The 11th episode, “Devil’s Deal,” was a good time to do the first major perspective shift of the series. The episode focuses mainly on the Empire’s burgeoning occupation of Ryloth and begins similarly to “Common Ground” last week with the lame-duck Senator Orn Free Taa addressing the crowd with how wonderful things are about to be for the people of Ryloth. Senator Taa fails at convincing the crowd, but General Cham Syndulla who is respected by the people gets most on board. Senator Taa is not happy and thus begins the political family drama that unfolds in this episode so let’s discuss:
The Syndulla Clan and Legacy of War
I have been so stuck on all The Clone Wars cameos that could appear in The Bad Batch that I forgot we already had one Rebels character appearance in the first episode. Eleven episodes later, we get two other major character appearances. Filoni really loves his animation characters, so it should not have been a surprise that Hera Syndulla and Chopper are not just cameos but the co-stars of this episode. But first, we meet Hera’s mother, Eleni, who is playing both sides. While telling Rampart what he wants to hear, she is also not stopping Hera from helping Gobi Glie, a Twi’lek freedom fighter, who is on the Empire’s radar. It is interesting to see Cham Syndulla on the Empire’s side knowing where he ends up in Rebels, although his reasoning at this moment is justified: he does not want his daughter to spend her life fighting and is hoping that the Empire will provide stability, even though he must have a bad feeling about it.
The Cracks in the Clone Armor Begin to Grow
Part of the reason Cham is unusually optimistic about the Empire is because of the Clones. We have spent most of this season viewing the Clones from the perspective of the Bad Batch as the enemy. But “Devil’s Deal” leans on the goodwill that Twi’leks and Ryloth have for the clones from The Clone Wars. At the center of all this is the relationship between Cham Syndulla and Captain Howzer, whom we have not met yet but he seems torn between his loyalties to the Empire and the Syndullas. We get an actual conversation with a Clone captain (without his helmet) and Cham post-Order 66. The creative decision to show Howzer’s face emphasizes the connection he has with the Syndulla Clan. Admiral Rampart also notices this and is likely filing it away to fuel his argument of phasing out the clones, even while simultaneously relying on Crosshair to do most of the dirty work this episode. Crosshair, whose loyalty turned up to an eleven is annoying, but still an excellent shot and thus a problem for anyone trying to cross Imperial forces. He tags Gobi’s ship when they go on a weapon run and then shoots it down when they return, allowing the Imperials to capture Gobi, his team member, and young Hera. Perhaps Admiral Rampart no longer even thinks of Crosshair as a clone.
Captain Howzer does not want to apprehend a child, and more potential weaknesses of the clones come to light. These clones have a history with the worlds they are currently occupying. Given what happens to Ryloth well into Imperial control, I doubt Howzer would be okay with it all. But Admiral Rampart is strategic and uses Hera to lure General Syndulla and his wife out, then has Crosshair attempt to assassinate Senator Orn Free Taa so he can arrest them. Hera escapes, and so the episode ends, leading to my next thought.
An Actual Arc?!
Things do not resolve at the end of the episode, and we leave off with Hera and Chopper escaping Admiral Rampart’s forces. This means we will be seeing more of Hera and get an idea of why she joined the early Rebellion. I do not need to see how she met Kanan, and I am glad Hera has already built Chopper, but if Hera continues to be a larger part of the Star Wars universe, then this origin story makes sense to tell now. The next episode is called “Rescue on Ryloth,” so I have a feeling we will also be seeing more of the Bad Batch. If it does lead to another showdown between the Bad Batch and Crosshair, with Hera and her family caught in between, that would feel more like a season finale. However, since we do not know yet whether this show will have a second season, the purpose of this arc might solely be to set Hera up with Ahsoka and Bail Organa.
The Bad Batch Take the Back Seat
Ten minutes into the episode, I wondered if we would even get them in this episode (and, no, I no longer consider Crosshair a Bad Batch member). But more than halfway through, on Gobi’s weapons pickup, they meet with the team on one of Ryloth’s moons. Cid does all types of contract work and seems to have Gobi as a client, though it is weird that they are still working for Cid, given that they are debt-free. Perhaps they want to pocket some more money before they go on their way, but it is a nice setup to have them be the ones delivering the weapons. They are onscreen for about three minutes, most of which involve a scene with Hera and Omega, where the latter gives the former a tour of the ship. Hera explains her love of flying to Omega, and Omega shows Hera her favorite part of the ship, her room. They have made an impression on each other, knowing that Hera incorporates unique living quarters on the Ghost (her ship in Rebels). And then they part and are not seen again in this episode. Again, I think they will return in “Rescue on Ryloth” to rescue the Syndulla family, and maybe Hera reaches out to Omega that gets them back. If the team finds their way back, hopefully, we will stay with Hera’s perspective throughout the arc.
Is the Star Wars Universe Getting Smaller?
Everything does not have to connect, but this show has been better at connecting the animated shows without making it feel ridiculously forced. It makes sense that the team would be dropping off supplies to insurgents through Cid’s contacts. It is a brief moment that lasts long enough for Hera and Omega to meet and Hera to get a ship tour. I eye-rolled at Kanan appearing in the first episode with Freddie Prinze Jr’s voice, and if this show continues, they will probably run into Senator Organa, but do we need to see them run into every single Rebels character? Still, as the timeline narrows between The Bad Batch and Rebels, more appearances will happen, so I hope it is sparingly.
We also get confirmation that Hera has been code-switching. When we see her in Rebels, she has a general American accent, but there is an episode where she reverts to her Rylothian French when speaking with her father. It is not clear why she did this when she joined the Rebellion, but I would love to know the politics behind that decision.