*Note: There are minor spoilers for Star Wars Rebels in this post.
Two things happen right at the beginning of episode six, “Reunion”: First Crosshair, having received word of the Bad Batch on Bracca, seeks orders from Admiral Rampart on bringing them in alive or dead. Second, Rampart is in the middle of a heated conversation with Prime Minister Lama Su involving being kept in the loop on certain matters and Lama Su makes note of the Bad Batch being on Bracca. One thing leads to a predictable conflict and outcome, the other is a little more surprising. Let’s discuss:
There have been hints throughout the season that Echo is having the most difficulty adjusting to the Bad Batch’s new life on the run, which is not surprising because he is also the newest member and didn’t have enough time to adjust not operating as a traditional clone trooper. During the Clone Wars, Echo was a by-the-book soldier, getting his name because he echoed rules and guidelines back at his fellow soldiers. He also chose to join the Bad Batch instead of stay with Rex in the 501st, which proved great for his mortality but left him as the clear outlier of the group. In the absence of Crosshair, Echo has been the one to come into conflict with Hunter over the next steps for the group. He doesn’t want the life of a scavenger or mercenary and believes the team should have left with Rex to have a somewhat resemblance of their former lives as soldiers. Hunter, on the other hand, is making decisions based on what he thinks is best for Omega.
At the beginning of the season, I mentioned Echo needing some clear distinction in the team as far as skillset because he seemed similar to Tech. I think they have established that Echo can communicate with various systems like a droid but also has the strategic tactical skills of a 501st trooper. But perhaps his distinction in the group comes with his doubt on whether he should even be in the group, whether he made the right decision in The Clone Wars season seven arc. It feels like we are building towards an episode that deals with those questions and, while I thought it would be when we saw Rex, the former Clone Wars Captain could just be the catalyst for some Echo soul-searching.
Crosshair Redemption? Thanks, but No.
It is a common Star Wars trope to redeem villains at the end of the story as if everything they did could be wiped away with an I’m sorry or a sacrifice. Jumping Disney franchises for a minute, Crosshair certainly is more of a Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier from the MCU than an Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in that his actions could be excused because, well, mind control. However, the MCU spent a great amount of time exploring this complexity with Bucky Barnes and the responsibility and burden he carries with committing heinous acts under mind control with a film and a Disney Plus series.
Star Wars has yet to truly justify a redemption partly because the major ones have both been Skywalkers who participated in mass casualties (Darth Vader/Death Star and Kylo Ren/Starkiller Base). The closest thing we have gotten to a meaningful path to redemption is Agent Kallus in Rebels that mostly involved one episode but the transition to the Rebellion was nonexistent in the final season. Depending on where The Mandalorian takes the character Miggs Mayfeld, that could end up being the best-earned path to redemption. For Crosshair, whose face is partly burned due to an engine heat blast to the face, he is beyond redemption even with the inhibitor chip. You don’t order the execution of civilians, order your troops to fire on a child, and turn on an engine to try and incinerate your former teammates and get to say “sorry, it was the chip’s fault.” The camaraderie that Crosshair once had with the Bad Batch should be lost as another casualty of Order 66.
The Actual Reunion
I am going to assume that the “Reunion” the episode was referring to was between The Clone Wars fans and Cad Bane and not Crosshair and the Bad Batch. It looks like the Kaminoans did hire Fennec Shand and are looking for Omega (well, Lama Su is as we know Nala Se let the girl escape). And when the newbie bounty hunter couldn’t get the job done, the seasoned veteran gets called. And honestly, if Cad Bane was always an option I am not sure why the Kaminoans wouldn’t just hire him first but this could lead to an interesting Shand/Bane showdown. Or an even more interesting but not surprising to some fans, a showdown with Boba Fett. As I mentioned in my Whatever Happened to Cad Bane? post, Bane’s end was at the hands of Boba Fett in a scrapped Clone Wars arc. This could still happen as a lot of people have pointed out and it would poetically fit with Bane’s comment of “once you figure out one clone, the rest is easy” to be outdone by the one clone who is considered the son of Jango Fett.
Bane appears with a western music track that seems a tad on the nose and a shorter hat but he is still, like the Bad Batch, a formidable opponent. He beats Hunter one on one in a blaster fight and stuns Omega. So now on top of running from Crosshair and Imperial forces, they have to find and defeat one of the most capable bounty hunters in the galaxy. Will they run into another? Or will Bane live to meet Fett in The Book of Boba Fett? Let the speculation begin.
I have made note of the beautiful animation in the first episode and the depth of field in subsequent episodes but I want to give praise to all the animators involved and directors Brad Rau and Steward Lee for the beautiful shot composition and lighting. It is truly top tier animation in Star Wars and the best series thus far at conveying a sense of place. Some of the locations that the team has visited have felt more real than the locations in live-action. The wide sweeping shots also give a great idea of scale, which compliments the characters using their surroundings in battle: Tech and Echo using canons to collapse part of the ship on Crosshair and the other troopers, Crosshair trying to start the massive engine of the ship to murder his former teammates, and the Bad Batch using detonators to detached part of the engine and free fall to safety.
And then there is the POV shot when Hunter wakes up after being shot unconscious by Cad Bane and we spend 23 seconds with him in his state of confusion and chaos as the rest of the team fights off the troopers and gets him to the ship. We rarely get a POV shot in Star Wars animation and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was the only one we get this season or for the entirety of the series because it was well placed within the context of the episode. But the different ways the creators are experimenting with film techniques in the show just further excites what is to come with Droids and Visions.
On the plus side, Wrecker is back to his usual crazy, charming self and is teaching Omega to disarm a tripwire, while having a little fun scaring the poor child. I am sure the tripwire sequence will pay off down the road. And we get a Tech and Omega moment where the latter asks the former what the Clone Wars was like, to which we get one of the most straightforward and least interesting descriptions of the Clone Wars.
It is now clear that Nala Se let Omega leave for the child’s benefit instead of a benefit to the Kaminoans. Now that Omega is probably heading back to Kamino, we might start to get some answers on her motivations as well as what makes Omega an enhanced clone. I also think we are about to see Hunter at his full potential and get some time to shine as the team now has to track down Cad Bane to find Omega. Many great setups to take us into the last half of the season.