The second season of The Bad Batch will come to a close next week with the two-episode finale, and it’s been fantastic – particularly the last several episodes. The fourteenth episode, “Tipping Point”, is no different, setting the stage for where things are going next week.
This series continues to be at its best when exploring the adventures of the clones in the post-Republic galaxy, and that’s exactly where this episode begins. Let’s dive in to our review of this episode, and as always, full spoilers are ahead.
The Empire transports a group of clones, including Howzer, off-world, but the transport is attacked by other clones, led by Echo. The clones infiltrate the transport and free their brothers, and Echo recovers what data he can from the Empire’s logs before it’s all deleted. On Coruscant, the clones are together in the Martez shop, and Echo talks with Hozer and Senator Chuchi. Echo says that he knows someone who can decrypt the stolen information and heads off to find him.
Meanwhile, on Mount Tantiss, Doctor Hemlock and Emerie Karr interrogate Crosshair, wanting him to reveal how to track down Clone Force 99. Crosshair refuses to give up any information, leading to increasing torture methods. When Emerie halts this momentarily to keep him alive, Crosshair seizes his chance, killing the stormtroopers and stunning Emerie, who warns him that he won’t be able to escape. But escape is not his plan, and Crosshair finds a communications depot where he relays a message to his old squad: Plan 88, and they’re being hunted. The transmission is cut off, and Crosshair is neutralized by poisonous gas. Hemlock has a conversation with Grand Moff Tarkin via hologram, who i s concerned not just with keeping Tantiss a secret, but also the increasing rebellion by clones. Hemlock tells him that he can fix it if all the clones are sent to him, and Tarkin tells him to prepare his proposal for the upcoming summit. Later, Hemlock begins the same torture methods on Crosshair, trying to get the location of the Bad Batch.
The Bad Batch, of course, is on the paradise world of Pabu, joining in with the locals and feeling at home. Tech teaches Omega how to fly the Havoc Marauder, including performing what she calls the “Tech Turn”. Echo arrives and greets his old friends, and Tech gets to work decrypting the data. He learns that Doctor Hemlock is behind the experiments, a scientist who was disbarred by the Republic for his methods. He learns that other clones were taken, including Crosshair – which leads him to discover Crosshair’s message of warning to them. They aren’t sure whether it’s a trap, or genuine.
One of the very best things about The Clone Wars was how it really humanized the clone troopers, and The Bad Batch is at its very best when focusing on those same clone troopers in this very different period of galactic history. Of course, the entire series is clone-centric in a sense, given how it’s all about this clone force. But when it’s concerned not simply with Clone Force 99 but with the other clones and their place in the galaxy, it reaches another level.
So right from the start of this episode, we see that there’s a much bigger effort going on in the galaxy to aid the clones. Rex and Echo have assembled a group of clones, some of whom are actively fighting with them and others who are contacts within the Empire’s ranks. Echo teams up with Gregor (who we know), as well as Fireball and Nemec (whom we meet for the first time here) to rescue Howzer and two others. I am thrilled to see Howzer show up, as his appearance in season one was immediately memorable and I’ve been hoping he’s ok ever since. This group of clones is growing, aided by Senator Chuchi, and it’s notable that Rex isn’t even among them in this episode. That allows Echo to take a prominent leadership role, which is a nice development for his character. It’s not all about Rex, but these clones banding together to save as many of their brothers as they can.
There’s an important conversation that happens between Hunter and Echo in this episode, in the quiet of night on Pabu. Echo brings Hunter up to speed on his and Rex’s efforts, and Hunter says, “Echo, you’ve seen the power you’re up against. You can’t defeat them.” But to that, Echo responds, “It’s not about that. It’s about fighting for our brothers.” Hunter asks, “I understand why you’re doing this… but when will it be enough?” The conversation is then interrupted by Tech, who has finished decrypting the data. But I think that conversation sheds light on both Hunter and Echo and their perspectives on the matter.
Hunter resonates with the impulse behind Echo’s actions, but he and the squad are being tempted to settle down on Pabu. They’ve been warriors their entire lives, so when is it enough and when can they simply settle down to a quiet life? Particularly since the Empire’s power is growing, why not just dwell in peace on Pabu, where Omega can finally just be a kid? In many ways, I think the question Hunter is trying to answer for himself is “when will it be enough?”, so his question to Echo might be as much toward himself as his friend.
Echo’s perspective, however, is not to simply view things through the lens of “win or lose” – at least not as those are typically defined. It’s not about winning an entire war against the Empire; their small band of clones won’t be able to do that. But it’s about fighting for their brothers. This is an important theme in Star Wars, that doing the right thing is worth it in its own right, not just as a means to winning a war. To win the war by resorting to the same tactics as the enemy will be corrupting, as Andor explored. It reminds me of the line from Rose Tico in The Last Jedi, where she says, “That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate; saving what we love.” Echo’s mindset echoes that (pun intended), as he’s not motivated primarily by taking down the Empire but by saving his brothers. Even if they can’t win a war, they can make individual lives better – and what are they fighting for if not that?
That’s a lesson that The Bad Batch will also embrace, and I can say that confidently because I’m sure they are going to spring into action and try to rescue Crosshair next week. Not because they think that they can take down the whole Empire, but because they think saving their brother is worth it. They’d demonstrate that same kind of zeal if any member of their squad is in trouble, and that includes Crosshair. As for Crosshair, it seems he’s definitely had a change of heart and is allied with his old friends again. He too takes an action that he knows won’t be able to defeat the enemy – Scalder warns him he won’t be able to escape – but that is motivated by saving his brothers.
That’s the heart of the clones, and it’s why they’re so lovable. They’ll fight for one another, and they’ll do whatever they can to make the galaxy a better place for their brothers. That’s also why the Empire is so concerned, and so eager to phase them out. Tarkin speaks with Hemlock about this problem, and Hemlock wants all the clones sent to him on Tantiss… which obviously isn’t good news. We don’t know what exactly he wants with them, but he’s a cold, sadistic villain who is up to no good. Tarkin tells him to present his proposal at the upcoming summit… which is actually the name of the next episode in this series. I think we’ll see the Empire deciding to take some drastic action, but we’ll also see the Bad Batch infiltrating Tantiss to try to save their brother.
I also wonder if they’ll have help. Emerie Karr seemed a bit sympathetic to Crosshair, and the episode ended with the scene lingering on a close-up shot of her for a bit. Furthermore, she actually sounds a decent bit like Omega… so I’m guessing there’s more to the story with her, and that it might come into play next week.
Whatever happens, I’m confident that it will be a thrilling finale. I’m incredibly intrigued by the whole Tantiss storyline, and to see those threads converging together in this crucial Bad Batch mission will be awesome. This series is fantastic, and this episode was no exception.