Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products.

Kamino Lost manages to capture the strengths and severe weaknesses of The Bad Batch‘s first season within a single 28-minute episode. This isn’t like The Mandalorian S2, which contained seven exciting episodes before shitting the bed with a terrible finale; The Bad Batch has been spinning its wheels for the entire back half of its season, sending the characters on redundant, low-key adventures without ever developing them or their world.

The standout episodes of this back half were Devil’s Deal / Rescue on Ryloth, which notably focused more on other characters and featured the Batch as a supporting cast. At the end of this first season, we’re still stuck with a squad of five clones that haven’t grown an iota. Omega still leads the pack. Hunter is constantly unsure of his duty. Tech provides tech support, Wrecker is big and funny. Echo is just along for the ride. These aren’t the sort of characters who can anchor a dramatic narrative, and none of the writing staff seems to care about finding ways to truly challenge them.

In hindsight, the aimlessness of The Bad Batch was obvious when they followed up the phenomenal premiere, Aftermath, with the forgettable Cut & Run, an episode which notably did nothing to address the reason why Cut, a Clone, did not hear or react to Order 66. At the time, I assumed there were unspoken story reasons. But as the season progressed, more and more Regs were shown to be willing aides to our fugitive Batch. Nothing is made of this in Kamino Lost, an episode solely focused on making sure any plot development for Crosshair during Finale (Part 1) is undone in time for Season 2.

Crosshair is by far the most interesting main character in the Batch because he actually wants something — to be part of the Empire, to be a good soldier, to follow orders … even if those orders mean committing war crimes. This episode reveals that Omega is older than the Batch and watched their creation, purposefully seeking them out because she felt a kinship to them. During a brief conversation with Crosshair, she tells him, with sorrow, “I wanted to think it was the inhibitor chip that made you like this. I was wrong.” These past two episodes have revealed Crosshair’s “severe and unyielding” demeanor is baked into him and that his belief in the Empire is real — which makes the final scene, when he and the Batch part ways, incredibly disappointing. Adding Crosshair to the group created a real dramatic tension during the action scenes that the rest of the season has sorely lacked. He’s a wildcard, a Clone with aspirations for something different who nonetheless loves his brothers and wants them to join him. Keeping him with the Batch for a few episodes would create actual conflict, a notion to which the writers of The Bad Batch seem very averse.

It’s not all bad: I liked the exploration of the sunken Kaminoan city. I liked the presence of the Sea Monster, which is glimpsed at during Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones and always implied an inhospitable and terrifying world beneath the stormy waves.

Unfortunately, Kamino Lost abandons most of the interesting subplots from this season, including the ongoing bounty hunter drama from a few weeks back. Fennec Shand and Cad Bane aren’t mentioned in any capacity. Fine, I guess. The episode is focused solely on resolving the existence of Kamino in the post-Clone Wars world, and I guess it succeeds. At the same time, it doesn’t feel like a wrap-up for any of the other ongoing plots.

Particularly grating is the utter lack of follow-through with Omega’s origin, special abilities or importance. The stinger for Season Two reveals Nala Se, the lead Kamino cloner, being brought to a new Imperial facility manned by scientists wearing the same garb as the Remnant Scientists who experimented on Grogu in The Mandalorian. It seems clear the Disney+ Star Wars series are building up an Imperial cloning mystery of some sort because they keep referencing this shit without actually developing it. We’re two seasons into The Mandalorian with zero clarification as to why the Empire wants Grogu. Now, we’re one season into The Bad Batch without any clarification as to why the Empire wants Omega. Is all of this just building up backstory for Palpatine’s resurrection in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? If so … why bother? I actually like The Rise of Skywalker, but I don’t really need multiple stories wasting their team teasing out trivia about a plot thread widely disliked by a majority of viewers.

At one point, I’d hoped they were building up to a retelling of the Thrawn Trilogy, which relies heavily on Clones in a very different way than The Clone Wars. My hopes for that level of thought went out the window when deep-fake Luke Skywalker showed up to run The Mandalorian off the rails late last year. I’m disappointed that The Bad Batch seems to be equally committed to giving its main characters no real development while teasing out the exact same subplot and leading nowhere quick.

Still, The Bad Batch isn’t a complete loss. I’m disappointed, but I still admired the beauty of Kevin Kiner’s music as Kamino fell into the sea. Nothing happened here to make me less excited for the show because nothing really happened here at all. I’m open to the possibility the show will improve in a second season because, frankly, so did The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, which had decent but uninspiring first outings. The Clone Wars barely picks up until the third season, which I hope isn’t the case here.

What I Bought

I’m increasingly frustrated with collecting these days. Every figure announced within the run of The Bad Batch — 15 weeks and over three months — has yet to see release. The Imperial Shock Trooper, announced concurrently with the premiere episode, is finally seeing release in Singapore with no indication it will arrive in American Walmarts before October. So much of collecting is about impulse and short-term satisfaction. It’s a compulsive hobby. Hasbro has not adequately fed the beast.

Additionally, collector groups recently revealed that Hasbro will be increasing the MSRP of their 6” Black Series line from $20 to $25. I had trouble rationalizing $20 already, but $25 is a step too far for figures with increasingly fewer accessories included. I’d like to complete my Bad Batch, which means my pre-order of Tech ($19 thanks to the Amazon Price Guarantee) and hopefully Echo and Omega, if they’re ever announced. I’d also like to eventually grab a few of the figures from The Mandalorian Season 2, like a repainted Boba Fett or Cobb Vanth, if they ever release them. That being said, the $25 price point and the lack of new releases is causing my commitment to this line to atrophy.

I’m not saying I’ll stop completely, but I’m looking at my pre-orders of Aurra Sing and Kosha Reeves and Lando from Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi and thinking, “Do I really need any of these?”

On the reading front, I still haven’t started my The Old Republic Omnibus, and Australia’s recent lockdown has prevented me from receiving my copy of The New Republic Epic, Vol. 4. I’m hoping I can get the latter soon so I can start on my epic collections from that era.

My buddy Patrick will be at Galaxy’s Edge West on Monday, and I’m hoping he can ship me back a Legacy Saber (or two). I’ve been saving some cash for them for awhile, but my understanding is that there are ongoing stocking issues. Everything is kind of fucked up right now, so I understand why that would be the case. Still, my hope is for at least a Dooku hilt or, barring that, a Rey Skywalker hilt from the end of The Rise of Skywalker. I guess if neither happens, I won’t feel that bad about it. I have plenty of Lightsabers.

What I’d Buy

I don’t really want anything from this episode of The Bad Batch because nothing new was shown. It’s a persistent issue with this show. Like I said above, I’ll buy the rest of the Batch when they’re available. Otherwise, this show has been really uninspiring on a collecting front — which is the worst problem any Star Wars property can have.

I am continuing my Serial Consumer series with Marvel’s What If…? animated series throughout the fall and will likely return to the Galaxy Far, Far Away when The Book of Boba Fett premieres in December. I enjoy doing these columns because they keep me writing and give me a space to prattle on about dumb stuff I buy now and then.