The Bad Batch: Rampage Thoughts

I am not sure how to feel about this episode and where things are going next, and maybe that’s how I feel now overall about The Bad Batch. Like the characters, the show seems to be aimlessly wandering from place to place, waiting to reveal some much-needed answers. The team at least gets an answer to who the mysterious bounty hunter was in “Cornered”, but that’s old news for viewers of The Mandalorian. We are treated to a new character in the form of a Trandoshan bar owner/former Jedi informant named Cid so let’s jump into my thoughts on “Rampage”:

Identity Crisis

The Bad Batch tries to get intel | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Everyone is trying to figure out where they stand in this new galactic order: Cid, who owns a bar on Ord Mantell, has become a go-between for mercenaries and entities like the Hutt Family, Echo is not comfortable being paid to free people from slavery, and Wrecker is learning that he can’t always punch/blow up his way out of things. The whole team is literally trying to figure out the identity of the bounty hunter that they eluded in the previous episode. The only person who appears to know what they are capable of and where they stand is Omega, even though we don’t fully understand her capabilities.

Meanwhile, for a show that has been compared, understandably to The Clone Wars, it is structurally more like Rebels. While the former jumped from perspectives and had clear arcs, the latter stayed mostly with the same characters. There are no epic space battles involving hundreds of clones and Jedi but we are also not staying on one planet for most of the season. The Bad Batch literally and figuratively lies in between the two signature animated series and, like its characters, seems to be having an identity crisis.

This episode alone has shades of another Star Wars show, The Mandalorian, which made me realize: we are a third into the season and I don’t know what to make of this show. It is also possible that this show could be more of a tie-in for The Book of Boba Fett as we have one character from the upcoming show that’s made an appearance in Fennec Shand and a mention of Jabba. It could be a one-and-done appearance by Bib Fortuna or the Bad Batch could end up in business with the Hutt family, which could bring up threads that we see continued in Boba Fett’s series. The tone seems more mature, there is no narrator to set up the episode nor is there an establishing intro before the title card comes across the scene, the episodes just start and they end abruptly with no wide shot and music playing into the credits. Perhaps it’s because this is uncharted territory with characters that were only introduced recently and, surprisingly, uncharted period right when the Empire is settling in so that combination equals a lot of uncertainty. It should be refreshing as a Star Wars fan but I do like to have some idea where the story is headed and, with still no confirmation on whether this show is multiple seasons, it all seems a little messier than I am use to for Star Wars animation.

The Most Mandalorian Episode Yet

Cid puts in plainly | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Cid is a great character and a perfect blend of sarcasm and practicality. And she puts it plainly for the Bad Batch: she will give them their intel on the bounty hunter looking for them…but they have to do a job for her first. Sound familiar? It is the newest trope in Star Wars, made popular by The Mandalorian, which just wrapped up its second season. I supposed it is a good thing that the third season is further away and we have The Book of Boba Fett filling in the December 2021 slot but coming so close to a season where the trope was used exhaustingly, it was slightly off-putting here. Cid wants them to retrieve a kid named Muchi who has been taken by Zygerian slavers on the other side of Ord Mantell. There is a handsome bounty for the little one’s return and, given she no longer has the Jedi as a source of income, rescuing children from slaves pays the bills. In a surprise reveal, Muchi turns out to be a baby Rancor that Omega frees and, to get her back safely to Cid, Wrecker has to battle her for dominance (which is perhaps the funniest moment in the series thus far). And so, The Bad Batch turns into The Mandalorian for 30 minutes as the team goes on a dangerous mission, survives, only to step into more potential trouble as Cid makes it clear that she has leverage on them. They are valuable to someone and she is good at keeping secrets, for the right price.

A Window into Jedi Past

Ord Mantell | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Ord Mantell is a location that has been mentioned many times with events of the Clone Wars yet was never shown in the series. Other canon materials have also mentioned Ord Mantell and it has made an appearance in The High Republic Adventures comic. It is hard to believe that there are still many stories left on the table when it comes to the Jedi and the Clone Wars. And there is still a lot the Bad Batch doesn’t know about the Jedi. When the team meets Cid for the first time, Tech tries to make conversation saying that they had different philosophies. Cid comes him off, not caring and it was a funny interaction because the team assumes she would since she was associated with the Jedi. Even though they have been told that things are different and had a brief discussion about what happened to the Jedi in the first episode, they have avoided the topic since. Unlike Crosshair, whose chip is now in full control, the Bad Batch’s opinions on the Jedi are not clear. We’ve seen Echo work the most with the Jedi and he seemed to have admiration and respect for the Jedi Order while he was with the 501st but his feelings on the war are not very clear either. But he does trust the Jedi enough to risk going to Ord Mantell to contact their old informant.

Cid can be one of the instigators that give the team hints of what truly happened to the Jedi and why. If they decide to do more mercenary work, they could learn some new information about the Jedi’s more “shady” tactics during the war. It would also provide a different perspective than what Captain Rex will bring when he makes his inevitable appearance. Palpatine and the Empire immediately tried to erase the history of the Jedi from the galaxy so we might also be seeing attempts at this so any information the team can get about the truth is as valuable as credits.

The ABC’s of Slavery

Muchi and Wrecker fight it out | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

So Zygerrian’s seem to be the species that is going to be associated with slavery in Star Wars animation. They are a species and an empire that is only explored in one arc of The Clone Wars. Disney has stayed clear of portraying slavery in the Star Wars universe in animation and live-action and when they have touched upon it, they’ve done the most surface-level job (there are vague references and quick shots when characters visit certain places like Kessel) and insinuate that the terror of slavery ends when a person is freed. The books fair much better (Claudia Grey’s Master and Apprentice plot revolves around a corporation that uses slave labor and includes a perspective of a slave who escaped). Zygerrians here are just as awful as they were in The Clone Wars. They are trying to rebuild their slave empire and hoping that the Galactic Empire will just look the other way or become customers (which Star Wars history proves that hope is not unfounded). But, if a “that…doesn’t seem right” by Omega is how deep we can expect Disney/Star Wars to touch upon a galactic slave trade in this show, then they might as well leave it to the books.

I would like to see more of Cid simply because she comes with the voice of Cheers alum Rhea Perlman. Also, waiting for whatever is going to happen with Wrecker’s head fits right between unease and anxiety. When the story beat the writers are building towards does finally come to fruition, I hope it pays off with all of these not-so-subtle hints.

Merchandise preview? | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

When it comes to merchandise, this show is presenting some great possible additions to the parks. Add the Bad Batch themed trooper doll to the Toydarian Toymaker shop.

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