Star Wars: The Clone Wars cannot be replaced, but at least Star Wars: The Bad Batch honors the former show’s legacy of pushing the envelope of animated storytelling. While episode three gives our titular heroes a lesser B-plot to keep themselves occupied, shifting focus back on Crosshair brings some seriously dark repercussions. Mowing down innocents in service of the Empire and from a character whose redemption seemed inevitable serves as one of the most brutal forms of cruelty in the franchise.
Yes, Crosshair’s unflinching massacre of Saw Gerrera’s (Andrew Kishino) Onderon rebel cell — unarmed and opting to surrender — is up there with Anakin Skywalker’s younglings slaughter as a moment too shocking to even process. Last week, I mentioned that the writing team needed to take a firm stance regarding Crosshair’s true nature at some point. Is he a victim of his inhibitor chip, or is he innately evil? “Replacement,” surprisingly, leans towards the latter. Even if Crosshair does receive the classic Star Wars redemption arc, there is no way his war crimes will go unpunished. Then again, when in wartime, soldiers’ heinous actions tend to get pardoned. Under a regime as diabolical as Palpatine’s Empire, such behavior is even encouraged.
However, there are indicators that Crosshair misses his brothers. Looking at the Roman numeral markings on his barrack’s wall — which catalog days and campaigns fought against the Separatist Army — it’s obvious that the sharpshooter longs for the heyday of those times. And yet, the cold, unfeeling disposal of human life that the Empire espouses serves as mental fuel for Crosshair. He gets sadistic pleasure out of following orders that provide ample room for lethal force. Even the Clone “regs” who carried out Palpatine’s horrifying command did so with possessed, dutiful disinterest — there was no gleeful satisfaction involved. Chip or no chip, there’s a screw loose in Crosshair that can’t be easily excused.
While the sinister sniper adjusts comfortably to his new commander role, Kaminoans Lama Su (Bob Bergen) and Nala Se (Gwendoline Yeo) are aptly worried that the Clone wunderkind might be their last contractual foothold. With both Palpatine and Admiral Tarkin (Stephen Stanton) pushing for a conscripted army — much cheaper and more prone to improvisation on the battlefield — it’s only a matter of time until the Kaminoan’s Clone contract dissolves. Prime Minister Su and chief scientist Se have different priorities, yet with the same goal in mind: prove to the new galactic order that the genetically engineered super-soldiers still have immense value. As we all know, this is a battle they won’t be winning in the near future, but it will be interesting for fans to see how the Kaminoans pivot once their services-rendered check clears.
Elsewhere, the Bad Batch find themselves marooned on a moon until repairs for their damaged ship are complete. As usual, a local creature gets involved, mistaking vital parts for energy sustenance, which makes the crew’s detour that much longer. However, the minor catastrophe allows Omega (Michelle Ang) the opportunity to show her worthiness to the team. She’s able to soothe the Ordo Moon Dragon long enough to recover the essential parts.
Unlike her brothers — who tend to overreact or rush into action before considering a less antagonistic approach — Omega maintains serenity in the most dangerous circumstances. Even though her young age naturally incites rational fear for her safety, Omega’s siblings are no longer treating her as though she’s as fragile as a Kyber crystal.
Although Wrecker admits to missing Crosshair, his heinous actions during this episode override any audience desire to see him rejoin the team without scrutiny. The sharpshooter deserves to face the consequences of his homicidal tendencies before he can walk a path towards redemption. With Crosshair leading the newly conscripted Imperial army, you can bet that injustice is being served at a faster rate than heroism can keep up with. The tide will turn in a decade or so, but for now, Star Wars: The Bad Batch lives up to the grim timeline it belongs to.