Last week’s installment of Star Wars: The Bad Batch was a bottle episode that both Emory Robinson (who wonderfully filled in for me the last two weeks) and I didn’t like very much. Thankfully, this week gets us back into the series’ overarching story along with some explosive revelations.
As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers along with some brief explorations of Star Wars lore.
The episode opens on the planet Daro, where a clone trooper is being chased through the forest by other clones and a pack of massiffs. He’s eventually stunned and captured, but not before planting a homing/distress beacon.
Meanwhile, the Bad Batch are flying through hyperspace when they get call from Rex. Turns out the former clone captain was the one who received the beacon’s signal. Unfortunately, he’s currently tied up with another conflict (which I really hope we get to see in another media format at some point) and is unable to help. Rex then asks the Bad Batch to go to the beacon’s coordinates and get the clone trooper (and old friend of his) to safety.
Before Hunter can provide an answer, Rex is forced to abruptly cut the transmission. He was still able to send them the beacon’s info though, which reveals the clone who sent it to be CC-5576-39, aka Gregor.
*Side Note: We’re going to pause the recap for a bit to review Gregor’s history. Feel free to skip ahead if you already know about him.
Gregor was a clone commando, hence the ‘CC’ designation rather than ‘CT.’ Commandos were soldiers with elite (and sometimes highly specialized) training and badass modified armor. They were also given genetic enhancements, although nothing as strong as the Bad Batch’s unique genetic mutations.
Gregor first appeared during Season 5 of ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ in what might be the series’ absolute worst story arc. That said, his part of the things was its one redeeming aspect.
(I know that sounds cool on paper, but it really wasn’t).
After regaining his memories (thanks to a hologram of Rex), Gregor recovered his gear and helped D-Squad escape the planet, seeming to sacrifice himself in the process by blowing up a bunch of Rhydonium containers..
Turns out Gregor survived, appearing in ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ with Rex and Wolffe on the planet Seelos. He sported a scar on his head from having his inhibitor chip removed and suffered from mild brain damage, which caused short bouts of insanity. His voice and mannerism were also greatly affected. While it’s never stated outright, it appears his neurological trauma was caused by the explosion on Abafar.
Since ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ takes place immediately after ‘Star Wars: Clone Wars’ and years before ‘Star Wars: Rebels,’ it appears Gregor made his way back to the Republic before it became Palpatine’s Galactic Empire.
As we’ll see a bit later in the episode, he also joined the Imperial army for a while, but defected of his own free will despite not having his inhibitor chip removed yet.
The chip issue will definitely be discussed after the recap. For now, let’s dive back into the story.
Hunter isn’t thrilled about taking on such a dangerous mission, especially when they’re currently on a job for Cid that will provide them with badly needed income. After some prodding from Omega and a guilt stare from Echo, however, he relents and agrees to at least check things out.
Back on Kamino, Crosshair cryptically tells Vice Admiral Rampart that their operation is ahead of schedule. Rampart responds by telling him to make sure every viable clone is mobilized. When Crosshair asks what they should do about the Kaminoans, Rampart tells him to keep an eye on them until the time is right.
Elsewhere, Nala Se leads a group of clone cadets to be taken off planet. She assures the young trainees that they’ll get their chance to be soldiers before leaving to meet with Lama Su. Turns out that despite Crosshair and Rampart’s raspy whispering, the Kaminoan Prime Minister is totally onto their machinations. He also announces that the Empire has canceled all their cloning contracts.
Nala Se points out that the well known and regarded success of their clone army should make it relatively easy for them to find new clients. Lama Su astutely counters that the Empire will likely destroy them so that they can’t create a rival military force for anyone else.
He then instructs Nala Se to gather all essential personnel to depart Kamino before that can happen.
Meanwhile, the Bad Batch land on Daros and find Gregor’s homing beacon. Hunter then utilizes his tracking skills, which leads them to the side of a mountain. They quickly deduce that a large base and/or facility is inside when Tech’s signal starts being jammed.
After sending Omega and Wrecker back to the ship, Hunter, Echo, and Tech scale the mountain. Upon reaching the top, they look down to discover a base filled with squads of troopers being led by clone commandos. While the commando armor is the same as what they’ve seen before, the the regular troopers’ armor is markedly different from what the “regs” wore during the Clone Wars.
Hunter initially decides that things are too dangerous to continue, but changes his mind when Echo reminds him of the odds the Bad Batch faced when they rescued him on Skako Minor…and that he’d still be there facing a fate worse than death if they hadn’t.
After radioing in to Wrecker (and reminding Omega to stay put), the trio infiltrates the base and begins looking for Gregor. While patching into the facility’s schematics, Echo is perplexed by a muster report indicating 50 clone commandos and 1,000 TK troopers on site.
*Side Note: In the Original Trilogy, most storm troopers were given an operating number that began with ‘TK.’
The base’s encryption is also new, but Echo still manages to find Gregor’s cell. The group makes their way there, takes out the guard, and opens the door. Gregor is hesitant join them, but immediately agrees when Hunter reveals they were sent by Rex.
The group makes their way through the tunnels before stopping so that Tech can patch in and redirect the base’s patrols. Gregor begins to tell them that he was an instructor at the facility when an alarm begins to sound. Turns out the old “clone codes” don’t work within the facility’s mainframe (which Tech should have been smart enough to consider before trying anything).
A clone commando and his squad instantly converge on their location and begin firing, but Hunter & Co. easily take them out. When one of their helmets comes off, the Bad Batch troops are shocked to discover that it’s not a clone underneath. Gregor begins to inform them that the Empire is replacing the clone troopers, but gets interrupted again by another squadron attacking them.
Gregor leads the group toward the only way out of the facility, which he used during his first escape attempt. Along the way, Hunter expresses his disbelief at how poorly the new troops fight compared to the clone troopers. After getting onto an elevator, Gregor (FINALLY) explains that the Empire is reconstituting their military with natural born soldiers from all over the galaxy. They aren’t nearly as skilled as the clones, but there’s an endless supply of them.
Hunter counters that numbers aren’t everything just as the elevators doors open to reveal a large pack of soldiers, forcing them to head back down to find another way up.
While searching for an alternate route, the group is able to escape another assault despite one of the clone commandos scoring a hit on Gregor’s breastplate.
After finding refuge in a control room, Gregor gamely points out that he once survived getting blown up and will be fine. Meanwhile, Tech finds a new escape route via the facility’s reactor conduit, which leads to an exhaust vent on the side of the mountain. From there, Omega and Wrecker would be able to fly the Havoc Marauder alongside it to pick them up.
While climbing through the tunnels, Gregor tells Echo that he was sent to the facility along with other clone commandos to train the new soldiers. It wasn’t long before he decided that he didn’t want to be a part of whatever the Empire was doing.
After calling Wrecker and Omega to pick them up, Hunter & Co. make their way through the tunnels to the exhaust port. Unbeknownst to them, a squad of troopers found where they entered the tunnels and is in hot pursuit. Omega arrives just as her friends are discovered and being shot at. She pulls the ship close enough for Wrecker to provide cover fire while Gregor and Tech jump onboard.
Unfortunately, a squad of V-wings begins attacking them from above. Tech takes over the ship’s controls to circle around and come back for Echo and Hunter. Meanwhile, Wrecker gets on the turret to try and clear the fighters. He manages to get a few of them, but not before the Havoc Marauder’s shield’s take a beating.
Omega plugs Gonky into the ship’s power system, restoring the ship’s shields and giving Tech a chance to do some truly impressive piloting while Wrecker takes out the last two V-Wings. Unfortunately, another squad of fighters engages them just as the Havoc Marauder reaches the exhaust port again.
Echo manages to make it onboard, but Hunter slips from the ship’s gangplank and falls.
Tech is forced to pull away as aircraft fire rains down and blasts the ship’s haul. The barrage also shorts out Gonky, once again leaving their shields depleted as ship’s system’s begin to fail
Meanwhile, Hunter manages to hit a few trees and uses his knife against a cliff’s edge to slow his descent. It’s enough to keep him from being killed, but not to keep the impact of the fall from hurting like hell.
After forcing himself to get up, he radios in and tells his team that they need to leave. Tech initially refuses, but Hunter insists, assuring them that he’ll find another way out. He then puts up his knife and surrenders to the surrounding squad of troopers, all while Omega pleads with him to order the Bad Batch team to turn around.
Hunter tells Omega he’s sorry moments before the Havoc Marauder jumps into hyperspace.
Betrayal of Hearts and Minds
Over on Kamino, Rampart informs Lama Su that he found Nala Se gathering medical personnel to flee Kamino. The prime minister pretends to be surprised and assures him that his chief scientist will be properly disciplined.
Instead of leaving the matter there, Rampart decides that Nala Se’s skillset could be of great use to the Empire (despite how unimpressed he was with her clone troopers). He then declares that Lama Su is no longer useful before appearing to order his execution.
*Side Note: We don’t see the execution happen, but I think it’s safe to say that Lama Su’s goose is officially cooked.
Back on Dora, an imprisoned Hunter looks up to find Crosshair standing outside his cell. The former Bad Batch member expresses disappointment that the rest of the team wasn’t captured, but is still glad to have their leader in custody.
If you’re a big lore fan like myself, then this episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch had all types of stuff to enjoy. The Easter eggs (Scorch, TK designations, etc.) were a lot of fun, but my favorite aspect was seeing the actual transition from clone to storm troopers within the Imperial military.
I also love that the inferiority of the birth born troopers is directly mentioned along with the ‘quality vs. quantity’ aspect. Add in some gorgeously animated action sequences — including a truly breathtaking aerial dogfight — and the time we spent in the facility on Dora was pure bliss.
The scene with Hunter telling his team to escape while Omega pleads with him to order a rescue was all types of heartbreaking. The poor girl successfully pulled off two extremely dangerous/complicated tasks for a rescue mission only to watch her surrogate father figure still get captured.
As far as the Kamino plot is concerned, it’s looking more and more like we’re not getting a Kamino Uprising, which is fine. It could definitely still happen, but the tension and political intrigue we see playing out is fantastic. It also appears to be leading toward something that will be explosive in its own right.
I do wonder why they didn’t show Lama Su being executed, though. It’s not like we haven’t seen worse on the Bad Batch (like Crosshair ordering the murder of civilians). Perhaps the Kaminoan Prime minister has some fighting/survival skills we’ve never seen before — or maybe a battalion of clones loyal to him that were hiding somewhere nearby.
But yeah…he’s most likely dead.
As pedantic as it may seem, the issue with the inhibitor chips still really irks me.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m totally fine with that aspect of the lore being explored and altered. But after Howzer and a few other clones seeming to overcome their programming via the power of goodwill and friendship, the chips’ admittedly large impact on this era of Star Wars feels greatly diminished.
Seeing good hearted clones like Rex and Wrecker fight against their programming and fail was incredibly powerful. So why are we now seeing clones without mutations (like Howzer and the squad members who followed him) or Gregor (who didn’t have the de-chipping scar he sported in Rebels) able to think for themselves with hardly any struggle?
You could make the incredibly weak/lame argument that Gregor’s chip was deactivated in the explosion on Abafar, but we learned in the first episode of the series that the Empire can intensify the chips’ programming to make the clones even more loyal.
Why wouldn’t they just do that with Howzer (a respected and experienced leader) or Gregor (a valuable commando)?
Ultimately, this issue won’t keep Star Wars: The Bad Batch from a strong closing to its first season, but the hand waving of such a crucial story component does take a bit of the luster off it. Perhaps the series’ writers do have a plan and I’ll end up happily eating a plate of crow.
If not, however, it still looks like we’re in for one heck of a finish.
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