Dave Filoni has been a driving force in the Star Wars universe for over a decade now. He may not be as hands on with ‘The Bad Batch’ as he was with ‘The Clone Wars or ‘Rebels’ but be created it and it is clearly being made by his people. It’s about time that people learnt that nothing he produces is filler. It all adds layers and builds on what has come before.
We seem to have reached a point in storytelling where if something major doesn’t happen in an episode then it is deemed as being non-important by social media the minute it is broadcast. But longform TV is a different art form to blockbuster filmmaking. The Star Wars films are all about the big event where as the shows have the time to allow the characters to develop and grow and can use galaxy defining events for dramatic punctuation. There is no need for a major revelation with every episode, that would be a quick way to numb the effects of the reveal and create fatigue in the narrative. Mystery is a better way to drive your story forward than giving the answers to all the questions.
This episode is the perfect example of building a story on the foundations that have come before and adding a layer that can be built off of in the future. The story picks up in Cid’s bar on Ord Mantell where we left the squad at the end of last week’s episode. Omega still has the laser bow that she picked up from the slavers and she is learning to shoot it, as the weeks go by she is integrating her self more into, and being accepted by, the team. Cid, a shady trandoshan with links to the underworld, has power over Hunter and his team because she knows who they are so when she offers them a job they are not in a position where they can refuse it. Clone Force 99 have to go to Corellia (Han Solo’s home world but don’t worry there is no cameo) to retrieve a tactical droid from a decommissioning plant for an unknown client and for an unknown reason.
What should be a quick a quick smash and grab mission quickly goes of the trails when it is revealed that there is another team at the plant after the droid. That team is quickly revealed to the Martez sisters, a pair of smugglers introduced in the final season of ‘The Clone Wars’ and labelled filler. But when you see them here they bring their baggage with them and arrive as rounded characters, you know who they are and what they stand for. The sisters had teamed up with Ahsoka and taught her that not everything is crystal clear during the clone wars and that there are shades of grey in the Star Wars universe. Here it is the sisters again that teach Hunter a lesson. This is the Star Wars creative team building on what has come before.
A game of catch ensues as the two teams fight over the head of the droid which results in Omega shooting a hole in the decommissioning planet when she is aiming at Rafa Martez. This causes the whole plant to be shut down and police droids sent in to capture the squad and the sisters. The two teams now have to work together to fight their way out. Tech and Echo bypass the lockdown systems but they need Wrecker to swing across a ravine (a classic Star Wars tradition) to shut down the manual controls. He succeed in his swing but for the fifth episode in a row he smacks his head. Up until now it has be subtly hinted that Wrecker’s inhibitor chip could fire at any moment but this time he mutters “Good soldiers…” as he comes too and we hear the memory of Crosshair saying “Good soldiers follow orders”. It looks like Wreckers dark time is coming soon.
The sisters get the upper hand but Omega gets trapped amongst broken droid parts and falls into the melting vat. Now the two teams have to work together to save Omega and fight their way out. Hunter collapses a walkway to stop the police droids and fill the melting vat with debris allowing Trace Martez to rescues Omega. This is the first time Omega has been able to trust someone other than the squad. Clone Force 99 and the sisters come together an use the tactical droids head to activate all the droid that are being decommissioned and suddenly they have an army to help fight their way out. One of the droid utters the line “orders are orders” spelling out how close the chip controlled clones are to the mindless droids.
As they all escape we get into the moral grey areas. The sisters want the head to help people fight back against the Empire, the clones are after the head because they are being paid and haven’t asked any questions. Hunter says that they don’t work for the Emperor but you can tell that this doesn’t sit well with both parties. He gives the sisters a copy of the droid’s programming because he knows it’s the right thing to do. Rafa says to him “Take it from me. In the end, we all choose sides.” It’s getting hammered home that at some point Clone Force 99 are going to have to turn on the Empire and their fellow clones.
To add a little intrigue, as the sisters fly away they contact a mysterious figure and tell them that they have the droid’s programming and that they were aided by rogue clones. There could be several people who they are working for. We can rule out the Kaminoans as they would already have access to tactical data. Saw Gerrera has already been introduced in the series and is being hunted by the Empire so he would be high on the list. Bail Organa would be working on starting the rebellion and the data would be useful for him (he would be my pick for who it is). Rex is out there somewhere and would be looking for a way to free his brothers. Maul would be looking to rebuild his criminal empire but I don’t think the sisters would work for him. And then there is Ahsoka, she has a history with the sisters but I don’t think they would want to bring her into this series so quickly when she has her own show on the way.
The shortest, most action packed episode so far. It’s not filler, it’s the building blocks for what’s to come.