By Kieran Burt.
The Bad Batch episode three, and it marks the return of the fan favourite Commander Cody, and an episode that wisely spends its time catching the audience up to where Crosshair is and how he is feeling about the Empire. It also brings back some more philosophical quandaries that have been missing from Star Wars animation as of late.
While Cody is the star guest this week, the episode very much focuses on Crosshair and the position he’s in. His arc across the episode builds from a loyal drone to a person to one who will question some of his orders, but this might just be the start.
The Imperial expansion continues, with one Imperial Governor attempting to take over a Separatist holdout, but gets himself captured in the process. So, Rampart sends Cody and Crosshair in to free the Governor. Simple mission.
To do it, Crosshair will need a commander, as Rampart doesn’t want him leading yet. He’s requested by Cody, and the pair meet in front of the clone war memorial. The two discuss renegade soldiers. The symbolism of doing this in front of the clone memorial is great, because it’s something the Republic put up to show its respect for the clones, this respect isn’t shown for the clones in this Imperial era.
What follows is a great call-back to the Star Wars: The Clone Wars, with clone on droid action, a whiff of nostalgia. The city is full of tight corners and surprise ambushes, and it doesn’t shy away from the horror of urban combat. A job that was left for the clones, because the Empire doesn’t want to risk its TK troopers.
Once Crosshair and Cody make it to the Separatist leader, this is where the philosophical and moral quandary of the episode come fully into play. The Separatist leader debates Cody about the purpose of the Empire, and convinces him that she doesn’t want to fight, she even tried to lead peace talks in the clone wars before they were quashed.
Cody tries to defend the Empire, even repeating the ominous line from the trailer. But once he hears that she tried to lead peace talks he stands down, even refusing a later order from the Governor to kill her. He and the other clones are becoming wary about the TK troopers, with two clones at the start talking about the Defence Recruitment Bill, the bill that would open the floodgate for mass conscription.
This piece of legislation will no doubt be the focus of the Senate episode(s), and it’s a great fleshing out of the political landscape, in a similar way to Andor and The Clone Wars. This whole episode also showcases the state of the clones and Separatists, doing a great bit of world building in this post-Order 66 world.
The final scene of the episode teases the conflict to come for Crosshair and Cody. Rampart informs Crosshair that Cody has gone AWOL, which weighs heavily. He also throws a few veiled insults Crosshair’s way, another indication about how much the Empire cares about the clones. No doubt this and Cody’s actions will have an impact on Crosshair in the future, he already had to contain anger at Rampart.
The clones versus droids give it a feel of a Clone Wars episode, but the moral and political aspects make this more than just surface level. Its choice to put Crosshair front and centre was a great decision, because this truly is the way to explore how the clones are reacting to Imperial occupation, and how it’s playing out across the galaxy.