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Star Wars: The Bad Batch - Common Ground - Review

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My biggest problem that has been a common theme with the first ten episodes of The Bad Batch and has no signs of slowing down is the sheer lack of agency post Order 66. It’s like the show was built around Clone Force 99 surviving Order 66 itself, but once the event actually happened, they’ve already run out of ideas and this episode feels straight up interested in pushing Omega out of the way in favour of an old-school episode that doesn’t really have anything to say.

There was an episode in Rebels where surviving droids and the main characters, Rex among them, put their differences aside to fight the Empire essentially ending the Clone Wars and Common Ground more or less felt like a weaker re-tread of that episode – with the general lack of any kind of resolution mainly down to the fact that the Clone Wars can’t end here as again, the Clone Force 99 can’t actually make a difference in this Universe because all the important storylines have already been told. They’re reduced to running around in the shadows doing nothing – the stakes can’t be raised too high and the reliance on established characters renders the agency of Hunter and co non-existent. They’re a far cry from their reputation at the start of the series – but Common Ground finds a way to remind us just how they are ahead of their fellow Clones, easily dismantling them on their mission without them even being a challenge.

Common Ground has some ideas filtering around in the background that are a common theme in the Star Wars animated series, it takes what’s on the surface a filler episode and adds some teasers behind the scenes. We see the separatists and the early origins of the Rebellion in the background of the early origins of the Empire, who don’t quite have the confidence and ruthless factor just yet, they’re still meeting resistance from Senator Avi Singh, played by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine veteran Alexander Siddig. Singh switches his tune in the middle of a speech and outwardly defies the Imperial Captain Bragg, creating what should be the start of a political power-play whilst also raising questions within the ranks of the Batch – do they have it in them to free a Separatist? Do they want to? It’s an interesting dilemma that creates some tension between the Batch, but by the end – we all know where we stand in this episode. You’re either pro or anti-Empire, and there’s no chance about any ambiguity.

I would have liked more time with Singh and his dynamic with the Batch themselves that explored their differences in the war that was but sadly Common Ground barely touches it – at least for now, Filoni shows tend to bring back seemingly one-and-done characters further down the line. Omega can rightly feel shafted this episode (presumably the next one will feature more of her though), but she did steal the show in her scenes playing Dejarik. It turns out she’s won enough money to pay off the Batch’s outstanding debts, freeing off one problem. On her own, there are moments where Omega shines – but in the wider context of the Star Wars universe she hasn’t done anything yet to truly make her character feel new or different, The Mandalorian and Rebels both hang heavy over her character’s head.

One thing I haven’t talked about enough over the past ten episodes is just how good The Bad Batch looks, its impressive visuals are really showing and whilst its characters haven’t quite had the depth that they deserve the animation is really something special, it’s doing much of the heavy lifting in creating a sense of scale and world.

Hopefully now they won’t be tied down to one particular place anymore as The Bad Batch is desperately lacking the sense of exploration that makes a Star Wars universe feel as wide as it is, and like The Mandalorian, of which it still treads similar ground to (how often was Grogu been left behind on a dangerous mission?) – it seems intent on making it feel as small as possible. The show seems to be setting the groundwork to right the major flaws that it has had so far, even if it’s not quite there yet.

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