Every time an episode of The Bad Batch lands, Fantha Tracks will be giving their responses, and here are our initial gut feelings, deep dives and thoughts on the third episode of season 1 of The Bad Batch – Replacements. Beware of spoilerific elements in here.
The characters and viewers have no idea where they’re going throughout the majority of “Replacements,” Episode 3, Season 1 of The Bad Batch, flying blind in literal and metaphorical ways.
From the opening shot of the Havoc Marauder, Clone Force 99’s Omicron-class attack shuttle, deep in hyperspace but coming towards the screen and then past the viewer, the action is being thrust upon not only the Bad Batch but also the characters on Kamino. Occasional moments of calm provide opportunities to catch your breath, before the next plunge of action and intrigue, or an Ordo Moon Dragon attack, renders everyone breathless yet again in this 28-minute sprint of stage setting.
After being thrown from hyperspace, due to ship damage sustained during the escape from the planet Saleucami, Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Echo, and Omega brace for a crash landing on an unknown moon. During the landing Wrecker bangs his head and it bothers him for the remainder of the episode—and may be cause for concern, especially as Tech is trying to complete a device that can test the functionality of their inhibitor chips.
The moon provides some retro feel of the mouth of the space slug from The Empire Strikes Back, complete with poor visibility in the darkness, the necessity of breath masks, and an unknown threat—the dragon that feeds on raw energy and is drawn to the ship and the electrical entrees it offers. The beast steals the Batch’s last capacitor energy source, requiring Hunter to track it down, with an eager Omega at his side.
Hunter is rendered helpless after engaging with the Moon Dragon and is reduced by Omega who puts his mask back on him, then takes his blaster to follow the beast and carry on the mission. She is heroic, brave—then scared—understanding, and clever in trading her flashlight, distracting the Moon Dragon, for the capacitor so they can fix the ship and flee the moon.
In the meantime, the drama is building on Kamino. Tarkin continues to plot and move pieces on his board and introduces Vice Admiral Rampart, who led the chain code implementation seen in the previous episode. He is now overseeing Project War Mantle—introduced during Rogue One: A Star Wars Story—using volunteer human soldiers in place of cost-prohibitive clones. The first test is with Crosshair as the leader of four human elite troopers once again going after Saw Gerrera’s fledgling forces on Onderon. This time there are no rebel survivors as Crosshair completes his mission, fulfilling the “good soldiers follow orders” mantra, and killing one of his own soldiers, ES-01, in the process for lack of willingness to do what must be done. Crosshair does seem to struggle at times and look deep within himself, especially upon seeing reminders of his old family in their barracks.
In unison, Kaminoans Lamu Su and Nala Se continue to recognize the threat to their clone business from this new project being tested by the burgeoning Empire. They share, between themselves, that Jango Fett’s genetic material is degrading, and that to impress the new rulers they need an upgraded source. But with all of the mystery and complicated layers of unknown, it is a final act, back on the Havoc Marauder, that reminds viewers that surprises can be wonderful and positively emotional.
Wrecker makes Omega cover her eyes for a surprise. She opens them in awe, seemingly with a lump in her throat, as he reveals a space just for her on the ship. Omega emotionally reveals she has never had her own room before—and Hunter reassures her she is part of the team now, to complete this week’s adventures.
This episode shows how the Empire went from using clones to using conscripts with clones as teachers. Tarkin is, of course, being his usual self, which has the Kaminoans worried about their future. The scenes with Crosshair were very disturbing and I think deep down he is disturbed as well.
Meanwhile we follow the Bad Batch after a bad crash and Omega got to show us how capable she is when her father figures are not in the picture. I am still wondering what her purpose is; I guess we will find out soon enough.
The story pushes forward and more of the Empire’s future plans are revealed in episode 3 of The Bad Batch: The Replacements.
So much is happening concurrently as the third episode unfolds. Omega’s newfound family seems to be taking off without a hitch as Hunter, Echo, Tech, and Wrecker’s feelings continue to grow for her with every passing moment, but at the same time, something seems off. Namely, Wrecker’s recent onset of headaches. Is it possible that the command for “Order 66” is trying to get through? Time will tell.
What’s the most intriguing is the stark visual contrast between Omega and Crosshair as they settle in with their new families. Crosshair has been promoted to train the new recruits of the Empire and lead them into an unorthodoxy way of fulfilling the Emperor’s bidding through an execution style of warfare.
At the same time, Omega is becoming more and more a part of the team. Hunter even takes her out (reluctantly) on a mission and she unexpectedly surprises and surpasses their expectations. In fact, she never has to use a weapon and instead, uses her intellect to solve their problem.
One thing is certain, Omega seems to catch on real quick when it comes to learning new things. And by the end of the episode is given her own room aboard the Marauder by Wrecker with a bonus gift, his stuffed Gundark, Lula!
One of the often asked questions in Star Wars is how the transition from a fully cloned army to conscripted stormtroopers was achieved. Well, that’s obviously something the writers of The Bad Batch have decided to address, as we see in this third episode, “Replacements”. A squad of ‘the Empire’s finest troops’ are put under the command of Crosshair (who is still operating under the control of his inhibitor chip) and Admiral Rampart, who has a larger role in this episode, seems to be in charge of the Empire’s programme to move to conscripts rather than ‘expensive clones’.
Obviously the Kaminoans are not overly impressed by this move, and have a yet-to-be-fully-revealed plan to counter this – no doubt to be revealed over the course of the show. Meanwhile the elite squad are dispatched to Onderon to take on Saw Gerrera’s Separatist rebels and see if they can succeed where Clone Force 99 failed. This leads to the darkest part of the episode, where one of this troops when ordered to execute the civilian members of the group, questions Crosshair; unfortunately for him it is his last action as Crosshair shoots him, and instructs the rest of the squad to finish the job, walking away uttering his new mantra, good soldiers follow orders to the sound of blaster fire behind him.…
Meanwhile, the Bad Batch and Omega have crash landed and whilst undertaking repairs lose the vital capacitor they need to a moon dragon. Hunter and Omega head off to track down the dragon and the stolen part and when Hunter is knocked out following a skirmish with the beast, Omega follows it to retrieve the capacitor.
I can’t help but wonder if Omega is actually part of the Kaminoans plan and her hooking up with the Bad Batch is no “happy accident” and her role is actually deeper than we currently believe – time will tell, but it’s time well spent and once again great storytelling, animation and music working perfectly together.
Is it really a whole week until the next episode?
In this week’s episode of The Bad Batch we get to slow down just a bit to understand the new dynamics of the Bad Batch with Omega now a part of the team and we get an insight to Crosshair’s new assignment under the Empire. This episode was a nice change of pace considering the last the two episodes we hit the ground running. Even under the time constraint, the episode flawlessly navigates the developing situations of both factions and we are learning more about the new found Empire.
Omega is a fantastic addition to the Bad Batch’s ranks as she helps develop these renegade clones; they need to be more than soldiers to her, they need to learn how to be a family. While Hunter will definitely be the closest to Omega throughout the series, the other clones are slowly getting attached to her as well, particularly Wrecker in this latest installment. In a moment of selfishness Wrecker almost takes Omega’s rations after she offer them up to him, Hunter has to step in to remind her that she’s only a child and that things are different now. To make up for his lapse in judgement, Wrecker sweetly decides to piecemeal a room for Omega and even gifts her his beloved tooka doll, Lula.
Although Omega formed a bond with Wrecker, her closeness with Hunter continues to grow. The two had to track down the Ordo Moon Dragon that had stolen a vital part from their ship. In a confrontation the beast rendered Hunter unconscious giving Omega the perfect opportunity to prove her abilities as the latest recruit. Armed with one of Hunter’s blasters and a flashlight she was able to successfully complete the mission.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Omega is one of Palpatine’s test subjects and is partially or in some way force sensitive based on her ability to confront the dragon without getting a scratch on her; she seemed to connect to the beast once she relaxed and lowered her defense in a similar way to Ezra Bridger in Rebels.
While the Bad Batch acclimates to their newest member, Crosshair is being manipulated through means of his inhibitor chip by the Kaminoans and Tarkin. Under a new imperial, Rampart, an elite squadron of enlisted soldiers has been assembled to be commanded by Crosshair. As a test the squad must succeed where Clone Force 99 ‘failed’ by locating and destroying Saw Gerrera and his rebel cel. This group of elite soldiers serve as an insight to how some citizens see Imperial control as a positive regime change; one soldier exclaims, “With the Empire, I get paid, I get fed and I have a roof over my head. That’s more than the Republic ever did for me.” It’s a prime example of Star Wars imitating history, as many dictators in the past have restored the basic necessities to its own people, allowing its citizens to turn a blind eye to those that the government chooses to oppress.
During the mission that same soldier who voiced support for the new rule of the Empire was executed by Crosshair for disobeying orders when he refused to kill civilians. I have a feeling this will be a small taste of the gray area that this series will showcase going forward. I always love when this gray area is explored in the universe; there’s light and dark but a gray side to things especially when it comes to the everyday civilians. After returning from the mission, we see Crosshair lost in thought, I think the inhibitor chip hasn’t completely broken him, but we shall see what happens moving forward.
Overall the series is progressing nicely and I’m glad that things are falling into line at smooth pace. The Bad Batch may go down as some of the best Star Wars content to date if the show maintains its current course.
Brian Cameron and Carl Bayliss discuss Replacements on Good Morning Tatooine
Mark Mulcaster and Mark Newbold discuss Replacements on Episode 91 of Making Tracks