The latest episode of The Bad Batch follows the same unsuccessful ‘pit-stop’ filler approach from The Mandalorian, which isn’t particularly compelling.
*Warning: This piece contains spoilers for episode two of Star Wars: The Bad Batch*
Well, two episodes in and Star Wars: The Bad Batch is not impressing me so far. I might be too quick to judge (there are fourteen left, after all!), but its latest episode, Cut and Run, doesn’t move the story forward and only serves as pure filler—something that should be avoided at all costs when you’re making television. If you don’t want to move the story forward, fine, but make sure your episode further develops the relationship between the characters, which it doesn’t really do.
Take, for example, the episode’s central figure, Omega (Michelle Ang), who escaped Kamino with Clone Force 99 (Dee Bradley Baker) in the season premiere. In this episode, Hunter (Baker) believes Omega shouldn’t stay with the Force, because she’ll either get in danger by putting herself in trouble or the clones just won’t be able to save her. We don’t know much about Omega—heck, the only thing we know is that she likes to be with Clone Force 99, since she is also a genetically modified clone. She thinks she’ll be able to contribute to the team by joining them, but Hunter thinks otherwise. He wants her to go with Cut (“the guy” the Force knew in the last episode, also voiced by Baker) and Suu (Cara Pifko) to have a family and stay away from potential danger, but, for some reason, Omega constantly wants to put herself in danger and trouble for…reasons? To prove herself to the Clone Force? Is that it? Because, if that’s how she’s going to be used in the series, it’s a terribly tired trope to make the child character an object of trouble, who’ll constantly try to prove themselves but will ultimately need saving.
In this episode alone, Omega puts herself in trouble three times—and narrowly escapes death twice. When she goes to the transport with Cut and Suu, after Hunter told her to stay there and go live her life with a stable family, Omega comes back in the heat of a battle between Clone Force 99 and Empire Clones, which will prompt a change of heat from Hunter to accept Omega as a member of the Force. What prompted that change? For the entirety of the episode, Hunter is bent on getting Omega installed in stability for her to escape danger and grow away from war and The Empire, but he suddenly decides to go against that for…no clear reasons. Well, scratch that: we all know that the real reason is for Omega to have more than two episodes in the show and become The Bad Batch ’s sidekick (not that they need any—their chemistry is all they need to make an entertaining series), but Hunter’s motivations, in the show’s diegesis, are terribly unclear. If you want us to be invested in the show, easy: have a decently constructed story with compellingly written characters.
So far, the story has already been done (in what it feels to be) a thousand times in the lore of Star Wars—being a middle gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, without offering anything new for fans to become slowly invested in. And with thinly-written characters, The Bad Batch is off to a pretty uneven start. And it’s not great when almost the entire episode feels like a “pit-stop” before the story kicks in. I don’t mind a quasi-episodic show, in the vein of The Clone Wars (of course!), but The Bad Batch seems to want to tell a larger story, rather than presenting small arcs of events that happened during The Clone Wars. So far, the story is terribly unclear—and the fall of the Republic only serves as a pretext for The Bad Batch to explore planets, stumble upon people, fix their problems, without ever delving into the characters’ psyche (again, watch The Clone Wars, which develops many of the series’ characters through mini story-arcs) and move on to the next “pit-stop.”
If you’re looking for mini-episodes that don’t necessarily develop character and put them in a cyclical mindset, featuring competent action sequences and well-constructed animation, maybe you’ll enjoy the first two episodes of The Bad Batch, but it pales in comparison to The Clone Wars and Rebels. Even if Rebels had a pretty weird animation style, its story was always top notch and knew how to develop interesting characters, right from the start. Some will say “don’t compare apples to oranges”, as the show just started. I get that, but if you’ve seen how Rebels started –it already established the basis of well-written characters and an engaging story that would span four seasons. The Bad Batch hasn’t established anything compelling so far, which could predict a dire outcome for the rest of the episodes. Still, I’m cautiously optimistic that the show will (eventually) pick up steam…but when? We shall see…
Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Cut and Run (Ep. 2) is now available to watch on Disney+.
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