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The Bad Batch

The Harbinger (The Bad Batch - S03E09) - Animated Series

Series: The Bad Batch

Title: The Harbinger

Season: Three

Episode: 9

Original Air Date: March 27th, 2024

Runtime: 25 minutes

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

Discuss the latest Chapter! (Discussion)

"Your blood doesn't make you a Jedi, you'd have to be trained for that!" SPOILERS.

Star Wars - where being dead is less severe than having a cold

"The Harbinger" is certainly one of the better season 3 episodes thus far, I'd rank it among the top three or so episodes. But "The Harbinger" is also indicative of so many things that are just wrong in Star Wars or the way the franchise is treated by Lucasfilm, but I will explain that in more detail soon.

Omega the Lil Jedi

"The Harbinger" follows up on last week's episode, and as suspected Fennec Shand contacted Ventress who has zero problems with tracking down the whereabouts of Hunter and his team. Omega meets her first and soon after the clones catch up with Omega when they suspect something is wrong. Ventress reveals that she has arrived to tell them about "m-count", but only if they reveal to her why they need to know. After the usual transparent lies Ventress quickly finds out that it's all about Omega. So Ventress agrees to test Omega. Now why she simply would not use the device Qui-Gon used to accurately measure the m-count is not explained, other than "they need a story this week", so instead Ventress wants Omega to perform various practical tests to find out if she has any aptitude.

That escalated rather quickly - Ventress ditched her red blade for a nice and warm yellow after Dooku tried to get rid of her 

Eventually Ventress sends Omega on some bogus test so she can have a nice little chat with the clones who have meanwhile found out who Ventress is... and they want her gone, even if it means they have to kill her. To remind everyone how awesome Force users are Ventress single handedly defeats all the clones with relative ease, but things deescalate when Omega returns. They all eventually agree to (kind of) trust Ventress who also tells them that she is not their enemy and that things have changed.

Star Wars, it rhymes

So a bit later Ventress takes Omega out on a boat to the open sea, she wants Omega to reach out, since Force users / Jedi are often attuned to nature and like good Disney princesses can call on the birds and the deer... only this time we talk about marine sealife. However, Omega fails to do anything, so Ventress does her best Yoda impression and lifts the figurative X-Wing out of the water... only in this case on top of the usual peaceful sea creatures Ventress accidentally summons Space Cthulhu from the depths as well...

Let me introduce you to the monster of the week: this time it's Space Cthulhu!

Hunter and the others of course watch with binoculars from a distance and when they see that Space Cthulhu wants to eat Omega they take their Marauder to attack the monster, but Ventress insists that they stop shooting, she wants to use the Force to pacify the beast, which she of courses manages with ease. A bit later Ventress apparently DOES measure Omega's m-count after all (it is at least implied) and she tells everyone that no, Omega doesn't have a high m-count. A disappointed Omega who so wanted to be a lil Jedi walks away, but the clones stay behind and Hunter flat out accuses Ventress of lying and he wants to know why... Ventress tells them that if Omega has a high m-count it would mean she'd have to be trained and that would mean she'd have to leave her makeshift family behind (to which I ask... WHY? Ventress is not even a Jedi and does not follow their rules... but whatever...) and it is more than implied that Ventress thinks that this is probably nothing either Omega or Hunter wants. So now we know it, Omega has a high m-count (apparently the first clone to be force sensitive, according to Ventress), but for now Omega can stay with Hunter and the others. But Ventress warns them that the Empire is stronger than Hunter can even imagine...

So all in all I think this was an entertaining episode, watched in isolation it was fun, we were reunited with a fan favorite Clone Wars character, Asajj Ventress, and the plot was also moved forward, at least a bit, we now know that Omega is apparently force sensitive (of course she is....). But when you think about it all, Star Wars as a whole and what Lucasfilm is doing with it, you will wonder if they even know what they are doing. This also includes the showrunner.

Let's talk about Ventress first. I would hazard a guess and say no one is unhappy about seeing her again. She is a memorable and popular Clone Wars character after all. But here's the thing: Ventress is dead, she died in some "canon" Clone Wars book where she took a hit for her boyfriend Quinlan Vos when Count Dooku unloaded Force lightning into her. Now this being Star Wars being "dead" is not even a minor inconvenience, but really now... it's getting ridiculous. Resurrecting Darth Maul, while understandable, set a rather silly precedence for it all. But the real issue is that Lucasfilm STILL insists that "everything" is canon... the showrunner, when confronted with the fact that Ventress returns, said it will all line up with the events of the book... only in this episode Ventress merely quips she still has a few more lives left. How funny. Star Wars series or movies have now repeatedly trashed so-called "canon" books or comics, It is not even the first time The Bad Batch simply ignored books or comics. And I have no issue with that, the books are read by a tiny minority compared to the number of people watching a series or movie. My issue is that Lucasfilm still claims it's all "canon" when it clearly isn't. Books, comics or games are very evidently their own thing. So why is Lucasfilm still clinging to their canon policy? Just unleash the creativity of the writers and let them write anything they want, Star Wars books would not need to be gap fillers or required reading to understand movies, but could do what the books did in the old EU, just tell non canon stories, big, small, epic. Also, the few people who DO buy the books must feel rather silly when they find out later that the book they read... forget it... didn't really happen. So why even bother with the books in the first place?

Next up is Ventress' line "that to be Jedi means to be trained". I find it utterly hilarious how they backtrack again and again from the comedy of errors that is the sequel trilogy. Various shows have pointed out the importance of training since then - apparently the showrunners got the message that Insta-Jedi Force powers à la Rey are a lorebreaking stupidity of colossal magnitude, and only something a hack like JJ Abrams would come up with. Rey, who won her fist ever lightsaber duel or could dominate mind people after a quick download of some Force powers from Kylo Ren. It's funny how that concept was never mentioned again... ever... and that all the shows released since then instead go the traditional route: that knowing how to actually use the Force takes years and years and years of training and the shows even make a point of it, I mean you will be a Padawan for something like 15-16 years before you become a knight. You don't learn how to dominate minds like Neo in The Matrix.   

I also laughed out loud when in this episode Crosshair talks about accessing the "public archives", where he found out all about Ventress and who she is. I wonder though... why not use those "public archives" to try and find out anything about the "m-count", or anything really.... I mean, those archives even have some info on former Sith apprentices.... This is something the showrunner Jennifer Corbett could have fixed in 30 seconds... include a scene in a previous episode where the Bad Batch access the "public archives" and search for "m-count", only to find that no info exists... let them try to look up a few other things until Echo (who joins later) or so remarks that the public archives were purged after the Empire took over and that many, many books or infos were deleted, and that everything related to Jedi or the Force was removed as well. So then we would have a good reason for Hunter having to talk to someone in person to find out more about m-count and it would also mean they might have a slight idea that it may be related to the Force. This utter lack of believable worldbuilding is a problem that haunts all of Star Wars. And it's so super simple to fix. They just come up with "public archives" when they need it for a certain week they will have to talk to someone in person again to find out anything.      

Let's also talk about Omega the Lil Jedi... because of course she is... I have no inherent problem with that. But it's so super obvious it's also super boring. In the comments section someone quipped a while ago that Omega will turn out to be Rey's mom. At this point nothing would surprise me anymore and I can see how the writers could actually go there, connecting Rey all the way back to Jango of all things, so she'd be Rey Palpatine-Fett with "Skywalker" as her stage name, the Uber Jedi, which is just hilarious. Why they never made her Luke's daughter then is a debate we've all had before. Why must everyone be Force sensitive now? Sabine became a Jedi out of the blue, just like that, Omega is now also Force sensitive (at least it's more than just implied by Ventress and it's pretty much a given that she lied to Omega, with how the episode ends). I still find it very unfortunate that The Bad Batch copy pasted a central plot from The Mandalorian, turning Omega into Grogu Jr.

And finally... Lucas famously said that Star Wars rhymes... ok, but do we need to see the same things again and again and again and again and again and again? Yes, we get it... Luke cannot believe you can lift an X-Wing, Omega can't conjure up space fish... so Yoda/Ventress steps in and shows how it's done. Also... a giant monster that wants to eat the heroes... AGAIN????? Is there NO other dramatic action sequence they can think of in The Bad Batch? It always has to be "giant man eating monsters".

So as I said, in itself the episode was ok, pretty good, other than for the Space Cthulhu sequence which felt pointless, but if you consider all of Star Wars "The Harbinger" is an impressive showcase for everything that is both good and very bad about Star Wars. And it's not even anything related to how Disney is doing things, because the general philosophy is still the same. Death is meaningless, repetitive plot elements galore (George is the godfather of all that when he recycled the Death Star back in 1983 or told Filoni to resurrect Darth Maul, "because"), very weak and sometimes implausible worldbuilding.

Sometimes I wish Star Wars was a bit less repetitive and somewhat smarter about the actual worldbuilding. And the canon situation as we have it now is utterly ridiculous, why is Lucasfilm still insisting "everything" is canon when it clearly isn't? Sure, they can come up with some bogus nonsense retcon explanation as to why Ventress survived 1.21 gigawatts of electricity pumped into her when she saved her boyfriend Quinlan Vos (quite frankly, that book should never have been written in the first place), just as The Clone Wars gave us a Maul flashback that showed us how you can go about your life without your legs or a lower abdomen, who needs to eat and get rid of certain human waste products anyway.

Anyway, if you just focus on The Bad Batch or this episode then it was pretty fun this week. Ventress is a scene stealer and she clearly overshadowed everyone else in this episode. So they can't have her be around for now, I think she may return, but she leaves so the show can focus again on Omega, who is now a force sensitive clone, the first ever, just "because". At this point I do really hope they turn her into Rey's mother... it would be the most Star Wars thing ever.

Added: March 28, 2024
Category: The Bad Batch
Reviewer: Thomas
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