It’s almost difficult to review “Rescue on Ryloth” as a separate episode of “The Bad Batch“. Without Howzer’s internal conflict, “Rescue on Ryloth” would merely serve as clean-up from last week’s “Devil’s Deal”. Dave Filoni loves his small slices, though, so here we are. At the very least, we get a picture of the dawning realization that the Empire is worse than the Republic.
We see in early episodes that the troop wouldn’t execute innocent people to pursue a greater goal of the Empire. We also see recruit troopers behave the same way. What we are missing is a defining moment for Clone Force 99. Like Luke or Anakin and their humble starts, every hero must begin a journey. Clone Force 99 hasn’t had that moment of epiphany that sets them on a journey. The innocents should have started the team on their journey. It doesn’t work when you have the ‘opposing’ side go through the exact moment and have the same outcome. Howzer benefits from a more personal hero’s journey, and as a result, it is easier to connect to his story.
Howzer’s journey from Imperial soldier to Republic sympathizer makes sense. It also reveals the more significant problem “The Bad Batch” has. The mutations of Clone Force 99 caused their inhibitor chips to malfunction (or not in the case of Wrecker). But that lack of physical reprogramming doesn’t necessarily mean that they wouldn’t or shouldn’t continue to follow orders.
Otherwise, it is nice to spend time with a familiar character and get more of their backstory. Hera’s push from the kid with the stars in her eyes to the young woman fighting against the Empire works. It keeps the story on track; it doesn’t contradict any known history for her. I wish the story weren’t here, though. It takes focus away from the heroes of “The Bad Batch”. “Rescue on Ryloth” belongs almost entirely to “Star Wars: Rebels,” with Clone Force 99 serving virtually no purpose.
The one tidbit “Rescue of Ryloth” does offer movement in the coming conflict with the team’s lost member, Crosshair. He’s risen in the ranks in the Imperial Army and now he’s gained permission to go after his former comrades-in-arms. That match-up promises to give “The Bad Batch” more focus which is sorely needed.