Omega finally breaks the mold of her cyclical arc in “Rampage”, The Bad Batch’ s fifth episode—harkening back to classic Clone Wars vibes.
*Warning: This piece contains spoilers for episode 5 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch*
About damn time! Omega (Michelle Ang) proves herself to be useful in this week’s episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, titled “Rampage”, in which Clone Force 99 (Dee Bradley Baker) seek to acquire information on Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), but first have to make a side-quest to rescue a teen Rancor. This episode is done very much in the vein of The Mandalorian, in the sense that in order to obtain one tiny piece of information, the runtime fills with a pointless mission that won’t add anything to the characters and only serves as mindless entertainment for whatever runtime the episode is lasting. However, in the case of The Bad Batch, it harkens back to the days of classic Clone Wars episodes, with exciting action and decent character dynamics, (finally) without a wasted moment of character progression between the members of Clone Force 99.
Omega, herself, moves away from her tired cyclical arc of being the “kid in distress” who purposefully gets in trouble to impress members of The Bad Batch, which always backfires because she is the one who needs saving in the end. In this episode, however, she must save Clone Force 99 after they are kidnapped by slavers who captured the Rancor they are looking for. Finally, Omega is put to good use and doesn’t fall in her familiar arc that has tarnished the past four episodes. We need the character to do something else than put herself in trouble for her to evolve and be useful to the team. For the first time, it seems as though the showrunners want her arc to evolve and make her an important part of the team, which they finally do in an action set piece that perfectly showcases her wit and improvisation to create a plan that’ll succeed in freeing the Clones.
We’re finally putting Omega in a situation where she’ll prove herself to the team, without putting herself in trouble first—she carefully examines the location and knows exactly what to do after she sees the caged-up Rancor, who will likely attack the slavers if it is freed. Guess what? It does exactly that and unleashes an action scene that’s both immensely kinetic and superbly fun to watch, recalling the “odd” episodes of The Clone Wars that mixed fun humor and vibrant action. The Clone Wars had a mostly serious setting, but the odd episode, here and there, brought levity to the overall mood of the series thanks to putting characters in slippery situations. Clone Force 99’s side-mission in this week’s episode is exactly that: a slippery situation which requires a rather slippery escape. The stakes don’t feel that important, but it’s definitely the most fun action scene of the series thus far. I get distancing yourself from The Clone Wars to create your own story with the first four episodes, but when your show has the exact same aesthetics and feeling to it, why not bathe in The Clone Wars and deliver on great action, fun character moments and an overall competently written story? It worked in this episode, so why not on all of them?
I also really enjoyed how this episode explores some deep cuts of the expansive lore of Star Wars, such as how a Rancor would look like as a teenager, showcasing its brutish power and seeing familiar faces like Bib Fortuna return brought somewhat of a smile to my face (especially knowing his fate in The Mandalorian). So far, The Bad Batch has been extremely uneven, but with tighter pacing and a more focused story, the series’ remaining episodes have a chance to succeed.
The show spends lots of time with Clone Force 99, who, of course, are the central characters of the series, but I’m wondering what’s going on with Crosshair, who seemed to develop an arc of his own in the show’s third episode. It seems as though the politics of the Empire have been dropped in favor of uneven episodic adventures with members of Clone Force 99. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if all of the episodes were good, you can definitely alternate between the Empire’s control over Kamino and Crosshair’s rise with The Bad Batch’s adventures. It’s entirely feasible in 25 minutes: 15 minutes on The Bad Batch and whatever they’re doing/15 minutes on Crosshair’s rise and The Empire’s politics. There ya have it.
Whilst many plot threads are still unanswered, with Fennec Shand’s goal raising more questions than the show’s last episode, The Bad Batch is picking up steam (again), finally making Omega a compelling character for the audience and growing her charm and wit to good use, instead of making her the “little damsel in distress.” It’s a tired and extremely uninteresting arc, so I’m finally glad that they’re doing something different with the character. Only time will tell if they’ll stick with their character changes, because I’m all here for good progression and compelling storytelling. Stay on target, and it’ll be something worth watching.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Rampage (Ep. 5) is now available to watch on Disney+.
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