The Bad Batch is back!
A new episode dropped today, the tenth episode of the first season, and it was entitled “Common Ground.” In this episode we see the Batch undertake a new mission, and in it we see the very last of the remaining trailer footage – meaning that for the rest of the season, we have no idea what to expect.
Even though this episode was pretty much in line with what we expected, it was still enjoyable. Let’s dive in to a review – and as always, full spoilers are ahead!
On Raxus, an Imperial occupation is underway, led by Captain Bragg. She delivers an address to the angry citizens of the planet about a curfew that is being instituted, and Senator Avi Singh then steps up to speak. As he does so, he has a change of heart and speaks out against the Empire’s overreach, and he is quickly hauled away. His droid, GS-8, knows what to do if something happens to him and sends a distress signal to Cid, who sends the Bad Batch to extract the Separatist Senator. Hunter initially refuses, not wanting to help a Separatist and wanting to lay low for Omega’s sake, but Cid continues to hold their debt over their heads. So Hunter reluctantly agrees, but decides to leave Omega behind with Cid.
The other four members of the Bad Batch arrive on Raxus, and Echo especially is upset about helping a Separatist. They are soon met by GS-8, and with the droid’s help they sneak into the city and into the compound where Senator Singh is being held. They stun the clone troopers in their way and rescue the Senator. But before they can make their escape, the Empire is on to them. So the Bad Batch launches into action, commandeering a walker and attempting to flee while the Empire sends other walkers and clones after them.
Their walker is hit and requires repairs before they can continue on, so Hunter and Wrecker hold off the enemy forces while Tech and Echo get the walker back up and running – with an assist from Senator Singh, who helps them take down a few clone troopers. Once the walker is moving again, the Senator instructs them to trust him and orders them to an alley way. The Empire thinks that they have the squad pinned, but Singh leads the Bad Batch to a secret tunnel that allows them to escape. They make it out of the city and arrive at their ship, and Senator Singh has a conflicted conscience once again, thinking that he should stay with his people. But Echo convinces him that it’s important to live to fight another day, and the Senator agrees to go with them back to Cid’s.
Meanwhile, at Cid’s, Omega is upset about being left behind, but she winds up proving herself at holochess and winning many games – enough to pay off the Bad Batch’s debt. When the squad returns, she has a heart-to-heart talk with Hunter, and he says that if she can beat him at holochess, then she’ll never be left behind on another mission.
This episode was a respite from the high-stakes episodes we’ve been used to in recent weeks – from Wrecker’s inhibitor chip to Crosshair cornering the squad to Cad Bane taking Omega – but this was still a very enjoyable episode, and we can’t and shouldn’t expect every episode to have massive stakes (since, after all, if they did then it would eventually start to feel normal and thus we’d become more numb to the tension).
Actually, this episode was rather simple and straightforward, and went about as you’d expect: the Bad Batch is sent to rescue a Separatist Senator, they’re hesitant about doing so, but accomplish the task and have a bit of a change of heart by the end. No real surprises or anything, but I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, since the episode still told a story worth telling.
Let’s start with the whole action sequences on Raxus, which were fantastic. The animation and lighting of this show just continue to blow me away, and that was true this week as well. And it was really great to see the Bad Batch more back in their element, commandeering a tank with relative ease and making their escape. The ensuing tank sequence was great, and it provided for a very fun few minutes. It was also great to return to Raxus, especially now that the Clone War is over, and see the Imperial occupation (as well as the beautiful visuals of the planet). It’s interesting to see how the Empire moves in on the worlds that had joined the Confederacy of Independent Systems (which Raxus was the capitol of, of course) and Senator Singh and GS-8 were great additions to the show. We see a Senator truly wanting to do what is best for his people; just a short while before he’d be fighting for the ‘enemy’ in our minds, and now we can greatly sympathize with him. It’s all from a certain point of view, and it’s a continuation of what some of the Clone Wars stories about the Bonteris were trying to teach us as well – there are, in a sense, heroes on both sides, even though evil is still everywhere. Senator Singh would have been allied against the Republic – yet here we see his heart to do what is best for his people. It’s a fascinating thing to explore. And GS-8 stole pretty much every scene she was in, and I’d love to see more of her in this show too.
On this whole subject, I liked seeing the Bad Batch’s initial hesitance to helping a Separatist, and that was especially true for Echo – the one who, perhaps of any clone in the entire Republic, has the most understandable reasons for detesting the Separatists. It’s important for him to come to see that not everyone aligned with the CIS was as sinister and nefarious as Wat Tambor, but of course he’d have problems helping the Separatists. And that’s why it was touching that Echo was the one to speak up to help convince the Senator to escape in order to live to fight another day. Echo has come to see that the squad has some common ground with this Senator – because, in a very real and strange sense, the Bad Batch is also among the separatists now. That’s certainly not saying they’re aligned with the Confederacy of Independent Systems or anything like that, or that they stand for some of the things the CIS stood for during the Clone Wars, but that they’re now the ones opposing the ruling government on what they believe to be moral grounds. These are the seeds of rebellion being planted. So it was really important and worthwhile to see all of this unfold. My one gripe would be that I felt this storyline took a backseat and was just there to bookend things; it gave the Bad Batch pause at the start and showed how they’ve grown at the end. In-between, however, there was nothing about it. I’d have liked to see this explored more, or at least for Echo to have more than one line at the end in talking about this. I’d have liked to see a conversation between Echo and/or the Bad Batch with Senator Singh. So all that to say, I really appreciated the story this episode was telling, but felt that the story itself actually kinda played out in the background more than anything.
So maybe, I’m wondering, that wasn’t the primary story the episode was telling (despite what the description would say). Because the story that was more prominent in the foreground was with Omega. She was left behind by Hunter, who ordered her to sit out the mission and stay with Cid (and as much as I don’t trust Cid, I do think her reasoning was persuasive enough for us to believe Hunter would leave Omega with her). Cid thinks that Omega is useless, and the easy assumption to make is that so too does everyone else, so this is a case of Omega constantly being overlooked. And if that’s the case, then we already got that storyline earlier this season. But I actually think there’s more nuance to it than that. At one point during the episode, Hunter gives orders to Tech and Omega – only to remember that Omega isn’t with them. This goes to show how Hunter misses her, but I think also sends a more implicit message as well: he trusts her to carry out the mission. Even though Cid overlooks her, Hunter doesn’t. So I think what we see here isn’t actually about Omega but about Hunter. Wrecker seems to disagree with Hunter’s decision to leave Omega behind, and it seems the others probably do as well. They’ve processed things better than he has. And why might that be? Well, remember that he was the only one standing in-between Cad Bane and Omega a few episodes ago. The rest of the squad wasn’t there, so he was the only one there to protect Omega… and he failed. He was shot in the chest and Omega was taken. I think Hunter’s feelings stem from the fact that he now realizes he can’t protect Omega like he thought he could. Even though he trusts the girl, he might not trust himself to protect her. If I’m right on all of this, and that him leaving Omega behind isn’t as much about her as it is about him, I’m very interested to explore that moving forward.
Especially since Omega isn’t going to be left behind again. Or, at least, that’s the assumption I get from the ending of the episode, and it’s why I think the episode didn’t bother to show us the holochess game. It didn’t need to. I’m fully confident that Hunter knows he’s going to lose to Omega. And we should be too. The point is that Omega isn’t going to be left behind again, and I’m worried that is going to lead to another moment where Hunter can’t protect her, really triggering a crisis for him. But that’s all speculation, and where the season goes from here is wide open. We’ve got six episodes left, their debt to Cid is paid off, and we’ve seen everything shown in any trailers. So we’re flying blind for the rest of the season, and I can’t wait to see where it all goes!
My grade: 8.5/10