Star Wars: The Bad Batch Returns With A New Heist Behind Enemy Lines

Spoilers follow for "The Bad Batch" season 2 premiere – "Spoils of War" and "Ruins of War."

The boys of Clone Force 99 (Dee Bradley Baker), "The Bad Batch" return for their second season on Disney+ today.

For those hazy on the Bad Batch, they're a group of genetically modified clones who served as a special forces team during the Clone Wars. Order 66 didn't hit them like the rest of the clone troopers and they ended up back on Kamino, confused and forced to test their loyalty. Eventually, they escaped the clutches of the Empire and took Omega, a Jango clone unlike any other, with them.

Season 1 culminated in the orbital bombardment of their home planet of Kamino and further pushed them into the shadows. As season 2 opens, some time has passed since the destruction of Kamino that capped off the last episode of the previous season. The clones are still avoiding the Empire, protecting their young charge Omega (Michelle Ang), and working for the Trandoshan ne'er-do-well Cid (Rhea Perlman). Their former squadmate, Crosshair, is still on the hunt for them. Wanda Sykes makes her "Star Wars" debut as a rogue archeologist/sort-of-pirate named Phee Genoa. Phee has tipped Cid off about the sacking of Count Dooku's home planet of Serenno. Dooku's war chest is up for grabs and they need to make a play for it.

What would they do with the money, though? There's a division amongst the team. Hunter would use it for them to hide. Echo would use it to fund a fight against the Empire. On Serenno, the crew finds a heavy Imperial presence. They split up to get ahold of one of Dooku's war chests, but end up in over their heads and outnumbered.

Half of the group ends up on the run from their fellow clones, the other half ends up stranded in the woods with a native of Serenno, as they try to get enough of the war chest to make it worth their while and escape with their skins intact.

Brother against brother

One of the most fascinating things about this show is how the clones of the Bad Batch struggle with the violence in their nature and how to apply that to their brothers, the clones still loyal to the Empire who hunt them down. It's telling in these episodes that, even after all this time, they still refuse to use purposely lethal means to take down their kin. They're constantly using stun blasts, while the Empire's clones still shoot to kill. It's not something they speak of or draw attention to — for these clones, it's just a matter of course.

But there is division inside the Bad Batch itself as well, which is a struggle worth watching. At the moment, Hunter is reticent to put anyone in danger and wants to lay low. But Echo is convinced that the Bad Batch could be used to help people who need it, and free them from the oppression of the Empire. There's no definitive answer to this argument, but the theme being explored is important. What happens when we stay on the sidelines and watch as tyranny unfolds? Is it better to stay away and scrape out a living? Or scrape that same living in the defense of something.

This point of tension is going to be something key to watch as this season of "The Bad Batch" unfolds. This key idea really mirrors some of the themes in "Andor" and "The Last Jedi." It's that idea that neutrality aids the oppressor and in a world with sufficient tyranny, ignoring the tyranny is the same as supporting it.

Omega growing up

As the season opens, Omega has begun to grow up, showing that she's learned so much from her brothers in the Bad Batch, taking on more of their traits. From the very get-go, she's also showing her own personality shining through. She's at once a kid, but also growing up. It would be easy to imagine Omega following the same trajectory as Ahsoka, with some fans questioning the need for her existence at first, but, as they watch her grow up, she becomes a vital part of the "Star Wars" mythos, beloved by all.

One of the most interesting things about Omega in these two episodes is the guilt she feels about the life she's forced her brothers to lead. Her getting into further trouble to get the bounty from the war chest in a bid to make up for the fact that she's such a burden is such a tender, endearing thing to do, and just like a kid. She bears so much responsibility and it's heartbreaking because a child shouldn't have to worry about that sort of thing, but they always do. It's telling that she's unable to recognize a toy in the hideout because that's just so divorced from her experience: she was bred for war, not for playing.

Details to watch out for

This episode had some really excellent deep cuts to watch out for. One of my favorites is the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" opening. Here, we see most of the Bad Batch running from giant creatures after a heist toward a ship for a getaway, and the episode casts Omega and Tech as Jock Lindsey, waiting in the airplane to get away.

As they head out to Serenno, it's a planet we've seen before as the home planet of Count Dooku. The Bad Batch find themselves at one point in Dooku's throne room, where Asajj Ventress and her Nightsisters once tried to assassinate the Separatist leader.

In the first episode, Omega, Echo, and Tech find themselves aboard a Class Four Container Transport. We've seen these ships before. First, on "Star Wars Rebels", when Chopper hijacked one and found the amusing and hilarious analyst droid AP-5. The Bad Batch also found themselves attached to one in the first season as they infiltrated Corellia.

The other big thing to watch out for is the cameo in these episodes. Playing Romar Adell is Hector Elizondo. He's the one who shows Omega that toy and is saddened by the fact that she doesn't recognize what it is because she's a child. The war has taken its toll on everyone and the legendary 86-year-old character actor brings that gravitas to the part. I love that he wants the knowledge from his planet that Dooku erased and suppressed: their art, music, and culture. To me, his cameo seems as though they're sowing the seeds of rebellion, even on the planet that brought us Count Dooku.

Politics in Star Wars

One of my favorite things about watching season premieres of new Lucasfilm Animation shows is to see how much better they are at rendering beautiful images and lighting and these two episodes were no different. The quality of the animation here is nothing short of stunning. On a technical level, these episodes are terrific. And Kevin Kiner's music feels so much like "Star Wars" now that I can't imagine the galaxy without it.

As for the content, these episodes gave us a lot to chew on. This new season of "The Bad Batch" offers us a continuing view of the transition from Republic to Empire, as well as more reasons to lament the rise of the Empire. This episode also gives us a view of how the Empire treated Separatist planets, folding them into their control through force of conquest. The Empire is unspeakably bad, but one of the things that I love about their portrayal on this show is how tied to the history of evil Empires they are. In the coda for this episode, Admiral Rampart murders a clone to cover up his genocide on Kamino and his failure to kill Clone Force 99, despite reports saying he had. This clone refused to falsify his reports and for that, he's marked for death. 

A supposed kids' show bringing that anti-fascist sentiment to tv screens can only be a good thing, making this a thematic counterpart to "Andor." If there's one thing we need more of in our world, it's political anti-fascist art and I'm glad "The Bad Batch" is taking up that charge.

New episodes of "The Bad Batch" air on Wednesdays on Disney+.