By Josh Reilly B. & George Bate
WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 14
The penultimate episode ahead of the two-part finale next week, “Tipping Point” brings the various plot threads of Star Wars: The Bad Batch closer than ever before. As Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, and Omega are living peacefully on Pabu, Rex and Echo lead a mission to liberate Clone prisoners from an Imperial transport. Meanwhile, Crosshair is tortured by the villainous Doctor Hemlock until he gives up the location of Omega.
The episode begins with a raid on an Imperial transport led by Echo and other Clones. It’s been a little bit since the two have featured in the show, as “The Clone Conspiracy” arc left off with the two Clones going off on their own to fight for the rights of Clone Troopers. Echo and his team manage to rescue various kidnapped Clone Troopers, including Howzer, who quickly became a fan favorite when he first featured in last season’s Ryloth arc. After delivering the kidnapped troopers to Senator Chuchi on Coruscant, Echo travels to Pabu so that Tech can encrypt the Imperial data logs and uncover why the Empire is kidnapping Clone Troopers. Moment by moment, the mysterious happenings with Doctor Hemlock and the Advanced Science Division are converging with the adventures of Clone Force 99…
Back on Mount Tantiss, Crosshair remains imprisoned and is brought before Doctors Scalder (voiced by Helen Sadler) and Hemlock (voiced by Jimmi Simpson). Hemlock remains motivated to secure Omega, who he believes will convince Nala Se to lend her Cloning expertise to the Empire’s experiments. Reflecting how far Crosshair has come as a result of seeing the injustices of the Empire, Crosshair refuses to give up Omega and faces a deadly interrogator droid reminiscent of the one seen in A New Hope. Although Crosshair is in the hands of the villains, it’s nice to see him with his values realigned, recognizing how evil the Empire really is.
Before he can be subjected to more torture, Crosshair escapes capture, sparing Doctor Scalder in the process. He is soon recaptured by Hemlock, but not before he is able to send out a distress signal mentioning Plan 88 and warning Clones to be careful. It’s unclear what Plan 88 refers to, but the parallels between Plan 88 and Order 66 are evident. Of note, the final episode of Season 2 is titled “Plan 99.” What Plans 88 and 99 entail remain a mystery. Is Plan 88 an Imperial order to eliminate all Clones? Will Plan 99 be Clone Force 99’s mission to rescue the kidnapped Clones?
The title of the other part of next week’s two-part finale is also mentioned, as Grand Moff Tarkin (voiced by Stephen Stanton) makes his first appearance of the season. Debriefing with Hemlock, Tarkin makes mention of “the Summit,” indicating that there is some kind of important meeting between Imperial officials on the horizon. The idea of an Imperial Summit is reminiscent of the plot of Star Wars: Aftermath, the novel by Chuck Wendig that depicted a summit of Imperial officials discussing how to move forward following the Battle of Endor.
Catching up with the Bad Batch on Pabu, the team enjoys their new home, isolated from the Clone conspiracies in the galaxy. Soon though, Echo arrives and brings news of the recent kidnapping of Clone Troopers. The ever-reliable Tech is able to decrypt the Imperial data logs, revealing that Clones are being transported for experiments by the Empire’s Advanced Science Division. The team also becomes aware of Doctor Hemlock here, who is revealed as a former operative of the Republic who was banished for his unorthodox methods. An already intriguing villain becomes more interesting as Doctor Hemlock proves to be a menacing presence this season. Perhaps most notably of all, Tech’s decrypted data reveals that Crosshair is a prisoner of Hemlock’s as they receive the distress message Crosshair sent warning that Clones are in danger.
With Crosshair still imprisoned and the Bad Batch finally aware of some of the Empire’s nefarious plans for Clones, the groundwork is laid for the finale of Season 2. A haunting image of Hemlock smiling as Crosshair is tortured is countered by a fleeting look at Doctor Scalder. Is Scalder questioning Hemlock? Could she turn and be an ally to Crosshair and the other Clones? And just what is the Summit and what is the Empire’s Advanced Science Division up to here? How do these Cloning operations relate to the experiments seen in The Mandalorian and even at the beginning of The Rise of Skywalker? What are Plans 88 and 99, and will Crosshair be welcomed back into Clone Force 99 if he is successfully rescued? There are so many intriguing questions heading into next week’s two-part finale, all of which evidence how strong the last few episodes of The Bad Batch have been. A few less engaging, inconsequential mission-of-the-week episodes are a far cry from “Tipping Point,” a layered and intricate political thriller of an episode that confirm, yet again, The Bad Batch is necessary viewing for Star Wars fans.