Star Wars: The Bad Batch continues its middling weekly episodes, and episode 13 is another forgettable one that barely moves the story forward.
*Warning: This review contains spoilers for episode 13 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch*
I truly apologize for sounding like a broken record or if I repeat myself during these weekly reviews, because Star Wars: The Bad Batch has followed a pretty cyclical pattern. Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes it’s enjoyable. Sometimes it’s “eh”, and other times the series infuriates you to the point where you don’t think you’ll be able to finish it. Essentially, the series represents the entirety of the Star Wars franchise—continuously having highs and (terrible) lows. You may like Star Wars, but you probably didn’t like neither the part when Anakin Skywalker rants about sand in Attack of the Clones, nor that godawful Rey Palpatine reveal in The Rise of Skywalker. It’s a rather inconsistent universe that keeps churning out content for the sake of content.
And if The Bad Batch isn’t content for the sake of content, I don’t know what this is. I pleaded for less side quests in last week’s piece, but here we are again. Another week, another side quest. This time around, Clone Force 99 (Dee Bradley Baker) must save Cid (Rhea Perlman)’s parlor from being taken by Roland Durand (Tom Taylorson), a crime boss holding out spice for the Pyke Syndicate. Cid hatches a plan for The Bad Batch to steal the spice as a way to lure Roland out of the parlor and get in trouble. Mayhem ensues, once again, and all I thought of was Dune.
Why Dune, you may ask? Well, mainly because of the episode’s emphasis on spice. Everytime a character said spice, I had to pause to watch the latest trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel because, a) it just looks so damn good, and b) it’s way better than anything that can be found in this episode. There are no underlying stakes that makes this side quest feel urgent: they have to steal the spice, and, when that mission goes wrong, they have to retrieve it. Since they’re not battling bounty hunters or stronger versions of clones, and only slightly larger flies, the action is quite boring here.
Heck, I was expecting a version of the Dune sandworm, as Cid keeps hyping it up as a sensible creature, à la Quiet Place, where characters need to make as little sound as possible in order to not wake it up. That doesn’t happen…it’s flies. How exciting. And the rest of it is as dull—Roland isn’t as menacing as the Empire, nor Crosshair or Cad Bane (speaking of the latter…what happened to him?), he’s just some random dude who thinks he can take what he wants until the Pyke Syndicate comes in and says nope. Again, how exciting.
I’ve just now begun to realize that Star Wars: The Bad Batch won’t change. Some will argue that the episodic format makes it a fun Friday afternoon cartoon, if you will. And if that’s your jam, great! But that argument can be easily dismantled when you take in consideration that The Clone Wars followed that episodic approach and was so much better than whatever the hell The Bad Batch is trying to be: the non-linear approach sometimes didn’t work, yes, but we had bouts of great character development and vibrant action that made the series one of the greatest animated titles I’ve ever seen. There seems to be dedication for Dave Filoni and others at Lucasfilm Animation to continue that vein of Clone Wars-esque shows, but, without a purpose, I find it very hard to get invested in this series.
Yes, there are episodes I loved, and some I didn’t like. But I want more, dammit! More what? A story, for starters! The show barely has one! It’s “mission of the week”, and it’ll likely be that until its finale. There’s no emotional tension being built by any of the characters’ relationships, nor is there a clear-cut antagonist. It’s a mindless show designed to entertain small children who are young enough for live-action Star Wars week after week.
Star Wars isn’t just a children’s franchise, but one that has influenced many film and TV fans to either work in the industry or develop a passion for the medium. Remember the first time you watched A New Hope, back when social media didn’t exist (or in my case: back when I wasn’t on it)? Yeah, that was awesome. Not every Star Wars title needs to be amazing, but at least it shouldmake it have a sense of urgency, to which The Bad Batch unfortunately does not have. I’m not so optimistic abouton the show’s last three episodes, but I guess we’ll see. It’s now or never to make a lasting impression.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch: “Infested” (Ep. 13) is now available to watch on Disney+.