This week, The Bad Batch takes a back seat to the action, however it is a choice that benefits this episode. (Warning: spoilers ahead)
Though not to say that the Batch themselves make the episodes that they are in weaker. It provides a different perspective on the Empire’s rise to power, this time from the former Republic planet, Ryloth.
The opening of this week’s episode provides a great contrast to last week. It begins with the Empire addressing a crowd of people, trying to calm them down after the Clone Wars. Senator Orn Free Taa and Cham Syndulla calm their people that the Empire will bring peace to the war torn planet Ryloth.
This is justified through the idea of continued protection, as the Republic previously aided the planet with troops to push back the Separatists. Where the Senator of Raxus pushed back against Imperial occupation, Taa and Cham accept it. However, the Empire subjugates the planet nonetheless.
The next scene provided me with genuine shock, as the character of a young Hera Syndulla and Chopper from Star Wars Rebels pops up. While I am not a huge fan of the show, it was great to see a young Hera and her interactions with the Empire, laying the groundwork for her future self. Her love of flying was well established in this episode, describing it to Omega as a feeling.
Chopper’s origins are also hinted at in this episode, as a damaged Y-Wing can be seen just in the Syndulla courtyard. This was a great tie in, which helped to improve the connective tissue of Star Wars.
This episode goes on with Cham and his wife touring the new Imperial refinery, questioning the extreme level of security. Rampart explains that is for Ryloth’s protection, and that the Empire are committed to protecting Ryloth’s interests. However it is pointed out that the Empire are only protecting their interests on Ryloth.
Not everyone accepts the Imperial presence. Cham’s second in command, Gobi, expresses his distrust of the Empire and of Ryloth demilitarising. This is further shown when he and Hera go to the nearby moon to smuggle weapons from the Bad Batch onto the planet. However, they are caught by Crosshair (as an aside, I love how his new character model looks), who shoots their engine, forcing them to cash in a canyon where they are arrested.
The gunships and Turbo Tank make an impactful return; a neat use of relics from the Republic. Cham mounts a rescue of his daughter, though is caught, and framed for the attemped assassination of Orn Free Taa. This shows how calculating Rampart is, as he organised the plot against Syndulla.
The episode ends with Hera escaping the convoy, and it is clearly being set up for next week. It was a fantastic sequence, showing the duplicitous nature of the Empire, and resourcefulness of the Twi’leks when taking the clones down.
This episode also introduces us to a new Clone character, Captain Howzer. He still has individualised armour and shows sympathy for the family, showing he isn’t completely subservient to the Empire. However, I did not like his introduction. It feels too late for the clones to introduce another one, there are many clones from the Clone Wars that could have served his role, for example Clone Commander Wolffe.
It’s clear that Howzer’s chip isn’t fully active, and that in future he may help Hera escape. But if that’s the case why not use Wolffe? He shows up in Star Wars Rebels as well, and it would be great to see more of his character after the Clone Wars. If Howzer is set to die, then another clone such as Captain Monnk should have been used, as his fate is unknown.
The eleventh instalment also side-lined its main characters in order to show the fate of the planet Ryloth, however this made the episode better. It shows how the galaxy is developing without their influence, and it allows other characters to shine in the spotlight. It also showed the increased development of the Empire, without the Bad Batch interfering. Next week the Batch are bound to be back, visiting Ryloth to help Hera escape. This will bring them into conflict with Crosshair again, which I cannot wait to see.
Overall though this episode was a strong entry to the series, using pre-established locations and characters effectively to start a new arc.
By Kieran Burt
Feature image: Disney