Isn’t it fantastic waiting for new Star Wars content again on a weekly basis? It’s just a joy being able to watch these brand new stories and escaping into a galaxy, far, far away. Yes, The Bad Batch returns with an episode that explores a family coping with their loss while trying to look after a new member. Lucasfilm also explores the darker elements of this period, not shying away from the brutality of the Galactic Empire.
As per usual, a quick reminder that this recap will contain spoilers for the episode and so if you haven’t caught up yet – please do not read any further! Well, watch the episode and come back, but if you need something to pass the time away, don’t forget you can watch our new discussion show ‘The Bad Betches‘.
In our review for the show, we talked about how the Bad Batch continues the themes of Hope & Tragedy. Replacements continues that trend, with both the A and B plots exploring those elements through the members of The Bad Batch.
Firstly, the A-plot revolves around the core Bad Batch group finding themselves crash land on an uncolonized moon. After narrowly escaping from Saluecami, the Bad Batch’s ship was damaged and needs its power capacitor replaced. It should be a simple task, but things become complicated when a moon dragon decides to steal the capacitor for itself. It’s a fun introduction to the episode and explores the state of mind of the entire group. While they haven’t wanted to admit it (although Wrecker does eventually say what they’re all thinking), they’re still reeling from the loss of Crosshair. It’s nice to see how the show reminds the audience of the greater tragedy, that Crosshair is also a victim of the Empire.
The exchange between Omega and the rest of the crew also seems to indicate that there might be a chance to save Crosshair and bring him back to the family. It would definitely be interesting if the show turns into a rescue mission of sorts, utilising characters like Captain Rex to help save their brainwashed brothers. But ultimately, more interesting would be exploring what that actually means in this galaxy – particularly *after* you’ve done insidious actions while in that state. We’ll get back to that later.
The show once again focuses on Omega’s intuitiveness and genuine awe of her brothers’ abilities – looking up to Hunter and his expert tracking abilities. When he’s knocked out by a brief encounter with the Moon Dragon, and also a lack of oxygen, Omega takes it upon herself to pick up the blaster and look for the creature herself. We still don’t know what Omega’s specific mutation or skillset is, but her perceptiveness regarding the world around her seems to hint at a mixture of all the Bad Batch’s abilities. Not to mention an empathetic streak, seen on full display when she encounters the creature, realises that it means no harm and only wants to snack on some delicious energy. Much like the characters of Ezra and Rey, one of the best parts of the newer Star Wars material has been the focus on connecting with nature and finding non-violent ways to deal with situations – they may be gone, but the Jedi would be proud.
Meanwhile, over on Kamino, The Empire continues to mess with Crosshair and deliberate over the future of the clone troopers. Here we meet Vice-Admiral Rampart (Noshir Dalal) in person, beaming after the successful launch of his code-chain initiative. It’s here he introduces his new project to Admiral Tarkin, ‘War-Mantle’ – in which an elite squad of recruited humans would be trained by Clones (such as Crosshair) in order to implement a smoother transition for wider recruitment. Tarkin, intrigued by the prospect gives this new Elite Squad the task of ‘dealing’ with Saw Gerrera’s forces on Onderon, attempting to see if this new group could follow through with an order.
Immediately, we are witnessed to some of the pomposity of these new Imperial soldiers. With one trooper, ES-01 implying that the clones can’t be as good as they make out if the Empire is scouting for troopers like him and his squadron. It’s a reminder of how the Clones themselves are a physical embodiment of the Galactic Republic still, and that some people in the galaxy would rather they were swept away with some of the other changes.
But for all the bravado of ES-01’s bragging, it’s how they deal with the mission at hand that sets them apart. While Saw Gerrera has left with some other members, the remaining members of his group are sentenced to die on behalf of the Empire. The Elite Squad attacks the group, and Crosshair murders the leader after she refuses to reveal the location of Saw. He then orders his troopers to kill the rest of the villagers before being refuted by ES-01 who seems disturbed by the prospect of murdering citizens. It’s an interesting look at how some of the people in the galaxy adapt to these changes – do you go along with every single order? – do you rebel?
Not that ES-01 gets much time to think about those ideas, Crosshair kills him and reminds his squad that “good soldiers follow orders”. A line that already felt heavy because of the audience’s relation to both Order 66 and the Fives Arc from The Clone Wars, now has even more weight to it. The following soldiers follow said orders – framed away as they begin to purge their supposed enemies. Kudos to Lucasfilm for following through with the darker aspects of the show, while following the idea of ‘implying, not showing’ is the better way to go with these sequences. Many pointed out that this might be too dark for children? But I think this has always been something Star Wars has never shied away from, whether it’s Owen and Beru’s bodies or Anakin in the temple.
Tarkin deems the mission a success and gives full control over to the newly minted Admiral Rampart – giving the Kaminoans some thought about their next actions. We see the amphibious cloners discuss how the Jango DNA source is naturally degrading with age, and how they may need a new sample to prove their worth to the Empire. Could this be from Omega? The Batch? Boba Fett?
One of the standout shots from the episode was when we see the new Elite Squad take up the bunker which previously housed the Bad Batch, with the others sharing some sort of comradery while Crosshair sits by himself – alone. While Crosshair’s actions are abhorrent and redemption arcs are difficult to navigate, it’s important to remember that this character is also a victim – being brainwashed by Tarkin in order to fulfil a darker purpose. And it’s these moments where you wonder if a piece of him is still reaching out, yearning to be with his brothers – but knowing it’s too late. We know in The Clone Wars, that Rex seemed to be very aware of his actions after the chip was removed, so it would be extremely interesting to see how Crosshair will react if the Batch does attempt to save him. If this first season details that journey, it could be very interesting to see Crosshair try to save others that have also gone down that path in future seasons – like Commander Cody.
Overall, Replacements was a great episode that utilises some fun Star Wars tropes, while focusing on how evil and relentless the Empire was – right from day one. It also does a great job exploring the complexities of Crosshair’s situation and potentially sets up this season’s core story arc – freeing and bringing him home.
Oh, And Another Thing:
- Admiral Rampart is back, this time in person! He’s voiced by Noshir Dalal – who you may know as Varko Gray from Star Wars: Squadrons & Charles Smith from Red Dead Redemption II
- We get to see more of Wrecker being an adorable uncle, making a little room for Omega! Awww, bless.
- But also, should we concerned about his head? Maybe it was just a bump from the crash, but what if it has something to do with his inhibitor chip? Maybe Wrecker will be Tech’s first patient with his new tool.
- If Project ‘War-Mantle’ rings a bell, it should! It’s one of the projects listed in Rogue One when Jyn and Cassian are looking for Project Stardust.
- Like Dave Filoni mentioned before, the Jedi helped the Clones identify themselves – not by their birth numbers, but by giving themselves names. While these new human troopers have foregone their own names to be rebranded as ES-01 or ES-04. Haunting.
- I’m glad that The Bad Batch is continuing to explore the wider scope of the Empire’s formation and seeing different viewpoints from different characters. For some, like Rampart – it’s fantastic. For others? Not so much.
- Did anyone else have major ‘ESB’ mynock vibes in this episode? – or even the ice-cave episode from The Mandalorian. I’ve yet to see anyone call this episode filler yet, but when it happens – I can’t wait to go full 501st on them: