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The Bad Batch

Replacements (The Bad Batch - S01E03) - Animated Series

Series: The Bad Batch

Title: Replacements

Season: One

Episode: 3

Original Air Date: May 14th, 2021

Runtime: 24 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Discuss the latest Chapter! (Discussion)

"We signed up to be soldiers, not an execution squad!" SPOILERS.

Another happy landing

Not all that much actually happens in this week's episode of The Bad Batch, the plot doesn't really move all that much forward. Instead "Replacements" gives us several crucial character moments. There is the growing bond between Omega and the Bad Batch of which she is more or less an actual member now, and there is the sad tale of Crosshair the clone, who still receives treatments to strengthen the effects of his inhibitor chip and is turned into a truly merciless killing machine. But Omega, who knows a lot more about the actual cloning process and the involved inhibitor chip apparently than the other Bad Batch members reveals to them that Crosshair is not to blame at all for what he is doing, since the chip is controlling his behavior. I suppose this will set things in motion to eventually rescue Crosshair. But it'll be a long time before it gets to that.

Crosshair is receiving further treatments

"Replacements" is the first Bad Batch episode with a proper A and B plot. Not much happens really in the A plot, the Havoc Marauder, the ship crewed by the Bad Batch, was damaged while escaping Saleucami, drops out of hyperspace because of it and crashlands on a planet. Here we are treated to a classical creature horror plot, with "monsters" (actually, they are Ordo Moon Dragons) who feed on energy stealing a crucial replacement part rich with energy which prevents the ship from getting back into space again. So Hunter and Omega, after a short debate she can come with Hunter, go after the part and seek out the lair of the monsters.

It only wants to play!

As it turns out the monsters don't really want to eat humans, Hunter is knocked out by one though, so Omega ventures into the lair all on her own. But here she realizes the monsters look scary and act all scary, but after feeding it her torch she can retrieve the capacitor needed to repair the ship.

It actually only wants some energy

Back on the ship Wrecker made a little something for Omega. Earlier in the episode we learned that Omega has no proper place to sleep on the ship, so Wrecker made a nice little bunk for Omega to call her own, while she and Hunter went to retrieve the capacitor. Wrecker is once again greatly improved from the pilot episode. He's still "dumb" in a way, but also sweet, considerate and not THAT dumb anymore. Omega is truly at home now and for the first time ever, so she says, she even has a (small) space all to her own.

A place to call home

The more interesting story however revolves around Crosshair and the all new recruits of Elite Squad Troopers, the soldiers wearing all black stormtrooper armor. And while the "A" plot is pretty dark and scary at times, with creature horror and some scenes that remind of "Alien", the "B" plot is outright brutal and shows how far Crosshair is going to achieve his goals. He follows orders blindly, no questions asked. And if that means outright executing civilians in cold blood, so be it. It's a pretty dark turn of events for a show also meant for kids. While previous episodes did show how shot clones are still moving this episode leaves zero doubt that people are actually getting executed at point blank range in what would be considered a war crime in our society. So in many ways The Bad Batch proves it's not scared of tackling more mature topics and doesn't shy away from going to dark(er) places. Whether or not it's still suited for very young children is another matter then. But The Bad Batch continues the tradition of The Clone Wars of not avoiding darker stories.

Meet the new recruits

Rampart is overseeing the brand new Elite Squad program, and the first four human volunteers are introduced. We learn little about them, but we do learn that at least one of them feels the Empire is actually doing something for him, contrary to the Republic. It further cements the idea that the Republic wasn't held in high regard by quite a few people and was not all that great at taking care of its citizens (something which The Clone Wars also explored), so that certainly explains why some people are not just in favor of the Empire but want to join the Imperial army.

Crosshair shoots a civilian at point blank range

This brand new elite squad is send on their first mission, to finish what the Bad Batch didn't on Onderon, by wiping out Saw Guerrera and his men. As it turns out Saw is long gone and the refugees don't know here he is, and if they knew they still wouldn't tell them. One of the Elite Squad Troopers thinks that's it and wants to return to base, but Crosshair insists that the people still need to be eliminated. And he shoots one of the female refugees at point blank range in cold blood.

Crosshair shoots a disobedient trooper at point blank range

Then Crosshair wants the troopers to kill the other refugees, but they refuse, or one of them does and tells Crosshair that none of them will shoot innocent people, since they signed up to be soldiers, not executioners. So Crosshair shoots the trooper that refused to obey the order at point blank range. Crosshair has no morals at all anymore and is more like an automaton that will carry out any order you give him. The episode goes out of its way to show how the chip has entirely dehumanized Crosshair. The remaining three troopers don't want to share the fate of their comrade and so they execute the refugees. And while this happens offscreen, we do hear the blaster shots, so little is left to the imagination.

A place that used to be home

Back on Kamino the mission is more or less considered a success and we see how Crosshair and his new team mates enter the former living quarters of the Bad Batch, everything has been cleaned up but there are still some reminders of the past, like the markings on the wall Crosshair sits down on his bunk and only he knows what's going through his mind. The episode cleverly contrasts the scene with Omega's all new bunk on the Havoc Marauder with Crosshair returning to his old place. But while Omega looks truly happy and feels at home Crosshair looks rather despondent. That's a good bit of writing here.

We also learn the Kaminoans really want to remain in business and provide clones to an Empire that is much more in favor of recruiting normal citizens. We learn that Jango's original DNA used to make the clones is degrading, meaning it will sooner than later no longer be usable to make new clones (this is not how actual cloning or gene sequencing would work, it's Star Wars "science"). So Lama Su wants to initiate phase 2, but they need one of the Bad Batch (most likely Omega) for that.

"Replacements" was a really interesting episode, at least one half of it. The "A" plot with the monster of the week was not all that exciting, even though is was quite atmospheric with some nods to "Alien", but the "B" plot with Crosshair more than made up for it. Things are slowly set in motion and the central themes are beginning to develop. On the one hand we have Crosshair, rescuing him and removing the chip from his brain will certainly turn into a major plot element. Then there's the ongoing mystery of Omega's true purpose, it's apparent the Kaminoans created her for something called "phase 2" which is supposed to convince the Empire to keep using clones with all new properties. What these are is unknown, but will certainly also play a major role later.

Also, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that The Bad Batch will turn into the Star Wars version of the A-Team and instead be much more in the tradition of The Clone Wars. So things may not always be lighthearted or funny, "Replacements" proves that things can become quite brutal and dark. Which makes me wonder if The Bad Batch is really meant to be family entertainment after all. Anyway, the new show is off to a good start. One of the most major issues of the pilot, Wrecker's characterization, has apparently been fixed and he's now a rather sweet and funny guy, and no longer annoying. Omega is integrated into the main story and events without shoehorning her in, even if she did save the day Wesley Crusher style once again by getting the capacitor back. But she's not considered a "kid", but instead an actual team member. Also, she is a clone and thus she does have certain talents, so there's no need to treat her like a little child all the time. So Hunter, who is the surrogate father, doesn't even try to patronize Omega, he treats her like a person with her own wishes and demands, something we saw in the previous episode as well. This dynamic is very different from the usual way kids are treated in many other shows, Omega is no brat, Omega doesn't have an attitude, instead there's an actual familial bond now between the adult members of the Bad Batch and her. The entire Kamino subplot is also gaining momentum and the various mysteries and unsolved questions give the writers more than enough to work with for future episodes.

Added: May 14, 2021
Category: The Bad Batch
Reviewer: Thomas
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