Hey! Hallie here!
Before I talk about this at all, I want to acknowledge the huge misstep taken by the Star Wars social media accounts yesterday. As a response to the finale of ‘The Bad Batch’, they interviewed Omega’s voice actor, Michelle Ang, to talk about the shocking events that occurred during the final episode. Except the quote they used to advertise this interview was a major spoiler, and they did not give a spoiler warning before it. So SPOILER WARNING for this post, and if you see a social media post about the Michelle Ang interview from any official Star Wars accounts and have not caught up on this season of ‘The Bad Batch’, do yourself a favor and scroll quickly past it. Going back to this review, I really enjoyed this season. It showcased much better storylines than what we saw in the first season of the show, and it showed that the writers were actually committing to giving full character arcs to the characters, even if only a couple of them got them this season. But I also think the finale made some major missteps. To the point that, once again, I’m not completely sure I’ll be watching season three. I might give it a chance, but unless we get some major reveals towards the beginning of next season, I’m not sure how they can salvage my interest in the show. Yep. That bad. So, once again, do not read any further unless you’re completely caught up or just don’t care about spoilers. Let’s get into this!
Characters: In my most recent post about ‘The Bad Batch’ I spent a lot of time complimenting this season’s character work. The issue is, that character work is shaky amongst the main cast. Character development was not done at all for Hunter and Wrecker this season. They haven’t really gotten anything aside from the basic characteristics we learned about way back during their introduction in ‘The Clone Wars’. Hunter has changed slightly, taking up a fatherly position for Omega, but I’d argue most of that was established early in season one and hasn’t developed since then. Then we have Echo and Omega, who tend to get more than their peers but honestly didn’t experience that much change this season. Echo left the Batch, but his decision to do so happened mostly off screen. And Omega has shown that she’s grown up, but her rapid change in season one slowed down considerably for season two. Then we have the two stars of the season. Crosshair wasn’t present for the majority of the episodes, as is now common for his character, but the episodes he did get were deep and heavy. He got to meet new clones, see first hand how the Empire was treating them now that they’re trying to replace them, and slowly lost his faith in the Empire altogether. These episodes were extremely effective, but three episodes out of sixteen can’t really carry an entire season. Which means we’re left with one character whose development carried the majority of the season’s episodes. That would be Tech. And if you watched the season finale you know where I’m going with this.
Tech: Even Omega’s voice actor said that Tech became Omega’s most prominent link this season. He took up a teaching role, quizzing Omega on her knowledge of ships and instructing her on how to fly the Marauder. His connection with Omega went beyond just that, though. The two proved themselves to be opposites in most episodes, Omega taking up an emotional stance that could endanger the party while Tech took up a logical stance that could come across as callous to his peers. Through that connection Omega began to teach Tech in return, this time about how to take other people’s emotions into consideration even when he didn’t quite understand them. From there we got excellently written scenes where Tech explained how the way he processes emotions works differently for him, all but confirming Dee Bradley Baker’s claim that he’s on the autism spectrum, as well as scenes where Tech put what he learned to practice and became a better source of support for the Batch. We even got the beginnings of a love story between him and the pirate Phee. His presence this season was so beloved by fans, that some fans were even suggesting he take over the position of leader from Hunter. And then the season finale came around and he enacted “Plan 99”. For those who don’t know what that’s referencing, 99 was a clone who was claimed too defective for duty during the Clone War. He was made to be a janitor, but when Separatist forces invaded Kamino, he took up arms and ultimately sacrificed himself for his brothers. ‘The Bad Batch’ is named Clone Force 99 in his honor, so there’s no mistaking what Tech was referencing when he was dangling precariously off of that rail car. He fully intended to sacrifice himself for his brothers, and apparently, he did.
Except, what do we have left when the only character who got development (and the only Star Wars character who represents the neurodivergent community) is instantaneously pulled away from the show? His death wasn’t bad. His sacrifice made sense for his character. But if our only developed character dies, what do we have left for next season? Is the only reason why he got character development to set up his death at the end of the season? If so, are we to expect that we won’t get full character development for any character unless they’re set to die immediately afterwards? No matter how they wrote Tech’s death, it just isn’t good writing to take away your strongest character while he’s the only character who can be considered strong. That doesn’t make fans want to tune in for next season. Because instead of connecting the fans to a full cast of characters, you connected them to one character and then you took him out of the show. So many fans are upset about this death, and many more are sure Tech isn’t dead. I mean, it would make sense. Falling deaths where we don’t see a body rarely hold any weight in anything let alone Star Wars. And our main villain throwing his broken goggles at Hunter’s feet as proof of his death seems a bit vague. Hemlock could just as easily be keeping him captive, after all his major goal is experimenting on clones, but Tech also fell with a bunch of his equipment and could have slowed his fall any number of ways. But bringing a character back from the dead does tend to lower the stakes. There’s a lot to consider, but I genuinely don’t think this series is at a stable enough place for any character to die, and I don’t think it’s right to take out representation for such an underrepresented community. As much as I did love this season, I think it would be a miraculously bad idea to go on without Tech.
Storylines: The majority of this post has been me going back and forth on why the character writing for the season has been both excellent and lackluster depending on the situation, so I think it’s time to talk about the way the storylines played a part in my love of the season. First off, the clone defection storylines were powerful here. If the first season was made to set up what the lives of clones are like after the Empire takes over, the second season shows how difficult it is for clones to leave the Imperial machine. Crosshair’s episodes dealt with this idea best. His first episode paired him off with Commander Cody, where we see him experiencing the first of the major amount of mistreatment and disregard he gets from the Empire after he recovers from his injuries on Kamino. He’s almost pushed off on Cody, who only got Crosshair an important job by directly requesting him. During said job, Crosshair follows Imperial directions to perfection, even murdering a woman in cold blood, and suddenly sees it all through someone else’s eyes. He sees Cody, who believes what the Empire is doing is right, decide that the Empire is wrong just by watching the way Crosshair reflects their ideals. From there his storyline comes around to Mayday, a clone who’s been ordered out to the middle of nowhere where he’s lost most of his squad. At this point the Empire’s already on thin ice with Crosshair and seeing Mayday’s position doesn’t help. What helps even less is when Crosshair and Mayday are sent out on a suicide run for mysterious equipment, which turns out to be Storm Trooper armor. The armor of their replacements. During the mission Mayday is badly injured but Crosshair manages to save his life. Only for the Imperial officer on duty to deny him care and let him die, resulting in Crosshair shooting the officer and officially defecting. Finally!
This is how we meet Hemlock, our new villain for ‘The Bad Batch’ series. Hemlock is a “doctor” hired by the Empire who specializes in clone experimentation. He’s the one who immediately captures Crosshair after he defects. In fact, he gets any clone the Empire deems suspicious or unworthy to work. This is an especially cool reveal because, earlier in the season, we see that any clone who becomes suspicious of what the Empire is doing to clones who leave either disappear or are immediately killed. Figuring out what happens to them and trying to prevent clones from dying premature deaths is exactly the mission Echo joins Rex on partway through the season. But it isn’t until Crosshair experiences it all firsthand that we actually learn what’s happening. I also loved that his right-hand nurse, who has a suspiciously familiar accent, gets a reveal of her own in the finale. When Omega is captured by Hemlock she almost immediately finds out that this nurse is another clone. I’m so excited that there’s more than one female clone! Don’t get me wrong, I love the clones, but anything involving clones immediately means we’re getting a significantly smaller amount of female characters. I’m glad this show is challenging that. Aside from this excellently unfolded arc we got Cid finally showing her true colors, which was not surprising but still satisfying because I never liked her. We got some fun Wookie lore. We got the return of the Zillo Beast and Tech finally uncovering the Empire’s plans to clone it. That episode was especially amazing for Tech’s adorable “fascinating” as he was face to face with it while it was trying to kill him. This season was a fun ride with an excellent overarching plot. But it certainly wasn’t perfect.
This post was a bit long, but I had a lot of thoughts about the season. I loved it. I really did. But I honestly don’t know where they could go from here and I’m worried that they wrote themselves into a corner. Hemlock has potential as a villain, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t take the time to develop the other characters. Potentially writing out their best written character certainly doesn’t bode well for the series. Especially because Echo’s position in the Bad Batch is precarious at the moment. Him going along to help rescue Crosshair was a temporary arrangement. So is he even a main character anymore? Are we losing two main characters instead of just one? And, once again, I don’t think I’ll be able to forgive them if they truly decide that their only neurodivergent character is dead, especially at the peak of his best writing so far. As of now though, I want to believe they’ll keep me hooked. And damn you Filoni, I will not stop believing that Tech is actually alive.
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!