By George Bate & Josh Reilly B.
WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 9
In the absence of Echo, the Bad Batch return for another outing in this week’s episode of their Disney+ series. “The Crossing” follows the crew’s mission to excavate a mine for ipsium, a valuable, yet combustible substance not dissimilar from coaxium in Solo: A Star Wars Story. The mission soon goes awry, however, as a deadly storm approaches.
After such a terrific two-part arc of The Bad Batch last week, the season returns to its tried and tested mission-of-the-week format. It’s evident fairly early on that this episode won’t have the implications or revelations of episodes 7 and 8, but The Bad Batch has shown time and time again how fun and emotional an isolated, contained episode can be.
The emotional arc of this week’s episode explores the aftermath of last week’s shocker ending – that Echo has left Clone Force 99 and teamed up with Rex to champion Clone rights and fight the Empire. Despite its emphasis on action, “The Crossing” is ultimately an episode about coping with and adjusting to a significant change in one’s family. When a member of a family exits for whatever reason, it has the potential to fundamentally change the dynamic of the group and leaves the group members left to cope in their own, individual ways. The individual coping styles of Omega and Tech are of particular importance here, with one struggling with the emotional distress of Echo’s departure and the other adopting a cold, calculated, almost emotional stance. This season of The Bad Batch has expanded the father-daughter theme of Season 1 beyond Hunter and Omega to examine Omega’s relationships with other members of the Bad Batch. Earlier episodes tended to the bond between Omega and Echo, whereas “The Crossing” pits the personalities and coping styles of Omega and Tech against one another. This makes for a number of tense scenes between the two. After a masked stranger steals their ship, Omega cries, “The Marauder is our home! We already lost Echo. We can’t lose our home too.” Tech fails to understand the pain his coldness and calmness to losing Echo affects Omega. “I merely stated the truth,” Tech says. Hunter poignantly responds, “She already knows the truth. That’s why she’s upset.”
The stark contrast between Omega and Tech is the highlight amidst an otherwise straightforward installment of The Bad Batch. The crew soon find themselves split up and trapped in a mine, with Tech and Omega waiting in a reservoir for Hunter and Wrecker. This affords time for Tech and Omega to discuss their approach to Echo’s departure again in greater detail. A distraught Omega says, “Everything is changing and you don’t care.” Tech’s emotional bluntedness simply isn’t compatible with the nurturing hand Omega requires, but, rather than become a person he is not, Tech (through the episode’s writers) do something different. Tech explains to Omega that, although he processes things differently, he is still upset about Echo leaving the team. In a subtle turn from the writers, the conversation between Tech and Omega encouragingly conveys that different people can have different forms of and capacities for emotional expression in a manner that may resonate with viewers familiar with autism spectrum disorder. Once again, somehow, in a galaxy far, far away with clones, aliens, and faraway planets, Star Wars finds a way to integrate grounded, approachable themes.
The Bad Batch returns to its mission-of-the-week structure in a relatively straightforward episode that excels when highlighting the different ways in which Omega and Tech are coping with Echo’s departure from the team. It’s an interesting way to explore how Clone Force 99 adjusts to the loss of a key member and culminates in a touching conversation between Omega and Tech. The episode concludes on a cliffhanger, with the Bad Batch stranded on a desolate spaceport after The Marauder is stolen. An intriguing problem for the crew to solve sets the stage nicely for the next episode of The Bad Batch.