The latest episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch has dropped and it is a doozy of an episode. The return of a fan favorite character of Star Wars: The Clone Wars prompts the Batch to question their motives and deal with the lingering remnants of their time as Clones in the Grand Army of the Republic. And we get to see what could have gone wrong if the inhibitor chips implanted in the Batch caused them to move further away from the loveable rogues that they’ve become.
Spoilers ahead, obviously, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the episode.
First, I loved that Captain Rex returned from The Clone Wars. My first introduction to Rex was in Rebels, set twenty years from the end of The Clone Wars series. Older, grizzled, but still a certified badass, Rex quickly became one of my favorite characters on the series. After going back and watching The Clone Wars, my adoration for the character grew, particularly with how the series ended. In “Battle Scars”, we find out that the mysterious figure Trace and Rafa contacted at the end of the previous episode was none other than Rex, who is working with the nascent Rebellion. He seeks out the Bad Batch, only to discover that the four remaining members of Clone Force 99 still have their inhibitor chips installed, which makes Rex show a great deal of fear.
Rex’s reaction to the revelation the Batch still have their inhibitors is to reach for his sidearm, which is understandable. This episode takes place perhaps a few weeks or months after the ending of The Clone Wars. Spoilers for anyone who hasn’t watched the final season (and if you haven’t, you need to), but Rex had his inhibitor chip removed by Ashoka Tano during the events of the final story arc but not before he lost control of himself to the chip and nearly killed Ashoka. Having seen what happened to his brothers on the command ship in that story, it’s no surprise that he immediately moves to defend himself from the Batch should they become violent.
This proves more than a little prescient when the Batch make their way to Bracca (a ship graveyard famous for being the beginning stages of the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order). A decommissioned Venator-class starship lays in ruins there, one with a surgical medbay the Batch can use to remove their chip. Getting to the ship is a fun little adventure, particularly when Wrecker ends up almost being eaten by some kind of tentacled monstrosity in the waters the ships are laying around in. It wouldn’t be a Star Wars show if there wasn’t some kind of tentacled, chthonic horror waiting to eat the heroes at some point in the story, but I digress.
The real meat of the episode lies with Wrecker, who despite being loud and a bit dim is still the most lovable of the Batch. That is until the chip that’s been causing his headaches for the past few episodes finally activates. Then we see why Wrecker can be absolutely terrifying: a fully-trained, battle-hardened Clone trooper with strength augmentations that make him easily stronger than all of the Batch members combined. Wrecker’s fall into the madness of the pre-programmed inhibitor chip’s instructions is scary to watch, particularly as he goes after Omega, someone he has spent the last few episodes bonding closely with. While Hunter has become a surrogate father to Omega, Wrecker is the one who has gone out of his way to make Omega feel the most welcome, including indulging in a ritual snack after every mission that’s as much fun for him as it is for Omega. You can see the terror in Omega’s face as she realizes Wrecker is about to kill her before he is stunned into unconsciousness.
My favorite moment, though, was after Wrecker’s chip is removed and he’s unconscious on the table. Omega refuses to leave his side, fully understanding that her friend’s actions were not his own but the result of the Empire’s programming. When Wrecker finally comes out of it, his first instinct is to apologize to Omega, who forgives Wrecker with ease. Wrecker reveals that he was fully aware of what he was doing but couldn’t stop himself. That single revelation is pure nightmare fuel to me: your body and mind dominated by something you can’t control and it makes you hurt the ones closest to you.
With the inhibitor chips removed, the Batch are a step further along in their journey away from being just simple clones. And the door is left open for them to eventually work with the growing Rebellion against the Empire but they’re not quite ready for that yet. Rex and Hunter leave on good terms, both promising to help the other when the need arises. How Rex goes from this point of fighting to restore the Republic to living on an abandoned Republic Walker tank with two other clones is still a mystery but at some point in the intervening years, he steps away from the Rebellion to live as a hermit (as many tend to do in the Star Wars universe). The ending also lays out a potential confrontation with the Empire as the Clones are spotted by members of the Scrappers’ Guild, the group who owns Bracca. I realized in last week’s review I mentioned the series was halfway done and I was wrong about that. The first season is going to be sixteen episodes in length rather than twelve. Next week’s episode will mark the halfway point of the first season, so I’m expecting some serious repercussions to make their way into the lives of Hunter and the rest of the Batch.
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