By Josh Reilly B.
WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 3 – Replacements
Clone Force 99 returns for the third episode of their Disney+ series, a dark and yet somewhat conventional installment titled Replacements. The episode sees the Bad Batch attempting to repair their ship after crash landing on a dangerous and desolate moon. Meanwhile, Crosshair and the Empire’s first elite squad go on a mission to eliminate Saw Gerrera.
Replacements adopts a different structure from The Bad Batch’s initial episodes by dividing its attention between two narratives. The adventure of Clone Force 99 largely feels like a detour from the central narrative, something Star Wars series like Rebels and The Mandalorian excelled with. And, inevitably, the results vary when the central narrative takes a backseat in favor of a more standalone adventure. The Bad Batch’s plot line in this episode is serviceable, but doesn’t really make a significant emotional or narrative impact. These parts of the episode are certainly watchable and entertaining; they’re just not particularly engaging or captivating. This focus of the episode largely plays like Han, Leia, and company’s detour amidst the Hoth asteroid belt in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s not a particularly suspenseful plot, although there’s definitely intrigue regarding Wrecker’s mysterious ‘headache’ and Omega getting her own room at the end was very touching.
The focus on Crosshair, however, was the most captivating aspect of Replacements. It’s interesting to see the behind-the-scenes mechanics of the Empire as officials like Tarkin and Rampart navigate the necessity of Clones and the usage of alternative soldiers in this new era. This provides added relevance to The Bad Batch in offering insights into this era that further builds out canon. And it’s with this part of the episode that Star Wars animation delves into some of its darkest territory yet. The mission Crosshair and his new squad (like a Badder Batch) go on sees the crew mercilessly slaughter civilians. This definitely went into darker territory than expected heading into this episode, but it was effective in highlighting how the inhibitor chips corrupted good men and just how evil the Empire really is. The positioning of Crosshair as the series’ villain was startling and poignant, and this journey continues in episode 3 and is one of the most intriguing elements of the series moving forward.
The Bad Batch continues to impress with outstanding visuals and voice work. Director Nathaniel Villanueva and the entire animation team keep pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in this medium of Star Wars content. The landscapes and characters are breathtaking and really add a cinematic quality to the episode. As does Dee Bradley Baker, whose performances as the various clones continues to be the backbone of the series. It’s easy to watch an episode like Replacements and get lost in the plot or the action, but Baker’s performances warrant immense praise. It continues to be amazing to see a series like this showcase his brilliant talents.
After an outstanding first two episodes, The Bad Batch continues with an entertaining, yet somewhat flat, installment that delves into unexpectedly dark territory. Moments of intrigue, such as Wrecker’s potential susceptibility and Crosshair’s transformation, and emotion, such as the growing bond Omega has with the Bad Batch, offset an otherwise conventional episode.
Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm