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 eighth episode of season 1 of The Bad Batch – Reunion. Beware of spoilerific elements in here.

Paul Naylor

Ever since 1980, when we first glimpsed Dengar, IG-88, Boba Fett, Bossk, 4-LOM and Zuckuss on the bridge of Vader’s stardestroyer, something resonated with the Star Wars fanbase. It was the briefest of scenes, featuring a grunt from Bossk and a few words from Mr Fett, but that short clip captured the imagination of a generation. Yes, you could argue – justifiably so – that Greedo was the first bounty hunter we encountered, but the term bounty hunter wasn’t uttered until that gathering onboard the Executor.

We’ve been introduced to many more across different mediums over the years. Valance the cyborg in the continuing adventures from Marvel back in the day and more recently The Mandalorian himself, Din Djarin. The comparisons between Mando and Clint Eastwood in the Good, the Bad and the Ugly have been numerous. But there is a bounty hunter that has an even closer resemblance than Grogu’s protector – and he made his impact almost a decade ago. Cad Bane is finally back in the mix.

With his cowboy hat, and chewing a toothpick, old Cad wouldn’t look out of place in the sci-fi series Westworld. To see him again was joyous. For his droid TODO 360 to be seen at his side was heavenly.

As this weeks episode unravelled, the Bad Batch were indeed reunited with their old crew member Crosshair, who, unlike the rest of his old team, still has his inhibitor chip firmly in place – making him a foe rather than a friend. So when the heroes managed to escape being obliterated by a starship engine – a trap conceived by Crosshair – they had to head back to the Havoc Marauder. It was here they encountered Cad Bane. Following a brief stand-off, the gunslinger outsmarted Hunter and captured Omega.

A favourite scene was at the episode’s close, when Hunter awoke and we got a fantastic point of view scene from within his helmet. All very claustrophobic. And now the hunt for Omega begins. But just who was Cad Bane delivering her to? Those answers are for a future instalment.

A fab episode, with great pacing and atmosphere. I love where this show is going.

Carl Bayliss

As we hit the halfway point in this series, it really has hit home with me. As I think I’ve said every week, the visuals on this are just gorgeous, but then that’s been the case with much of the Lucasfilm animation output – this is really no ‘kids cartoon’ it’s just great storytelling in a different medium.

Also becoming the norm is the fast pacing of the show and story, this episode picks up right where we left off last week with the team still on Bracca, with a plan to help pay off their debt Cid by raiding the armoury of the Jedi Cruiser for some valuable weapons. Of course we know the Empire have been alerted to their presence, and a squad is sent to deal with them, headed up by their former comrade Crosshair. We get confirmation that the creature we saw grab Wrecker last week was indeed a Dianoga, as they move through the ship and raid the armoury. With Crosshair leading the clone squad he is better able to second guess the tactics employed by the Bad Batch and almost manages to outwit them.

As they return to the Havoc Marauder, Hunter and Omega arrive first to be confronted by another returning favourite from The Clone Wars, Cad Bane – in the employ of the Kaminoans to retrieve Omega, which he does following a ‘high noon’ showdown with Hunter. The rest of the crew return to find an injured Hunter and no sign of Omega or Cad Bane.

This really ups the stakes, and presumably will see us move away from the Cid’s ‘hired mercenaries’ stories from the last few episodes into the mission to find and rescue Omega (bearing in mind that they don’t know who has hired the bounty hunters to find Omega).

I really hope we get some additional material for this show, akin to the ‘Gallery’ shows we got for The Mandalorian, to see behind the curtain on this type of show would be amazing.

So there we have it, and I’ve gone the whole review of ‘BB#8’ without mentioning a little round droid, oh wait…

Becca Benjamin

The “Dad” Batch adds a new layer to Star Wars tragedy with episode 8, “Reunion.” Hunter, Echo, Tech, and Wrecker are soldiers. It’s all they know and the whole reason for their creation. But a soldier without war is a dicey situation. In other words, you can take a soldier out of a battle, but you can’t take the fight out of a soldier.

Last week, Rex laid an offer on the table for Hunter, and he didn’t take it. Instead, he decided to stay on Bracca after the victorious extraction of the group’s inhibitor chips and risk being detected by the shady scrappers to hunt for valuables on the Jedi Cruiser to pay his debt to Cid.

This decision didn’t sit well with the rest of the group, and Echo is the one who voiced it by saying, “we’re soldiers, not arms smugglers.” Hunter quickly squashed the comment by replying, “[Rex is] on a different path than us.” But is it possible Hunter was referring more to himself than Rex? I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough, but in the meantime, it seems that Hunter has lost his ability to see the bigger picture by his fixation to find safety for his Batch.

And that loss of peripheral vision comes with a price as Crosshair makes his return in Star Wars: The Bad Batch with a platoon of formidable stormtroopers. As we know, luck, whether you believe in it or not, tends to wear off. It’s an emotional sequence of exchanges between once friends to now foes with an added bittersweet plea from show-stopper Omega, once again asking Crosshair to stop what he’s doing even though she knows none of it is his fault because he can’t help it.

And just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does. Crosshair isn’t the only “Reunion” the Bad Batch encounters, not by a long shot. The fans get one, too, with the return of fan-favorite Cad Bane! It appears as though Nala Se and the Prime Minister of Kamino have hired the bounty hunter whose mentor was Jango Fett, the prototype for the Republic’s Grand Army. Now he, and he alone, stands in the way of Omega and her Dad Batch and their escape from Bracca.

Cad Bane, being the cowboy bounty hunter he is, stands off western-style against Hunter. The showdown between these two is very reminiscent of the George Lucas days of Star Wars. It’s a nice touch by director Steward Lee and writer Christian Taylor and deserves a recognitional nod. Sadly, it doesn’t bode well for Hunter or Omega, even with Cad’s apology, “sorry, little lady,” as he blasts Hunter square in his chest plate and stuns little Omega before leaving with her in tow.

It’s a chilling end to the episode as the group struggles with their separation from Omega and tries to cope with the situation. In a way, it’s as if Filoni and Company merged their inner Leon (The Professional) with a Star Wars Western, leaving Omega’s (Mathilda) fate hanging in the balance. Essentially, Hunter has stepped into the role as a father, and Omega is his purpose.

Andy Lyth

The Duros in the hat is back! What a marvellous, action packed episode, reuniting Clone Force 99 with Crosshair, and Clone Wars fans with the ruthless Cad Bane in a superbly executed sequence reminiscent of Eastwood’s ‘man with no name’. For the first time this season I really felt that out heroes were in peril, and the ion engine escape was exhilarating. The reveal of Cad Bane had me punching the air, and like last week’s Rex introduction this appearance of a familiar character feels earned rather than forced. The Bad Batch continues to impress on all levels!

Ross Hollebon

Parallel experiences through misguided paths for Hunter and Crosshair are my main takeaways from “Reunion.” Sure there was an epic reveal of a toothpick-chewing Cad Bane, along with his droid Todo 360, and the immensity of a Jedi Cruiser wasteland as a battlefield, but this story really tightened the screws on the leader of Clone Force 99 and their hijacked sharpshooting brother now serving the Empire.

The clones basically know the protocols of the Empire, and Crosshair recognizes the tendencies of his former crew. This makes for a constant chess match as to who can get the upper hand strategically, whether on the bridge, artillery deck, or Ion engine chamber as soldiers from three attack shuttles hunt down the rogue clones.

The hardest part to swallow in this episode is Hunter ignoring Echo’s pleas to leave Bracca after being spotted by the scrapper’s guild—all in the name of money. He is desperate to get out from under the thumb of their debt to Cid and it clouds his judgement. This not only puts their lives at risk, but also results in the capture of Omega by Bane, presumably for the prime minister of Kamino. Bane bests Hunter in an old west blaster duel—with the best music score possible as thoroughfare whistles mosey past like a digital tumbleweed. Clone Force 99 is not only relieved of Omega by the bounty hunter, but also leaves the leader injured.

Crosshair suffers the same fate, with his leg, arm and head all being injured by the same trap he set for his prey. Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Echo, and Omega set charges to blow the cone off the engine chamber, allowing them to flee and putting a serious hurt on Crosshair and his crew. A short while earlier Omega reminds Crosshair that he isn’t acting of his own free will and that he is being controlled by an inhibitor chip. It doesn’t appear to affect him at the time, but I can’t help but think the hard-nosed, genetically-mutated clone-turned-Imperial isn’t about to spend some time recovering in the med bay on Kamino—with access to confirm what the youngest clone keeps reminding him.

By the end of the episode neither Hunter nor Crosshair are in their normal position of being in control, with the red bandana-wearing good guy being the prime example. Hunter is roused from being knocked out by the blaster shot from Bane, which we experience through his helmet like playing a first-person shooter video game. As the helmet’s interior functions begin to activate the audience is looking through Hunter’s mask and the primary audio is his disoriented heavy breathing and grunting, followed by the slightly muted but emphatic voices of Echo, Tech, and Wrecker, desperately trying to figure out what has happened.

The final seconds of the episode have Hunter explaining to Wrecker, “we have to find her,” before the music intensifies, then drops to silence and black. The situation just became even more harrowing for what remains of Clone Force 99.

Eric Onkenhout

Reunion, the eighth episode of The Bad Batch, is just that, a reunion of sorts in several ways. Crosshair reunites with his old squad, although not in the best of circumstances. And the stunning return of Cad Bane in the duel of the century with Hunter. The first half of the season is behind us. With Order 66 becoming a part of the past, Clone Force 99 have their sights on their uncertain future. Where do their paths lead? What will become of Omega? Will they even survive long enough to get out from under debt with Cid? One battle at a time, soldier.

Wrecker and Omega continue building their friendship when Wrecker teaches Omega how to dismantle a thermal detonator. Wrecker tricks her by having her dismantle it within ten seconds. When time runs out, they run for cover before it explodes. When it detonates, Omega discovers that it was just a smoke bomb. Chin up, kid, you’ll get it next time. Echo arrives to tell them that Hunter wants them inside. As they start walking, they notice they’re being watched by members of the Scrapper Guild. I’m not sure what their deal is. It sounds like they work for the Empire. Probably keeping a log of old Republic warships. I can imagine all that scrap metal would worth a lot of credits, and those credits could be put towards building new capital ships.

We find out that it was the Kaminoans who hired Fennec Shand to retrieve Omega. Tensions rise between the Kaminoans and the Empire. The Kaminoans want the clones and Omega back on Kamino, while Admiral Rampart has no interest in Clone Force 99, but if Crosshair confronts them, he has permission to terminate them. Wrecker manages to stun two scrappers, but those two are left behind when Wrecker goes after the last one flying the speeder. I would think the clones would interrogate the two that were stunned to get some information from them. Later on, they decide to loot their bodies before they wake. Such a waste. Sidebar: the scrapper speeder would’ve made a great mini-rig!

I have to amend something from my last review. Apparently, the tentacled creature in the water was a dianoga, not an Ibdis Maw. As Wrecker gathers the stunned scrappers, Hunter says that Rex warned them of the scrappers. Echo wants to leave Bracca asap, but Hunter smartly understands the monetary value of the weapons cache still contained within the ships is enough to clear any debt they need to pay Cid. Echo is a little short-sighted by not seeing the opportunity before them. Who cares if you’re not arms smugglers? You owe money, and you have a chance to earn a lot of it to pay it back. Why not use it to gain your freedom?

I like how when they’re scouring for weapons, Wrecker tries to lift a gated door, while Omega simply presses the button on the lock, which lifts it. Echo sees himself and the rest of Clone Force 99 as only soldiers. If they left with Rex, they wouldn’t have to deal with Cid at all. This is true, I suppose, but there’s no denying that just like Hunter said, Rex is on a different path with different goals and ideals. Unlike the clones during the war who had a single purpose, times are different and Clone Force 99 are intentionally bred to independent thinkers.

Each clones’ personality is evident in Reunion. Hunter is the clear leader, always thinking ahead, Wrecker is the silly but loveable muscle, Echo is a straight shooter, ever the soldier. And Tech is so analytical. When Omega asks Tech what the war was like, he replies by giving a general statement on every wars’ purpose and goal. There’s no feeling or emotion. Everything is data to Tech. In this scene, Omega peers through the bridges’ transparisteel over the landscapes’ wreckage. Hats off to another stunning episode from the animation department. The lighting and the sound were gorgeous. Of course, a blinking red button is never a good thing. The Empire has arrived with Crosshair leading the way.

The next scene cuts to Kamino. Lama Su wants to hire another bounty hunter to find Omega, while Nala Se questions this tactic. He mentions the Empire’s mission on Bracca imposing a threat to their contingency plan. It’ll be interesting to see what that plan is. The Kamonians have deep enough pockets to hire as many bounty hunters as necessary. The showdown between Crosshair and the rest of the Clone Force 99 was super tense. They both know each other so well, their strategies and techniques. Omega is much better at using the bow, picking off two clone troopers. There was a perfect opportunity to use the classic Wilhelm scream when Wrecker tossed a clone trooper out of an empty viewport.

In my opinion, the entire episode leads up to the return of Cad Bane. When a clone trooper received no answer to a call, and the image shows a room full of dead clone troopers, I fully expected to see the camera pan over to Cal Kestis. When Hunter says, “This wasn’t the scrappers’ handiwork,” I expected to see or hear mention of lightsaber wounds. Even when the voice began to speak, I thought, hmmm, Cal sounds funny. I completely forgot about Lama Su hiring another hunter. So when Cad appeared, I literally yelled, “Cad Bane! What is he doing here?” It was so great hearing his voice again and his infamous posture—the callbacks to the old Clint Eastwood Dollars Trilogy of the 1960s, the music of Ennio Morricone. I love Cad Bane. He is one of my favorite characters in all of Star Wars. It’s been quite some time since he’s been around. His last appearance chronologically is in The Clone Wars Season Four Episode 18 Crisis on Naboo, which aired back on February 10, 2012.

So what has he been doing all this time? As much as I’m a Cad fan, I was shocked when Cad took down Hunter. Good as Cad is, Hunter is an enhanced clone with unique advantages. Even with those advantages, Cad’s experience dealing with clones was enough to win this round. And having Cad stun, Omega brought back thoughts of when Grogu was taken by Gideon in The Mandalorian. All these young kids getting captured because of their unique abilities cannot be a coincidence.

I appreciated the first-person POV from inside Hunter’s helmet. I wonder what the thought process of doing that was as it didn’t really add much except showing the chaos from Hunter’s eyes. However, and I just thought of this, it did remind me of the old Xbox game Republic Commando; when your character was under heavy fire and taking hits, it showed a very similar view. It added to the stress and tension.

Next Friday can’t come fast enough! What’s with Star Wars lately? One thing is for sure they really know how to rip our hearts out. Taking sweet innocent kids and using them as bait for larger prey. It’s not right, but it’s so good! I’d hate to be in Wrecker’s path when he gets a chance to rescue Omega. Direct hit!

Brian Cameron and Mark Mulcaster discuss Reunion on Good Morning Tatooine

Mark Mulcaster and Mark Newbold discuss Reunion on Episode 96 of Making Tracks

Check back Tuesday 22nd June for episode 96

 

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