By Josh Reilly B. & George Bate
WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Season 2 – Episode 4
The core Bad Batch group returns to centerstage in the latest episode of the Disney+ animated series. This week’s episode sees Cid and Clone Force 99 clash with a local rival Grinni Millegi as they compete in a high-stakes riot race.
After last week’s more contemplative episode, which explored deeper themes of clones’ role in a quickly-changing Empire, “Faster” opts for a lighter, visually impressive mission-of-the-week. It’s a fairly straightforward mission with a characteristically Star Wars-y set-up. Grinni Millegi (voiced by the wonderful Ernie Hudson) has a long history with Cid and approaches her with a bet to see who will come out on top of a dangerous riot race. Now, it’s Tech, Wrecker, and Omega’s job to help Cid win the race, or she will suffer dire consequences at the hands of Millegi.
The riot race backdrop of “Faster” is obviously reminiscent of podracing and nicely complements the sport introduced in The Phantom Menace as a sister-sport of sorts. In this sense, the latest episode of The Bad Batch plays out rather similarly to the podracing plot in The Phantom Menace. While that film saw Anakin and company prepare for a podrace against Sebulba, this week’s The Bad Batch sees Cid and Clone Force 99 come face-to-face with the gangster Millegi in a riot race. There’s nothing particularly novel about this plot, but it makes for an engaging, entertaining installment of the series.
One of the highlights of “Faster” is its focus on Cid, the witty Trandoshan voiced by the brilliant Rhea Perlman. Cid’s full name, Ciddarin Scaleback, is revealed in an episode that shows more of the character’s backstory than ever before. Her rivalry with Millegi provides a history for Cid that we were previously not privy to, and Millegi makes for a great villain of the week. Also, as a neat easter egg, it’s fun to see Millegi is a Dowutin, the species introduced in The Force Awakens and is most notable for being the species of the Nihil Tempest Runner Pan Eyta in The High Republic publishing initiative.
The increased focus on Cid this episode also affords some touching opportunities highlighting Cid’s relationship with Clone Force 99. Witty quips and insults aside, “Faster” shows how close Cid and Clone Force 99 have become, as seen with Omega’s mid-episode double-or-nothing wager to secure Cid’s safety.
As for the climatic race, with Cid’s life on the line, Tech is finally given a chance to shine by saving the day. The member of Clone Force 99 known for his superior intellectual abilities is often an integral member of the team, but doesn’t get the spotlight in the same way the likes of Hunter and Omega do. This changes in “Faster” as Tech is able to use his unique abilities to win the riot race after he replaces the droid TAY-0 (who is voiced by Ben Schwartz). While it was Crosshair whose exceptional abilities proved the deciding factor in last week’s mission victory, it’s Tech who shines here, which makes for a nice change of base.
The Bad Batch’s second season continues with a light-hearted, visually impressive mission-of-the-week. The episode isn’t particularly novel or memorable, nor does it feature the deeper themes the series has explored in the past. However, there’s plenty to love about this week’s installment. Ernie Hudson’s Millegi makes for a great villain, with an intimidating look and a booming voice. The story affords unique opportunities for Tech to shine and to build on Cid’s character, in an episode that borrows heavily from the podracing narrative in The Phantom Menace. “Faster” won’t have the lasting impact of some of The Bad Batch’s more striking episodes, but it nonetheless proves to be another fun outing for Clone Force 99.