After the sluggish story of Episode 2, ‘Replacements’ brings more character development not only for Clone Force 99 and Omega, but also Crosshair and The Empire as the series starts to pick up the pace.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch is available to stream on Disney+.
Story – Brutality and Bravery
Episode 3 is split into two arcs: Clone Force 99 crash landing on an unknown moon and Crosshair leading a new specialist unit of The Empire.
Starting with The Bad Batch, the crew crash land on a baron moon and go on a wild goose chase for a part of their ship that is stolen by an Ordo Moon Dragon. The arc shows us the good side of Omega’s naivety, contrary to the negative side that she experienced in the last episode as she was almost killed, due to her lack of understanding of the danger of nature. Her contributions throughout the episode showed great courage and prove that there is a good side to her lack of experience in the wider universe. Or she just got lucky.
Alternatively, Crosshair is still being experimented on as his inhibitor chip continues to control his mood and actions. He leads a unit of conscripted soldiers to wipe out rebels on Onderon, as seen in Episode 1. Crosshair kills a soldier on the mission who was not following his exact orders, which involved mindlessly killing innocent civilians.
After the no-show of Episode 2, it’s really relieving to see Crosshair in this one, and to see his complete brutality toward not only innocents but also his own men. In one scene, he walks into the Clone Force 99 barracks and clearly has something to think about as new soldiers take the places of his brothers. This teases that he could overcome his inhibitor chip, but it would take a lot to turn him around.
Their commanding officer, Grand Moff Tarkin, is impressed by the conscripted soldiers as he plans to rid The Empire of clone soldiers. Meanwhile, the Kamino cloners discuss a plan to keep The Empire as a client for a clone military, but the actual contents of the plan are not yet clear. This is quite an exciting new plot point, as the Kaminoans become desperate to continue business with The Empire, and could start to develop something radical to do it.
Characters & Performance – On the move
This episode had a balanced focus on Omega’s developing relationship with Clone Force 99, and Crosshair under the control of The Empire.
As previously mentioned, it is Omega who ends up making crucial contributions to the plot of the episode, showing great calmness in the process. And once again, the relationship between Omega and Hunter is focused on and it’ll clearly be a huge factor as the story continues. If Hunter and Omega have a father-son dynamic, then Wrecker is the older brother, as he builds Omega a new room in the ship.
Meanwhile, Crosshair shows his complete turn under the control of his inhibitor chip, killing innocent civilians and one of the conscripted soldiers who disobeyed his orders. He clearly has no regard for others, including his brothers in arms, while he also develops a grudge against the newly conscripted soldiers. This could prove to be a turning point in future episodes.
It was also great to see The Empire’s first-ever Stormtroopers, with Emilio Garcia-Sanchez playing the soldier who was killed by Crosshair. His performance also gave a gritty reality to the mindset of people who would sign up for The Empire’s military. People who had nothing and came from the bottom. Fighters that just need a roof over their head and work to be done.
However, once again, Echo, Tech and Wrecker are largely forgotten about and ineffectual. This is really annoying considering that they’ve been swept aside for the relationship between Hunter and Omega. This is an interesting relationship, but not when it sacrifices the impact of three of the main characters.
Pacing – Well Balanced
Switching between Clone Force 99 and Crosshair was well done in this episode. It can sometimes be difficult to balance these things out, keeping the screen time roughly equal while fitting in integral developments of the episode. Crosshair’s arc is quite clearly the most interesting and important one in ‘Replacements’. Although, the production team managed to make the Clone Force 99 arc pretty substantial with a little more relationship development between Omega and the rest of the squad.
In terms of the overall pacing of the series so far, this one is very important for viewers to watch. It attempts to balance the relationship development of Omega and Clone Force 99 with Crosshair’s implementation into The Empire. This episode basically renders its predecessor non-essential in my opinion.
In the previous episode, Omega and Hunter’s relationship developed on a new world after she is almost attacked by a wild animal due to her naivety and lack of experience outside of Kamino. In this one, we see the positive side of her naivety while her relationship with Hunter and the rest of the crew develops a little too. Couple that with Crosshair’s story in Episode 3, and now the show has its first ‘skippable’ episode.
Editing – Solid
Pacing and editing tend to go hand-in-hand. It’s crucial to get the balance right when switching between CF99 and Crosshair and The Empire. Just like the pacing, the editing was well balanced and very smooth, with the timing between arc switches feeling good and making sense.
As mentioned in the previous review, if a character doesn’t appear often enough, they will be forgotten about very easily. Tech, Wrecker and Echo are once again swept aside, but the balance between Omega and Hunter with Crosshair and his new squad was spot-on. Even simple examples, like cutting away from Omega as she leaps into the unknown depths, chasing the dragon into Crosshair’s arc is fantastic. Keep the audience interested in both arcs and keep them guessing, and the editing really supports this.
Cinematography & Sound – Business as Usual
This episode was a really dark and quite gritty episode appearance-wise. Most of the episode is spent on the unnamed moon with CF99 or in the cold and lifeless settings of Kamino and Onderon. This leaves the energy and sparks of the episode to come from the characters, setting a dark and miserable mood that matches their circumstances.
It can be expected that these colours will remain for a while as both squads traverse the universe near aimlessly. One of the few qualities missing from the previous episode are the bright colours and mood of parts of the episode, matching the curiosity and brightness of Omega’s character. This episode is quite low-energy and it’s clearly intentional considering the settings.
There isn’t much new to note with sound other than a singular music choice. The track used in the Crosshair scenes of brutality and anger is really good, as even he can be a little difficult to read.
This is another point that must be given credit: the expressive eyes of each character, especially Crosshair and Omega. The former is difficult to read and it’s difficult to pinpoint how he feels when thinking about the members of Clone Force 99. Meanwhile, Omega is quite the opposite. Very emotionally intelligent and expressive, with the two characters’ only 1-on-1 interaction being that Omega could read his emotions without even knowing him.
This could be a tiny point in the pilot episode that could end up being huge, given the connection between Omega and Crosshair is furthest from any two main characters in The Bad Batch.