Despite the sense of foreboding in the final minutes of last week’s episode, The Bad Batch returns as an entirely self-contained episode, set some time after the Bad Batch’s rescue on Ryloth.
The Bad Batch: Episode 13, “Infested”
The Bad Batch arrives on Ord Mantell after some mission for Cid that involved a drop zone swarming with Gundark and they discover that Cid has been forced out of her own business and that a new boss has taken over. Roland Durand, is the son of the Devaronian crime boss Isa Durand, and the new proprietor of Cid’s business. Clone Force 99 deliberates on whether they want to help out Cid and Omega is quick to insist that they have to — after all, she bonded with Cid over Dejarik a few episodes back.
The Bad Batch may be on the run from the Empire, but they clearly don’t lock up their vessel because Cid is waiting for them aboard The Marauder, with Bolo and Ketch who also cleared out of Cid’s former establishment. Cid concocts a plan to get her business back by stealing a shipment of spice that Roland has secured for the Pykes.
The episode’s title, “Infested” comes into play as Cid takes the Bad Batch to the abandoned mines beneath Ord Mantell, which are infested by Irlings, but the mines are the only way to get to the secret passage into Cid’s office. The key to getting through the infested mine is to keep quiet, which Wrecker has a bit of trouble doing. The creepy-crawly sounds around them cause him to drop his flashlight, but the creatures don’t wake up… yet.
In order to get into Cid’s office, Bolo and Ketch create a distraction by stealing Roland’s precious pet Ruby. This ruse gives the Bad Batch just enough time to swipe the spice and start back through the mines. Roland’s people pursue the Bad Batch through the mines, awaking the Irlings and causing them to lose the entire load of spice.
Cid and the Bad Batch return to the business, confident that their plan to disrupt Roland’s spice deal will have worked in their favor, but the Pykes are still there and Roland has placed the blame for the failed deal squarely on Cid’s shoulders. The Pykes threaten the Bad Batch and in order to survive the ordeal, they make a deal to leave Omega with them while they venture back into the mines to recover the spice.
The Bad Batch heads back down into the infested mines and Omega makes friends with Roland. Absolutely no one reading this will be surprised to learn that I had a soft spot for Roland, right from the start of the episode (despite him taking Cid’s business). He has a pet who clearly adores him, so he clearly can’t be all bad. While the episode had its faults, I really enjoyed Omega’s scene with Roland because it gave her an opportunity to show who she is as a character.
It all comes full circle when the Bad Batch return with the spice and Omega begs for the Pykes to spare Roland. Hunter is, understandably, confused as to why Omega cared about what happened to Roland. Omega, like me, realized that if Ruby liked him — he can’t be that bad.
The episode ends with Roland losing one of his horns, but the crisis is averted and Cid is reinstated at her business. Though the episode was a great one for Cid, it really had nothing to do with the larger story. Last week wasn’t referenced at all. The Bad Batch — Hunter in particular — still seems unaware of why helping other people is important, despite them doing it in every episode. For a story that consistently connects to the larger galaxy, it is remarkably insular in its construction.
The Bad Batch could be a really incredible series if it had learned from the mistakes made by past animation series. While, in theory, “episodes of the week” work for most children’s shows, shows like The Clone Wars and The Bad Batch find strength in the synergy between episodes. There’s a reason why “Devil’s Deal” and “Rescue on Ryloth” were two of the strongest episodes this season. They were connected. The lack of connectivity between “Infested” and the larger story that the series is presumably careening towards in the final episodes of the season does the episode a great disservice.
I had hoped that with The Bad Batch being beholden only to Disney+ and not a cable network like Cartoon Network, as The Clone Wars was in its early days, that it would take more time to delve into its characters and explore really rich plots, rather than just surface-level storytelling. Especially when the series is visually stunning and scored with one of the best orchestrations since Attack of the Clones. For a series that started out so strong with “Aftermath,” I worry that these final three episodes will rush the remaining plot and fail to follow through with the impact of Crosshair turning on his brothers. Even with longer episodes, The Batch Batch — the series and the Clone Force 99 — remains stagnant.