatever else her upbringing was like, the Kaminoans also fostered or couldn’t squash a moral center: she’s fond of animals, and willing to forgive those who did wrong. It’s not revolutionary, but it also doesn’t fall into a lot of the traps “new kid” characters could.
That said, while her relationship with Wrecker really shines in this episode, it doesn’t do much for Hunter. He clearly isn’t the only team dad to Omega, and doesn’t actually do much leading, either; he’s still not sure what to do with the team’s long-term fate, and defers to Rex most of the time. It leaves him on a very ambivalent note, not as paternal as Din Djarin for good or ill. I’m glad the show isn’t just repeating The Mandalorian‘s thesis, but it still feels like the side members of the Batch are having trouble squeezing in to their own show. Tech gets some snark this episode, and Rex and Echo having known one another before carries a lot of silent weight, but it’s mostly the Omega-and-Wrecker show.
But maybe that’s okay. The fact that they’ve removed their chips makes it feel like the overarching plot is really progressing. And “fighting one of your own with full knowledge of what he can do to the enemy” or vice versa is one of my favorite action tropes. Wrecker is effectively scary here, but also sympathetic. The close-up on his eyes changing provides a nice contrast to the drowzing Batchers in the wake of his attack. Which brings us back again to how much this episode evoked the emotional weight of Rex’s story without being either coy or distracting about it. No, he doesn’t mention Ahsoka, even though it seems obvious that she’s his contact, especially after learning that the Martez sisters called Rex in the first place. But it’s clear he has lost someone or something, and I think that would work whether you’ve watched the series finale of The Clone Wars or not.
The setting the clones traverse through isn’t the most creative: it’s basically a Prequel version of the starship graveyard Rey lived in in The Force Awakens. But I’m of that generation where there’s a certain sparkle to the concept of “a Prequel version” of anything. The animation (painting? I’m not sure) is gorgeous, between the clutter of rusted metal and the greenish shine of contaminated but brightly beautiful water. The episode’s two action set pieces — a starship battle in the very beginning and Wrecker falling into the dianoga-infested water — are compelling and competent, and serve to move the story along.
I still want more from Hunter, Tech, and Echo, for them to become more than war story tropes. But by the end of “Battle Scars,” Wrecker and Omega feel the most complete, and the rest of the story remains wide open. At this point, just about anything could happen when Crosshair confronts his old friends again — except, perhaps, for him being able to use their control chips against them.