By George Bate & Josh Reilly B.
WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 11
Secrets are teased and intriguing connections are revealed in the newest episode of The Bad Batch. “Metamorphosis” sees a dangerous creature cause the wreckage of an Imperial shuttle it was aboard. While Clone Force 99 pursue the wreckage to salvage anything valuable aboard, the Empire quickly moves to ensure they retrieve the asset aboard.
The Bad Batch’s first season ended with a tantalizing tease, made all the more brilliant for those who are familiar with and have read Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire. In the last episode of Season 1, Kaminoan Cloning scientist Nala Se was delivered to a mysterious, remote location revealed to be Mount Tantiss. In Legends, Mount Tantiss housed Grand Admiral Thrawn’s cloning program and it appears that, in canon, the location will be used for similarly nefarious purposes. Making the tease even more interesting was the presence of an Imperial scientist wearing the same kind of uniform as Omid Abtahi’s Doctor Pershing in The Mandalorian. Already, there’s much to speculate about here as the connections between The Bad Batch and The Mandalorian deepen.
The return to Mount Tantiss affords an introduction to a new villainous figure for the series. Doctor Royce Hemlock, played by Westworld and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Jimmi Simpson, is the menacing presence overseeing the advanced science projects at Tantiss. Hemlock clearly wants the help of Nala See (voiced again by Gwendoline Yeo) to serve “The Emperor’s purpose,” something she refuses to do. It’s certainly not clear what Hemlock and the Empire are up to, which makes for a great mystery and point of intrigue for The Bad Batch and broader Star Wars canon. Are Hemlock and the Empire experimenting with Cloning technology that will make Palpatine immortal? Are they looking into technology that will create Snoke? The possibilities are endless and so much fun to consider.
Hemlock has more pressing concerns, however, with his department losing communication with a transport carrying a valuable asset. As Hemlock tasks Imperial soldiers to retrieve the asset, the Bad Batch are also on the case. It’s satisfying to see the Bad Batch confront Cid about her failure to help them when they were stranded on the ipsium-rich planet, especially considering how much Tech, Omega, and the others helped Cid out of a tricky situation in the earlier riot-race episode this season.
Clone Force 99 soon realize they’ve taken on a mission far more dangerous than initially anticipated when they discover the asset aboard the crashed Imperial ship is a Zillo Beast! That’s right, a creature of the same species that terrorized Coruscant in The Clone Wars episodes “The Zillo Beast” and “The Zillo Beast Strikes Back” makes an intriguing and surprising appearance in “Metamorphosis.” The Zillo Beast episodes of The Clone Wars were a lot of fun and it’s yet another interesting connection for the species to return here in The Bad Batch, especially as it relates to mysterious Cloning operations on Tantiss. Before the crew can consider why a Zillo Beast was aboard the ship, however, the beast attacks and escapes. It becomes closer, though, that the beast is resistant to blaster fire and feeds off of electricity or energy to such an extent that it grows larger and more powerful with more energy, making it a formidable opponent to say the least. The Zillo Beast escapes the ship into the night and begins to make its way toward a local village.
In another surprising turn, the Empire show up and save the day by retrieving their asset with a claw reminiscent of a claw machine. The Bad Batch make a hasty escape, and the Empire rounds up local villagers to ensure their silence of what they saw. Here, there is a brief appearance of Scorch, the Republic Commando introduced in the now Legends video game who also appeared in The Clone Wars and last season of The Bad Batch.
As the episode dies down, both Clone Force 99 and Hemlock assess the situation. “There’s more to this than we realized,” Tech says as he and the Bad Batch speculate as to why the Empire was experimenting with a Zillo Beast. They decide to send the data to Echo and Rex, setting up their re-introduction to the series soon.
Meanwhile, at Tantiss, Hemlock is pleased to hear of the Zillo Beast’s return and welcomes former Kaminoan Prime Minister Lama Su to the Imperial facility. Lama Su reveals to Hemlock that the only way he will be able to get through to Nala Se and use her to help their mysterious operation is to kidnap Omega, as Nala Se cares deeply about Omega. It continues to remain unclear what Hemlock and the Empire are up to, but it’s undoubtedly exciting and intriguing to see the pieces of this puzzle connect together. Now that Hemlock has his eyes set on Omega, Clone Force 99 will likely find themselves wrapped up in this growing Imperial conspiracy…
The Bad Batch makes connections to The Mandalorian, Heir to the Empire, and possibly the sequel trilogy in a new episode that brilliantly teases a mysterious Cloning operation. Jimmi Simpson’s Doctor Hemlock is introduced as the menacing villain overseeing the experiments and exudes the calculated, yet threatening, calmness that Thrawn did in Rebels. And now the seeds are in place for more to be revealed. What is the purpose of the Empire’s Cloning operation? How does it connect to Doctor Pershing in The Mandalorian? Does it relate to Snoke or Palpatine’s immortality in any way? The answers are unclear now, but the questions posed make the wait for the final few episodes of The Bad Batch Season 2 even more difficult.