Welcome to my first episode review for The Bad Batch. My reviews will follow my usual format: an overview of the plot (so be aware, there will be spoilers!), my review of the show, then a few “Moments in canon” – references that link to other media and the galaxy as a whole. Today, we’ll be looking at episode 3: “Replacements”.
The Bad Batch are getting used to life on the run (and life without Crosshair) following their escape from Saleucami, but are being forced to ration their supplies, while Echo’s repairs to the ship are taking some time as Tech is working on something that can test the status of their inhibitor chips. With the Havoc Marauder in bad shape having taken damage leaving Saleucami, the ship falls out of hyperspace and crash lands on a nearby moon. Tech and Echo go out to make repairs, but a capacitor—crucial if they want to leave—is stolen by a Ordo Moon Dragon.
“Get ready for your first crash landing!”
On Kamino, Tarkin is joined by Admiral Rampart and they discuss the progression of the implementation of chain codes and Project War Mantle. An elite squad of 4 conscripted soldiers, noted as top recruits, are put under Crosshair’s command and they are sent to Onderon to complete the mission the Bad Batch were previously sent on, taking out Saw Gerrera and his insurgents.
Hunter tracks the dragon along with Omega, as Wrecker is having headaches following the crash while Tech and Echo need to continue with repairs. They find the capacitor, but Hunter is attacked by the dragon and his oxygen mask comes off. As the dragon flees underground with the capacitor, Omega manages to refit Hunter’s mask, but he is already unconscious by this point. so Omega takes his flashlight and blaster and goes after the Dragon.
Crosshair and his unit arrive on Onderon and efficiently take out the insurgent soldiers, but find out that Gerrera has already left. With the fighters dead, Crosshair orders his unit to kill the non-combatants present to complete the mission. One of the troopers feels that killing civilians is to far and refuses t follow his orders, so Crosshair shoots him. The other 3 troops comply with Crosshair’s order.
“You want to know why they put me in charge? It’s because I’m willing to do what needs to be done… Good soldiers follow orders.”
Making her way through the underground tunnels, Omega find the capacitor but also comes close the the enraged dragon. The dragon eventually calms and Omega distracts it by throwing the flashlight. While the dragon feeds on the energy from the flashlight, Omega takes the capacitor and returns to Hunter, who has come around by this point.
Crosshair and his unit return to Kamino and report their success, but also that Gerrera was already gone. Impressed, Tarkin appears to approve of keeping the clone trooper program active for now, and using the clones to train conscripted recruits, who will be a more cost-effective and long-term solution, leaving the project in Ramparts hands. Crosshair and his new unit take over the Bad Batch’s old barracks.
Lama Su speaks to Nala Se of the Imperials’ intentions to replace the clones long term and tells her it is important that they find a way to ensure their clones remain essential. Nala Se notes that the original Jango Fett material is degrading still, so Lama Su tells her it is time to begin the next phase, with the idea being that a new breed of clone from Nala Se’s experiments would help them keep their contract with the Empire. For this, though, Nala Se says that she requires a direct source, and notes that the ones she needs will not willingly return, though Lama Su seems confident that only one is required.
“If Rampart has his way, conscripted soldiers will make clones obsolete.”
With the ship repaired, the Bad Batch successfully leave the moon. Wrecker brings Omega to the back of the ship to show what he has been working on: converting a part of the ship into her own room, and Hunter officially calls her a part of the squad.
So I hope I’m wrong, but I can already see a lot of people calling this episode “filler”, but it is far from that. While it may feel like not a lot happens to progress the story, there is some important development for characters. Clearest of all is Omega’s continued efforts to find her place in the group, with the episode starting by showing her just having to sleep on the floor, and seeing her be the one to actually complete the mission by getting the capacitor back, before being referred to as part of the squad for the first time and having that solidified by not just being given her own room, but Wrecker also apparently giving her Lula, his tooka doll. Similarly, we see the continued development and growth of the Imperial military, with the decision to continue using clones for now, and utilising them as teachers for the conscripted soldiers, while Crosshair also now has his own unit of elite troopers. Similar to how The Mandalorian‘s first 3 episodes were the story of Din Djarin being sent to collect Grogu for the Imperials, but feeling a responsibility and rescuing him, these first 3 episodes work as the opening chapters for a story that has set up the Bad Batch—with Omega having replaced Crosshair—on the run as Crosshair gains his own unit, which I’m sure will soon be chasing after them.
Its interesting to see just how quickly things are progressing after Order 66 and this new elite unit has really caught my attention. It makes sense to have an elite unit to go up against the Bad Batch—I even said as much when suggesting that Delta Squad could return in this show—and for them to be a group of conscripted soldiers led by one of the Bad Batch’s own sets up a series of great confrontations.
But how will Crosshair feel about this. While he was extremely antagonistic in the premiere even before the impact of his chip was increased, he didn’t seem very content in the final shot of him sitting on his bunk, and perhaps there is a chance that Clone Force 99 could get their expert marksman back by the end of the season, especially as they went out of their way to ensure the Bad Batch were able to guess that Crosshair did not willingly betray them.
But is Crosshair the only one of the Batch to worry about right now? The scenes of Wrecker’s headache following the crash landing seemed like a poor excuse to leave him behind, but he’s not the first clone to have suffered headaches already in this series, with Crosshair struggling as his inhibitor chip tried to work on him. Perhaps Wrecker’s knock to the head has helped the chip start to have an effect on Wrecker. Considering we saw Tech working on a device to check their chips, ‘Chekhov’s Gun’ suggests that it will have an important use soon.
Finally, I need to mention the new troops and I love how their armour is basically a darkened version of the Phase II clone armour, just highlighting ways in which the Empire is trying to make change immediately, while the more obvious changes like stormtrooper armour and TIE fighters. More than that though, by having the green visors, could it be that—as many people have been speculating—Crosshair’s unit could become the original death troopers? It certainly seems possible, and if we assume that War Mantle was relating to this unit, then it fees like there is more in their future.
A few final thoughts on the episode:
- As we continue to try figuring out Omega, she once again showed her ability to pick up skills quickly by learning from Hunter. But what happened with the dragon? Did she trick it as she said, or did she unknowingly use the Force to calm it?
- I’m looking forward to seeing what the Kaminoans have planned. In Legends, the clones were eventually phased out when Kamino rose up in a failed rebellion and used their own army of Jango Fett clones against the Empire. While we are already seeing plans from the Imperials to phase out the clones, could this lead to the Kaminoans using their “improved” clones as a rebel army, with the Bad Batch returning to help them?
Moments in Canon
- Did the name War Mantle sound familiar? That’s likely because it appeared in Rogue One as one of the project names Jyn Erso read through in the Scarif archives as she was searching for the Death Star plans
- The Jango Fett sample is noted as decaying, something which we heard in one of the earliest chronological episodes of The Clone Wars: “Clone Cadets”
What did you think of the episode?
Thanks for reading. Good soldiers follow orders….