By Julie Catherine and Cale William
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 4: Cornered
Star Wars: The Bad Batch continues to exceed expectations as the action-packed and emotional series heads into its fourth episode. Cornered follows Clone Force 99 as they continue to avoid the grip of the newly formed Empire. The team heads to Pantora, where their attempts to blend in and fix their ship are thwarted by a dangerous bounty hunter.
While last week’s detour was relatively flat and uneventful, the same criticisms can’t be lodged at episode 4. At a brisk 25 minutes, not a second is wasted in Cornered. The episode is expertly paced, striking a healthy balance between methodical build-up and high octane action. Cornered doesn’t propel the overarching narrative of The Bad Batch forward in any groundbreaking ways, but it doesn’t need to. We continue to see what it’s like for a galaxy transitioning into Imperial rule, and the experiences of Clone Force 99 as they navigate this tumultuous period. There’s a palpable sense of tension reverberating throughout Cornered as the team is desperate, on the run, and out of supplies. The entire episode adds gravity to the decisions made by Hunter and his team in the series’ pilot to disobey their orders despite the hefty consequences that accompany this decision.
The series’ lead protagonist, Crosshair, takes a backseat in Cornered and Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand assumes this position with tremendous effect. Fennec’s appearance in The Bad Batch was revealed in promotional footage for the series, but it’s still really cool to see the character come to life in this new medium. It also adds a sense of interconnectivity to events in the Star Wars saga as we get a little insight into what Fennec was up to prior to working with Boba Fett in The Mandalorian. And, as she does in The Mandalorian, Ming-Na Wen conveys the calculated and lethal nature of her character to perfection in The Bad Batch. Fennec is a formidable foe for the Bad Batch and her attempts to ingratiate herself with Omega highlighted just how dangerous she can really be.
Hunter’s paternal instincts kicking in to protect Omega continue to flesh out their father-daughter bond in touching ways. As we’ve stated in previous reviews, it’s clear that the emotional crux of the series will be Omega’s relationships with the members of Clone Force 99, in particular Hunter. And, on this front, the series continues to succeed. Little moments exchanged between Wrecker and Omega, for instance, are endearing – it’s clear that this gang of misfits truly care for the well-being of Omega and that she is most certainly one of the Bad Batch now.
I would be remiss if I didn’t, once again, comment on the stunning animation on display in this week’s episode. Pantora is easily one of the most beautiful locations seen in Star Wars animation to date. The landscapes are breathtaking, the architecture brilliantly draws upon features of the real world, and, perhaps most striking of all, the planet feels really alive. Streets are bustling, people are talking, vehicles travel in a manner reminiscent of Coruscant in Attack of the Clones. The activity on the planet evokes what it’s like to behold Mos Eisley in A New Hope – every character in the background has a story, there’s always something interesting visually, and the location just feels really lived in. To such an extent, in fact, that Pantora feels like a character unto itself in Cornered and most certainly a location we hope to revisit soon.
The Bad Batch continues to impress with a visually stunning and tension-filled fourth episode. Ming-Na Wen’s appearance as Fennec Shand is a highlight in an episode that doesn’t advance the overarching narrative significantly, but continues to flesh out these characters and their relationships in superb fashion nonetheless.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+