The Bad Batch take the backseat in their own series, as the eleventh episode shifts its focus to Ryloth and the early days of Imperial occupation.
The Bad Batch: Episode 11, “Devil’s Deal”
Rebels fans have been truly blessed by The Bad Batch. Not only did they get to see a pivotal moment in the life of Caleb Dume in the premiere, but now a young Hera Syndulla has become the central focus of the “Devil’s Deal.”
Surprisingly, without the Bad Batch front and center, The Bad Batch took on a far more exciting story. While some may balk at the episode as a “cameo of the week” type situation, Hera Syndrulla’s life on Ryloth expanded the galaxy as we know it, building onto the small tastes of life during the occupation that we have seen previously.
Last week we saw how a senator at the heart of the Capital of the Confederacy reacted to the Empire and now we have seen how quiet rebellions were fought within the Republic’s former territories.
Despite knowing a lot about this period of turmoil within the galaxy, The Bad Batch is the first time we are seeing it happen in totality with our own eyes. The episodes that have focused on the galaxy at large have been far more compelling than any of the episodes that centered around just the Bad Batch.
Part of this is likely due to the fact that most of the Bad Batch are not fully developed characters yet. They started as a small part of a much larger picture in The Clone Wars and they haven’t quite reached a point where they are missed when they aren’t the active element of the series.
The “Devil’s Deal” starts with Crosshair scoping out a crowd of Twi’leks as they gather together, waiting for Senator Taa to speak about the Imperial occupation. He spots Gobi Glie in the crowd and reports back to Vice Admiral Rampart. Inside the government building, Senator Taa and Rampart discuss the newly established partnership that allowed them to build an Imperial refinery on Ryloth. Despite their words, General Cham Syndulla and his wife Eleni seem to be very uneasy about the Empire.
When Taa’s speech falls on deaf ears, Cham Syndulla implores the people of Ryloth to put down their weapons and, more or less, submit to Imperial occupation. They comply, trusting that the General has their best interests at heart.
Cham, aka “ The Hammer of Ryloth” is a much-lauded war hero who gained the respect of the people of Ryloth during the Clone Wars. He has appeared in both The Clone Wars and Rebels, in addition to mentions in novels like Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, Aftermath: Life Debt, and Victory's Price.
Senator Taa is duplicitous and clearly motivated by the fact that the people of Ryloth favor Cham Syndulla over him. He conspires with Rampart to oust Syndulla as General, given the family’s ties to Gobi Glie’s movement. Hera plays into the trap when she leaves Ryloth to retrieve new weapons. From the shadows, Crosshair places a tracker on the ship and follows their location.
Gobi Glie and Hera meet up with the Bad Batch at a rendezvous location to pick up the arsenal he has purchased from Cid. Despite last week establishing that the Bad Batch are no longer in debt to Cid, they are still working with her. Hopefully, they are not anchored to Ord Mantell, playing fetch and retrieve for Cid, indefinitely.
Hera and Omega strike up a friendly connection as Omega takes her on a tour of the Marauder. Hera’s big dream is to pilot and leave Ryloth, a passion that carries through into Rebels, and it was fun to see her react to a new ship and stories about living aboard the Marauder.
When they return Ryloth, Gobi Glie and the rest of the ship are taken into custody and branded as traitors for acquiring weapons. Senator Taa is far too excited to find credible proof linking the Syndullas to Gobi Glie’s movement and fails to recognize that Rampart is playing him.
The last five minutes are harrowing as Cham and Eleni work with Gobi Glie’s people to break them out of prison and in turn, find themselves ensnared by Rampart. While Senator Taa gloats about his victory, Crosshair attempts to assassinate him under Rampart’s orders and when back up arrives, Rampart claims the Syndullas attempted the assassination.
One of the clone troopers, Captain Howzer, seems unlike the other troopers we’ve encountered post-Order 66. He seems willing to bend the rules where the Syndullas are concerned. While we do not know if his chip is working or not, it is curious that he seemed to stand out.
He also appears to be the clone trooper included in this Amazon exclusive Hasbro Vintage Collection, though he’s called Clone Captain Ballast on the packaging. Perhaps he will come back into play next week, as Hera runs from the Empire and her parents suffer the cost of being freedom fighters.
While the eleventh episode was one of the best episodes of the season, The Bad Batch is still struggling to find its purpose. A show about the Bad Batch shouldn’t be better when the Bad Batch isn’t present. With five episodes left, the members of Clone Force 99 remain largely undeveloped and, despite his appearance in “Devil’s Deal,” Crosshair is still lacking a personality beyond looking menacing.
Next week’s episode, “Rescue on Ryloth,” is the second part of Hera’s arc, which will likely bring the Bad Batch back into the central story and lead to another clash with Crosshair. Their last encounter with Crosshair fell flat, so will a second meeting have more of an emotional impact on the core cast of characters?
Last week, on Raxus, the show established that the Bad Batch was stunning their fellow clone troopers, however, when they fought against Crosshair on Bracca they were shooting to kill.
Perhaps Hera’s plight on Ryloth will be the spark that lights a fire in the Bad Batch to take an active part in the fight against the Empire, rather than being a passive part of their own story.