By George Bate and Josh Reilly B.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 8: Reunion
The Bad Batch marks the halfway point of its first season with one of the best efforts in Star Wars animation to date. Episode 8, titled Reunion, follows Clone Force 99 as Crosshair and his troopers show up on Bracca and pose the greatest threat to the Bad Batch yet.
After 8 episodes, Reunion really affirms what we’ve felt since the series’ pilot: The Bad Batch is more cinematic than anything we’ve seen from Star Wars animation yet. Although its run time hovers under 30 minutes, watching Reunion feels like you’ve sat down to watch a Star Wars movie – or at least a significant portion of a Star Wars movie.
The stakes feel higher than ever for the Bad Batch with the return of Crosshair. The former member of Clone Force 99’s allegiance to the Empire was heartbreaking and unexpected in the series’ pilot, but Crosshair has been conspicuously absent from the series’ third episode. In the meantime, we’ve seen the Bad Batch navigate life in the Imperial era and the growing bond between Omega and the other members of the ragtag team. But all this time, Crosshair’s absence has spoken volumes. Kind of like a slasher film’s villain disappearing for large stretches of the movie, we’re left thinking: when will Crosshair appear and what will happen when he reunites with his former teammates. This sense of dread was palpable in Reunion, which did not shy away from the danger posed by Crosshair nor the stakes at hand for the Bad Batch.
The entire episode has a frantic, tense feel to it as Hunter and the others try to fight (and think) their way out of the perilous situation. With the exception of a few lovely moments at the beginning between Wrecker and Omega, the episode largely focuses on a series of suspenseful action set pieces. At times, shows like The Clone Wars or Rebels or even The Bad Batch have suffered from excessively action-centric episodes. But although Reunion marked a stark contrast from last week’s slow burn installment, the action was purposeful and brilliantly executed in this week’s episode. And the moments of ‘rest’ between action sequences proved more tense than the action itself. Hunter and Crosshair’s showdown was haunting. Crosshair seemed like a shell of the man he once was, and appeared unresponsive to Omega and Hunter’s calls for him to recognize the influence of the Inhibitor Chip.
The action came to a head with the ignition of the cruiser’s engine and how the Bad Batch turned this maneuver against their enemy. The scale of this entire sequence was incredible and added a welcomed variation on blaster and hand-to-hand combat. Crosshair’s defeat in the episode was unexpected and it was interesting to see such a powerful character reduced to a man in aid in Reunion.
Just when we think the Bad Batch are in the clear though, we’re greeted with shock and heartbreak. The shock comes with the appearance of none other than Cad Bane. The infamous bounty hunter was a highlight of The Clone Wars and it was jaw dropping to see him re-emerge in this series. It’s a testament to The Bad Batch so far that a show set in an era we know so much about manages to continually surprise us week after week. But it’s not longer after the shock and joy of seeing Cad Bane comes about that dread and heartbreak sets in. Cad Bane. Hunter and Bane’s Western stand-off was terrific and, coupled with Kevin Kiner’s superb score, felt like perhaps the most overt reference to the Western genre in Star Wars to date. The stand-off ends unexpectedly – Hunter is shot and Omega is stunned and captured by Bane. For better or worse, this really evoked Chapter 14: The Tragedy of The Mandalorian, in which Grogu is captured by the Dark Troopers despite the best efforts of his father-figure Din Djarin. The Bad Batch and The Mandalorian have closely shared a theme of found family and this reluctant father figure’s touching relationship with a child. For now, these parallels are acceptable given the emotional impact of The Bad Batch week after week, but some deviation from The Mandalorian’s core plot would be nice moving forward.
Reunion delivers shock, and heartbreak in abundance as The Bad Batch hits its halfway mark. Crosshair’s long-awaited return lives up to expectations and sets up a tense reunion with Clone Force 99. And just when the episode packs in some incredible action and emotion, we’re given a one-two punch with the return of Cad Bane and the capture of Omega, making it almost impossible to patiently wait until next week’s episode.
Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm