Last year’s The Clone Wars: The Final Season featured three story arcs: the Bad Batch, Ahsoka’s journey and the siege of Mandalore. I’ve spoken enough about how great that final arc was and rarely mention the first one, which was a fine backdoor pilot for this series. The middle one, though, is the most controversial among a lot of fans and generally regarded as the season’s weakest section — which is probably true, but I think its weaknesses are generally overstated. In large part, a lot of fans just dislike characters who don’t use lightsabers or guns to resolve their problems. Star Wars is theoretically a large storytelling canvas, and it’s frustrating to see the core fans get shitty whenever it tries to actually use its potential in new ways.

Anyway, Ahsoka’s journey slows down the final season and allows the titular character an adventure on her own after leaving the Jedi Order, which was integral in the build-up to her climactic moments in the siege of Mandalore and later development in Rebels and The Mandalorian. Her journey in these episodes also furthers the idea that the Jedi Order is a flawed interpretation of the Light Side of the Force, a theme that resonates throughout the franchise from the prequels through The Last Jedi and basically all of Dave Filoni’s work (because he usually knows what he’s talking about when it comes to Star Wars better than anyone else).

Importantly, Ahsoka’s journey explores those themes through the sisters Trace and Rafa. They’re a duo of mechanic kids living in the slums of Coruscant. Ahsoka ends up in an adventure with them that forces her to confront her new friend’s feelings about what the Jedi actually do for regular people in the galaxy. The story pushes Ahsoka’s character along but also makes it easy to see why the Emperor so easily convinced the Galaxy that the Jedi had been plotting to destroy the Republic. He may have lied and gaslit the Jedi into becoming generals in a pitched war that they could never win, but they didn’t do much to resist it. Collateral damage is just part of the cost — damage that included Trace & Rafa’s parents.

Still, Trace and Rafa were good guys. In Star Wars, that means making tough decisions for the right reasons and owning up to your mistakes. So I’m really happy that the two of them have returned in The Bad Batch, working for a shadowy figure to fight against the Empire (and, in the process, teach the Batch a thing or two about making the right choices). So what if they show up, have some fun and then just explicitly explain the themes of Star Wars to Hunter? Works for me!

Including the two of them makes Ahsoka’s journey an even more important arc in hindsight, and it makes great use of characters Lucasfilm already had on the board.

Decommissioned

With the Clones now serving the Empire, knowing how to defeat them just went up in value.”

Decommissioned is the first glimpse at where the legions of Battle Droids went after the end of the the Clone Wars. Like with the Clones, the fate of the Droids has been a lingering question for fans of the franchise for over a decade. Their absence in the original trilogy makes sense, as those were made before the prequels, but they’re rarely seen in stories from that era written in the years since. They’re not in the sequels aside from a little visual cameo in The Rise of Skywalker, etc.

Here, we learn that the Droids were rapidly decommissioned by the Empire because Palpatine didn’t really need them anymore and their existence only served as a possible thorn in his side. They’re expensive and inefficient to operate and produce. Most of the large corporations who led the Confederacy of Independent Systems were (literally) beheaded by Vader in the closing days of the war, removing their political structure and allowing consolidation into the Empire. With a Clone army and a growing force of conscsripts, why operate chintzy Droid forces?

Anyway, Cid sends the Batch on a mission to a decommissioning factory to steal some data from a special-forces Droid that her buyer wants to use to fight against the Clones. They run up against Trace and Rafa, whose patron also wants the data for the same reason but for presumably less nefarious aims. Wrecker gets hit in the head a few more times, which causes his chip to malfunction more. Some good Bow stuff for Omega.

In the end, Hunter gives the data to Trace and Rafa, who remind him that the Batch can’t stay neutral forever while the Galaxy falls deeper and deeper into Imperial control. “In the end, we all choose sides.”

What I’d Buy:

This was an expensive week, in large part because it brought back several characters from The Clone Wars that have yet to be released.

  • 6” Trace — $20
  • 6” Rafa — $20
  • 6” Super Battle Droid — $20
  • 6” Commando Droid — $20
  • 6” R7 — $20
  • 6” CID — $20
  • 6” Bail Organa (?) — $20