Every time an episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch lands, Fantha Tracks will be giving their responses, and here are our initial gut feelings, deep dives and thoughts on episode three of season two, ‘The Solitary Clone’. Beware of spoilerific elements in here.
This episode really hit all the right beats. I love this darker look at the way the war is progressing. Of course, in this episode we get to see Crosshair, I am so torn on him because I so badly want him to return to Clone Force 99, be also get a chance to see a clone favorite of mine Commander Cody in this episode. I was always so sad with what happened in Revenge of the Sith when he turned on Obi-Wan, it felt like such a betrayal. The direction his character went in this episode gives me hope. I love seeing clones work together, although in this episode it was very confusing for me. I want to cheer them on with how good they are at what they do, but I also have to remember they are working for the Empire. It’s easier for me to see Stormtroopers: this hybrid Stormtrooper/Clone Trooper thing is very jarring.
I’m always impressed with Crosshair’s skills, and this episode definitely does not disappoint. His sharpshooting skills and near perfect aim are just stunning. The struggle we see happening in this episode on Desix is just another example of how awful the Empire truly is. The diplomatic skills of Cody are impressive, but you just know that no matter what he says the Empire is going to stab him in the back. And they do. You can see the disturbance he feels in his eyes and when the episode comes to an end and we find out he has gone rogue. I really hope we get more Cody.
Overall, I was impressed with the depth of the story they told in such a short time. It goes to show that even with a twenty-minute run time there’s so much story you can tell. There is also this incredible notion of peace that comes up in this episode. Peace in the world of Star Wars seems to be an almost unreachable goal. There are so many interpretations of the word. What one faction believes to be peaceful is in fact not so for others. I think it is this that spurs Cody to question his place in the galaxy.
I think we as humans have to do this as well. At some point in our lives we’re all clones making a choice. I choose and will always choose to be a part of the Bad Batch! What about you?
Star Wars animation often gets short shrift when placed in the wider timeline of the GFFA. While live action shows like The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi enjoy mass appeal and characters like Grogu enter the zeitgeist, animation often gets relagated to being ‘something for the fans’, and as such misses out on the collective adoration its live action cousins get. Thankfully, here in the fandom, most of us realise that a show like The Bad Batch is every bit as valid and as much a part of the wider story as any live action show, and when stand-out episodes like The Solitary Clone come along, well….you have to wonder just how huge this show would be if it came with sets, a cast, big name directors, location shoots and a promotional push on Disney Plus.
There’s no Clone Force 99 in this episode, but there is Crosshair, the Bad Batch member who walked away in season one to follow orders like a good soldier and remain with the Empire when his batch brothers and sister Omega opted to go rogue. Here, we see him contend with numerous contradictions and extract his own answers from situations that could easily go either way. In this era – thanks in large part to how Palpatine set up both sides in his galactic heist of power – the Separatists are now in a different place, viewed as the enemy during the Clone Wars and now in the Imperial era as traitors to Palpatine and the new order. Wise soldiers like Cody, making a very welcome return here, can see the wider issues for the galaxy, and for the clones themselves. We see Crosshair relagated to sitting on his own amongst fellow clones, a solitary existence, always called just when he’s about to eat in a petty display of command from Admiral Rampart who sends him on missions across the galaxy, always serving under other commanders when he’s more than capable of leading a team of his own.
We know the clocks ticking for the clone soldiers of the Empire. The Defense Recruitment Bill will see them superceded by conscripted men and women from across the galaxy, a recruitment drive that in large part legitimises the Imperial project, giving the disaffacted youth of the galaxy a ‘way out’ of a situation largely caused by the Empire and before it the Separatist movement of the Clone Wars era. Crosshair – a good soldier who follows orders – still blindly follows instructions from Rampart and his superiors, surely knowing that he’ll be discarded in time. Rampart even lays the groundwork for that betrayal, claiming he believes Crosshair will leave like so many other clones have. Despite him being an Imperial – killing good people like the unfortunate Governor Ames after Cody has descalated a tense stand-off, someone who only wanted to protect her planet and keep its independence – we’re quietly rooting for him, hoping he can find a path through the dense woods of the era and perhaps reunite with Clone Force 99. It’s an episode that makes you feel and makes you think, and for an animated show many will write off as a kids show (yes Bob Chapek, I’m looking at you) it bodes well for a fascinating season of action, adventure and world building.
Since we last saw Crosshair at the end of Season 1, he hasn’t made any new friends. When he sits down with some other clones, they get up and move to another table. Rampart, who arguably is his closest contact in the Empire, still calls him by his number, CT-9904. There are countless sequences in which Crosshair wanders a hallway alone while Stormtroopers brush past him. We might as well pipe Celine Dion’s version of “All By Myself” through the cafeteria PA system.
At the same time, The Solitary Clone could refer to Cody. Over the course of the episode, we see him slowly separate from the trooper pack, realizing that he can no longer support the Empire. By the end of the episode, Rampart tells Crosshair that Cody has gone AWOL. He decides to defect from the Empire and go it alone. Through this two-sided coin of Crosshair and Cody, the episode mournfully illustrates how the era of the clones is coming to a close. They’re becoming obsolete as the pending Defense Recruitment Bill threatens to completely replace them with non-clone troopers, escalating the cancellation of the Kaminoan contract at the end of last season. But, as a memorable, breathtaking visual shows, the time of the clones will also end because so many of them have died in the war. All of Crosshair and Cody’s conversations very pointedly (and I assume deliberately) take place in front of a massive wall called The First Battle Memorial, built to honor the clone troopers who died in the First Battle of Geonosis.
Cody stares at the wall as he talks to Crosshair about what they’re doing with the Empire, which adds a rich subtext to their conversations and gives us a sense as to what he’s thinking and feeling. As he looks up at the names of his fallen brothers, he wonders what it was all for. This is the darkest The Bad Batch has ever been. Perhaps it’s even the bleakest moment for all of Star Wars animation. Kevin Kiner’s score here, especially at the end of the episode, cemented the bleak and mournful tone for me as well. I was haunted by the long, slow notes that ominously echoed, fluttered, overlapped, and blared.
At this point you may be able to detect what I’m getting at — that this episode of The Bad Batch brings the series closer to Andor in tone than I ever thought it would. That may be a function of the period in Star Wars history both series occupy, in which the Empire seems to be in total control of the galaxy, or it could be to make what I suspect will be the Batch’s pivot from clones in hiding to clones who join the Rebellion carry that much more weight. We will likely see Hunter come around to Echo’s pleas from the two-part premiere last week. To borrow words from Maarva Andor, Clone Force 99 know everything they need to know and feel everything they need to feel, and when those two come together, they will be an unstoppable force for good.
I catch myself rooting for Crosshair, even though I know he’s on the wrong side. I feel sorry for him. I want him to have lunch room friends. I still cheered when he was sniping his heart out, besting everyone else, on Desix. I even want him to get the recognition he deserves, even if I don’t want him to do what it takes be in that position. But Crosshair has chosen a side, all on his own. At the end of the episode, when Cody asks him if they’re making the galaxy better with the Empire, he says “We’re soldiers. We do what needs to be done.” It’s not any programming that’s keeping him there. It’s what he personally thinks is right, of his own free will.
This episode made me feel that more than ever before because I found myself rooting for Cody and Crosshair when they were working together so well. But then I catch myself and say no, they’re on the wrong side. The repurposed battle droids on Desix multiples this confusion because I’m so used to seeing Obi-Wan and Anakin outsmarting battle droids and droidekas with minimal effort, in a heroic way. So seeing Crosshair and Cody doing the same made my brain default to them as good guys, even though they’re with the Empire.
Later on in the fight, when Governor Ames makes a comment about how Dooku was right, I didn’t know which way was up for a few minutes. During the Clone Wars, the Separatists were the villains, and Dooku was a supervillain. But here the Separatists are the victims. And then if we factor the Dooku episodes of Tales of the Jedi into the equation, we see that Dooku really did have pure intentions before he turned to the Dark Side. He was righteous and wanted to eliminate corruption in the galaxy. But, of course, the premiere of The Bad Batch depicts him as a hypocritical warmonger. So, from a certain point of view, the Separatists had political ground to stand on. Ames may have been duped or manipulated by Dooku, but her hopes of independence from the Republic or the Empire — from anyone — is understandable, even noble in this situation.
I know I’m talking myself in circles a bit here, but that’s my point. With this one episode, The Bad Batch borrows a little from Andor in casting the galaxy as a little grayer — more complicated and bleaker. I was so ready to place this show in a bucket, but, as Star Wars animation continually demonstrates, that would be a mistake.
(This is condensed and edited – with permission – from Jen’s The Long Take review, which you can subscribe to here)
The Solitary Clone did some interesting things. It featured Crosshair for the first this season and did not include the Bad Batch proper at all. However, the third episode of season two ramped up the intensity and saw a familiar clone return.
Admiral Rampart appreciates or takes advantage of Crosshair’s loyalty to the Empire and assigns him to rescue Imperial Governor Grotton on Desix, and Commander Cody is his commanding officer.
Interestingly, Desix doesn’t seem like a pushover world, with the organized army and strong leadership from Governor Tawni Ames. The Empire likely wasn’t expecting any resistance, or they would’ve used a more significant invading force. A similar real-world scenario of what’s happening between Russia and Ukraine.
Governor Ames commanded her droid army in a way the Separatists never could. Either the droids were reprogrammed, or she was a better leader. Still, in the case of the battle droids especially, the droids were capable adversaries to the imperial clones even though the clones were able to rescue Grotton in the end.
The Solitary Clone is an immediate classic. Star Wars fans love a good battle, and this episode had that from start to finish. Landing at Point Rain (season 2, episode 5) set the bar for action in a Star Wars animated series. While not an all-out war, The Solitary Clone certainly felt like cinema on the small screen.
One key aspect of this episode is Cody’s calm temperament. He’s not arrogant like most Imperial officers. Cody was still the same man when he was working with Obi-Wan during the Clone Wars. He’s loyal and fearless. And that calmness benefits his battalion when infiltrating Governor Ames’ fortress. Cody believes the Empire is here to help. Cody even tries to negotiate a peaceful transaction with Ames, but Crosshair assassinates her at Grotton’s command. After this, Cody begins questioning whether their actions are morally right.
I enjoyed seeing all the battle droids again, like the destroyers, especially the commando droids. Like the TIE Defenders and the Empire, I always felt that if the Separatists used more commando droids, the war would’ve gone very differently.
In the end, Crosshair again gets paged to Admiral Rampart’s office. Poor Crosshair can’t finish a meal. Rampart gets assigned to CC-1226. CC-1226’s first and only appearance was in The Essential Guide to Warfare, written by Jason Fry and Paul R. Urquhart and released in 2012. Seems like Rampart is implying that someday Crosshair could go AWOL as Cody did, as he comments that clones seem to disappear around Crosshair. Rampart will make an excuse to kill Crosshair soon.
After Ames’ death and during the complete Imperial takeover, Cody watches as the Imperial forces prepare to occupy Desix. Judging from the location of the Governor’s building, that area of Desix doesn’t look very inviting, so what the Empire wanted remains a mystery. The Solitary Clone was an exciting episode, and The Bad Batch does a remarkable job of leaving you wanting more at the end of each episode. Will Crosshair return to the Bad Batch? There’s no telling. Is it Wednesday yet?