Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Season 1, Episode 5: Rampage

This is the most Mandalorian-esque episode of the ‘The Bad Batch’ so far.  Clone Force 99 need some information for their main mission, they find the person who can give it to them, but they need to carry out a side mission for them before they can proceed.  This is a style of storytelling made popular by open world video games that is now bleeding into serialised entertainment.  This allows the creators to make single episode stories, like action TV of the 80s, but also maintain an overarching narrative.  It’s a template that ‘The Mandalorian’ has used successfully for two seasons and now it’s being used here.  This comes as no surprise as Dave Filoni is a lead creative on both shows.

Following their clash with Fennec Shand in the previous episode the Bad Batch head to Ord Mantell, the planet where Han Solo had a run-in with a bounty hunter prior to ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, as Echo has heard of a Jedi informant that lives there.  That informant turns out to be a female Trandoshan bar owner named Cid (voiced by the great Rhea Perlman).  A clearly shady character from the outset, Cid can get the squad the information on Shand that they need but at a price.  She needs the Bad Batch to go on a rescue mission and free a child named Muchi from some slave traders.

When the squad set off on their mission  Cid takes a call from her mysterious employer.   The animators try their best to hide the identity of the person in the hologram but unfortunately it is very clearly Bib Fortuna.  If Bib is involved that means Jabba The Hutt has a hand in this and without knowing it the Bad Batch are taking their first steps into the Star Wars underworld.

Hunter and the team quickly track down their target but don’t think Omegs is ready for action and tell her to stay with the ship. The squad move in on the child but get captured by the slavers, mainly thanks to their flying lizard. This leaves it to Omega to uses her wits to get them out of the situation.  While being chased around the slavers camp she stumbles upon a cage which she opens unleashing the creature inside.  It’s an adolescent rancor that quickly tears through the slavers (the show again proving it is not entirely aimed at kids) and it turns out that this is Muchi, not the child in the camp.

The squad now have to subdue a rampaging (the title of the episode) rancor.  This finally gives Wrecker a chance to shine after having his brute force sidelined for most of the series so far.  Tech says the only way to control a rancor is to prove yourself as the alpha so Wrecker takes it on in a fist fight.  Although we don’t see the whole thing you get the feeling that it was a drawn out slug-fest reminiscent of the brawl between Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston in ‘The Big Country’ where they trade blow for blow and both combatants collapse to the ground with exhaustion. Wrecker picks himself up and the squad are victorious in their first mission as independent contractors.

The team return to collect their percentage of the bounty from Cid and hand Muchi over to Bib Fortuna. Cid gives Hunter the information on Fennec Shand but this goes two ways. They now know who us hunting them but Cid, not the most trustworthy of people, also knows how important the squad and Omega are to somebody who is willing to pay big money to capture them. They are also now on the radar of Jabba, one of the biggest criminals of the era. The squad are going to have to choose how they make there money to survive and who they trust. Are they prepared to take money from the underworld?

This is another brisk episode but it continues building on what has come before.  Omega’s bond with the squad is growing and she is now seen as Crosshair’s replacement, they even give her Crosshair’s communicator.  Wrecker is still getting headaches where his inhibitor chip is. The squad need money to survive and they are heading down the path of becoming mercenaries to earn it.  Omega is clearly special and/or valuable and there is a high enough bounty on her to attract top hunters.  She is intuitive and manages to get the squad out of sticky situations but is this through preprogrammed skills or is she force sensitive?.  I now leaning towards force sensitive and my prediction is that her powers will kick in at the same time that Wrecker’s chip will activate leading to tragic consequences.

A fun episode that ticks most of the Star Wars boxes (laser swords are missing but we do get a laser bow and arrows) but you get the feeling the darkness isn’t far away.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

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