'Star Wars: The Bad Batch' Runs Into Some Familiar Faces From 'The Clone Wars' in "Decommissioned"

This article contains spoilers for the Star Wars: The Bad Batch episode “Decommissioned.” 

There’s never time to rest for the characters on Star Wars: The Bad Batch. Needing the creds and a beneficial working arrangement, the Bad Batch (Dee Bradley Baker) and Omega (Michelle Ang) reluctantly accept an assignment from the shady Cid (Rhea Perlman, again with her acerbic swagger): retrieve the head of a tactical droid at a decommissioning facility that melts Separatist droids for an unrevealed client. Because Separatist tactical droids were posed as challengers against clone soldiers during the Clone Wars, the data within a tactical droid is valuable to take down the Empire’s clone soldiers. 

Directed by Nathaniel Villanueva and written by Amanda Rose Muñoz, “Decommissioned” juggles bountiful elements and reveals: the long-term hazard of Wrecker’s headache, Omega learning a combative skillset, the return of two familiar faces from The Clone Wars, and the seeds of the Rebellion. But despite the multitudes of omens and possibilities, the episode executes those to a mixed effect since Villanueva’s direction is more locked on action than introspection.

En route to gather the only remaining tactical droid head at the facility, the Bad Batch crosses paths with a pair also after their prize: the Martez sisters, the irascible Rafa (Elizabeth Rodriguez) and the good-natured Trace (Brigitte Kali), the lower-class Coruscant civilians who became allies of Ahsoka Tano in the final season of The Clone Wars. For those who know the sisters best from their hardscrabble lives, the viewer immediately assumes Rafa and Trace are making ends meet. However, it turns out their motive concerns the welfare of the galaxy. Despite some physical scuffling, the sisters and the Batch gain trust by allying in the interest of talking things out later.

After a succession of several head injuries built up from “Replacements”, yet another head bump provokes Wrecker’s painful headache to metastasize into a torrential state that ticks off his Order 66 biochip. It’s hinted that his brain is slipping down the unwilling path of betrayal like the reg clones who fired at the Jedi — complemented by a chilling cue of Crosshair’s voice screaming inside Wrecker’s head as a signifier that it can take an external factor like a “good soldiers follow orders” mantra (retroactive in this case) to activate the intended impulses of the brainchip.

It’s a terror that he copes with alone and he doesn’t seem to recall his breakdown by the time he returns to his brothers. This set-up properly allows time to absorb a ticking time bomb of incoming horrors, effectively contrasted with his lighthearted personality quirks where he grapples with his phobia of heights to get things done. But intercut with typical blaster fire, a heartbreaking tragedy waiting to happen is scrambled into other priorities.

Meanwhile, now that she’s armed with a Zygerrian bow, Omega is maturing in experience. No longer do her older clone brothers command her to stay in the ship; she’s fully entrusted to tag along for missions. But it’s a letdown that her improvement with her crossbow and “shutting out distractions,” as advised by Echo, is obligatory and brief rather than momentous. 

There’s plenty to take in, but so much is compacted within the usual 22-minute format. The juicy potential of “Decommissioned” emerges too late in the final five minutes in a cool-down conclusion when Trace and Rafa revealed that they were stealing the droid data for the growing rebellion against the Empire. It’s a cause that hasn’t occurred to the Batch just yet. Once Rafa — Ahsoka’s nobility has eemingly rubbed off on her — preaches to Hunter that they have to pick a side, the right side, the drama doesn’t quite land. The revelation of a rebellion clashing with their job could have been seeded earlier as a moral dilemma for the Batch to confront, as well as powerful echo of Saw Gerrera’s words in “Aftermath” about adapting with the times.

While Rafa and Trace are supporting players and very much in-character, their debut in The Bad Batch drops a slew of missed opportunities. While Rafa’s attitude toward clone soldiers implies they suffered the Empire’s oppression, there’s little time allotted to meditate on how they as civilians were impacted by the Empire’s clone soldier occupation. Despite the show’s dedication to illustrate the Empire’s reach and how it swayed support by filling in for shortcomings of Republic rule, the sisters are among the category of plebeians failed by the Republic, but who still keenly recognize the Empire as a threat to the galactic welfare. But their character insight is regelated into unseen bonding with Omega, whose signature curiosity about galactic complications doesn’t come up here to benefit the script, as she and the Martezes part ways on amicable terms.

It’s indicated the Bad Batch are unaware they may have earned an opening back into a better life and suitable purpose, free from the shackles of morally gray assignments, by handing the sisters a backup data rod. Rafa and Trace debrief their mysterious superior (the shape of the unseen person seems familiar enough for the viewer to assume Bail Organa) about the Bad Batchers’ aid. Yet, this possibility would have emotionally landed if we have observed the Bad Batch carry out episodes’ worth of grueling and morally gray assignments beforehand for creds and become psychologically shaped by their new normal. But right now, the Bad Batch series seems more interested in rushing down a straight path. 

Other Thoughts

  • The battle droid (Matthew Wood) saying “orders are orders” is funny.
  • An amusing gag where Echo responds to Trace’s “is there an echo in there?” is hilarious on paper but not quite tuned in the physical execution. I find the style of Star Wars Resistance would be more comfortable with a comedic bit like this.
  • Hey, R7, Ahsoka’s astromech, seems to be all fine and functional and entrusted in Trace and Rafa’s hands after the poor fellow was shot by clone soldiers in the Clone Wars finale.

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