By Josh Reilly B. & George Bate
WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 13
After last week’s jaw-dropper of an episode, The Bad Batch returns with a methodological episode about the future of the team and finding a purpose beyond fighting. “Pabu” picks up with Omega, Hunter, and company, who accompany Phee Genoa to the peaceful location of Pabu.
A central theme of The Bad Batch dating back to the series’ first episode has been about finding purpose. For Clone Force 99, they were developed specifically to fight in a war, but, now in the absence of war, find themselves drifting aimlessly from job to job. It’s been a lingering question for the crew, and one that receives newfound attention in “Pabu.”
A conversation between Phee Genoa and Clone Force 99 at the beginning of the episode pinpoints some of the team’s struggles. Omega is a child with no exposure to other children. Yes, she is protected, but is this a life for a child? Do Hunter, Wrecker, and Tech simply keep fighting until their time is up? Phee has some other ideas as she brings the team to Pabu, an idyllic and comforting island full of refugees. Isolated from the horrors of the galaxy Omega and the team have witnessed in their various missions, Pabu marks a stark contrast from the seedy planets and dangerous assignments the Bad Batch have found themselves on lately. In many ways, it feels as if this season of The Bad Batch has been culminating in an episode like “Pabu” for a while. It was inevitable that the team had to reckon with their purpose in the galaxy more directly and, naturally, this would mean considering a life away from fighting and hunting.
Phee introduces Clone Force 99 to Shep Hazard, the Mayor of Pabu, and his daughter Lyana. “You’ve got some competition,” Wrecker jokes as Shep embraces Phee. Episodes ago, we shipped a Tech and Phee romance and it seems as if Wrecker is with us. Romantic relationships for Clones is a seldom explored topic, with Cut in The Clone Wars being a notable exception. The possibility of a blossoming romance between Tech and Phee would provide more depth to their characters – for Tech as more than just another Clone and for Phee as she seems to be taking on the role Cid did last season.
The Bad Batch begin to settle in with the Pabu community and, very quickly, the remote location begins to feel like home. “I have not heard her laugh like that in some time,” Tech remarks about Omega as she plays with young Lyana. Shep pulls Hunter aside and says that, for a father, one couldn’t imagine a better place to raise a child. The father-daughter bond between Hunter and Omega was the emotional backbone of Season 1, but has taken a bit of a backseat this season in favor of Omega’s bonds with other members of the team. “Pabu” nicely brings these themes together in showing just how much the entire team cares about Omega and simply want her to have a peaceful, satisfying life.
In a conversation with Lyana, Omega poignantly states that they never stay anywhere for very long, leaving the team essentially without a home. It’s a point that resonates with various Star Wars characters, with the likes of Din Djarin and Grogu perhaps most saliently coming to mind. At last though, it seems Clone Force 99 may have found a home in Pabu…
The peace is temporary, however, as massive waves come toward the island in a horrific sea surge. The entire sequence of the waves coming toward Pabu and, eventually, submerging its lower levels may be the most visually impressive feat achieved by the animators behind The Bad Batch. The water effects are stunning and provide such a beautifully devastating look to the sea surge. Of course, the citizens of Pabu are lucky, because they have just welcomed a team of expert soldiers and problem-solvers to their island. Clone Force 99 leads a rescue mission as they help the locals get to the island’s higher levels, away from the danger of the waves. Hunter flies The Marauder to pick up a stranded Omega and Lyana and, eventually, the citizens of Pabu are safe, although their homes have been destroyed.
With the infrastructure of Pabu destroyed, the Bad Batch find themselves with a different kind of mission to tackle: to repair a community. With the insidious Cloning operations of Doctor Hemlock converging on Omega, it’s likely this peace on Pabu will be short-lived. Nonetheless, “Pabu” delivers a genuinely satisfying conclusion for the team, one that seems to achieve a much-deserved and much-needed peace.
The Bad Batch take on a different type of mission in this week’s episode as they seek solace on the peaceful island of Pabu. An episode that intelligently prioritizes character development over plotting and action, “Pabu” provides ample opportunities to explore some of The Bad Batch’s more interesting themes, including the father-daughter bond with the team and Omega and the crew’s difficulties finding a new purpose in a galaxy without war. It wouldn’t be a Bad Batch adventure without some action, however, as the team is tasked with saving the villagers of Pabu from a deadly sea surge. The sequence that follows is visually stunning and sets up the potential for peace for the team – that is, until Doctor Hemlock catches up with them…