'Star Wars: The Bad Batch' Tackles One Of The Greatest 'Clone Wars' Threats With "Battle Scars"

This article contains spoilers for the Star Wars: The Bad Batch episode "Battle Scars." 

Since we last saw them, the Bad Batch (Dee Bradley Baker) and Omega (Michelle Ang) have been miserably pulling jobs for Cid (Rhea Perlman). Since they (deliberately) botched their assignment on Corellia, they aren't on her good side and she deducts creds on their expenses, one that hilariously includes Wrecker's and Omega's routine purchase of the popcorn-ish Mantell Mix. Their snack-buying after a mission has become, in Wrecker's words, a "tradition" to keep him and Omega happy. But their cute bonding time won't hinder the dangerous voice stashed in Wrecker's brain, owing to the brain chip assigned in every Republic clone.

Directed by Saul Ruiz and written by Jennifer Corbett, "Battle Scars" reunites the Batchers with good old Rex (Dee Bradley Baker), whom the Martezes' sisters notified of the Batch's presence. The first-generation clone soldier is serving the developing rebellion now, working to protect the remnants of the Republic he was loyal to. Burdened by the memory of burying his brothers in the Clone Wars finale, Rex becomes guarded once he discovers that the Bad Batchers haven't removed their brain chips, a psychological hazard that has been accumulating due to Wrecker's head injury. Rex was a prisoner to his chip's command until Ahsoka Tano, his Jedi comrade the chip ordered him to execute, had it removed. So he escorts the Bad Batchers to a scrapped Republic ship unit on a Bracca scrap heap since the ship model contains a med bay that can remove their chips.

But when a distressed Wrecker is brought to the medical table after a skirmish with a sea creature, hell breaks loose. A triggering conversation about the incident on Kaller  —when Hunter manages to let padawan Caleb Dume escape after the execution of a Jedi general — jumpstarts Wrecker's chip. Soon, on the chip's Order 66 command, Wrecker aims his burly fists at his own brothers and young Omega.

The horror atmosphere under Ruiz's shading and flickering lighting choices feel palpable – watching a transformed Wrecker throttle his own brothers and storm after a terrified Omega is suitably unsettling. This situation has no "talk your loved one down" solution. In spite of their bonding across seven episodes, Omega's words of consoling and friendship cannot move Wrecker back into lucidity. In the end, her distraction allows them to stun Wrecker to have him loaded onto the med bay for surgery. With the aid of Tech's handmade scanner, the surgical procedure works on the rest of the Bad Batchers, clearing their brain of the possibility of betraying each other and Omega.

But by the time "Battle Scars" seems to immunize the main characters from worse-case scenarios, you're asking, "Is this really it?" This (unless a cruel twist is yet to be pulled) puts to rest the tension with the Bad Batcher's brain chips and the possibility of betraying Omega and themselves. For all the grime and scuffling to successfully save Wrecker, the traumatic event is too intense to have one-episode resolution. If this is unambiguously the conclusion of the ticking time bomb, the series is playing it safe.

At least, a strength of "Battle Scars" is that it keys into the charms of relationships built from the premiere. Even if the event was faulted to Wrecker's chip and he's freed of it, he's shaken that his body and mind have harmed Omega. He apologizes to her despite Omega knowing he has done his best to control his chip, a sweet moment that is punctuated by her sharing their favorite snack together to restore order. One way The Bad Batch has enhanced its animation over other Star Wars shows is personal moments like this. The show lets the camera fixate on intimate quirks or day-in-the-life non-combat actions, minuscule moments like Omega figuring an oxygen mask, accessorizing a clone doll in her image, grabbing a snack with Wrecker, and the Batch tallying up their battle scores. They let us invest in their journey. These are lessons well-rehearsed from the sunnier Star Wars Resistance, which shared the involvement of the Bad Batch creators Dave Filoni and Jennifer Corbett as writers.

The Batch aren't free of other conflicts just yet, signified by the Scavenger Guild flagging their presence to the Empire. For now, Hunter isn't too keen on joining Rex's cause to save the old Republic. To Hunter, the Republic is gone. Hunter's reasons are so oblique that the episode script would have benefited if contemplation was littered throughout their reunion with Rex, and the other Batchers aren't given the necessary space to share their own opinions about the lost Republic. For now, Hunter wants time to think about their pathways in a galaxy that hasn't given them answers.

Other Thoughts

  • Mantell Mix already exists at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, just in case you want to try some.
  • Interesting...so why did the Kaminoan scientists not equip Omega's brain with a biochip as well?
  • There was a point where Rex temporarily left the rebellion cause with other clone brothers, as seen in Star Wars: Rebels.