War can change the world and change can transform people. Throughout the Star Wars franchise, fans have seen this idea pretty clearly from events like Anakin’s fall in Revenge of the Sith to Ben Solo’s redemption in The Rise of Skywalker. However, Star Wars: The Bad Batch utilized this idea through the perspective of Clone Force 99, a special squad of clone troopers who go through hell and back for each other. First introduced back in season seven of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, fans have slowly grown accustomed to the once-conceptualized team.
Clone Force 99 is now back in action, but with their world completely changed since the first season, their adventures lead them down more dangerous paths. Following their escape from Tipoca City’s destruction at the Empire’s hand, the Bad Batch: Hunter, Wrecker, Echo, Tech (all voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) and Omega (Michelle Ang), have become Cid’s (Rhea Perlman) mercenaries. Though their adventures take them to new highs and lows, it’s no surprise that this team has always remained resilient throughout the show. This time around, with the odds changing against them, the Bad Batch seeks out old friends to help them survive.
In its sixteen episode run, The Bad Batch‘s second season might feel like a retread of its predecessor in its beginning episodes. Continuing with Cid, the team goes through different escapade, from participating in podracing to being entombed in a cave bought by Cid. While it can feel a bit formulaic for the episodes to follow this disjointed format, there are bits of connectivity and character development in each episode that help characterize each member of the team. However, the standout characters here have to be Omega and Crosshair.
In Omega’s case, while her craftiness grows a bit rapidly for my liking, she does grow out of being sidelined. Omega is the bond that holds the Bad Batch together and I love the little moments we get between her and the rest of the team. Overtime, she continues this nice relationship with Echo (who embarks on his own journey for part of the season) and the pieces of her childlike youth in her maturity wonderfully make her character. However, I have to say that Crosshair felt much more impactful to this season personally.
This season honestly provides much of the needed development that Crosshair needed. In season one, Crosshair felt like he was just another obstacle that had to be faced for the team. In this season, there was a lot more characterization, especially by the middle of the season. As Crosshair doubts more and more of the Empire’s motives, the show provides a unique complexity to Crosshair’s character that fans were anticipating. This transformation is incredibly encapsulated in “The Outpost“, where his turning point beautifully comes to fruition.
As for the rest of the team, Hunter, Wrecker, and Tech had some improvements. Albeit, Tech feels less self-centered and is growing out of his own self-reliance thanks to Phee (Wanda Sykes). Wrecker is more expressive this time, though Hunter remained mostly the same until the last few episodes. The story-of-the-week format for the first half mostly hindered their potential to grow, but luckily the season picked up for me after one of the best episodes, “Truth and Consequences“, provided some of the best storytelling thus far.
With such dramatic tension and rising stakes, this season utilizes the themes of purpose and responsibility to the best of its ability under its younger audience rating. Crosshair’s story arc revolves around the idea that purpose can be lost in time, as given with the Empire’s rise to power, but responsibility, for yourself or others, must be held. Meanwhile, the Bad Batch’s story arc revolves around if responsibility and purpose should be maintained for the betterment of yourself or for others. These two storylines and ideas play opposite of each other in a way that shows two different sides of the same coin. One embarks on finding new purpose while the other embarks on relieving the responsibility of that purpose and the episodes that correspond with these ideas are tonally different.
In the former’s case, the episodes featuring Crosshair have a grittiness to them that feels more mysterious and dark. The visuals, as seen in The Outpost and Truth and Consequences, reflect that tonal atmosphere almost perfectly as Kevin Kiner’s score tops it off. In the latter’s case, there’s almost a colorful liveliness that comes with the team on their missions, though you get this sense of a high-stakes adventure each episode. The serious factor is still present throughout the season, but these two unique worlds are a bit of a tonal whiplash. Nonetheless, the visual and musical work is still impressive as always.
For a Star Wars show like The Bad Batch, this season definitely ups its dramatic ante to new heights and superbly highlights two sides of the same coin to surpass its predecessor. Sure, this season may still have its faults, but it massively improves the areas where it was needed while still retaining the confidence the first season had. From its intensive stakes to needed character growth, The Bad Batch is able to capitalize on old and new elements that makes it a great continuation. If there is a third season, then I really hope that the show could fully balance the good elements from these two seasons while maximizing its maturity.
The second season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch is streaming on Disney+.