The thirteenth episode of The Bad Batch season two premiered this week, and it’s a quieter episode but a really good one nonetheless. We have just three episodes left in this season, which has been extremely strong, and this episode continues that in a bit of a different way.
Let’s dive in to the review of “Pabu,” an episode that’s as good as Star Wars animation has ever looked.
Phee and Omega negotiate with a pirate on a deal, which goes awry, and their secret backup of Hunter and Wrecker have to get involved as they make an escape (which is all reminiscent of the opening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). In the aftermath, Cid contacts the Batch threatening them for having cut ties with her. Phee guides them to the little-known world of Pabu, a paradise world full of refugees.
The locals quickly and kindly take the batch in and welcome them, and Omega befriends one of the young girls in the village. They journey out to the sea while the rest of the crew feasts on a huge meal, but a massive storm catches the entire city by surprise. Hunter heads off to rescue Omega and her friend, while the others help get the locals to higher ground to protect against the massive storm surge waves. Both missions succeed with little time to spare.
In the aftermath, as the people of Pabu look at a significant rebuilding process, Hunter says that they will stay and help.
It’s amazing how far Lucasfilm Animation has come. Their storytelling has always been really good, but the visuals continue to improve with stunning quality, and this is among the best we’ve ever seen Star Wars animation look. Pabu is a beautiful planet, and the episode really does it justice. It’s terrific.
But the episode is more than just a bunch of gorgeous visuals; it continues several of the main themes of the series in some more subtle ways, with lower stakes but important points. The Bad Batch continues to try to figure out their place in the galaxy, and they’ve finally ditched Cid. It seems that the direction they’ve been heading is to join the fight against the Empire and help the clones, like Echo, but this episode presents them with another option: to retire to a quiet life on a paradise world like Pabu. It’s a very tempting option, and a good one at that. It would be good for Omega to be able to settle down and be with people her own age, but the entirety of the batch seems to fit in well. The people of Pabu are genuinely kind and hospitable, and it’s the kind of world that would make perfect sense to retire to.
It’s a world made up of refugees, and because of that clones would fit in well. The clones are, in a sense, refugees as well. Their homeworld is gone, having been destroyed by the Empire, and the purpose they’ve known all their lives has been pulled out from under their feet. The clones are trying to process how they’re fitting in to this rapidly changing galaxy, and we saw a prime example of that in last week’s amazing episode. This week we continue some of those themes, but from an entirely different perspective. Rather than serving an Empire that cares nothing for them, the clones could retire to a world like Pabu and have peace and quiet.
But is that what they should do? Or do they have a responsibility to try to resist the Empire’s tyranny however they can? That’s an important question, but I’m not sure it’s necessary we answer it right now because there’s another major theme of The Bad Batch, Andor, and any story about the Empire: you can’t truly just escape their terror. Shep mentions that the Empire wouldn’t care about their world, but that’s where he’s wrong. The Empire does care, because if they can’t have a planet fully in their grasp, they don’t want that planet to prosper at all. Especially when said planet is harboring some wanted targets.
The Bad Batch has made enemies with Cid, and she threatens them by implying that she has plenty of information on them. Information that the Empire could want, especially since they’re now hunting down Omega again. And I’m still not convinced about Phee, who seems to still be close with Cid. What if part of the reason she brought the squad to Pabu was so that she could keep tabs on them? Will Phee be the one to reveal their location to Cid, who then reveals it to the Empire? I’m speculating here, but I think we’re now starting to see how these threads will converge at the end of the season.
The Bad Batch is done working for Cid, and they’re closer than ever to just settling down. The clones are searching for something like that in the galaxy, but the Empire surely won’t let them rest. That will presumably pull them back into the fight, and we’ll have to see where things go from there. In the meantime, though, Pabu was a change of pace episode that managed to pick up on some of the season’s biggest threads in a visually stunning episode. This show continues to impress.