The HoloFiles

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Season 2, Episode 12

By George Bate & Josh Bate

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 12

Omega and the crew step aside for a Crosshair-centric episode of The Bad Batch that proves to be the most emotionally impactful installment of the series to date. “The Outpost” sees Crosshair recruited by Imperial Lieutenant Nolan, who leads Crosshair to a remote planet where high-value cargo is being targeted and stolen by local insurgents. 

Twelve episodes into its second season and The Bad Batch features Crosshair for only the second time this season. Upon his decision to remain with the Empire, branding his fellow Clone Force 99 members as traitors, Crosshair has stood out in Star Wars lore as a character with a decidedly different arc than anything seen previously. The cold and calculated soldier believes that good soldiers unquestionably follow orders and, in the show’s first season, revealed that he had removed his inhibitor chip, indicating that his allegiance to the Empire was of his own volition. In the Season 2 episode “The Solitary Clone,” Crosshair starred alongside Commander Cody, a team-up that resulted in Cody going AWOL and some cracks in Crosshair’s seemingly impenetrable loyalty to the law and order of the Empire. In this sense, “The Outpost” serves as a direct follow-up to “The Solitary Clone” in continuing to focus on the conflicted loyalties of Crosshair.

The opening moments of the episode see Crosshair watch as Captain Bragg (voiced by Shelby Young) dismisses several Clone Troopers, who suddenly find themselves rendered useless by the new Empire. It’s brief and subtle, yet extremely effective, scenes like this that have made The Bad Batch such a powerful show. The real life comparisons to the treatment of Veterans after military service are palpable, while Crosshair represents a soldier who witnesses his fellow Clones thrown to the wayside as he is still deemed of use to the Empire. ‘Use’ is the key term here as Crosshair is treated inhumanely, as a tool to be employed to complete a task rather than the distinct individual he is. “Fantastic. More Clones,” Lieutenant Nolan sarcastically says. “I don’t like used equipment.” It’s devastating, and disturbingly realistic, how disposable soldiers of war become in a time of ‘peace.’

Lieutenant Nolan and Crosshair make their way to the titular outpost, situated on a desolate, icy rock of a planet. The location beautifully comes to life with the ever-impressive animation of the series. The textures add such depth to surfaces and the winds of the snow planet make you feel cold just watching the episode. It goes without saying at this point, but Star Wars animation continues to surpass itself seemingly from episode to episode. 

At the outpost, Crosshair and Nolan meet Mayday, a hardened soldier with Moon Knight-esque wrappings on his armor who is bitter about Clones’ treatment by the Empire. While Crosshair reflects an internalizing denial of the Empire’s brutality, Mayday is overt in his displeasure with the Empire, questioning why his outpost has been undermanned and why the contents of the crates they are tasked with guarding remain above their pay grade. 

Upon an attack from the insurgents, Maydays’ comrades Hexx and Vetch are killed. In a quiet, touching moment that harkens back to the series finale of The Clone Wars, a deflated Mayday looks upon the helmets of his fallen brothers in arms. There’s no time for mourning, however, as a heartless Nolan sends Mayday and Crosshair back out into the snow to track down and eliminate the insurgents.

During this search, Crosshair steps on a mine, a tense moment that ultimately proves to be one of the most emotionally impactful of the episode. As Mayday carefully helps disarm the mine, the two Clones talk about their respective terms in the Clone Wars, how they never thought the war would end, and how they’ve both lost their brothers along the way. They’re “survivors,” as Mayday says in a new regime that no longer needs nor respects them. Crosshair, at least on the surface, remains resolute in his dedication to the Empire, but it’s clear the mistreatment of Clones is testing his loyalties. 

Eventually, Crosshair and Mayday eliminate the insurgents and finally get a look inside one of the crates they were tasked to protect, which reveals…they have been protecting Stormtrooper gear the entire time. “New toys for their shiny new military,” Mayday remarks. At this point, it’s hard for even the most cold of viewers to not sympathize with the plight of Clone Troopers. Cast aside as relics of a past war, Clone Troopers are not only being phased out, but are unwittingly made to participate in the facilitation of the Empire’s new army. 

Rubbing salt in the wound, an avalanche destroys their transport and leaves Crosshair and Mayday stranded in the icy terrain, akin to Luke on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. Despite Crosshair telling Mayday earlier in the episode that he would leave him behind in favor of the mission, a fatigued Crosshair carries an injured, freezing Mayday back to the outpost. The grueling walk culminates in a final interaction with Lieutenant Nolan, who has quickly become the most dislikable character in The Bad Batch to date. Ignoring Mayday’s precarious state of health, in favor of punishing the Clones for failing to complete the mission, Nolan lets Mayday die. This proves to be the last straw for Crosshair, who, in an applause-worthy moment, shoots and kills Lieutenant Nolan. So, after almost two full seasons, Crosshair has finally come to the conclusion that the Empire is evil and not worthy of his loyalty. It’s an incredible relief that Brad Rau, Jennifer Corbett, and the rest of the team behind The Bad Batch managed to land this arc for Crosshair so well. A journey that could have easily come across as forced or arrived at an unsatisfying conclusion is handled so well, with Crosshair’s realization of the Empire’s tyranny evoking the brilliance of Kino Loy’s change of heart in Andor

The selfless Crosshair awakens to find himself in the captivity of the Empire’s Advanced Science division on Mount Tantiss, which is quickly becoming one of the most intriguing locations in Star Wars canon. It remains unclear what Doctor Hemlock and company want with Crosshair, but it’s safe to say they’re up to no good. With just four episodes left of the season, the various plot threads of the series in Clone Force 99, Crosshair, and Doctor Hemlock, all seem to be converging for a thrilling few final installments.

Verdict: 9.75/10

Leave it to Crosshair to lead the best episode of The Bad Batch this season so far. A harrowing and tragic tale of the fall of Clone Troopers, “The Outpost” pulls The Bad Batch’s central themes of Clone mistreatment and the lack of care for Veterans following the resolution of war into an episode as enthralling as it is emotional. Careful preparation and intricate writing contribute to a logical and satisfying change in Crosshair’s allegiance that is reminiscent of Kino Loy’s character arc in the recent season of Andor. With such a stunning episode of Star Wars storytelling, it’s becoming clear that The Bad Batch has excelled most this season in episodes or arcs in which the titular crew is put to the side or absent altogether. Optimistically, this speaks to the sheer quality of some of The Bad Batch’s installments this season, although there’s an interpretation of this situation that suggests the season would benefit from heavier character work in Clone Force 99-centric episodes. Regardless, “The Outpost” is a must-watch Star Wars story and one with disturbingly relevant parallels to real life.

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