‘The Bad Batch’ season two evolves its formula

By Janie Walenda

It’s hard to be an episodic television show nowadays. As binge watching is the norm and audiences are obsessed with connected storytelling, shows with weekly, formulaic episodes get lost in the crowd.

“The Bad Batch” is a prime example of this phenomenon. It’s a good show with strong reviews, but it rarely dominates social media the same way shows like “The Mandalorian” have. Fans want stronger central storylines, and when an episode doesn’t contribute to a main storyline, it’s dismissed as filler.

But I appreciate this style of storytelling, and I think it’s the right style for this show. Firstly, it places it in the same category as previous animated Star Wars shows, “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.” While both of these shows have strong storylines, they also have plenty of fluff episodes. Additionally, this style of storytelling is phenomenal for building relationships with the characters. I am far more attached to the characters in this show than I am to any of the characters in “Book of Boba Fett” or “Kenobi,” with the exception of the titular characters.

And finally, this is a classic format for children’s television. Of course, “The Bad Batch” appeals to people who grew up with “The Clone Wars” or “Rebels,” and to Star Wars fans in general. However, I don’t just consider “The Bad Batch” as a continuation of those stories in the Star Wars timeline but as a new show for a new generation of Star Wars fans to grow up with.

In many ways, season two is an improvement over the first. Omega is a lot more enjoyable of a character now that she’s not constantly trying to prove herself. She’s more competent this season, while still retaining the heart and the stubbornness that got her in trouble in season one.

The titular Bad Batch is also growing. While Hunter and Wrecker haven’t had much to do so far, the rest of the group have interesting storylines in the beginning of the season. Tech in particular is given attention in the first five episodes, with his connection to Romar in episode two and subsequent change in perspective, and episode four’s demonstration of his abilities during the riot racing.

Echo is also beginning to display a desire to join the Rebellion, which I’m sure will develop over the course of the season.

Cody and Crosshair make for a deadly team

The real highlight of season two, so far, is episode three “The Solitary Clone.” This episode focuses on Crosshair, who is still split from the rest of the Bad Batch. Crosshair is sent on a mission to rescue an Imperial governor who is being held captive on a former Separatist planet. This episode gives us a thrilling action scene and a strong dramatic plot line.

The real hook of this episode is Crosshair’s commander: Commander Cody, marking his first appearance since “The Clone Wars.” Cody is one of the few familiar clones who is working with the Empire, and his storyline is handled extremely well. His future is uncertain, and hopefully we’ll get closure later in the season.

The other highlight of the season for me so far is a small moment at the end of episode two. Vice Admiral Rampart, arriving on Serenno’s after the Bad Batch’s misadventure, wishes to keep the Bad Batch off the report when they survived the events on Kamino at the end of season one, and it could jeopardize his position. Captain Wilco, a clone turned stormtrooper overseeing the transport of the war chest that the Bad Batch attempts to steal and refuses to falsify the report, resulting in Rampart shooting him.

This moment, while small, is extremely telling of the Empire’s values and why they switch from clones to stormtroopers. The clones are programmed to follow orders, and oftentimes won’t bend to the corruption that thrives in the Empire.

This moment with Wilco, along with Cody’s storyline, continues a theme from the previous season and even from “The Clone Wars.” It’s not just the Bad Batch who rejects the Empire, it’s some of the regular clones too. Rex is the primary example, along with Howzer and Gregor from season one.

It’s a wonderful direction to take the story, after the bleakness of the finale of “The Clone Wars.” Fans care about the clones, and it’s great to see that love rewarded, even in a story that is increasingly hostile towards the clones.

Overall, I think “The Bad Batch” season two is off to a strong start. It may not be the most attention-grabbing show out there, but it’s still one of the highlights of my week to sit down to on Wednesday nights. Whether or not it follows season one’s path or elevates it, I still expect to tune in every week.

“The Bad Batch” season two is currently releasing a new episode every Wednesday on Disney+

Janie Walenda is a sophomore Global Business major and the A&E editor for Cedars. She is passionate about musicals, animation and cold brew.

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm Animation

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