By George Bate & Josh Reilly B.
WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 2 – Episodes 1 & 2
As a new year is welcomed in, Omega and the rest of Clone Force 99 return in the second season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch. The latest season of Star Wars animation follows an impressive and emotionally impactful first season that explored the implications of the rise of the Empire on Clone Troopers. Season 2 picks up with the rogue group of clones Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Echo, and Omega continuing to evade the Empire while finding their place in a quickly changing galaxy.
The two-episode premiere of season 2, titled “Spoils of War” and “Ruins of War,” centers around a heist of Count Dooku’s war chest on the planet of Serenno in the Outer Rim. This set-up makes for a premiere that is more action-packed and less story intensive than how the previous season began. While season 1 started in the immediate aftermath of Order 66 and followed Clone Force 99 in the first moments and days of Palpatine’s new Empire, season 2 begins with an isolated mission with few connections to an overarching story or plot points important to a broader galaxy. There is no inherent issue with The Bad Batch, and other episodes of Star Wars television, opting for a contained focus over a bigger narrative. However, these contained episodes can vary quite a bit in quality as it all comes down to execution of plot points, action sequences, and character beats.
In typical Bad Batch fashion, their mission-of-the-week is delivered by Cid, one of the highlights of The Bad Batch season 1. Rhea Perlman’s Trandoshan wheeler-dealer serves as the squad’s homebase in many ways and continues to drive the series forward with various missions, all while delivering witty quips and insults only Perlman could deliver. This time around, Cid is accompanied by Phee Genoa, a new character voiced by Wanda Sykes who will play a more sizable role as season 2 progresses.
The heist of Castle Serenno makes for a great set-up to kick off the new adventures of Clone Force 99. Serenno was previously seen in The Clone Wars and depicted in greater detail in Cavan Scott’s audio drama Dooku: Jedi Lost. And its inclusion in The Bad Batch now makes for a nice bit of interconnectivity eagle-eyed Star Wars fans will appreciate. The idea of the Empire pillaging Serenno after the end of the Clone Wars provides some interesting insight into how Dooku’s homeworld was affected with his death and the rise of the Empire, while also showcasing, more broadly, the different ways in which Imperial rule affects various planets and people. A brief conversation between Echo and Hunter about “doing more” to fight the Empire aside, the two-episode premiere centers almost exclusively on the Serenno heist, perhaps somewhat disappointingly leaving heavier topics of discussion for future episodes.
What unfolds is a mission that begins with stealthy intent and ends with lots of running and blaster fire. As is an evident pattern in Star Wars animation, seemingly each and every series seems to surpass its predecessor in terms of beautiful environments, unique and emotive character designs, and exciting action sequences. The action is tense, especially as the goal soon transitions from stealing Dooku’s war chest to survival.
In between the action, there are plenty of interesting character moments that add depth to the series. Echo, Tech, and Omega splinter away from Hunter and Wrecker and find themselves collaborating with Romar Adell (voiced by Hector Elizondo), a Serenno citizen hardened and weary from the occupation of his planet. Echo and Omega, two characters who seldom had one-on-one interactions in season 1, share some touching moments in this premiere that nickel set up the arc of their relationship in future season 2 episodes. As Omega matures and becomes more aware, she can’t help but feel responsible for the precarious situation she and her squad find themselves in. “I know you all gave you everything because of me,” Michelle Ang’s character says. In a touching, paternal moment, Echo reassures her, “Good thing we did, or we might be fighting for the Empire right now. Or worse. We made the right choice, Omega. I’d do it all again.” The bond between Omega and Hunter was the heart of season 1 and it’s encouraging to see season 2 continue to explore Omega’s father-daughter relationships with the other members of the Bad Batch.
The premiere’s ending reintroduces Admiral Rampart, arguably the face of the villains in season 1. Rampart arriving on Serenno to ameliorate “inaccuracies” in Captain Wilco’s reporting, detailing the reemergence of Clone Force 99, adds to the Imperial Admiral by making him more than just another villain working for the entire. Rampart’s purposeful covering up of Clone Force 99’s role in the heist means Rampart isn’t a blind tool used by the Empire, but, rather, as intentions of his own that run parallel (or maybe even counter) to the Empire.
The Bad Batch returns to Disney+ in an action-packed, exciting two-episode premiere. Adopting a contained, mission-of-the-week structure, rather than a focus on an overarching season narrative, the premiere lacks the stakes and implications of season 1’s fantastic premiere, but manages to make us grateful for the return of Clone Force 99 nonetheless. The heist of Count Dooku’s war chest makes for a nice easter egg for fans of The Clone Wars and Dooku: Jedi Lost, while also shedding more light on the different ways in which Imperial rule affects the galaxy. Heartfelt moments between Echo and Omega, and a new angle to Rampart’s villain character, prove to be interesting introductory elements to The Bad Batch’s second season.