Last week’s episode of The Bad Batch ended with Omega (Michelle Ang) as priority target number one for the Dr Hemlock (Jimmi Simpson), part of his efforts to convince Nala Se (Gwendoline Yeo) to help him with his malevolent research for Emperor Palpatine. This week, we rejoin Crosshair (Dee Bradley Baker, who voices all the Clones), on a lonely outpost…
Crosshair is wearing armor similar to that of a Death Trooper. He is drafted in by his lieutenant, Lt. Nolan (Crispin Freeman), on a mission to protect some Imperial equipment on a base being targeted by insurgents. His commander clearly has disdain for the Clones under his command, preferring the new Stormtrooper recruits.
The outpost is frigid and desolate; ice vultures circle overhead. Inside, Lt. Nolan and Crosshair greet droids, and meet a bearded Clone, who tells them they were expecting them 36 rotations ago. The Lt critiques their inadequate guards, but the Clone commander says that there are only three, including himself, left.
Lt. Nolan claims authority, but the commander retorts saying respect must be earned. Once he leaves, the commander and Crosshair talk. He reveals himself to be called Mayday and welcomes him to the outpost. Offering a tour, he tells how he has been stationed here for a year. When the cargo is taken, they hope to be able to leave.
Local raiders have bypassed their sensors due to failing equipment. And they have no idea what is within the cargo itself. Mayday warns him not to go far and not to go alone. An alert comes through about a raider attack.
Crosshair is blinded by his own heat vision when the raiders detonate a transport shuttle. It makes him graze rather than outright kill one of the raiders, and he follows the blood trail into the snow dunes and a crevasse, revealing how they’ve been sneaking into camp.
Mayday is the only trooper left from the base’s original roster, but Lt. Nolan insists that he and Crosshair go and recover the two crates of stolen cargo lost in the raid. Crosshair trips a pressure mine, and Mayday steps up to try and disarm it. He uses some braces to hold down the plate. As he does so, he reminisces about the war, getting Crosshair to talk about Clone Force 99. He says his former teammates are simply gone. Mayday reflects that former combat troopers are now on guard duty.
He hides around a corner and tells Crosshair to slowly remove his foot from the mine. It works. Outside the other end, they find the enemy base. Using stealth to take out some of the raiders, they close in. A well placed stun grenade and co-ordinated attack makes short work of the raiders inside. Crosshair detonates a pile of mines to end the onslaught, but brings a large part of the mountain down on them in the process.
The explosion reveals the cargo to have been Stormtrooper gear all along, equipment the Clones could have used. Mayday is bitter about their abuse by the Empire, but the moment is cut short by an oncoming avalanche. They can’t outrun it. Mayday is gravely injured and tells Crosshair to leave him, but the sniper insists on trying to carry him back.
It’s a gruelling journey and as they close in on the base, they see the cargo being loaded onto transports off world. Lt. Nolan and the men see the two Clones returning from the wastes. Crosshair asks for a medic for Mayday, but Lt. Nolan says it would be a waste of resources. Mayday dies in front of them both.
Nolan says he served his purpose and that both of them are expendable. Crosshair is filled with barely contained rage as an ice vulture’s shadow drifts across him and Mayday. He stands, calls Nolan back, and shoots him, before falling to his knees himself and collapsing.
Crosshair awakens strapped to a table. Emerie (Keisha Castle-Hughes) greets him. She tells him to stay calm and co-operate for the best chance of survival. The doctor is coming to see him.
Clone Thoughts 99:
This is an incredibly serious and quite dark episode of The Bad Batch, standing in stark contrast to the much lighter fare which has peppered the rest of the season. It also continues the unusual trend that many of this show’s best episodes are actually when Clone Force 99 are less or barely present within it. In this case, this Crosshair-centric 30 minutes really helps generate a better sense of emotions and personality to the dour sharpshooter, who previously you may have written off as a turncoat and villain.
Crosshair’s own experience seeing how the Empire is discarding the Clones resulted in him launching his own small retaliation. It may not be as subtle or long-term a method as that seen by Captain Rex and Echo. It lands him in the clutches of Emerie and Dr. Hemlock, who surely have nothing good planned for the former Bad Batch member and will no doubt look to use him to try and track down Omega.
That’s a moment that will truly test Crosshair’s loyalties, when asked to choose between Imperial obedience or the family he chose to leave behind. Those dismissing The Bad Batch on the more frothier episodes are missing out on TV which really is starting to interrogate the mindset, mentality and response of a military force deemed expendable and being discarded in front of their own eyes.