By Josh Reilly B.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 10
After a string of interconnected episodes, The Bad Batch takes a step back this week with an interesting episode exploring a theme of ideologies explored in The Clone Wars. Common Ground follows Clone Force 99 as they attempt to rescue Senator Avi Singh from the grips of the Empire on the formerly Separatist world Raxus. Meanwhile, Omega stays back with Cid and exercises some of her strategic skills to pay off her crew’s debt.
The prequels detailed the most important overarching events leading up to the fall of the Jedi and the rise of the Empire, but left much of the nuances of this tumultuous era in the galaxy to The Clone Wars. As such, one of the central themes of The Clone Wars that remained untouched in the prequels pertained to the notion of good guys fighting on both sides of the war. Little information is provided about what the lives of Separatists look like in the films, but The Clone Wars added a humanity to these characters, evidenced by the Mina Bonteri episodes of the series.
This week’s episode of The Bad Batch explores the humanity of the former enemy, while providing some interesting world-building throughout. Common Ground is largely set on Raxus, the former capital of the Confederacy of Independent Systems that battled the Galactic Republic in the Clone Wars. Through the struggles of Avi Singh (voiced by the incredible Alexander Siddig) and the people of Raxus, we see that Separatists were victims too. They didn’t willingly align with Dooku, nor are they willingly aligning with the Empire now. This adds some retrospective nuance to The Clone Wars and much of the events in the prequel era and is, once again, evidence one of The Bad Batch’s highlights so far in its focus on a quickly changing, Imperial-led galaxy (we’ll get to that in a moment).
The theme of humanizing the Separatists is largely explored through Echo, who, more than other members of the crew, voices concerns about helping and trusting their former enemy. Echo’s concerns felt natural and well-deserved, especially given his experiences with the Separatists in season 7 of The Clone Wars. And, although this was only superficially explored, it was interesting to see Echo come to a greater understanding of the plights of citizens and rulers under Separatist control.
Back to one of The Bad Batch’s core strengths, the series continues to impress in its examination of the beginning days of the Empire. Each episode, including Common Ground, add a layer to what life is like in the immediate aftermath of the Republic’s fall. This week opts to focus on the internal struggles of a leader, whose planet has been occupied by the Empire. Alexander Siddig conveys incredible empathy and concern in his performance as the senator grappling with the ethics of succumbing to the Empire. Hopefully, Singh will appear again as it felt like there was more to explore with a character whose planet was controlled by Separatists and the Empire back-to-back.
Away from the central story, Omega and Cid are given a fun, light, and inconsequential plot to navigate. The issue of where Omega finds herself in this team is explored once again: is she a bona fide member or is she a child that needs protecting? Dialogue between Omega and Cid fleshes this out more and showcase the struggle between the innocence of youth and the want to grow up that the young clone is experiencing. And each week, Cid seemingly becomes a more integral part of the series. Her interactions with Omega, while out of self-interest, add a level of kindness and trust to the seedy character. Rhea Perlman’s inclusion in the Star Wars universe continues to take us aback and Cid has unexpectedly become one of our favorite new characters of the show.
The Bad Batch furthers a theme introduced in The Clone Wars regarding the blurry lines between good and bad in exciting, albeit surface-level, fashion this week. Common Ground excels in world-building and emphasis on Echo and Singh as two individuals navigating this confusing time in the galaxy. The episode doesn’t reach the exciting heights of the previous few installments, but is yet again an enthralling addition to the animated series.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+