The HoloFiles

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Season 3, Episodes 1-3

By George & Josh Bate

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Season 3, Episodes 1-3

Since the theatrical release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in 2019, new stories in a galaxy far, far away have largely unfolded as television shows on Disney+. While live-action shows like The Mandalorian and Andor have garnered significant acclaim, Star Wars animation has excelled from a more understated position with some of the most gut-wrenching and thoughtful stories in the franchise taking place in animated television shows. The term ‘gut-wrenching’ certainly comes to mind when reflecting on the emotional devastation of The Bad Batch Season 2 finale, in which Omega joined Crosshair as captives of the Empire and Tech fell to his death.

With the squad fractured and the Empire reaching new levels of depravity, the third and final season of The Bad Batch kicks off with questions to be answered and character journeys to explore. Season 3 (fittingly) kicks off with a three-episode premiere featuring methodical pacing, beautiful animation, and intriguing plot developments with plenty of interesting connections to other Star Wars stories.

The Bad Batch Season 3 review

The first episode of Season 3 – titled “Confined” – focuses entirely on Omega and what she has been up to while in Imperial captivity on Tantiss. Such a heavy, initial emphasis on plot and character development marks a contrast to Season 2 of the series, which began with an entertaining, albeit unsubstantial, arc. The spotlight remains firmly on Omega, with the remaining members of the Bad Batch – Hunter, Wrecker, and Echo – not even appearing. The episode purposefully features a mundanity to reflect the conditions Omega finds herself in. Days quickly become weeks and she finds herself in the middle of grand Imperial experiments of unknown purpose. 

The contained nature of the Season 3 premiere (being set entirely in the Imperial Science facility on Tantiss), coupled with slower pacing and a lack of jovial humor, make this season of The Bad Batch feel more mature than ever. It’s possible to make the mistake that Star Wars animation is best characterized by light-hearted storytelling and characters (akin to the tone of the 2008 film Star Wars: The Clone Wars), but The Bad Batch highlights, once again, how mature and grounded Star Wars animation can be. At worst, this premiere episode can be faulted for being too slow or uneventful and yet, while considered in the broader context of a three-episode premiere, it works.

Pacing and characters of focus change significantly in the season’s second episode titled “Paths Unknown.” Whereas the first episode centered entirely around Omega, this episode pivots to Hunter and Wrecker. Poignantly, the emotional impact of the death of Tech and the losses of Omega and Crosshair hit hard with Hunter and Wrecker in this episode. Compared to the lively Bad Batch squad seen in previous seasons, the team seems barren now as it is comprised solely of Hunter and Wrecker. Subtle and striking imagery of Tech’s broken glasses and Omega’s black-and-red tooka doll paint devastating pictures of the trauma Clone Force 99 have undergone. Again, this is Star Wars animation with a decidedly different tone than light-hearted installments of The Clone Wars and Rebels

In addition to conveying the emotional states of Clone Force 99’s remaining members, “Paths Unknown” follows Hunter and Wrecker as they continue their pursuit of Omega. This search sees the clones get information from Roland Durand, an old ally from Season 1, about the location of a lab run by Omega’s captor Doctor Hemlock. This entry point into the story serves as nice connective tissue to Season 1’s arc with Durand and interestingly depicts the Devaronian crime family with some interesting visuals (and a crime boss voiced by Anjelica Huston!)

The intel from Durand takes Hunter and Wrecker to a remote planet, where they come across an Imperial science lab destroyed by orbital bombardment. Nonetheless, the team hope that the lab’s computer system offers some insight into where Hemlock (and Omega) are currently located. It wouldn’t be The Bad Batch without a challenge, however, and this episode’s challenge comes in the shape of Imperial experiments gone wrong. Initially termed ‘slither vines’ and later portrayed as something that looks like the cousin of a sarlacc pit, these Imperial experiments on local fauna make it difficult for Hunter and Wrecker to access the lab and retrieve Hemlock’s location.

Thankfully, Hunter and Wrecker have help in the form of young clones left behind on the planet, one of whom is delightfully voiced by Attack of the Clones’ Boba Fett actor Daniel Logan. The dynamic between these three younger clones and the remaining members of the Bad Batch provides some interesting conversations that continue to explore one of the series’ main themes – how clones fit into a galaxy that no longer needs them. 

Eventually, the team work their way through the treacherous lab and recover the information they need, bringing the episode to an end. All in all, “Paths Unknown” proves to be a serviceable episode of The Bad Batch, far from unwatchable but also not at the level of quality the series has shown it can reach. Seeing how Omega and Tech’s loss affect Hunter and Wrecker is powerful, and the addition of some young clones affords a unique opportunity to explore the role of clones in the galaxy at this time. Other than that, however, the episode doesn’t do anything particularly groundbreaking or profound.

The Bad Batch Season 3 review

That changes, however, in the third episode of this three-episode premiere arc – “Shadows of Tantiss.” This episode switches its focus back to Omega and Crosshair, who hatch an escape plan from the Imperial facility at the same time that Emperor Palpatine is visiting to review Doctor Hemlock’s progress. There’s a lot to enjoy about this episode as it forges some intriguing connections to other Star Wars stories and features a brisk pace and plenty of suspense.

Starting with the elephant in the room that is Palpatine, The Bad Batch, once again, gets the evil Sith Lord and ruler of the Empire right. Palpatine is simply terrifying here, with his face covered in shadows and the audience hanging on every word that comes from the booming voice of Ian McDiarmid. Palpatine featured briefly in The Bad Batch Season 2, in a pivotal moment that showcased the villain’s political prowess, penchant for manipulation, and true horror. Palpatine’s appearance in this episode of The Bad Batch is similarly scary, but is also surprisingly revelatory as the audience is given more information about what Palpatine and Hemlock are really up to with all this cloning technology.

The Bad Batch Season 3 review

We have theorized for years that the cloning elements from The Bad Batch will tie into The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker to, in one way or another, explain how Palpatine survived the events of Return of the Jedi and restored his power by the time of the sequel trilogy. Evidence in favor of this theory is provided in “Shadows of Tantiss,” as Palpatine and Hemlock speak of ‘Project Necromancer.’ This project was first mentioned by Captain Palleon during the meeting of the Imperial Shadow Council in The Mandalorian Season 3. The inclusion of the word ‘necromancer’ suggests that this particular Imperial project ties into summoning the dead in some way. While there’s still much to be explored in regards to this plot, it is undeniably exciting to slowly get a closer look behind the curtain in this episode of The Bad Batch.

While Palpatine checks on the status of Hemlock’s work, Omega and Crosshair find themselves in the middle of an escape from the facility. Although it was obvious that Omega and Crosshair would eventually escape from the clutches of the Empire, it is surprising just how early into Season 3 this happens. The escape itself, meanwhile, is full of The Bad Batch’s trademark tension and suspense. And there’s an endearing touch with Omega bringing along her new animal friend Batcher to top it all off. 

The Bad Batch Season 3 review

So, as The Bad Batch’s final season kicks off, the team is divided and in the middle of quite a precarious situation. Hunter and Wrecker are trying to find Omega, while Omega and Crosshair have successfully escaped from the Empire. Doctor Hemlock, meanwhile, uncovers new information to suggest that Omega is vital to completing the Emperor’s cloning project. Determined to re-capture Omega (and to keep her alive for experimentation), the Empire are once again in pursuit of Omega.

VERDICT: 8/10

The Bad Batch Season 3 begins on a strong note with three mature and methodically paced episodes. The emotional aftermath of the devastating events of Season 2 is expertly explored, while the series continues to shed light on what happens to the clones after the events of the prequel trilogy. Although the second episode of Season 3 lacks novelty, the surrounding two episodes feature an abundance of suspense and tension that nicely complement the intriguing reveals related to the Emperor’s cloning project. With 12 episodes to go before The Bad Batch comes to an end, there’s plenty of time for the show to head in all sorts of exciting directions, especially as Omega’s escape from the Empire came sooner than anticipated. In sum, The Bad Batch’s third season appears to be following in the footsteps of the previous two seasons with thoughtful and insightful storytelling that make this an intriguing and entertaining start to Clone Force 99’s final journey. 

New episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch premiere Wednesdays on Disney+.

Check our roundtable interviews with Omega star Michelle Ang and The Bad Batch executive producers Jennifer Corbett and Brad Rau below:

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Omega Actress Michelle Ang Talks ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ Season 3, Asajj Ventress, & the Series Finale
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ Executive Producers Discuss Tech’s Death, the Final Season & Connections to Other Stories

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