Letting Go of the Past – Review of “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” Episode Ten “Common Ground”

The most common thread that most stories concerning war forget to remember is what happens after the war is done. In Star Wars, we haven’t really seen up to this point what happens in the immediate aftermath of The Clone Wars, specifically with the star systems that were once part of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, aka the Separatists. While we know that the war was a smokescreen by Palpatine and Dooku to winnow down the numbers of the Jedi and lead the Republic into accepting the autocratic rule of the Sith, the majority of the systems in the Confederacy were not villains, a point often shown in The Clone Wars. The latest episode of The Bad Batch brings us as viewers into what things were like for the former Separatist systems as they are brought into the fold of the nascent Galactic Empire.

Spoilers ahead, obviously, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the episode.

The episode starts on the planet of Raxus, the former capitol world of the Separatist faction. The Empire is out in force, led by a severe woman named Captain Bragg. Senator Avi Singh, voiced by the incomparable Alexander Siddig, is shown right from the start to have second thoughts about going along with the Empire’s occupation of his world. When the chance comes for him to speak to his citizens and back the Empire, he hesitantly revolts before becoming stronger in his convictions. The Empire is, in point of fact, what the Confederacy was worried the Republic was becoming. The fears of many Confederacy systems have been realized in the most horrifying way possible: watching their citizens be bullied and intimidated by clone troopers in battle tanks. I have to hand it to Siddig’s voice work, which I haven’t seen much of. I’m more familiar with his live-action acting work, which is stellar in most everything I’ve seen him in. Voice acting is an entirely different field from live-action, requiring the actor to convey as much emotion as possible in their voice. I’d say Siddig did an excellent job in that regard.

Singh’s arrest kicks off the main plot of the episode. The Senator’s droid reaches out to Cid, the Trandoshan shadow broker employing the Batch, who sends Clone Force 99 on their way to free Singh from Imperial custody. With the heat on Omega from two different bounty hunters, Hunter decides to leave Omega in Cid’s care. I cannot say enough good things about the voice acting done by Rhea Perlman. She manages to bring so much vibrancy and underlying menace to Cid. The scenes between her and Omega were enjoyable distractions from the main plot of the episode. Cid’s tough love approach can be harsh, but at the same time, extremely necessary. She brings an outsider’s perspective that Omega needs and, in the process, finds Omega’s hidden talent for strategy, something that should definitely come in handy in the future.

The bulk of the episode is a roaring adventure to free Singh from the Empire. Of all the troopers in the Batch, Echo is the most vocal against helping out a former Separatist leader. Given the torture and mutilation he experienced at the hands of the Confederacy (which resulted in him becoming the cybernetic person he is at present), it’s understandable. The Separatists were the enemy to the clones not too long ago. Over the course of the episode, however, we see that Singh’s first priority is the welfare of his citizens, an admirable trait that anyone can see he means deeply. The fights in the episode were well-done, filled with tension from start to finish and pulled me in each step of the way. Everything working smoothly before it all comes crashing down is always the best way to tell this kind of story. Filoni and company handled the story beats with practiced expertise. The ending of the episode was also well-handled. Returning with the Senator and his droid, Hunter and the rest find a busy pub, with Omega as the star of a Dejarik tournament (that the young clone is winning easily). Thanks to Omega’s aptitude for Dejarik, she’s wiped out the debt the Batch owed Cid, freeing them from being indentured to her. While Hunter’s concern for Omega’s safety is warranted, he is still learning how to be a proper parent to the young clone. Watching the two of them sit down to play a game, with the stakes being that if Omega wins, she won’t get left behind in the future, was poignant and touching. I have little doubt that Omega trounced Hunter in that game.

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Overall, this was a good breather episode from the last two weeks, which ratcheted the tension of the story up several notches. Only six episodes left in the first season and I’m already starting to dread the ending of it. Not because I feel it won’t match up with the quality of the previous episodes but because I’m enjoying my time in this universe and the story they’re telling through The Bad Batch. But all good things must come to an end. We’ve still got some time with the show, though, and I plan to enjoy it as much as possible.

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