By Kieran Burt.
The Bad Batch season two episode four, titled ‘Faster’ is a lighthearted standalone that doesn’t quite satisfy the audience. There are humorous moments, and it gives Tech his chance to stand centre stage, but overall it’s an episode that will likely get forgotten shortly after watching.
Hunter and Echo are off on an Uber delivery this week, so it’s just Omega, Tech and Wrecker on their own. This scaled down version of The Bad Batch allows for a better focus on Tech, who got to race his own speeder bike this episode. This does address another complaint from the first season as Tech was underserved.
Cid demands to take them to a new planet to act as her guards, in a mutual exchange between her and another criminal she has dealings with. It’s here they come across riot racing. This podracing homage takes many cues from the sport as it’s seen in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, but mixes it up with an obstacle course and split paths to race on instead.
Here, the audience meets the new droid TAY-0, who tows the annoying but in a funny way to a razor thin edge. He is Cid’s star racer, and also very rude. But voice actor Ben Schwartz gives the droid some humorous moments, and his voice drips with a snarky tone. There are some funny beats with the droid, getting destroyed not once, but twice. His second death in particular drew the most laughs.
Cid gets herself into trouble, by betting on a race with the criminal, losing the race and her star racer. The ever kind hearted Omega steps in for a new wager. They fix TAY-0 (who isn’t thankful at all), who promptly gets run over. This complicated setup eventually culminates in Tech having to take over the race, which finally begins.
The animation on show does have a sense of speed to it, and Kiner’s score does elevate it, but it just felt predictable. The dangerous dark tunnel he and another racer fly down could have felt more threatening if the audience could see in it, or if there was any sense of impending doom for Tech. There are several droid racers, showing that they got a new life after the Clone War, which is an appreciated detail.
The episode is extremely light on the philosophical and political points the series can deliver, which is a shame. This episode does completely ignore the time period the Batch find themselves in, and while of course there are worlds outside the Empire’s reach, it’s a shame to leave the time period behind for a race that could really be set at any period in galactic history.
It also has very little of the Star Wars underworld that is so well fleshed out in the universe, that might have elevated the episode. Cid and her captor do have a quick conversation, to imply that Cid has skeletons in her closet she doesn’t want The Bad Batch finding. This very short allusion to a dark and troubled past is sure to crop up later, but a better version of this episode would have expanded on it.
While of course there are parts of this episode that could end up mattering, such as Tech’s newfound fame and the implications of a dark past for Cid, this episode never feels more than filler. That isn’t to say that it’s awful, it can be fun at times, but in the grand scheme of the series the episode fell below expectations and will be moved on from quickly.