Bad Batch Cut and Run Review

The last time we saw them in the premiere episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Hunter and the Bad Batch (Dee Bradley Baker), sans Crosshair, had become guardians to the child clone Omega (Michelle Ang), an ingenue to the galaxy. In this second episode, titled “Cut and Run” (directed by Steward Lee and written by Gursiman Sandhu), the trouble with Crosshair on their trail takes a backseat in favor of an introspective glance at the shifting galactic order. The developing Empire is registering civilians. And this puts one clone in special danger since he has long deviated from his Republic service.

Having few allies to fall back on, the Bad Batch fugitives visit Cut Lawquane (Dee Bradley Baker, again), the clone deserter introduced in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 2 episode “The Deserter,” on his planet of Saleucami. As the only Bad Batch-er who hasn’t acquainted himself with Cut, Echo expresses indignation, asking “You would trust a deserter?” despite being a deserter himself. Brain chip or not, a deserter or not, a clone soldier will internalize his protocol.

There’s no better situation to bring back Cut, his Twi’lek wife Suu (thankfully the animators grant her a less sexualized and a farm-appropriate outfit), and Suu’s two hybrid kids (Nika Futterman and Kath Soucie). Cut is a type of pariah like the Bad Batch, so it feels natural that Hunter and the Bad Batch alumni would feel acquainted with Cut, and Cut was the one who showed Rex that there were other states of beings outside being subservient clone soldiers. (Cut is aware of the “behavioral implant” by this time and his mind seems untouched, but why his biochip doesn’t affect him is not acknowledged, perhaps likely because he never received Palpatine’s Order 66 call.)

Cut’s family needs to depart the planet to escape the Empire’s grip. But the Empire is shifting the order of the galaxy faster than their escape plan. A consequential economic shift from Republic currency to Imperial currency and tighter restrictions prevent Cut from purchasing a trip out. They have to strategize around the bureaucracy. Cut and his family require chain codes if they’re going to get past the clone-guarded checkpoints and leave the planet. Hunter also decides that Omega must join the Lawquane family off-planet, since she needs family stability, not soldiers to supervise her, although he can’t communicate that with her.

Whereas “kids causing trouble” tropes are tiresome and often a contrived trigger for action, there’s a guardianship moral here at its core, one that’s an interesting evolution of the trope in “The Deserter.” In an innocent attempt to retrieve a toy, Omega breaches a safety wire on the farm and a wild creature nearly mauls her – her Kamino solitude has not taught her to read the room. It’s a heartbreaking contrast from the moment she takes joy in the unfamiliar, the dirt and sunlight and friendly kids that play with her, and now she learns for the first time that there are scary creatures in the universe as often as there is sunlight. Suu and Cut preach the need to be cognizant that children can be a troublesome wild card, and adults should be patient for their emotional welfare. When Omega is rescued, Hunter scolds her, but Cut reminds Hunter that Omega is no soldier. She is not cut out for this lifestyle.

To bypass security, Tech and Echo devise a plan that involves leaving their ship in an Imperial impoundment yard to access an Empire base to attain the chain codes, but their mission is complicated by Omega’s unintentional presence on the ship. Her desire to help causes a hindrance and attracts unwanted enemy attention, but the Batch accommodates her route and she delivers the chain codes. However, she’s flummoxed by the news that Hunter made the decision for her to depart with Cut’s family, and she ends up running back to the Bad Batch’s arms.

For many viewers, a precocious kid like Omega is still a make-it-or-break-it character in a series starring adult characters, and this episode will tick off some concerns. Omega, and her voice actress Ang, are no less charming than in her debut last episode since she is believable as a sheltered child and is the appropriate foil to the Bad Batch, one that brings an uncomfortable reckoning for Hunter about how war affected his outlook. Still, the script contrives some dunce decisions here for the Batch that clash with the grimy tone of the overall series in order for Omega to have her moment in the climax. Future episodes will have hopefully be more careful in integrating Omega’s kidishness into the darker storytelling.

For an episode that’s all about the welfare of children, there’s a questionable outcome here, treated in the script as respecting a kid’s agency. Of course, Omega has to stick around with the main characters, and because this show lives a fantasy framework, a child’s decision to stay with fugitive soldiers is treated as what’s best for her welfare. Fellow Star Wars series The Mandalorian devised a more believable scenario where the experienced gunman Din Djarin can’t deposit his charge on an idyllic family life because only he has the skills to protect the young charge  against the galaxy (and bound by his culture to do so). Cut’s family blithely entering the transport with Omega indicates they gave Omega their blessing for her to run back into gunfire to her adoptive brothers, which is a pretty suspect decision for adults to make. But through all that, Hunter is ready to accept the messiness of being a guardian, suggesting a course for the rest of the series.

Other Thoughts

  • Supplementary materials say the kids are biologically Suu’s and a late human husband, but this plot element isn’t specified here. It feels like a missed opportunity to question if age-accelerated clones have the capacity to breed.
  • The guys also learn that Rex had recently visited Cut and alluded to the brain chips, which Omega seems to be aware of. Although the mystery is saved for later, this also asks the question when and how Rex separated from Ahsoka.
  • In my previous episode review, I mentioned the colorism of the Bad Batch being fairer-skinned while the brute Wrecker is darker-skinned and more based on Temuera Morrison’s Maori profile. The whitewashing discussion has extended to Caleb Dume’s appearance compared to his Rebels and Kanan comic appearances.
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