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 14: “War-Mantle”.
On the planet Daro, a clone trooper (CC-5576 “Gregor”) is being chased through a forest by other regs. He is captured, but not before he manages to activate and hide a distress beacon.
On the Havoc Marauder, the Bad Batch are on a mission for Cid but receive a message from Rex asking them to go and retrieve Gregor, as he is currently tied up with another job. Though Hunter is cautious at going in with so little information, Echo and Omega convince him of the need to go.
On Kamino, the Empire is moving out and taking the clones with them. Rampart speaks with Crosshair and tells him to keep an eye on the Kaminoans. Lama Su and Nala Se meet in secret, where Lama Su informs her that al of their contracts have been cancelled, and expresses his fear that they will be destroyed by the Empire rather than be allowed to create an army for someone else. He tells Nala Se to round up everyone essential while he arranges for their departure.
“We’re already too late. The clone was being hunted. He was dragged. That way.”
Arriving on Daro, the Bad Batch quickly find the beacon. Hunter uses his tracking ability to lead the group to the bottom of a mountain, which shows no sign of Imperial presence other than Tech’s scanner being jammed. Hunter orders Wrecker and Omega back to the ship, while he continues up the mountain with Echo and Tech. Arriving at the summit, they find tat an Imperial base has been built into the mountain. Taking a closer look, they find clone commandos leading squads of troopers, who have a new armour. Hunter intends to pass the information of Gregor’s capture and the base to Rex, but Echo convinces him that they need to take a risk to rescue the clone, like they did to rescue him during the Clone Wars. After passing an update to Wrecker and Omega, he trio make their way into the base. Sneaking through the hallways, they find a data port that Echo and Tech utilise to find where Gregor is being held, while also finding a muster report that lists 50 clone commandos and 1000 TK troopers—a designation that is new to the Bad Batch. The trio fin and release Gregor from his cell, but Tech sets off an alarm by using a defunct clone code to try and create a diversion elsewhere. The trio and Gregor are forced to fight their way out, though one clone commando does manage to injure Gregor. During breaks in the fighting, Gregor explains to the trio that the TK troopers aren’t clones, but instead just people who have enlisted and sworn to serve the Empire.
With their initial escape plan foiled, Tech comes up with a new escape route through the reactor conduits, which will bring them out halfway down the mountain, but will also allow them to contact the Havoc Marauder. The group make it through the pipes to the outside face of the mountain, but are pursued and attacked by more Imperials. Wrecker and Omega arrive in the Havoc Marauder and successfully recover Gregor and Tech, before being forced away by a squadron of V-wings. After shooting down the squadron, they return for Echo and Hunter. Echo is successfully recovered, but the appearance of even more V-wings forces Tech to take evasive manoeuvres as Hunter is being recovered, leading to him falling into the forest, with the fall knocking him unconscious.
“No! Turn around! We have to go back for him! Hunter, tell them to come back! Order them to come back!”
“Sorry, kid. I can’t do that.”
Hunter soon comes around to find 3 gunships landing troops to apprehend him. The rest of the team are finding themselves overwhelmed by the sheer number of V-wings chasing them and are close to losing their shields and power. Hunter orders the team to leave him behind and, despite Omega’s protestations, they follow his orders, leaving atmosphere and jumping to hyperspace.
On Kamino, Rampart confronts Lama Su and reveals that Nala Se has been caught by Crosshair’s unit as she was gathering personnel with the intention of fleeing Kamino. Lama Su says that he will ensure she is punished, but Rampart says that he has use for a scientist of her quality, while he has no further use for a politician like Lama Su. Nala Se is escorted away with Rampart, while a couple of Crosshair’s unit stay behind to deal with Lama Su.
Back on Daro, Hunter is now imprisoned in one of the base’s cells. Crosshair arrives, stating that while he was hoping for the whole squad, Hunter will do.
After last week’s disappointment, this was a true return to form for the series and, with only 2 episodes left after this, it certainly sent out a message that—to quote another Disney-owned property—we’re in the endgame now.
While the episode would have worked without the opening scene of Gregor being chased, it was a clever way to start the episode as seeing clones chasing anther clone immediately catches our attention. I was wondering initially if it could be Howzer, but I like the reveal that it was Gregor, as it starts to fill in the gaps with his story. Granted it didn’t really explain much—with just one line casually dropping in that he previously survived an explosion—but it was a clear middle ground between the Gregor from The Clone Wars and the one from Rebels, with his voice having changed and a bit of quirk, but not the all-out madness that we see later. Hopefully we get more of his story over the final 2 episodes to explain how he survived and escaped Abafar, as I imagine that this is what caused him to go slightly mad but also likely damaged his chip. What was very interesting was to see that he was brought in to train the new TK troopers, so he must still be reliable, while it makes sense to see elite clone units like the commandos leading the TKs and training them.
And so we should move on to the Imperial units, and it was great to see the transition from Republic to Empire continue, with the introduction of TK units, who also have a new armour that has moved much closer to the familiar stormtrooper armour, while the all-white armour of the clone commandos (with the exception of the one who injured Gregor, whose markings matched Scorch from Delta Squad) combined with their lit-up visor made for a distinctly intimidating appearance. I also really appreciated that the only trooper that really caused any issues for the Bad Batch was one of the commandos, who took an unconventional route to get ahead of the team and catch them unprepared. It was a clever reminder that not only are the clones generally more effective fighters than the average TK unit, but that the commandos are the elite units.
It was interesting to see just how the switch from Republic to Empire is proceeding in this episode. The final clones are being deployed, with those still undergoing training being removed from Kamino to go to Imperial training, while regular troopers from around the Empire are already being brought in. As someone who works in insurance, I have seen the phasing out of certain products so recognised the stages: stopping production of the current product (the clones), bringing in a new product (the TKs) and then seeing the old product gradually phased out by letting the old product run its course but be replaced with the new product rather than replenished by the old product. While we have seen the Empire moving on from the Venator-class Star Destroyers, the V-wings and LAATs are still in regular use rathe than the TIE variants that will be produced over the coming years. This is one of the things I think the series has done very well: showing the gradual transition of the military from the old Republic units to the Imperial units.
As for the Kaminoans, suddenly it looks like my thoughts of the possibility of a Kaminoan uprising have come to an end, with all of their clones being removed from their clutches, Nala Se taken by the Imperials and Lama Su executed (or at least I assume so given the context, it was left unclear by the show in another moment of the series struggling to figure out how dark it will go). Perhaps it is still possible to get something similar down the line, as the TKs’ new armour would certainly help visually distinguish between them and the clones, but I think the likelihood of this has significantly dropped following the events of this episode.
So what will happen in these last 2 episodes? Well it’s safe to imagine that Rex will be making a return—perhaps with some other liberated clones like Wolffe—and helping the Bad Batch launch a rescue attempt. More difficult to predict will be Crosshair’s role. Many people felt that he seemed conflicted in the final shot of his last appearance, and while I didn’t pick up on that myself, it was still a surprise to see him not kill Howzer. Could we see Crosshair help Hunter escape or ask him for help (which would explain why he was hoping for the full team) or has the strengthening of the chip’s programming been too effective? I can’t call it right now, and that makes me excited for the next 2 weeks.
A few final thoughts on the episode:
- A massive tip of the hat to Kevin Kiner’s score, which heavily drew on the Imprial themes we hear on the Death Star in A New Hope while the Bad Batch are making their way through the corridors of the Imperial base. There are more subtle Imperial-themed motifs than just “The Imperial March” and while they may not be as instantly recognisable, you a least get a subconscious feeling of familiarity, which helps create a difference between a Republic and an Imperial aesthetic
- Seeing Omega holding tightly to Lula when she was anxiously waiting to hear from the team was so wholesome, and her emotion as Hunter ordered them to escape without him almost broke me. While the show has not consistently reached the heights I hoped for, her character has been another great addition to the Star Wars universe
Moments in Canon
- As mentioned above, we see the continuation of the Empire phasing out the old Republic troops and vehicles, to be replaced by Imperial units
- Echo refers to his rescue by the Bad Batch, which was shown in the opening 3 episodes of The Clone Wars season 7
What did you think of the episode?
Thanks for reading. Good soldiers follow orders….