When the Bad Batch debuted in The Clone Wars’ final season, most fans (myself included) were waiting until the Siege of Mandalore. The entire season played like a trilogy to wrap up the Prequel era, and when The Bad Batch series was confirmed, it opened the door to see a part of Star Wars history not yet explored: the early stages of the Empire. In its second season, the team is still adjusting to the new normal as the Empire grows in power. However, in the first two episodes, “Spoils of Wars” and “Ruins of War,” the creators take a step back to The Clone Wars and the trauma imposed on the ones left to pick up the pieces.
Holding on to the Past
As the first few episodes of the season, both episodes have various nods to the past season. The episode starts in familiar territory: the team is on a beautiful beach running from monstrous crab-like creatures. It is another mission with a hiccup, but they make it out alive, and we learn that Omega has excelled in her archery skills. The Zygerrian energy bow is a great weapon and repurposed tool from another oppressive regime.
When they return to Cid’s bar on Ord Mantell, the Trandoshan is in the company of pirate Phee Genoa (voiced by Wanda Sykes), who has given her a lead too good to pass up. The mission is to get to Serenno and grab what they can from Count Dooku’s castle while avoiding Imperial forces. Naturally, Hunter is not up for the risk, understanding that they are off the radar of the Empire and assumed dead. However, the rest of the team wants to do the mission, and Cid makes an excellent point. The Empire will eventually establish itself on Ord Mantell and crack down on her operation, and when that happens, the Bad Batch will need a lot of money to start a new life away from war. But for now, they are still soldiers—and duty calls.
This is all we get of the Phee in this episode, but hopefully, we do not go long before seeing her again.
There are also shades of “Omega being a burden” lingering from last season. When Echo notes that Hunter agrees to the mission to get the kid away from harm, he also says that Omega is why they are in this situation. Of course, Omega overhears this but does not hear Echo saying that they did the right thing rescuing her, but they could be doing more to fight the Empire. Echo is a soldier trained by the best in Captain Rex under the command of Anakin Skywalker. We know where Captain Rex ends up, but Echo is still a mystery, and the former 501st trooper seems more willing to stay in the fight. He’s not wrong, and the Empire will do far more damage before the Rebellion comes together.
However, Omega is a child and does not have the same baggage as the other clones. There is a heavy responsibility on her shoulders and the feeling that she owes her brothers something for turning their lives upside down. When the team gets separated trying to retrieve some of the pilfered treasure, this manifests in her obsession with recovering credits from Dooku’s war chest at any cost.
The war chest is the catalyst for the conflict in “Spoils of War” and “Ruins of War.” A massive fortune without ownership after Dooku’s death but stolen from various worlds and people caught in the Clone Wars. And this includes his homeworld of Serenno.
Tech, Echo, and Omega meet an old citizen of Serenno, Romar, who wants nothing to do with them or the Empire. He and other survivors of an Imperial bombardment on the main city live on memories of what Serenno used to be before the war. Romar tells Tech that Serenno has a culture and identity separate from the war. Tech, like the other clones, only knows things concerning the war (they were created because of it). But the legacy of Serenno before the war is important to Romar, so Tech helps him repair an old data core containing fragments of Serennian culture. Romar returns the kindness by rescuing the injured Tech from Imperial forces.
Because this is up against the Clone Wars and before the prime years of Imperial occupation, clone troopers still work in the Empire. Clone Captain Wilco symbolizes the past in his competency and ability to match strategic wits with the Bad Batch as they track the group and try to recover the lost treasure. Wilco also values the lives of his brothers fighting with him, clearly upset over the bodies of fallen clones. That he is quite capable at his job is a problem for Admiral Rampart when Wilco submits his initial report that the Bad Batch was responsible. Admiral Rampart naturally believes that the group died on Kamino and has no desire to explain otherwise to Grand Moff Tarkin. And so, Wilco, the honorable soldier who refuses to file a false report, has to die. Rampart leads the clone to a cliff and shoots him. Problem solved…for now. And a reminder of why the clones’ days in service to the Empire are ending.
But let’s return to Omega. She is a clone and has the fighting instincts of a clone, but she is also different. As a direct clone of Jango Fett, and Boba Fett’s sister, she has a chance to have what her brother did not: a childhood. Romar recognizes this and gives Omega a Star Wars version of a kaleidoscope.
And maybe this is the show holding on to this conflict of miscommunication, followed by Omega going off on her own only to be rescued by one of the other members. Perhaps it is time for the creators to let this go.
But A Hint Towards the Future
Unlike other characters from The Clone Wars like Anakin, Obi-Wan, and to a lesser extent, Captain Rex, we do not know what the future holds for the Bad Batch. So while some may complain that this series is treading the same period of Star Wars history, this is new territory for the characters we have come to know and love. It is strongly hinted that the team’s future does not lie in retirement on a planet beyond the reaches of the Empire but in the thick of a bourgeoning Rebellion. And it is reflective of the future of the Star Wars franchise. Animated characters are transitioning to live-action more frequently and sometimes vice versa (Fennic Shand).
There are connections in this show, not just to The Clone Wars but also to The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and the Sequel Trilogy. This show might be the most interconnected in Star Wars and could hint at where the franchise goes next.
The Bad Batch continues the battle between past and present as various characters try to figure out their place in a galaxy that has changed almost overnight. Season two is off to an excellent start and should be an entertaining few months of animation.
P.S. It is lovely to see AZ well and living his best life as a cocktail waiter at Cid’s bar.