“Battle Scars” Gives Some Growth To “The Bad Batch”

I have found myself frustrated at times with the lack of movement in “Star Wars: The Bad Batch,” and “Battle Scars” continues some of that. It’s essential to remember that the Dave Filoni universe doesn’t always travel in hyperspace, preferring to take its time instead. Thinking back on “The Mandalorian” or “The Clone Wars,” and the pacing becomes a bit more clear. While a show will never lack action, development can be slow in arriving. When it does show up, though, it more than makes up for the wait.

“Battle Scars” reintroduces us to Rex, who has met with Clone Force 99 before. Rex didn’t know where he fits in in the galaxy back then, exactly where our troopers find themselves now. It’s also good to see the contacts they’ve made in the past them moving forward now. Running into Rex is no accident – The Martez sisters telegraphed this move. Rex comes with a warning, though; get rid of the inhibitor chips still in Clone Force 99’s brains, or no one can trust them.

Random groups becoming family seems to be a theme in the Filoniverse. ‘The Clone Wars’ examined a family being torn apart by war, “Rebels,” “The Mandalorian,’ and now “The Bad Batch” take a look at families coming together. They may not be the traditional family unit, but they become tight-knit all the same. That so far is where “The Bad Batch” is suffering a bit.

“The Mandalorian” sewed this issue up in a couple of episodes, owing no small amount to the adorableness of ‘The Child.’ “Rebels” benefitted from having a preexisting chosen family adopt a new member. “The Bad Batch” gets off on the wrong foot of having a team member openly question the leadership and ultimately ‘defect.’ They do adopt a new member in the form of Omega. Since there is no deep bond between the clones outside of their general wartime clonery, the show struggles to connect the characters.

Brotherhood will form out of a life spent in war. That is a given, and we’ve seen it time and again in wartime stories. It’s one of the battle scars you earn. So we know that Hunter, Echo, Tech, and Wrecker have that connection. Of course, there is the connection of being related through the cloning process. Omega increasingly connects them as well. None of that is a replacement for getting to know your characters.

Hunter and Wrecker have had the most growth from when we first encounter them. Swap Echo and Tech out for different clones, and you might not notice. It is a little late in the season to have left two characters out of the mix so glaringly. Wreckers turn when his inhibitor chip activates does make for a scary feeling. It just doesn’t do anything for the character. As I said, Dave Filoni does like to take his time, but having the characters be little more than placeholders is frustrating.

Perhaps with the chips gone, we can start working on who these men are. Who they will become will play out just by following the story, so developing their character is what needs attention. We’ve seen Filoni do it before, so there is probably no reason to worry. It’s tricky to root for the characters when you don’t have the emotional hooks to care.