The Bad Batch returned this week with a new episode, “Faster,” with some major racing action.
It’s a fun adventure to go on this week, particularly after a more serious episode a week ago, and it’s enjoyable to watch… while giving some interesting hints about some storylines that could come into play as the season goes on.
There’s not a ton to talk about with this episode, but let’s dive into our review nonetheless! And as always, full spoilers are ahead!
With Hunter and Echo away on a separate mission, Cid enlists the rest of the Bad Batch to join her on a mission to Sofa Toma. The planet is home to Riot Racing, a dangerous sport of life and death. Cid has sponsored a racer, a droid named TAY-O, who wins the first race they watch. Afterward, Cid is approached by an old acquaintance, Grinni Millegi, who makes her a bet about the upcoming race. TAY-O loses to Grinni’s racer, and Cid is unable to pay her debts. As Grinni is about to take her away, though, Omega speaks up, asking for one more chance: if they win they get Cid, but if they lose they’ll pay double.
Tech gets to work repairing TAY-O after the droid’s crash, and the droid is confident he’ll be able to win again. Tech offers some advice, saying he’s been studying the schematics and strategy, but the droid doesn’t want to hear it… and is promptly run over by a racer and killed. Tech volunteers to race instead. In the race he puts his study to good use, opting for speed an strategy over weapons and brute force, and he winds up winning.
In the aftermath, Grinni gives Cid back to the heroes, but warns them that they should watch out for her, as they don’t know who she really is.
This is the kind of episode that will be called “filler” by some fans, but it’s exactly the kind of episode Star Wars animation has always been about (and, for that matter, George Lucas). While shows like Andor are fantastic, Star Wars mustn’t get away entirely from the simple fun adventure-of-the-week type stories like this, because it’s a vital pillar of the franchise. Star Wars isn’t meant to be always tense and dark and dramatic all the time. So I’m thrilled for a galaxy in which we can have both Andor and The Bad Batch, and a streaming service that encourages both of them. There’s something nice about just being able to sit back for twenty or so minutes and enjoy a fun ride that’s not much more than that.
The episode also seemed to me like something George Lucas would love, given his affinity for cars. A racing episode like this fits perfectly in line with the creator’s vision and passion, and it evokes massive prequel trilogy vibes as well (particularly from The Phantom Menace‘s podracing scene). The sound design and music during the racing was top notch, and let me add that if Lucasfilm Games were to create a Mario Kart-like game with some Star Wars courses like this one, it would be absolutely AMAZING. Just saying. I’d buy it.
I also appreciated that this episode really focused on Tech, who received little development and attention in season one. Already this season, we’ve seen a substantial shift in that, with Tech taking a major focus through the first four episodes. It was great seeing him put his enhanced abilities to good use here, particularly one week after seeing Crosshair use his enhanced abilities for evil. It’s a message that what really matters are the choices they make, not the choices that have been made for them. They have enhanced abilities, but the question is how they will use them: will it be for good, to help others, or for evil, to harm them? That’s the main distinction right now between Crosshair and the rest of the Bad Batch.
And I especially appreciated the way that Tech put those abilities to use in the race. TAY-O doesn’t think he knows what he’s doing, and might I just add that TAY-O was amazing and hilarious and that Ben Schwartz nailed it. The droid was an immediate star. But it’s interesting that the droid pilot thinks Tech is wrong, again coming just one week after Cody told Crosshair that the thing that makes the clones different than droids is the ability to make their own choices. Tech makes his choice to approach the race his way, based on the data he’d studied, and it works. And it works first because he diverts power away from the weapons to the shields, and then jettisons the weapons altogether to add speed. The other races seem only concerned with fighting others and taking them out, but Tech focuses instead on gaining speed to win the race. He wins not through fighting and killing and being consumed by taking out the enemy, but by focusing on the task ahead and being willing to sacrifice violence for the greater good. It’s a very Star Wars thing.
It’s all a fun episode, and while it’s not one of my favorites from the series, it’s enjoyable nonetheless. And it seems to be setting up some important threads that I’m sure the season will pick up on with Cid. That’s what makes me think this episode is far from filler, because it establishes some important things about Cid. She has a mysterious past that isn’t as clean as the Bad Batch might think. She is willing to make this bad bet even though the odds don’t look good. She doesn’t seem to have the same loyalty toward the Batch that they have toward her. And this fun, lighthearted episode ends on a down note: with Grinni warning the Batch not to trust her. The fact that the episode ends on that note is significant, and it tells me that it’s what the audience is supposed to go away thinking. Rather than going away thinking how fun and happy the race was, we’re supposed to wonder: ok, so who is Cid, and will she turn on the Bad Batch?
Those questions are not yet answered. But the episode showed us not just that Cid might be untrustworthy, but also that the Bad Batch will display loyalty to her nonetheless (particularly Omega). And it also showed that Echo doesn’t seem to be the only one growing frustrated with their current life of running odd jobs for Cid, as Tech doesn’t seem thrilled either. All of this might just be a ticking time bomb until it all blows up, particularly if the Empire discovers their whereabouts.
One thought on “Star Wars: The Bad Batch: “Faster” review!”
This episode did feel like a let-down after last week’s, which went all out with the emotional intensity and the dark themes. I had to watch it a second time today to appreciate it as a stand-alone episode. Although many fans will classify this as filler, I would hesitate to do so. Looking back at Clone Wars, there were a handful of stand-alone episodes, but almost always, a character or a plot line was carried through to something else. Although there were some laugh-out-loud moments thanks to TAY-O, I thought there was a darker thread running through which I think will be revisited later on, namely Tech starting to tire of Cid’s missions and her shady dealings, and Millegi’s warning that Cid is not to be trusted. It makes me think that Cid may very well betray them, for money or for self-preservation. Anyway, one thing I noted about this episode was the focus on facial expression and body language, which has continued to improve season over season. With the focus on Tech, there were a few close-up moments which were captivating in their realism: it really emphasized the fact that although he was originally drawn as a stereotypical geek with low emotional intelligence, he is actually quite perceptive and expressive in his own way. I really appreciate that the creators are going to such lengths to develop the characters like this!
LikeLiked by 1 person