Last week’s premiere of Star Wars: The Bad Batch‘s second season started well, but concluded with what’s become a fairly standard narrative:
- Something goes wrong during a heist
- The Bad Batch meet someone who used to be a Separatist and turns out to be a good person.
- Omega feels like she isn’t doing enough, nearly gets herself killed, and learns a valuable lesson.
This week, the Bad Batch don’t even appear in the episode. Instead, we get a story focused on Crosshair and an old fan favorite…and it might very well be the episode of the series thus far.
As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers along with some brief explorations of Star Wars lore.
Greetings, Welcome and Otherwise
The episode opens with the Imperial officer (Grotton) arriving on the planet Desix with a battalion of TK troopers (i.e. first generation Stormtroopers). The citizens immediately flee in terror, indicating that the Empire is definitely not welcome. That sentiment is further confirmed when Grotton and his troops are met by Desix Governor Tawni Ames, who declares her planet to be independent/exempt from Imperial rule.
Back on Coruscant, we see Crosshair awakening in his sparse quarters and heading to breakfast, where he’s shunned by the other clones.
*Side Note: Before giving Crosshair the cold shoulder, the two clones discuss something called the Defense Recruitment Bill that’s up for a vote in the yet-to-be-dissolved Galactic Senate. This legislation would allow the Empire to recruit/conscript natural-born soldiers to fill its military ranks instead of clones.
Crosshair is then called to see Vice Admiral Rampart, who informs him that he’s been medically cleared for active duty. Rampart then asks why Crosshair returned after being left for dead on Kamino. Crosshair replies that he’s a soldier of the Empire.
After commending his loyalty, Rampart informs the sharpshooter that he’ll be part of a mission to rescue Grotton on Desix and put down Governor Ames’ rebellion. He and his squadron will arrive on the planet under the guise of being a diplomatic envoy. From there, they are to do whatever is necessary to complete their mission.
Rampart also reveals that Crosshair won’t be leading the squadron, which sticks in his craw a bit. His annoyance is slightly tempered when he finds out who is: The legendary Commander Cody.
*Side Note: Before this moment, the last chronological appearance of Cody was in ‘Revenge of Sith’ when he received Order 66 and turned on Obi-Wan Kenobi.
After mentioning that he specifically requested Crosshair for this mission (and discussing how Clone Force 99/The Bad Batch went rogue), Cody reveals that there are rumors of clones starting to question Order 66. When Crosshair expresses his belief that this would make those clones traitors, Cody replies that “good soldiers follow orders.”
Crashing into Conflict
Cody and Crosshair enter Desix’s atmosphere in a Nu-class shuttle with a squad of clone troopers. Ames immediately sees through their ruse of being a diplomatic envoy and orders her droids to blast them out of the sky.
The shuttle is hit and crashes, killing/injuring a large portion of the squadron (except for Cody and Crosshair, of course). After taking out a team of battle droids sent to finish the job, they get to work deciding how best to infiltrate Governor Ames’ stronghold.
First up is eliminating a tank in front of the entrance, which Crosshair does by drawing its fire before destroying the vehicle via a shot right down its turret. He then provides sniper cover as Cody and the rest of the squad move toward the stronghold. Upon reaching the entrance, Crosshair notes that the droids’ movements indicate they’re being controlled by a tactical droid.
Cody decides that he and a pair of clone troopers will find/eliminate the tactical droid while the rest of the squad flanks their enemies from the stronghold’s south entrance.
After entering the stronghold, Cody tries to assure the fleeing citizens that he and his soldiers are there to help. Predictably, the citizens continue to seek shelter.
*Side Note: I really expected Crosshair to do some murdering here.
Cody and his team are then ambushed by a pair of droidekas along with some battle droids, who manage to take out one of their squad members. After an awesome firefight, Cody & Co. move toward the tower the tactical droid is and are ambushed by a squad of commando droids. They lose their other squad member, but are able to make it to the tower stairs when the clones’ grenades explode and wipe out their attackers.
At this point, we’re treated to an awesome sequence of Crosshair using mirror pucks to move up the stairs against another wave of commando droids. After a close call, Crosshair has Cody throw a puck into the room with the tactical droid — which is all he needs to destroy it along with the rest of their opposition.
This allows the other clone squad to clean up the rest of the leaderless and confused droids with ease.
Cody and Crosshair confront Governor Ames, who holds Grotton at gunpoint and demands that the Empire leave her planet. When she attempts to forcefully explain her position, Cody counters that he and his troops are there to do a job — not debate politics. Ames remains undeterred, arguing that the Empire is not the force for peace that he and his soldiers appear to think it is. She even brings up Separatist leader Mina Bonteri, revealing a peace accord she and Bonteri drew up was rejected by the Republic.
Bonteri was also a mentor and close friend to Padme Amidala, who she worked with behind the scenes for a peaceful resolution to the war. Count Dooku secretly had her assassinated, which he blamed on the Republic as part of a plan with Emperor Palpatine to derail any chance of peace between the warring factions.
Sensing Ames’ earnest desire for peace, Cody removes his helmet and lays down his weapon. He then manages to convince the governor that releasing Grotten will result in the least amount of bloodshed for her people.
Once Grotten is free, the officer immediately orders the soldiers to execute Ames. When Cody responds that he promised a peaceful resolution, Grotten insists that his murderous orders be followed, anyway. Cody hesitates, but is spared having to kill Ames when Crosshair shoots her through the chest. Grotten then orders the clones to put the deceased governor’s body in the nearby town square (!) as a warning to the rest of Desix’s citizenry.
*Side Note: Holy poodoo.
Cody is understandably disgusted at what he’s just seen. As Imperial forces descend on Desix and enslave its people, he becomes even further perturbed at the sight of wave after wave of TK troopers.
Reckoning and Rebellion
Upon returning to Coruscant, Cody asks Crosshair if he thinks the Empire is making the galaxy a better place. Crosshair replies that they’re just soldiers who do what needs to be done. Cody counters that the ability to make their own choices is what sets them apart from battle droids.
It also means that they have to live with whatever those choices are.
The next day, Rampart tells Crosshair that his success has earned him another mission — this time with CC-1226.
*Side Note: CC-1226 appeared in the 2013 book ‘Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Warfare‘ as a way to provide first-person accounts of some of the Clone Wars’ biggest battles.
When Crosshair asks what happened to Cody, Rampart acts as if he doesn’t know who that is. After Crosshair identifies him by his number designation (CC-2224), Rampart reveals that Cody recently went AWOL. The Vice Admiral follows up this bombshell by smugly remarking how clone loyalty isn’t what it used to be.
Before dismissing him, Rampart also points out that clones connected to Crosshair have a bad habit of disappearing.
There is so, so much to like about this episode.
On a surface level, we got some truly phenomenal action sequences along with the return of a character many of us have been waiting to see again for a long time.
When you dig into the narrative, however, we have a story that makes Crosshair an even more interesting character while also building out the mythology during a critical time in Star Wars lore. Aside from not executing the civilians on Desix during the infiltration (which would’ve been totally in character), Crosshair is still as evil and misguided as ever. That said, we can clearly see the cracks in his resolve beginning to form.
Instead of creating that doubt through some previously unrevealed/unrealistic humanity, “The Solitary Clone” puts him through a nearly flawless mission with another clone he obviously respects. Under this seemingly ideal setting, Crosshair becomes painfully aware of how empty this and any future victories are without a family — something even the regular and obedient clone troopers still have.
Will that make him change? Probably not. But it definitely keeps his character from being one-dimensional.
Meanwhile, Cody gives us another reason that the clones are starting to turn against Order 66. I know some folks will point out how ruthlessly he turned on Kenobi, but Star Wars: The Clone Wars did a great job of establishing that via the treachery of Pong Krell and Barriss Offee. After seeing what those Jedi did, it’s not hard to understand why the clones would be so willing to follow an order to fight the Jedi — especially when that specific function was medically implanted in their minds.
In this instance, however, Cody was able to negotiate a peaceful resolution only to have an Imperial officer order him to murder a civilian who’d surrendered. Combine that with some selfish existential dread (via seeing the TK-troopers), and Cody going AWOL isn’t hard to believe…although it was a bit quick for my liking. I get that we haven’t seen everything Cody’s gone through since the end of the Clone Wars, but it would’ve been nice for his decision to get some more build up over a few episodes instead of just this one.
I also could’ve done without the battle droids acting as comic relief. If ever there was an episode to use them as unfeeling foot soldiers (like the Clone Wars season four episode “Massacre”), this was it.
Those small complaints aside, “The Solitary Clone” was arguably The Bad Batch‘s strongest episode to date. The fact that it didn’t feature any of the main protagonists was unexpected, but also a good sign when you consider how well those characters have been developed.
Hopefully, this season will feature even more episodes that explore the Dark Times (between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope) while punching us in the gut by the end.
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