‘Cut and Run’ slows down and lacks the urgency of the pilot. Understandable as this is, it has to be done correctly in order to ensure that the story told is not a forgettable one. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite nail the balance this time.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch is available to stream on Disney+.
Story – Running in Circles
Episode 2 begins in the new equilibrium set directly after the events of ‘Aftermath’. Clone Force 99 are on the run from The Empire with Omega, a child clone. They have to adapt to a new world and way of living and use their skills as soldiers in a completely different way to their time at war.
Frankly, this episode slowed the pace down a bit. This was expected, but it didn’t quite do it in the right way when talking about development and plot. There isn’t as much information to cram in and doesn’t have a bumper runtime as the pilot did. Therefore, we should get to see more in-depth developments and more urgency in the actions and feelings of the characters, but we don’t.
That’s not to say that there isn’t any subtle development here, with Hunter clearly developing emotionally when it comes to being a father figure to Omega. He’s not a hardened soldier anymore; he is a strong man who has new responsibilities that he has never had before. This is a really good situation to put a soldier into, with his body language toward Omega showing this throughout the episode.
Cut Lawquane is a returning character from The Clone Wars show and is really well used, especially in terms of developing the relationship between Hunter and Omega. Cut is a clone who deserted the army to build a life as a farmer with a family. He represents the potential within Hunter to be that father figure that Omega needs, but his actions show his underlying fear of that new role in life.
He tries to leave Omega with Cut and his family so that she can live a good life despite clearly wanting to raise her himself and maintain the connection established between them so far. His lack of experience with emotional and educational responsibilities drives him to try to separate himself from Omega and the new life that he might lead.
However, in terms of the singular plot of episode two, we finish back where we started: Clone Force 99 are on the run in a new world that they do not understand. We didn’t really learn anything new, but a couple of long-term points were strengthened in a sideways direction rather than forward.
Characters & Performances – Developing Soul
As previously mentioned, there is very little new development in any of the characters, if any, and only strengthens what we learned in the pilot.
Hunter got the most development in this arc. We start to see the inner battle between logic and emotion, which is something that he hasn’t dealt with on a parental level yet. His body language shows this best, as do some of his actions in the story when it concerns Omega. This is something that is really fun and interesting.
Omega is a curious kid with a bright presence and complete naivety of the world around her. In this episode, we get to see how she reacts to being on another planet for the first time. It’s a very sweet moment when she exits the ship and is amazed by the dirt she walks on. This strengthens the level of curiosity her character has, as she is almost attacked by the wildlife due to her naivety. This can be developed upon further in future episodes. We see her learn and adapt to her new surroundings and begin to understand how shielded from any danger she was on Kamino.
Tech, Wrecker and Echo are basically bystanders in this episode, which is a shame because they all have some potential. Echo, for example, showed clear signs of PTSD and trauma previously. We see a little bit with Wrecker as he is referred to as ‘Uncle Wrecker’ by Cut Lawquane’s children, perhaps showing Hunter that fun side that he doesn’t possess.
Dee Bradley-Baker plays all of the clone characters, and there isn’t usually much to say when talking about his performance. He’s consistently excellent when playing each of the clones and clearly knows the mentality of a clone soldier inside and out. Omega is played by Michelle Ang, who also does a good job in giving us some really sweet moments of her character being a bright spark of curiosity in the story.
Pacing – A Little Sluggish
When thinking about the pacing of the overall story so far, the production team are arguably correct to slow things down a little. To allow the characters and audience time to settle on what was a lot to digest in the pilot. On the other hand, there wasn’t enough information flowing throughout Episode 2 in order to make it significant in any way.
Much of the information given to the audience here is stuff that they already know. That is part of the problem that faces Dave Filoni and his team when balancing the pacing for the sake of the audience’s entertainment and sensical plot/character development. We, as the audience and Star Wars fans, may understand what The Empire is and how they ruled the galaxy, but our main characters are only just discovering this right now.
There are two solutions to this problem, one of which was utilised in this episode, and one which was not. Omega as a character is really important in terms of adding something completely different to what would be a very boring story without her. The development of her character and relationship with Hunter specifically is the main premise, providing 50% of the pacing equation.
Adding new information is crucial to keeping people interested, but there needs to be a balance so that new people aren’t confused, and loyal fans aren’t bored. The creators didn’t quite nail the balance on this occasion. There was no new information about the new Empire and how it impacts people day-to-day other than identification processes and military occupation. It doesn’t really hit a nerve with the average audience member.
The pacing of each episode contributes to the overall momentum of the story and also determines which episodes are skippable. ‘Cut and Run’ just doesn’t hit the mark in pacing, and when I look back at the end of the series, it’s probably going to be skippable.
Editing – Forgettable Moments
The way that a piece of media is edited tends to impact the pacing in some way. Good editing doesn’t tend to get noticed as it is really expected with any big money production. When the editing is bad, it’s really obvious.
Good or bad editing was not obvious here, which indicates that it’s solid. There were no confusing shots that take you out of the story, and the editing was dynamic and kept a nice flow to things. When it comes to editing and pacing specifically, it’s really important that each character gets their fair share of screen time. If they don’t, the audience will forget about them quite easily.
This happened to Echo, Tech and Wrecker a lot. This is partly down to the way the story is written, but in terms of editing, we got some extra cuts of what felt like insignificant scenes of the three doing next to nothing in the story. Again, it’s a difficult balance to get right, especially when you want to focus on a particular relationship that only involved 2 out of 5 main characters.
Cinematography & Sound – All Too Easy
Exactly what it says on the box; these guys are professionals at the end of the day. The animation quality has levelled up even since Clone Wars Season 7, with characters moving with even more dynamism than ever.
The setting of Saleucami is a really good one in terms of being a completely different to Omega’s home planet of Kamino. Such is really important to fuelling her curiosity. The darkness and blue/grey colour of Kamino compared to the yellows, reds and pinks really help to set Saleucami apart as a place of nature. The somewhat primitive surroundings and structures of certain parts of the planet really help show us the variety of the galaxy, especially when compared to the incredibly advanced nature of Kamino and its people.
The sound is without any technical problems, and the music supports each scene narratively in terms of tone. There are a few emotional moments that are really sweet or almost sad that is really nicely supported by smooth string music. The music in action scenes are quite simple and reused from previous Bad Batch episodes between this show and Clone Wars.