Crosshair returns to lead Imperial recruits on a mission as the transition from Republic to Empire starts to take shape.
Having just escaped from Saleucami with some damage to their ship, the Bad Batch are discussing the next steps. Hunter presses Echo to work on ship repairs while Tech is busy working on a scanner to figure out the situation with their inhibitor chips. Then the ship gets thrown out of hyperspace because part of the ship’s capacitors was damaged during their escape. And so, the plot thickens as the team finds themselves stranded on a planet with an energy-sucking Ordo Moon Dragon while Crosshair has to deal with training his potential replacements back on Kamino.
It’s All in the Name
“Replacements” works for both storylines in this episode. Omega, who currently has no real place to sleep, stumbles across Crosshair’s weapons chest and the guys have a moment of realization that their teammate is gone. Wrecker admits that he misses Crosshair and Tech states that given what they now know, his behavior could have been caused by the chip. Honestly, I am surprised the team is just now putting two and two together (or maybe Hunter knew and just didn’t want to accept it). Omega reasserts that it is not Crosshair’s fault and, as she fills in for Wrecker on the mission to get the capacitor back, it is clear that she starting to fill that void as a member of the Bad Batch. Omega does learn quickly, saving Hunter from suffocation when his oxygen mask falls off after being attacked by the Moon Dragon then following it underground with Hunter’s blaster. She ends up victorious without having to use the blaster and distracts the creature with a very Earthly-looking flashlight while she grabs the capacitor and bolts.
I’m glad that Omega did not kill the Moon Dragon but she should learn how to fight and shoot. She is a clone and it is hard to imagine that, if she was a male clone, the team would be treating her so delicately. Cut made a point to treat Omega like a child but is that the best decision? Now that she is on the run from the Empire as well, she should learn how to fight and defend herself if she is fully going to be a Bad Batch member.
On the other end, Crosshair finds himself having to work with a group of people meant to replace him and the rest of the clones. When they return from their mission, these team members who barely speak to each other, have replaced his Bad Batch team members in their living quarters. We know it’s the same quarters because of the tally marks on the wall. Crosshair’s story this episode ends with him hunched on his bed similar to Agent Kallus from Rebels at the end of “The Honorable Ones” when he realized the Empire might not be where he wants to stay.
Meanwhile, the Kaminoan Prime Minister Lama Su is looking to undermine the replacement of his clone army by developing more superior clones to secure their contract with the Empire. Nala Se suggests that they will have to bring back a clone for source material, replacing Jango Fett’s degrading genetic material, and Lamu Su remarks that they are all Kaminoan property. At first, I thought she might be talking about a Bad Batch member but if that were true, they could just use Crosshair. I wonder if the clone she is referring to is Captain Rex or one of the other commanders: Cody or Wolffe. It would be a way to get other well-known clones back in the picture.
Enter Admiral Rampart and Project War Mantle
We meet a new character in this episode in Admiral Rampart (he technically was in “Cut and Run” but as a recorded holo-projector). Rampart is not only responsible for the chain code system of tracking every being in the galaxy but is also a key reason why the Empire is filled with stormtroopers who cannot hit a target. Turns out war and occupying worlds is expensive and Tarkin, who has just been making himself at home on Kamino, is in charge of cost-cutting and has his sights set on cutting the clone program.
However, Tarkin does seem interested in Crosshair, as does Admiral Rampart for Project War Mantle. War-Mantle was mentioned in Rogue One (and several times in the novelization) and now we have the clearest picture of what that project is: the replacement of the clone army with conscripted soldiers for the Imperial army, starting with recruits who look very similar to Death Troopers. The Bad Batch continues to show connective tissues from the Clone Wars to the Reign of the Empire. And putting a face responsible for some of the Imperial protocols and initiatives in Admiral Rampart is smart. It also helps to have another Imperial antagonist that can take over for Tarkin when he eventually moves on to cutting corners on other things.
Exit ES-01 and Individual Thought
As part of Tarkin’s Tangible Tests (TTTs) that he seems to love to give the clones, he sends Crosshair and the new elite squad back to Onderon to finish what the Bad Batch could not in “Aftermath”: wipe out Saw Gerrera’s emerging cell. On the way, there are some words exchanged with Crosshair and ES-01, whose real name is never given because we meet him as a part of the Empire so he is no longer to be thought of as an individual. He certainly has a story, as do the other recruits: he joined the Empire to have a place to sleep, eat and job security. Essentially to feel useful in this new galactic reality. During this exchange on the way to Onderon, he is meant to be made into an antagonist for Crosshair, and perhaps the show plays on our memory of old Crosshair and clones in general that we want the sharpshooter to win over this guy. But the story goes in a different direction. Instead, when the team has cornered members of Saw’s team (Saw himself is already off-world) and wipe out the fighters, ES-01 tries to prevent Crosshair from killing the civilians who are just trying to leave. His reward is a blaster to the chest and an exit stage left. He is not the antagonist of this story but a protagonist who dies refusing to be the Empire’s executioner.
ES-01 doesn’t completely understand the Empire he has willingly joined and pays for it with his life. Crosshair does because he now follows orders without question. The other teammates are pressured into killing the civilians and the new team returns to Kamino, mission complete with one less squad member. The entire scene is one of the darkest moments so far in Star Wars animation and I am sure it won’t be the last.
We Need to Talk About Wrecker
In The Clone Wars arc during season seven, Wrecker was my least favorite member and embodied the part of the show’s appeal towards young viewers (much the way Jar Jar and arcs focused on the droids did). I got it and I accepted it and I was willing to suffer through his childish thinking aloud of wanting to blow things up. But the impact of Omega has, even more so than Hunter, affected my opinion of Wrecker. Only Hunter and Wrecker have had meaningful moments with Omega thus far (though I assume Tech and Echo will get some quality time with her in future episodes) and their relationships are different. Even though Omega is their sister, she is more of a daughter to Hunter but Wrecker feels more like her brother. Building a bedroom for her and giving up his tooka doll is very brotherly.
Wrecker might now be my favorite Bad Batch member and I am concerned about his head. He banged it during the crash landing and the writers seemed to have made a point to highlight that he was not ok, grounding him on the ship while Hunter took Omega on the mission to recover the capacitor. It could simply have been a plot device to have Omega go with Hunter or it could lead to his inhibitor chip activating and pulling a Crosshair on the next Jedi he sees. If so, the scanner that Tech mentioned working on early in the episode will serve its purpose, and perhaps lead to them being able to free more clones.
Originally published at https://creditsandcanon.com on May 15, 2021.