Every time an episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch lands, Fantha Tracks will be giving their responses, and here are our initial gut feelings, deep dives and thoughts on episodes one and two of season two, ‘Spoils of War’ and ‘Ruins of War’. Beware of spoilerific elements in here.
The first two episodes of The Bad Batch season two dropped last Wednesday, and it didn’t take long for the action to commence. It’s been about 18 months since the first season ended and four months since season two’s premiere was delayed, but Clone Force 99 is finally back with Omega, so the Empire had better be ready.
Spoils of War opens the season as after returning from another treasure hunt, Cid has another mission for them. Break into Castle Serenno and loot Count Dooku’s old war chest. Unfortunately, the Empire is already raiding his former castle and transporting the remains off-world in large cargo containers. Count Dooku has appeared in a lot of Star Wars media lately, with three episodes dedicated to him in Tales of the Jedi. Even though he doesn’t appear in The Bad Batch, he’s long dead, but his legacy remains.
Truthfully, there isn’t a ton of what we haven’t seen before in The Bad Batch. They go on a retrieval mission for Cid and succeed despite massive difficulties. It is fascinating witnessing Clone War-era clones battle it out with Imperial stormtroopers. The Empire hasn’t fully embraced the new stormtrooper armor at this point. In the season one finale, stormtroopers wear the armor seen in the original trilogy. However, in Spoils of War, they are still wearing Phase III armor.
Hunter and Wrecker get inside Dooku’s castle, where he commanded Grievous during the Clone Wars. Hunter and Wrecker have a shoot-out from behind Dooku’s old desk with some stormtroopers. Meanwhile, Omega, Tech, and Echo are inside the cargo hold, of which the floor looks like the deck plates on the Death Star. It appears the Bad Batch are shooting stun blasts. I’m unsure if this was determined during the first season (not to kill), but it seemed odd.
In Ruins of War, Omega, Tech, and Echo crash onto Serreno and meet a guy named Romar. Romar explains that Serenno is the way it is because Dooku stole from his own people. Unfortunately, Dooku repeats the same mistakes as Senator Dagonet in Tales of the Jedi.
It’s unclear how much time has passed since the first season. Judging by Omega’s appearance, it’s been about a year or a little more. These two episodes likely aired together because things are likely to ramp up after this. This episode takes quite a dark turn at the end when Admiral Rampart shoots Captain Wilco, who then falls to his death.
We begin in medias res, with Hunter, Wrecker, and Echo running like frilled lizards because they’ve disturbed a hoard of giant crabs. Tech deftly maneuvers the ship. Omega’s hanging out of it. And that’s just the opening scene that ends a little under four minutes into the first episode.
As far as Star Wars premieres go, I felt as though this one was non-stop, thrilling action. And considering we got not one but two episodes, Spoils of War and Ruins of War, that’s fairly impressive. As we’ve seen before, Clone Force 99 can resourcefully get themselves out of a jam as quickly as they can get into them. They’re daring. They’re scrappy. And those endearing qualities are on full display here. They’re an elite squad who’s more willing and more able (and more eccentric) than everyone else. In Spoils of War, their boss, Cid, tells them that if they can plunder the late Count Dooku’s “war chest” right from under The Empire’s noses, they might finally be able to retire into obscurity. Of course, this new mission quickly goes south, and watching the team improvise in response does not disappoint.
Most notably, the family dynamic is so unique and so strong because we get a sincere and not as stereotypically gendered rendition of three men and a baby: four clones and a teenager. If I had to pinpoint the emotional through-line for this episode, it would be Omega’s guilt that she’s too much of a burden on her family. She overhears Echo tell Hunter that they’re in this tough situation because of Omega, and this idea that it’s her fault motivates her behavior the entire mission. When Echo finally confronts Omega about why she seems so desperate to still complete the mission, to go after Dooku’s treasure even when it is beyond unsafe, she confesses to overhearing his comment and says that she just wanted to help them achieve the better, less complicated life they might have had without her. This was sweet, sad, and a realistic portrayal of a child trying to take the weight of the world on her shoulders to be helpful.
I very much appreciate the growing complexity of Omega as a character, as she, on the one hand, is still very child-like and innocent, but, on the other hand, is growing up much faster because she’s a part of the Batch. I generally liked Romar, the old man they meet on Serrano, but I think the reminder he provides Omega when he gifts her the kaleidoscope-like toy is very valuable. We realize how much she hasn’t been allowed (by circumstance) to just be a kid. And she realizes that there’s more to life than the squad’s next score.
Romar and the discussion of Dooku’s legacy makes these episodes very much plugged into the political milieu at this moment in the Star Wars timeline. The specter of Count Dooku as a major figure in The Clone Wars hangs over the entire episode, as the Batch rifle through all the wealth he accumulated when he was alive.
The distinguishing feature of The Bad Batch as a series situated within the larger Star Wars timeline is that it’s so close to The Clone Wars era — hence the Dooku connection — and yet because of Order 66 and the rise of the Galactic Empire, so much has changed. The Republic’s clone troopers who once fought for the Jedi now fight against them. And as we see here, Dooku, who was once a feared Sith Lord, is now nothing but a series of cargo containers.
Each member of the team shows signs of growth in how they act as well. Echo has more to do and more of a distinct point of view. One of my complaints about Season 1 was that Echo sort of faded into the background and didn’t have anything to distinguish him from the others. Here he clearly has his own agenda — to encourage Hunter to not hide but fight to help others. Tech proves he can take more of a leadership role in these episodes. Hunter seems more chill with Omega and the whole crew taking more risks, as he gives in and lets go more easily. Wrecker is…okay, Wrecker is still pretty much Wrecker. And that seems right, actually.
The prospect of going on so many adventures with these characters makes me downright giddy. As Wrecker would say, “let’s blow something up, YEAH!”
With interest in Star Wars as high as ever, and Andor receiving such great notices from the fandom after a summer of Obi-Wan Kenobi and early 2022’s The Book of Boba Fett, the return of animated show The Bad Batch could easily slip under the radar like the criminally brief limelight that shone on Tales of the Jedi. As animated fare, there’s a tendency to relegate it in Chapek-like fashion to being a kids endeavour; as with the excellent first season of the show, that would be a mistake.
Opening with a double salvo of episodes in Spoils of War and Ruins of War, I couldn’t help but grin, not only at the return of a much-missed friend, but at how the fandom would be doing backflips if this were a live action series. Action, intrigue, heart and lore, The Bad Batch has it all and in these opening episodes we got all of the above and more as we rejoin Clone Force 99 mid-mission, chased down a long beach by huge crab-like creatures as Omega suns herself on the ramp of the Havoc Marauder waiting for their return. It’s classic clone action as they effect an unlikely escape, returning to Ord Mantell and their emploter Cid where they meet an enigmatic new character Phee Genoa who has tipped off Cid about the war chest of the late Count Dooku on Serenno.
They head across to the Hydian Way and up to Serenno where they see the vast Imperial machine loading the immeasurable treasures collected by Dooku and taking it for their own. Thousands of cargo containers, and they only need one, which they almost secure before the heist goes south and the container crashes into the forest. stopping at the lip of a cliff.
Of course, the action is engaging, their solutions inventive and the craft with which the episodes are made both visually and aurally is top drawer, but the things that stand out here beyond their close scrapes with the Empire are the more familial aspects. Omega feels the burden of being the focus of their attentions, overhearing a frustrated Echo as he tells Hunter he believes they should be doing more to fight the Empire while she continues to learn skills (she’s very handy with her bow now) and battle savvy.
The episodes also remind us that while a chunk of time has clearly passed since we last saw the Batch as Tipoca City sank into the waters of Kamino, this is still very much all happening off the back of the conclusion of the Clone Wars. The shadow of Dooku looms over the episode, from his constant namechecking to being in his familiar Serenno stronghold. The Empire may be in control, but we see Phase 3 armour and ‘classic’ Clone Wars tech and vehicles. This is just the beginning of the Empire’s largely unrivalled era from Sith to Rogue One and A New Hope, and while Andor sees the tightening of the noose around the galaxy’s neck, this time period well over a decade before also shows the strangulation of liberty and freedom. It takes time; clearly by the time of Andor the Empire is so well set there’s scant opposition able to oppose what they command, but at this point while the infrastructure is still being pegged down folks like Clone Force 99 can cause plenty of mischief. For our sakes, let’s hope that continues for a good few seasons yet.