We’re nearing the end of the first season of The Bad Batch, and it has been fantastic. I feel very confident in saying that it’s the strongest first season of any Star Wars animated series so far, and as such there are tons of positive things that I could (and have) pointed out.
But there’s one thing in particular that’s been disappointing to me as the season has gone on: what’s going on with Echo?
In the Bad Batch arc from season seven of The Clone Wars, when we were first introduced to Clone Force 99, we saw them join up with Anakin Skywalker and Captain Rex to rescue Echo from the clutches of the vile Wat Tambor. Echo had been kept alive by the Separatists and wasn’t conscious, but had cybernetic implants that were used to serve the Separatist war effort. Skywalker, Rex, and the Bad Batch rescued him, however, and Echo helped to defeat the Separatists at Anaxes. After the battle, he decided to join Clone Force 99 – setting up The Bad Batch, as Echo is a member of the team!
I was really excited to see Echo interact with the rest of the squad, and there have been plenty of instances where he could have had a key role in this series. But so far, it really doesn’t seem like the showrunners have had much interest in exploring his character further. Hunter and Omega have been the main stars, which makes sense, but Wrecker and even Crosshair have been given some nice development and attention as well. That leaves Tech and Echo. Call me biased, but I think there’s far more storytelling potential with Echo, at least right now.
Part of the problem, of course, is that Tech and Echo seem to bring the very same skillset to the squad. There are differences, but none that the show has really pointed out. Ask most viewers of The Bad Batch what Echo brings to the squad that Tech doesn’t, and I’d guess they wouldn’t be able to – because the show hasn’t really been able to yet either. With that being the case, it could’ve led to an interesting dynamic, with Echo trying to figure out his place with this team and how he fits in. But that hasn’t happened.
There have been a few very interesting moments with Echo this season, but they haven’t been followed up on, which seems like a missed opportunity. I think of the fourth episode, “Cornered,” where Echo was mistaken for a droid and saw Hunter go along with it for the sake of the mission. I’m sure no organic being would appreciate being confused for a droid, but especially Echo, who was basically turned into a cyborg by Wat Tambor and therefore surely has had some crises of identity. He didn’t take too kindly to it in the episode but did his job… and we never heard about it again. I was excited for the chance to see Echo processing who he is in the wake of all of that, but we haven’t seen it.
Another opportunity seemingly arose in the tenth episode, “Common Ground,” when the squad was sent to Raxus to help extract a Separatist Senator. Echo had some issues with that, because of course he would! He saw the horrors of the Confederacy more than perhaps any other clone, and certainly more than Clone Force 99, so of course he would have issue with helping a Separatist! And by the end of the episode, Echo had seemingly changed his view a bit, realizing that the Senator needed to live to fight another day. It’s a very meaningful sentiment coming from Echo… but we didn’t really see anything about him changing his mind. We just got that line at the end and that was it. And no fallout whatsoever from there.
Or think about one of the big themes of the season so far, revolving around clone troopers. The Empire wants to phase them out in favor of enlisted recruits, while the regs that we’ve seen have mostly been loyal to the Empire and lost any semblance of their personality. The Bad Batch probably wouldn’t have as much of an issue with all of this, as though they might find it concerning and alarming, it’s not as personal to them. But Echo? I want to know how he’s processing all of this, because it’s got to be hard.
My point in all of this isn’t to go back over episodes and insist that they should have handled something with Echo differently. Just because I think something would’ve been a good idea doesn’t mean what actually happened was bad. My point is just to say that there have been plenty of opportunities to give even somewhat of a focus on Echo, and it really hasn’t happened yet this season, with only three episodes left.
Maybe the showrunners are playing the long game, planning to develop Echo more next season (though it hasn’t been officially announced, I think we all know it’s gotta be coming). I hope so. But right now, it’s hard to see how Echo really fits in with this squad, because he’s mostly just been there, in the background, helping and getting a line or two each episode, but other than that being forgettable. I hope that changes soon.