A fan-favorite character shows up in “Battle Scars”, another enjoyable episode of The Bad Batch that doesn’t necessarily advance the story forward.
*Warning: This piece contains spoilers for episode 7 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch*
It didn’t take long for us to know who Trace & Rafa Martez were contacting at the end of episode six; it was none other than Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker), of course! Hardcore fans of The Clone Wars will obviously love this week’s episode by seeing Rex join Clone Force 99 (Baker) for one important side-quest. Wrecker’s headaches have been amplifying since we first saw it last week. Rex believes this is his inhibitor chip acting up and it must be removed as soon as possible, because, if left unchecked, they can endanger Omega (Michelle Ang) and anybody they encounter. While I still think the plot moves too slowly, this side-quest of The Bad Batch added lots of character depth and a much-needed fleshing out of Omega’s relationship with the Clones.
The series lacked serious character development, especially when they were recycling the same trope for four episodes with Omega, but now I feel confident that the showrunners will never use the kid as a bumbling object that purposefully gets in trouble, especially when Wrecker flips once his inhibitor chip becomes activated. This is probably the series’ most effective sequence yet, with Omega fearing for the clones’ life after developing a kinship with them. Wrecker becomes erratic and aggressive to the team and cannot control himself, which prompts to a rather emotional confrontation when Omega. She tries the “this isn’t you! I’m your friend!” approach, but if you’ve seen every other movie/show that used that line, it never works.
What’s most frightening about the inhibitor chip is that it completely renders you impervious from your past lives and makes you a pure robot or a “good soldier” who “follows orders” and that any human interaction you had with anyone else makes you forget them in an instant. Omega has grown fond of Wrecker, and so does he. There’s a wonderful sequence in which they bond over food, as a customary tradition once their assignments from Cid (Rhea Perlman) end, that perfectly exudes the chemistry they’ve developed over the past few months. This is why it’s particularly scary for Omega when she sees that Wrecker does not recognize her anymore and is prepared to kill her without hesitation if it means following orders, just like Crosshair (speaking of him, I truly wonder what’s going on with the Empire lately…). In a thrilling action setpiece, with a brutish Wrecker who has no control over his body anymore and becomes as emotionless as the other “regs” whose only qualities are to “follow orders”, we get first-hand perspective on how the inhibitor chips strips the individuality the clones developed in The Clone Wars.
They weren’t mere machines: they were “men”, who each had names and distinct personalities. Think of how Pong Krell treated the clones in his arc, as disposable machines who are only there to die and follow orders…and look where that ended him. Dead. Having lost the trust of the clones he treated as distractions. We saw that individuality—we know that each clone eventually develops their own personalities by hanging out with Jedi and humans, but that comes to a screeching halt to those whose inhibitor chips activate once Order 66 is executed. This is Battle Scars’ best part, as it reminds audiences that clones, even if they developed human feelings over the years, were just one piece of Palpatine’s rule over the Galaxy and the final pawn in his large chessboard.
Even if the episode builds further character relationships, it still doesn’t feel like the story is moving forward. A tease at the end of the episode puts the series in an interesting direction, if the Empire comes back sooner rather than later. If it can deliver fun week-to-week adventures with Clone Force 99, I would still think of the show as a success, because of how dull the first few episodes were. The show is finally picking up steam, in terms of character growth, but needs to improve its story and pacing first and foremost for it to become a must-see. However, I’m confident it’s only going to get better from here.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Battle Scars (Ep. 7) is now available to watch on Disney+.
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