As we fast approach the final episode of the debut season of The Bad Batch, this consistently entertaining and well-crafted show decides to do exactly what the final season of The Clone Wars did in its last few episodes and somehow manages to find a higher gear, taking the show into new territory as Clone Force 99 encounter a situation none of them are prepared for. We kick off as an unnamed clone trooper is running through the forests of Daro in the Outer Rim, and before he's captured he smartly sets a homing beacon to alert his compatriot, Captain Rex. Rex is undercover and calls the batch, who are already on a paid mission for Cid, and once again it's Omega - the conscience of the grpup - and Echo who persuade Hunter to take the mission. They step away from Cid's job and swing to the Rim, where they land, leaving Wrecker and Omega on the ship while Hunter, Echo, and Tech find an Imperial installation. Hunter believes the job is too risky without intel and backup, but Echo's reminder, that they did the exact same thing to save him on Skako Minor during the Clone Wars, is enough to persuade Hunter to comit to the mission. They find the clone trooper, who turns out to be Gregor, a character previously seen in the fifth season of The Clone Wars and episodes of Rebels, and their escape is on the move.
Here's where things get really interesting. It's been building all season, the shift from loyal cloned soldiers of the Republic to enlisted men and women of the galaxy, hungry for adventure away from their dreary lives and eager to see the stars. We visit the eternally rainy Kamino, as Nala Se is drafted into the Imperial science ranks much like Galen Erso in Rogue One (note the episode title of 'War Mantle', first heard during the 2016 film) and don't quite see the termination of the Kaminoan Prime Minister Lama Su as Nala Se is led away. Admiral Rampart is present once again, eager to push on with his plans and make sure the Kaminoans never build an army for another cause again. The change from Republic to Empire is becoming clearer and clearer, even down to new security codes, and as we head back to Daro, the iconography of the Empire coalesces even further as the familiar armour of Clone Troopers is phased out, replaced by troopers in Ralph McQuarrie style armour.
We really are at the sharp end of the season. A desparate battle ensues, the batch still firing their blasters on stun while the Imperials shoot to kill, and in a thrilling finale, Omega flies the Havoc Marauder to scoop up the batch from the side of the mountain where the instalation is located, at first leaving Hunter and Gregor behind and once Tech is aboard, allowing the injured Gregor to jump onto the ramp. More fighters blast towards them as Hunter leaps for the ramp but misses, falling down into the forests and capture.
The animation, the music, the soundscape, the voice work, the design, all absolutely top notch, and the wait for episode 15 next week and Hunters fate... let's just say, as Crosshair arrives at Hunter’s cell to quietly gloat, things look bad for the bandana-wearing leader of Clone Force 99. Top-tier Star Wars; if you're not watching this, you really are missing out.
Read our previous reviews of The Bad Batch here: