Episode 2 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch is an undeniably solid continuation of the promising first outing of the show. Many feared that The Bad Batch would struggle to justify its existence, a spin-off from a four-episode arc that was met with a temperate reaction from the Star Wars fandom. The series premiere, however, was a clear continuation of themes and ideas explored throughout The Clone Wars, and episode 2 continues this trend.
This episode features the return of one of the most fascinating characters from The Clone Wars, Cut Lawquane, a Republic clone deserter who makes a life for himself away from the war with his family. The character’s original introduction in ‘The Deserter’ was a fantastic story that was one of the early gems in which the series developed a stronger sense of originality. It showed that clones were able to live fulfilling lives outside of an unwavering commitment to the Republic, thus making him the perfect character to interact with the Bad Batch as they continue to search for a place in the Galaxy without missions to carry out.
Central to this idea is their commitment to Omega, the defective clone who they helped escape Kamino. After a rough start in episode 1, Omega is slowly becoming integral to the emotional core of the show, most notably her relationship with Hunter. Their bond is reminiscent of that between Din Djarin and Grogu in The Mandalorian, and thus serves a similarly engaging purpose at the heart of The Bad Batch. Little moments make her relationship with the main four clones feel totally natural and expands their characters beyond the stereotypical archetypes fans were first introduced to.
The prime recipient of episode 2’s improvement of character is Wrecker. He has by far been the most stereotypical of the titular Bad Batch, with his characterization seemingly being “what if Zeb from Rebels was stronger but dumber?” Though early on in episode 2, his loving relationship with Cut’s kids demonstrates another dimension to his personality shown only previously in glimpses. This is further reiterated with his treatment of Omega, demonstrating far more compassion than the rest of the squad. Some, including myself, have been worried about Wrecker developing into a real issue with the show. Thankfully, this episode seems to have redirected his path, sending him a far more interesting, and honestly less annoying direction than initially feared.
Although one real issue with The Bad Batch so far, further reinforced in episode 2, is the totally sparing use of Echo. It was understandable in the premiere; while the Bad Batch were featured as side characters in one arc of The Clone Wars, Echo was arguably one of the stars of several, featuring in 10 different episodes across the show. He didn’t require the same degree of development in the premiere as the other members of the squad. But it would be unforgivable if they continue to sideline his notable addition throughout this first season.
As a “reg”, his role is one that is different from the rest. But most importantly, he is someone the audience knows must have severe PTSD, not just from his time as a member of the 501st, but in the experimentation done on him by the Confederacy. His story is reminiscent of Marvel’s The Winter Soldier – brainwashed and used to hurt those he considered on his side for years, finally free but unable to escape the trauma of this period. As such, his development should be an integral part of the show and explored heavily. Obviously the series will at some point address this, but early signs indicate this being a tertiary storyline as opposed to the main place it deserves at the center of the narrative. Echo is their most interesting character at present, and it would be shocking to find out he had less than 10 lines per episode.
Still, this is a predominantly positive continuation of The Bad Batch. The show’s linear narrative gives it a far more coherent sense of progression than The Clone Wars, and as such sets up a fascinating direction for the characters here on out. Key players like Tech and Echo may be being disappointingly left on the sidelines for now, but Hunter, Omega, and Wrecker are all great here. While there is definite room to improve, and the 30 minute run time is felt in comparison with the premiere’s staggering 70 minutes, the series is absolutely heading in the right direction. The core relationship is sweet and engaging, the banter between characters is strong, and it is exploring aspects of Star Wars that have been longing to be properly engaged with for a long time. The future is bright for Star Wars, and The Bad Batch is heading this front and center at the moment.