The Family We Choose – Review of “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” Episode Three “Replacements”

When I reviewed the 2nd episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, the concept of Family was the main focus. This week’s episode, entitled “Replacements”, fits that dynamic even more. We see Omega growing more assertive and becoming part of the Batch. And after not being focused on for an episode, we get to see more of what is happening with Crosshair, the Batch member who has now become part of the Galactic Empire.

Spoilers ahead. If you haven’t watched the episode, stop reading.

We pick up not long after the ending of Episode Two, with the Batch and their badly damaged shuttle flying through space. I enjoy the scenes where the Batch interact with each other because each of them have distinct enough personalities to make these moments shine. Tech and Echo in particular are a great odd couple and serve as good foils for each other. Both of them are more technically-inclined than Hunter or Wrecker but they approach it from completely different points of view. And Tech’s nonchalance about the ship’s systems failing was a wonderful gag, particularly since the only critical systems he was concerned with were life support.

The ship crashing and the one component needed by the group to survive being stolen is a well-worn trope in storytelling. The key here is that it allowed Hunter and Omega time to bond together, giving the young clone a chance to really insert herself as part of the squad. None of the Batch really know what they’re doing with a kid like Omega but they’re trying, particularly Wrecker, who has taken on a doting Uncle/niece relationship with Omega. Omega being the one to retrieve the power-cell they need (without killing the beast that stole it, mind you) was a nice bit of character development. Omega is also being used to seed the idea that Crosshair might be saved from the conditioning that was used to warp his mind into subservience to the Empire. Whether that actually plays out in the story is a different matter altogether.

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Speaking of Crosshair, his story is the most intriguing part of the series so far because it gives us a glimpse of how the Empire is forming into what we see by the time A New Hope and Rogue One roll around. The brainwashing of Crosshair is insidious, particularly given how independent the character was during his initial appearance in The Clone Wars. Tasked with leading a group of Elite recruits to test if conscription can produce soldiers of the same caliber as the Clones, we get to see Crosshair in Hunter’s old role, but with far more brutal efficiency. ES-01, a member of the Elite Squad put together by Rampart, is a punch-clock style of villain: he’s a part of this because the Empire is taking care of him. For a bit during the episode, I was thinking ES-01 would betray Crosshair but in fact, it is ES-01 that refuses to murder unarmed civilians (showing the same moral fortitude the Batch showed during Episode One). And for that, he’s unceremoniously killed by Crosshair as a lesson to the other members of the Elite Squad, who proceed to murder the civilians that were assisting Saw Guerrera’s rebellion.

The tragedy of “Replacements” is that Crosshair has been given replacements for his former squadmates but they aren’t the same. They follow out of fear rather than loyalty. Contrast that with the ending of the episode, where Wrecker (who I think was faking his injuries in the crash) took the time to build a room for Omega in the rear cockpit of the shuttle. Seeing Omega smile in joy at the prospect of having her own space and becoming part of the Batch was heart-warming, which Filoni excels at creating. The Batch are slowly but surely becoming a Family of choice, which is something Crosshair no longer has. The oppression of the Empire is the most destructive part of Palpatine’s ideology: subverting the free will and decency of others in the name of conformity and safety. And much like in the real world, such suppression of our decency as human beings must be fought.

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