Star Wars: The Bad Batch raises some big moral questions in “Rampage”

·7 min read
Star Wars: The Bad Batch
Star Wars: The Bad Batch

Before this recap of Star Wars: The Bad Batch begins, a moment for clarification: Luke Skywalker does not kill Muchi on Tatooine in Return Of The Jedi. That’s a totally different rancor.

“Rampage”, directed by Steward Lee and written by Tamara Becher-Wilkinson, takes great care to differentiate the rancor at the center of this week’s shenanigans from the rancor who met his untimely fate at the end of Episode VI. For one, Muchi is Muchi, not “Pateesa,” the name of the rancor who famously tries to make lunch out of young Skywalker roughly 18 or 19 years after the events of this episode. What’s more, Pateesa is male while Muchi is female—a teenage female rancor who, yes, might be age-appropriate enough to be slotted into Pateesa’s role as Luke’s titanic adversary but is still a totally different rancor nonetheless. So there’s no need for panic.

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Maybe. Muchi is still a pet rancor who belongs to the notorious gangster Jabba the Hutt, and Jabba’s rancors either grow up to be big and well-fed or end up getting squashed in a tournament for their owner’s sport—or a combination of both. We might never know the true fate of Muchi, but we can guess what the odds are of Muchi finding a semi-happy ending as Jabba’s pet: 50/50. For now, at least by the end of this week’s episode of The Bad Batch, Muchi is relieved to be going home.

Score one for the Batch, who needed a win after getting chased off Pantora last week by the bounty hunter Fennec Shand and found one on Ord Mantell courtesy of Cid, a Trandoshan bar owner (voiced by Rhea Perlman!) who tasks Clone Force 99 with a perilous rescue mission on behalf of the Hutt Syndicate. A dirty job done for bad people, only they don’t know it’s for bad people. In this turbulent post-Republic galaxy where an Empire is hunting them down and friends are scarce (and money is even scarcer), the Bad Batch have been forced to adapt or die. And it seems evolution has mercenary work in store for this weary clone unit.

Story-wise, it’s a good fit. After all, The Bad Batch is a show about finding your family and discovering who you’re meant to be, and we don’t really know what Hunter, Tech, Echo, Wrecker, and Omega are going to become by the time their series comes to an end. There are clues in “Rampage” that could be hinting at their fates, such as Wrecker’s recurring headaches (most likely a symptom of his malfunctioning inhibitor chip), Omega’s newly-acquired crossbow, and the ease with which Hunter accepts a suitcase full of credits for a hard day’s work as a hired gun. But at this moment, for this beleaguered crew of renegade clone troopers, “soldier of fortune” is a role that works.

It certainly helps that Cid isn’t exactly forthcoming with the Batch at the beginning of the episode; Hunter and his Batch believe their grunt work has an altruistic bent to it. Cid, who holds court from behind her desk in a filthy office packed to the gills with Star Wars Easter eggs, informs the team that their mission involves rescuing “a kid” named Muchi—which is technically true—from a pack of ambitious Zygerrian slave traders who are looking to reconsolidate their operations now that their former Jedi nemeses are dust. (The Zygerrians, Separatist sympathizers all, hail from season four of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.) Saving a child from slavers is a good thing, and securing a bit of extra spending credits to keep them ahead of their pursuers (not to mention out of the crosshairs of a certain sniper) is just extra frosting on the cake, right? Besides, there’s more at stake than just a small case of credits for the Batch; Hunter needs to know who almost ran off with Omega back on Pantora, and more importantly, who hired her to do it. Cid’s somebody who can get that kind of information for the right price, and right now that price is doing this one job. So, when “the kid” comes roaring out of her cage and standing almost one story taller than they originally believed, the Batch are still committed to bringing Muchi back to her owners.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch
Star Wars: The Bad Batch

“Rampage” is an episode of The Bad Batch that has its fun on the borders of moral complexity, a gray area in which most modern Star Wars stories find themselves, without diving in all the way. Echo, who knows exactly what it’s like to be stripped of humanity by cruel masters, is all in on rescuing Muchi whoever they turn out to be, but Tech is quick to remind everyone that credits are still a primary incentive to take this job. The Batch deliver Muchi from Zygerrian imprisonment, and while they may not know who Bib Fortuna works for, we do, and besides: isn’t imprisonment, regardless of who is holding the chains, still imprisonment? The episode softens the rough edges of these quagmires with the Batch rescuing a Falleen family from the Zygerrians as an added bonus for their efforts, as well as tossing in a sweet farewell for Muchi, Omega, and Wrecker (the latter of whom is seen earlier wrestling with Muchi until they finally collapse in each other’s arms, a They Live-type of grudge match where you just want to see these budding friends hug it out).

There are big moral questions in front of The Bad Batch, and they’re getting more complicated all the time. Chief amongst these quandaries is how they’ll navigate their impending showdown with former brother-in-arms Crosshair, now in command of his own Imperial Kill Squad? There’s certainly forgiveness in the Batch’s heart for a brother who couldn’t outrace his own programming, right? Also, there still remains those gigantic unknowns surrounding Omega and her Kaminoan origins. How will Hunter accept Omega once her true purpose stands revealed? And let’s not forget about Cid.

Cid’s parting shot at the end of the episode brings up Fennec’s particular caliber of lethality and proficiency, which implies that the Batch are incredibly valuable to whoever is seeking them. “Don’t worry; I’m good with secrets,” she says to Hunter, whose typically be-scowled face frowns just a bit more deeply. We will likely see Cid again—and when we do, will Hunter truly be able to trust her? Cid, who used to have a good relationship with the Jedi, might be looking to score some payback against those who share a face with the troopers who brought her old reliable customers low. Cid, who has connections inside the Bounty Hunters’ Guild, and can easily lead Fennec straight to the boarding ramp of the Havoc Marauder itself. She might not likely to sell Omega to the Empire at the first provocation, but what about the second provocation, or even the third? That could be another story.

Stray Observations

  • The Trandoshan known as “Cid” shares a name with Cid Rushing, the security corporal from Naboo who was played by Roman Coppola in Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace. (For real.)

  • Gonky, who finally gets its name this week, is once again put to work as an exercise droid by Wrecker. This week: Squats.

  • Omega escapes the Zygerrians searching through the Marauder through a panel in its rear blaster well, which doesn’t seem all that safe for interstellar travel, but that’s okay. (Also: anybody else spot the well’s orange curtains? Which were definitely installed by Wrecker?)

  • The Batch first believe Muchi is a Falleen, the same race as Prince Xizor from Shadows of the Empire and, perhaps more pertinently, Xomit Grunseit from The Clone Wars’ season five episode, “Eminence”.

  • And speaking of the Falleen, could the young girl who waves goodbye to Omega grow up to be Grega, the regal Falleen who delivers a Rebel spy to Chewbacca in Marvel’s Star Wars: Han Solo #2? It is a small galaxy, after all.

  • Echo: “The rancor is Muchi?” (If somebody could make a gif of this moment I’d appreciate it, as it is perfect.)

  • How did this episode work for you, group? What might possibly be the final fate of Muchi, or does it matter? Does Omega’s new Zygerrian crossbow mean Clone Force 99 has a new sharpshooter? What is up with Wrecker’s sporadic headaches? Pop an aspirin with me in the comments below.