We’re already three episodes into The Bad Batch, with Friday’s installment, “Replacements”,, digging deeper into darker aspects of the story.
This part of the plot is fairly simple. The ship’s failing systems pull the Batch out of hyperspace and they are forced to crash-land on the dark side of a remote moon. As Tech and Echo assess the damage, something lurks in the shadows. The boys find its claw marks on the hull and go to investigate. It’s effectively eery and sets the tension nicely. Once they are distracted, the creature steals the freshly installed power capacitor, crippling the ship once more. Tech theorizes the creature is an Ordo Moon dragon, which feeds off pure energy. Hunt and Omega track the creature down. After a tense moment where Hunter’s oxygen mask is knocked off, Omega tracks the beast herself and tricks the creature into feasting off her flashlight so she can take the power capacitor. Despite his earlier reservations, Hunter begins to accept Omega as a capable member of the Batch.
Soon enough, the ship is repaired, and Wrecker, who got knocked on the head in the crash, creates a cozy “bedroom” for Omega in an old gunnery hatch. It’s a sweet moment, finalizing the episode’s journey to make Omega officially part of the team.
Conversely, on Kamino, Crosshair has trouble with his new team. Vice Admiral Rampart wants to implement a new program where elite soldiers-for-hire are trained by experienced clones. Like Tarkin, Rampart realizes willing recruits are likely to be more loyal than clones, not to mention more cost effective. Tarkin is cautiously optimistic, and gives the team a test: to squash Saw Gerrera’s insurgents on Onderon, a test the Bad Batch previously failed.
On the trip to Onderon, some of the new soldiers question why they’re being led by a clone at all. “If you all are so efficient, how come the Empire’s scouting soldiers like us? Sounds to me like it’s time for a change,” one says. Crosshair holds his tongue. For now.
They track the insurgents and, after a brief shootout, corner the remaining folks and interrogate them. Saw is already gone, and the civilians have no information, so Crosshair moves to execute them. The mouthy trooper, ES-01, protests, saying they’re not an execution squad. He tries to lead a coup and take command, but Crosshair puts him in his place. “You want to know why they put me in charge? Because I’m willing to do what needs to be done.” Crosshair kills the soldier and commands the remaining troops to finish the mission, reminding them that good soldiers follow orders. Reluctantly, they do.
Tarkin is impressed with the new recruits, and promotes Rampart to Admiral. He surmises that while the Clone Trooper program is a relic, but has its uses for the time being. They will keep aging clones around to train newbies.
Nala Se and Lama Su lament the fate of their clone troopers (and their pocketbooks). They have to ensure the clones remain essential to the Empire. Nala Se is cooking up an experiment, but Jango Fett’s genetic material is degrading. They need specific clones for her experiment, clones who “won’t return willingly” (so, our Bad Batch boys) but Lama Su reminds her they only need one.
Crosshair brings the new soldiers to the Bad Batch’s former quarters. He glances at Wrecker’s mission count on the wall. He settles on his bed, downcast and contemplative. He has a new team, sure, but he’s all alone.
It’s a heartbreakingly effective contrast to Wrecker presenting Omega with a new bedroom, all warmth and light and fuzzy feelings. Does Crosshair regret his choice? Is he even capable of regretting it?
It was an interesting choice to make the new Imperial recruits reluctant to slaughter civilians. I thought we’d jump straight to murderous soldiers. These scenes do an outstanding job of showing us how dark Crosshair has become. Is this bloodthirsty streak due only to the inhibitor chip? Or was this within him all along? His is the most compelling struggle on the show thus far, without a doubt. Of course, we’re still in the show’s beginning stages. We’ve got a long – but fascinating – road ahead of us.