With Episode 3, The Bad Batch starts to embrace what it could be

The Bad Batch crash lands on a desolate moon and has to deal with space beasties while Crosshair begins training the first generation of Stormtrooper.

I’ve made my disappointment with this series so far no small secret. I’m wild about the setting in the early days of the Empire, but the characters, to me at least, are little more than cardboard cutouts — the template of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and every other 80’s team property in space. With “Replacements,” however, The Bad Batch seems to finally embrace what can set it apart and give it it’s own voice in the wilderness and, I have to say, I like what I’m seeing.

I’m going to start with Crosshair first because that is where the episode got dark in ways that I was not expecting. Crosshair, a former member of The Bad Batch who succumbed to his programming unlike his clone brothers, was tasked with training new Stormtroopers. At first, this seemed like a harmless B-story with Crosshair needing to prove himself and overcome the prejudice of his human charges, but nope… he just straight up kills because he was ordered to. It really hit home that Crosshair has become such a machine: unfeeling, unmerciful, and unthinking. It honestly makes me wonder if there is a way back for him or if he even wants to some back. Maybe this is the person he always wanted to be?

In any case, Crosshair has just filled a role that The Bad Batch was seriously lacking, that of a major antagonist.

As for the A-plot, being in a scary place with scary monsters isn’t exactly the most original idea that Star Wars has ever done. It feels like Rebels and The Clone Wars did those kind of episodes on the daily and even The Mandalorian did a “scary place, scary monster” story last season. None of it was original, none of it was that interesting.

What made the plot interesting, however, is that The Bad Batch is having to adjust to a new lifestyle. Hunter and Wrecker find themselves in parental roles and, I won’t lie, there were moments where I found it truly touching.

To her credit, Omega is also breaking out of her stereotypical role as “the girl one” proving herself smart and capable, but not annoyingly so. “Replacements” showed her adjusting to a problem, solving that problem in a logical way, and not getting a big head or bragging because she did so. When she was done, she just said, “I accomplished the mission.” I have to say, despite my reservations, Omega is actually growing on me faster than I thought she would. She’s refreshingly wide-eyed and humble.

There were some other interesting tidbits in this episode. Was I the only one thinking that Wrecker’s headache was his chip trying to come back online? Granted, the head injury might have just been a convenient way of keeping him on the ship so that Omega could have her time to shine, but part of me wonders if he might be a ticking time bomb.

All in all, I really enjoyed this episode. As I said, the plot wasn’t that amazing, but the character work and and evolution of what had been a line of cardboard cutouts made it a lot more interesting to watch and has given me hope for this series.

Can we please make Wrecker a little less of a walking cartoon though? He’s almost there!

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