Hera Syndulla’s arc wraps up as leaders in both the Bad Batch and the Empire go rogue.
Last week’s episode “Devil’s Deal” left off with Hera on the run and Admiral Rampart falsely claiming that the Syndullas failed at an assassination attempt of Senator Orn Taa. This week concludes with the Bad Batch getting involved in their most delicate mission this season as they continue their march towards a final showdown with Crosshair. Let’s discuss all things “Rescue on Ryloth”:
Captain Howzer wants to locate Hera himself, but Rampart informs him that he has another squad working on it. Guess who? That’s right, it’s crazy Crosshair and his band of ESs. Crosshair is adamant that Hera would not leave Ryloth without her parents, but his team cannot find her, which puts Admiral Rampart in a mood. When Crosshair warns Rampart that Clone Force 99 is on Ryloth, the Admiral admonishes him for failing to find Hera and tells him to stay on task.
Reinforcements are called when the refinery is attacked and Admiral Rampart orders Captain Howzer to stay and guard the Capitol while he handles the situation. Of course, Crosshair figures out that the refinery is not the real target and covers the exits with troops prepared to shoot them down. While I will not argue with script and plot, it was odd that Crosshair figured out the real target, considering the plan did not come from the Bad Batch. I thought that by having it be Hera’s plan, Crosshair might not pick up on it since he knows the Bad Batch too well. It might have been a missed opportunity to show that the team was starting to adapt to deal with Crosshair as an enemy. It ultimately doesn’t matter for the Bad Batch as they escape due to Captain Howzer’s distraction.
At one point in the episode, there is a staredown between Crosshair and Captain Howzer after Rampart reprimands both of them. The moment is too long not to be significant, and maybe Crosshair worries that he is being lumped in with the other “regs.” The Bad Batch in The Clone Wars took their “defects” as a badge of honor and did not get along with the other troopers. Being treated the same even after he has gone above and beyond proving himself is humbling but is it enough for him to change? Crosshair does request permission from Rampart to hunt the Bad Batch down, which is granted by the Admiral who was also humbled in this episode. Perhaps Captain Howzer’s words at the end to his squad touched a nerve, and he will begin to question his programming. But, for now, he is alone in his unwavering loyalty.
A House Divided
Admiral Rampart tries to get Eleni to tell him where Hera is, she refuses. Captain Howzer has a problem with Rampart’s suggestion that Imperial forces would kill Hera. Afterward, he confronts Rampart about the “attempted assassination” of Senator Taa and insists that it wasn’t the Syndullas, to which the Admiral responds “leave the thinking to me Captain, you have your orders.”
It was reminiscent of General Pong Krell speaking to Captain Rex in The Clone Wars as just a tool to carry out his will and zero respect as a human being. It is likely different from Howzer’s previous relationship with whatever Jedi General he probably killed under Order 66.
Howzer pleads with Eleni and Cham to tell him where Hera is so he can protect her but Cham tells him that he no longer trusts the Captain, having broken his promise to protect Ryloth. For a clone, that must hit deep, and you can see it on Howzer’s face that he is at his own crossroads. The moment comes when Captain Howzer also realizes the refinery is not the target. He warns the group that they are about to walk into a trap as they leave the prison. Howzer apologizes to Cham and Eleni but refuses to leave his unit behind. As the group departs for an escape shuttle, Hunter gives the Captain one last concerned look. Hunter’s understanding of what Howzer is risking feels important to the Bad Batch leader’s growth. Howzer convinces a significant amount of clones to put down their weapons, addressing them as brothers, also a callback to The Clone Wars. He says that they did their job and freed Ryloth, stating that he will not be a part of this occupation any longer.
The Captain and his men are taken into custody, and who knows what awaits them. Hopefully, Howzer and his men being alive at the end of this episode will mean they stay alive, despite Star Wars’ predictability in similar scenarios. What are the rules of the inhibitor chip? Is it just dealing with Order 66, or does it pertain to all orders from the Empire? If the former, it was a strategic mistake on Palpatine’s part, and if it is the latter, then why can Howzer and members of his unit defy orders? Unless Howzer’s reframing of their original order (to free Ryloth) reached some of his men. Or perhaps, this is just another plot device to move the clones one step closer towards retirement.
Making Plans and Changing Minds
Hera is a lot closer than Crosshair or Howzer think. She is using Chopper to spy on soldiers and staying close to the base. Showing her strategic prowess, Hera changes plans when she sees Crosshair’s squad looking for her and sends a transmission signal to Omega and the Bad Batch for help. The team is skeptical of the severity of the situation, Tech going so far as to state children often overreact. They still meet with Hera and see what they would be up against…and get spotted by a probe droid. Having lost the element of surprise, Hunter decides it’s too risky. They tell Hera there is nothing they can do, and Hunter tells Omega that being strategic means knowing your limitations. Once again, Omega challenges him by appealing to his familial instincts by saying she would help if he were in trouble.
And to the show’s credit, Hera and Omega don’t go off and try to rescue her parents by themselves. Instead, Omega tells Hera that she knows Ryloth more than anyone there and that if they think of a solid plan, Hunter can be convinced. Hera and Omega come up with a plan to divert attention away from the Capitol long enough to rescue her parents: attack the refinery outside of the city, which has five unmanned cannons. Things end up working out, with a few improvises along the way (including Hera flying a ship), and the Bad Batch has helped another Rebels character. Omega and Hera using their strategic minds to convince the team signals a turning point for both girls. For Hera, she has gained confidence in leading a team on a mission which makes her a great General in the future. For Omega, she is learning how to challenge her team while still respecting Hunter’s leadership. Also, Tech drifting their ship is the coolest he has ever been.
Hunter refuses payment from Eleni and Cham and tells them that other worlds are under Imperial occupation. Cham plans to organize and says to the Bad Batch that eventually, this fight will come to them as well. And so, Omega and Hera say goodbye, and she and Chopper are off to set themselves on a path for Rebels. We could see them again, but I hope we do not. Some things are better left a mystery, and I like the fact that we get this little glimpse into a part of Hera’s life before Rebels.
I am a fan of ES-04. Besides Crosshair, she has had the most screen time from his team, and it would be nice to get more from her. But why does she need to carry around that flamethrower all the time? Just give her a blaster.
Seeing Hera and Omega work together was a reminder that Omega does not have any female friendships. Nala Se seemed like a mother figure (and she clearly cares for Omega, working to protect her behind the scenes). But Omega has made fleeting connections with Fennec Shand, then the Martez sisters, and now Hera. It’s tough being the only sister in a family of brothers.
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