Bad Batch Cornered Review

Another episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, another big problem for the crew to solve/survive. If the absence of Crosshair wasn’t bad enough, now the Bad Batch (Dee Bradley Baker) has to face a bounty hunter, presumably sent by the Kaminoans, who has her eye on Omega (Michelle Ang). Directed by Saul Ruiz and written by Christian Taylor, “Cornered” also marks the highly anticipated appearance of Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), unnamed but recognizable in look and voice as the bounty hunter introduced in The Mandalorian. Since she will also co-star in the upcoming Disney+ series The Book of Boba Fett, this feels like Lucasfilm really doubling down on this Shand’s importance to the Star Wars universe.

The Bad Batch lands on the populated moon of Pantora to restock their dwindling supplies and make ship repairs. There’s more longterm danger as well. The Empire is very much present with an audience of civilians clapping and cheering a parade of Empire-loyal clone soldiers. Even Omega naively believes the propaganda at its surface level: “The war is over, isn’t that good?” To which Echo replies, “Depends on which side you’re on.”

Echo’s new armored disguise and his mechanical implants pass him off as a military droid at a pawnshop, and Hunter arranges to “sell” the poor guy to get creds, leading to a hilarious exchange: “I’m worth more than 2000!… You got me for a bargain.” It’s also the first time use is made of Echo’s droid appearance other than his technological interfacing. Though considering how The Clone Wars explored the fear of expendability, it’s a missed opportunity to also seriously address the implication of layered dehumanization — being a clone soldier bred for war and passing as a droid in public — beyond comedic effect.

Lost in the Pantora marketplace, Omega gets separated from Hunter and the bounty hunter Fennec “finds” her and offers the ingenue some “aid.” This offers a solid introduction to Fennec other than leaning onto the audience’s presumed familiarity with character. The episode delivers on Fennec’s competency as a bounty hunter, both physically and pragmatically. Her casual conversation with Omega and her way of swiping her fruit and teaching her that “sometimes it’s okay to break the rules” teases a dimension that wasn’t seen in The Mandalorian. Like any bounty hunter, she has no qualms about shooting targets and tossing civilians off their hover vehicles (she racks up a sizable body count), though moments like her warning Omega to “tuck and roll when you land” illustrate a professional quality. She wants to make her target relatively comfortable.

The episode is fairly straightforward, but full of rich details. In addition to offering a glimpse at the Empire’s growing influence, “Cornered” makes great use of a civilian-populated marketplace, using every part of it for big action setpieces, including escapades through sewers, towers, and air traffic. Everyone has something to do – Hunter faces off Fennec, Tech hacks into surveillances to keep a close eye, Echo recruits the pawnshop owner’s droids to repair the ship, Wrecker attempts to get Omega back (unfortunately, Fennec can topple a brute his size), and Omega, impressionable enough to fall for a stranger’s ruse but cognizant enough to know to press buttons and pull switches to get away, exercises her resourceful instincts.

For now, Fennec appears to be this arc’s antagonist chaser rather than Crosshair, who is presumably busy training proto-stormtroopers conscripts back on Kamino. While another formidable antagonist is welcome to help raise the stakes, a scenario with Crosshair doing the tracking and chasing would make for a juicier psychological scenario, especially since that was set up in “Aftermath.” However, that seems to be on the back burner for now. For now, I hope the Bad Batch wise up to teach Omega some defensive skills. First off: stranger danger. But if there’s anything we know about the kid, this experience is burned into her brain.

Other Thoughts

  • Considering the explicit and implicit civilian body count of the chase sequence, I wonder if Omega and Hunter would be the sort to reel over that.
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