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Star Wars Holocron

EXCLUSIVE LOOK: Star Wars Insider 204

by @HolocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

This month’s issue of Star Wars Insider has something for all types of Star Wars fans, and we’re overjoyed to present a preview of what’s in store with Star Wars Insider #204. Featuring Part 2 of a new The High Republic story by Justina Ireland, interviews with producer Rick McCallum, author Cavan Scott, and actress Bonnie Piesse (Beru in the prequel trilogy and the upcoming Obi-Wan series), a look ahead at cosplay ideas for Star Wars Celebration 2022, and more, the new issue hits bookstands on August 10 in the U.S. and August 19 in the U.K. Check out the exclusive preview below!

CAVAN SCOTT INTERVIEW

Star Wars author Cavan Scott (The Rising Storm, Dooku: Jedi Lost) talks to Star Wars Insider about how his childhood ambition influences his ventures in a galaxy far, far away.

COLLECTING STAR WARS

Star Wars Insider has some top tips for Star Wars collectors both new and old! Collecting memorabilia is a core feature of many fans’ engagement with Star Wars, so much so that knowing what to collect can be overwhelming. Insider is here, however, with tips to help you navigate your first steps into this larger world of collecting.

Dressed to Impress

With less than a year to prepare, now is the time to begin working on your ambitious cosplay outfits for Star Wars Celebration 2022. But just how ambitious should you get? Star Wars Insider has some big ideas to challenge your crafting skills.

And that’s not all Star Wars Insider #204 has in store…

Rick McCallum Interview

In the first part of an exclusive new interview celebrating Lucasfilm’s 50th anniversary, producer Rick McCallum tells Star Wars Insider how the logistics of mounting adventures for young Indiana Jones led to the Return of the Jedi.

10 from IX

Star Wars Insider explores ten life lessons from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) that might help us better navigate our own lives.

Bonnie Piesse Interview

Soon to reprise her role as Beru Lars in the forthcoming Lucasfilm and Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, the actor looks back at life on Tatooine during the production of theStar Wars prequels.

Virtual Fandom

The sweeping COVID-19 pandemic led to plans for conventions and social gatherings across the globe to be abandoned, but the determined Star Wars community wouldn’t be denied so easily by a microscopic virus. Fans and official outlets alike quickly adapted, ensuring our fandom became even closer, albeit online.

One such fan was Star Wars Insider contributor Melissa T. Miller, who reveals her experiences and those of others in bringing fans together against all odds.

A Certain Point of View

Star Wars expert Jay Stobie uncovers the long history of Death Star technology and its deployment.

Exclusive Fiction: “Hidden Danger”

Part two of Justina Ireland’s all-new The High Republic short story.

Previously: Violence had been the last thing anyone expected from the learned scientists who’d gathered on Starlight Beacon for the Galactic Agricultural Alliance’s annual conference, yet Velko Jahen and Ghal Tarpfen had already intervened to stop one brutal fight, only to be faced with an even bigger outbreak…

STAR WARS INSIDER #204 is on sale: U.S. August 10 and U.K. August 19.

U.S. / CANADA SUBSCRIPTIONS: https://bit.ly/3brUMJn

U.K. SUBSCRIPTIONS: https://bit.ly/3qs61WD

REST OF THE WORLD SUBSCRIPTIONS: https://bit.ly/3brUMJn

DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS: https://bit.ly/38kiky1

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Star Wars Holocron

What’s New in Star Wars – August 2021

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

From The Bad Batch wrapping up to more tension in the High Republic era to the unfolding events in the War of the Bounty Hunters, August has something for all Star Wars fans to feast on. Take a look ahead at some of the exciting new releases coming from a galaxy far, far away this month. It is important to note that release dates are subject to change.

August 4 – Bounty Hunters 15 

War of the Bounty Hunters continues with the newest issue of Ethan Sacks’ Bounty Hunters series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “VALANCE and DENGAR travel to Canto Bight as a relentless assassin stalks them! TONGA starts to recruit a bounty hunter crew with some familiar – and fearsome – faces! Plus TASU LEECH returns! But whose side is he on?”

August 4 – War of the Bounty Hunters – 4-LOM & Zuckuss 1 

Two lesser known bounty hunters take center-stage in Daniel Jose Older new one-shot issue for the War of the Bounty Hunters crossover event. The publisher’s summary for the Marvel comic is as follows: “Together, lethal droid 4-LOM and Gand Findsman Zuckuss make an unparalleled bounty hunting team. Yet a brutal battle with Boba Fett has divided them. Lost and alone on the crime-infested streets of Nar Shaddaa, Zuckuss faces down an utterly transformed 4-LOM…but why is his old friend out for blood? The answer may lie in the past, from an early mission that helped forge their formidable partnership. Daniel José Older and Kei Zama’s one-shot is the second of four action-packed “War of the Bounty Hunters” tie-ins about the criminal underworld’s most notorious hunters and scoundrels, all told by the best STAR WARS writers and illustrators in the galaxy.”

August 6 – The Bad Batch: Episode 15

​​The penultimate episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch drops on Disney+ in early August.

August 10 – Guardians of the Whills: The Manga 

Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus were two of the most beloved characters in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and now their journey continues in the manga adaptation of Guardians of the Whills. The publisher’s summary for the upcoming Viz Media release is as follows: “The manga adaptation of the novel Star Wars: Guardians of the Whills, by Greg Rucka, revisits fan-favorite characters Baze Malbus and Chirrut Îmwe before they joined the Rebellion in the blockbuster film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Presiding over the Kyber Temple on Jedha, the Guardians of the Whills, Baze Malbus and Chirrut Îmwe, had hoped to maintain a peaceful balance despite the growing presence of the Empire in their Holy City. Yet they struggle to stay true to the Force as stormtroopers threaten to take over. When a rebel named Saw Gerrera appears offering them a chance to help Jedha, Baze and Chirrut must decide if they’re willing to compromise for peace, or if Saw’s plan is too dangerous to risk? Star Wars: Guardians of the Whills introduces Baze and Chirrut before they meet the Rebellion members who turn the tide in the fight against the Empire in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Writer Jon Tsuei and manga artist Subaru bring the origin story of this fan favorite duo to life in a new manga adaptation based on the novel by Greg Rucka.”

August 10 – Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 2 — The Engine Job 

​​

This new paperback collection compiles issues 6 through 10 of Alyssa Wong’s incredible Doctor Aphra series for Marvel Comics. For those who have missed the monthly releases of the comic, this is a must read. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Someone sinister has put a price on Doctor Aphra’s head… and it’s none other than Domina Tagge! Now Aphra finds herself running for her life, trying to shake every bounty hunter on her tail. But one of those hunters is Aphra’s angry ex Sana Starros — and for Sana, it’s personal! Aphra can’t out-think Domina or outrun Sana… so what choice does she have left? Perhaps locating a mysterious piece of tech that could shift the balance of the galactic civil war? Aphra’s desperate hunt takes her to Corellia — but unfortunately for her, that’s right on Sana’s doorstep. And our roguish doctor isn’t the only one with an eye on this prize…”

August 11 – The High Republic 8 

The eighth issue of Cavan Scott’s High Republic comic series for Marvel debuts this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “BATTLE AGAINST THE DRENGIR REACHES ITS THRILLING CLIMAX! AVAR KRISS has gathered a team of JEDI to take the fight to the DRENGIR deep in WILD SPACE, but KEEVE TRENNIS is nowhere to be seen. Are other forces at work on the Drengir’s deathworld? Guest-starring a host of High Republic Jedi! COHMAC VITUS! REATH SILAS! THE STAR HOPPER PADAWANS.”

August 11 – The High Republic Adventures — The Monster of Temple Peak 1 

The adventures in the High Republic era continue with a new miniseries from Cavan Scott and IDW Publishing. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Follow former Jedi turned saber-for-hire monster hunter Ty Yorrick in her first comic appearance in this all-new High Republic miniseries by Cavan Scott and Rachael Stott! Ty is a brave yet superstitious monster hunter, traversing the galaxy with KL-03 and her trusty rune-stones fighting the deadliest monsters on any world. After dealing with an escaped Drewen being transported to the Republic Fair, Ty heads to Loreth, where local pioneers have tasked her with taking on the fearsome Gretalax that terrorizes them. She takes the mission but can’t shake the feeling that something is amiss with the Force.”

August 13 – The Bad Batch: Episode 16

The season finale of Star Wars: The Bad Batch is available for streaming on Disney+ on Friday August 13th…

August 14 – The High Republic Adventures Free Comic Book Day 2021 

Celebrate Free Comic Book Day 2021 with a one-shot issue of Daniel Jose Older and IDW Publishing’s The High Republic Adventures! The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Join Yoda, Buckets o’ Blood, and their Padawan learners as they go on an adventure to help maintain peace during the glory days of the Republic, in a prelude to IDW’s Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures series! Written by series architect Daniel José Older, this is the ideal entry into the world of the High Republic-and a can’t-miss story for fans!”

August 14 – Star Wars: The High Republic – The Edge of Balance/Guardian of the Whills 

This upcoming comic from Viz Media will also release on Free Comic Book Day 2021. 

August 17 – Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Original Marvel Years Vol. 5 

Celebrate Marvel Comics from the Expanded Universe with this new collection. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Determined to rescue Han Solo from his carbonite prison, the heroes of the Rebel Alliance undertake mission after mission to track him down… while staying one step ahead of the Empire! But Darth Vader remains equally determined to capture Luke Skywalker, and — with the evil Emperor Palpatine — prepares one final trap to reunite father and son. It all culminates in a gorgeous comic-book adaptation of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi — but the story doesn’t end there! The rebels have one final mission: to defeat the last remnants of the Empire and create a New Republic to unify the galaxy once more. But another Dark Lord is waiting in the wings!”

August 18 – Star Wars 16 

War of the Bounty Hunters continues with Charles Soule’s mainline Star Wars series. The publisher’s summary for the upcoming 16th issue is as follows: “MISSING IN ACTION. LEIA ORGANA, CHEWBACCA and LANDO CALRISSIAN battle BOBA FETT for the ultimate prize — HAN SOLO! But they are not the only people who have come to the remote world of JEKARA seeking the smuggler. DARTH VADER, JABBA THE HUTT and more are in the mix as well… Jedi LUKE SKYWALKER may be the Rebels’ only hope…but WHERE is he?”

August 18 – The High Republic Adventures 7 

Daniel Jose Older’s The High Republic Adventures series sees its 7th issue release this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “As the galaxy prepares for its Republic Fair, Qort and Farzala are sent on a diplomatic mission to negotiate with the Hutts, who have joined them in the fight against the Drengir. But relations turn sour, and it’s going to take all of their training to get them out of the situation!”

August 18 – Star Wars Adventures 8 

Sam Maggs and Danny Lore write the newest issue of Star Wars Adventures. The publisher’s summary for issue 8 is as follows: “The Empire has been defeated, but that doesn’t mean that the danger is over for Luke and Leia, who find themselves in a tricky situation that they have to work together to get out of! Plus, Count Dooku has sinister plans for a Clone troop!”

August 18 – War of the Bounty Hunters 3 

After 2 captivating issues, the central War of the Bounty Hunters line propels forward with the 3rd issue from Charles Soule. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “WINNER TAKES ALL. Terrifying, implacable Dark Lord of the Sith DARTH VADER has laid claim to HAN SOLO, who is frozen in carbonite. But the great, exalted JABBA THE HUTT also believes that Solo is his property. It’s the galaxy’s baddest gangster versus the Empire’s most powerful enforcer, and neither is backing down. BOBA FETT is caught between a Sith and a Hutt…and it’s WINNER TAKE ALL.”

August 20 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Volume 2 (Episodes 9-16) 

Kevin Kiner and sons’ brilliant soundtrack for the latter episodes of The Bad Batch debuts this month.

August 25 – Darth Vader 15 

Greg Pak’s Darth Vader series also picks up again this month with its 15th issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: ““THE ASSASSIN’S CHOICE. Mere months ago, OCHI OF BESTOON was the assassin who dared to take on DARTH VADER himself in the fiery lava pits of MUSTAFAR. Now Ochi serves Vader as his most loyal agent during the WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS. Who is Ochi of Bestoon? What are his true goals? And how have the secrets of EXEGOL shaped him forever? Also featuring the next great reveal about BOKKU and the Hutt Council!”

August 25 – Doctor Aphra 13 

More Aphra content hits comic stands this month with the newest issue of Alyssa Wong’s Marvel series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “GUEST OF HONOR. DOCTOR APHRA finds herself face-to-face with the one person she hoped she’d never see again! For once, she might not be able to talk her way out…Meanwhile, JUST LUCKY and ARIOLE confront a familiar presence of their own!”

August 31 – The High Republic: Tempest Runner

Del Rey Publishing and Cavan Scott team up again for another audiobook original, this time set in the High Republic era focusing on Lourna Dee. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “In this Star Wars audio original, delve into the cutthroat world of one of the High Republic’s greatest foes, the merciless Lourna Dee. The Nihil storm has raged through the galaxy, leaving chaos and grief in its wake. Few of its raiders are as vicious as the Tempest Runner Lourna Dee. She stays one step ahead of the Jedi Order at the helm of a vessel named after one of the deadliest monsters in the galaxy: the Lourna Dee. But no one can outrun the defenders of the High Republic forever. After the defeat of her crew, Lourna falls into the hands of the Jedi–but not before she hides her identity, becoming just another Nihil convict. Her captors fail to understand the beast they have cornered. Just like every fool she’s ever buried, their first mistake was keeping her alive. Lourna is determined to make underestimating her their last. Locked onto a Republic correctional ship, she’s dragged across the galaxy to repair the very damage she and her fellow Tempest Runners inflicted on it. But as Lourna plans her glorious escape, she makes alliances that grow dangerously close to friendships. Outside the Nihil—separated from her infamous ship, her terrifying arsenal, and her feared name—Lourna must carve her own path. But will it lead to redemption? Or will she emerge as a deadlier threat than ever before?”

August 31 – Star Wars: The Secrets of the Sith

A follow-up to the amazing The Secrets of the Jedi, Insight Editions are back with an in-depth, in-universe look at the dreaded Sith with The Secrets of the Sith. 

For reference, a condensed list of upcoming projects in August without descriptions is included below: 

August 4 – Bounty Hunters 15 

August 4 – War of the Bounty Hunters – 4-LOM & Zuckuss 1 

August 6 – The Bad Batch: Episode 15

August 10 – Guardians of the Whills: The Manga 

August 10 – Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 2 — The Engine Job 

August 11 – The High Republic 8 

August 11 – The High Republic Adventures — The Monster of Temple Peak 1 

August 13 – The Bad Batch: Episode 16

August 14 – The High Republic Adventures Free Comic Book Day 2021 

August 14 – Star Wars: The High Republic – The Edge of Balance/Guardian of the Whills 

August 17 – Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Original Marvel Years Vol. 5 

August 18 – Star Wars 16 

August 18 – The High Republic Adventures 7 

August 18 – Star Wars Adventures 8 

August 18 – War of the Bounty Hunters 3 

August 20 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Volume 2 (Episodes 9-16) 

August 25 – Darth Vader 15 

August 25 – Doctor Aphra 13

August 31 – The High Republic: Tempest Runner

August 31 – Star Wars: The Secrets of the Sith

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm, Marvel Comics, Disney+, IDW Publishing, Viz Media, Del Rey Publishing, and Insight Editions

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 14

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 14: War-Mantle.

Jaw dropping animation and the return of an unexpected character mark the latest installment of Star Wars: The Bad Batch. Episode 14, titled War-Mantle, sees Clone Force 99 respond to a distress signal from Captain Rex asking them to rescue an old friend of his.

War-Mantle marks a stark improvement over the last several episodes of The Bad Batch and a return to form of the fantastic, emotional, and expansive episodes that characterized the first half of the season. The last few episodes, while entertaining, have felt a little more formulaic and less intimate with a lessened focus on the Bad Batch – something War-Mantle addresses head on. This episode packs in a wealth of exciting action sequences, tense character moments, interesting world building, and a cliffhanger ending to top it all off.

It’s difficult to review any episode of The Bad Batch, War-Mantle being no exception, without noting the incredible animation on display. From the beautiful and tense chase sequences in the woods that kicked the episode off, War-Mantle retains a cinematic quality to its environments, characters, lighting, and textures throughout. Some shots, including a particularly picturesque exposition shot of Imperial ships hovering over Kamino, would not be out of place in a feature film. And all of this really highlights how far Star Wars animation has come. 2008’s The Clone Wars film was met with mixed reception (at best), with much of the criticism targeted towards the film’s block-like and undetailed animation. 13 years down the line and no such criticism can be launched at The Bad Batch. War-Mantle is a visually stunning 28 minutes of Star Wars storytelling.

The animation was coupled with a compelling adventure of the week in episode 14. Rex’s friend Gregor (from The Clone Wars and Rebels) is trapped in an Imperial training facility and needs Clone Force 99 to break him out. It’s not a particularly novel plot, but one that intelligently places the Bad Batch at the heart of the story again. While Omega is given an uncharacteristically backseat role in this episode, more time is spent with Hunter, Echo, and Tech with great results. Their rescue mission heavily leans on A New Hope’s sequences on the Death Star, even to the inclusion of brilliant throwback musical cues brought in by the Kiner family.

But, while this mission is tense and captivating, it’s the opportunities for character and world building afforded by the plot that make this episode really excel. Gregor delivers one of the series’ most poignant lines yet, “It’s the ones who want to stay here that are really defective.” It’s interesting to see how conceptions like defection and individualism are perceived by clones like Gregor and Hunter in this quickly changing galaxy. Hunter and company were once the “defective” ones, but now they seem to be part of a select few with a sense of purpose and morality. 

War-Mantle also offers some interesting answers to long-standing questions in the Star Wars universe. The transition from clone troopers to stormtroopers has been a topic of conversation dating back to Attack of the Clones that has since been explored incrementally in projects like The Clone Wars and Rebels. Here though, the writers intelligently incorporate important information regarding this transition into the episode. We see that the Empire, shortly after the events of Revenge of the Sith, took active steps to replace clones with stormtroopers. They used clones, in particular clone commandos, to train new waves of cheaper, more expendable, and more numerous recruits of the Imperial army. Scenes on Kamino in War-Mantle depict the logistics of this situation from a different angle. Lama Su recognizes that the Empire will soon find the Kamino cloning operation useless and eliminate those involved. His attempts at hatching an escape plan are thwarted by Admiral Rampart, who, unfortunately, continues to play a rather generic villainous role in the series. Nala Se continues to be an intriguing character, but it’s a shame she isn’t given more screen time over the duration of the series so far. Her ominous presence is strangely juxtaposed with somewhat touching maternal instincts, as evidenced by her brief conversation with young clones in this episode and her bond with Omega. We’re looking forward to seeing Nala Se in a more prominent role moving forward as the series continues to explore this transitional period in the galaxy

On the downside, War-Mantle repeats one too many beats from previous episodes. A prominent side character sets up the plot in the first few moments. Hunter is reluctant to help, but is convinced by his crew to do so. Omega is left behind, but eventually saves the day. All of this is fine and leads to some great moments of storytelling. It’s unfortunate though that the series isn’t willing to exercise a bit more flexibility in regards to its episode structure. Nonetheless, the cliffhanger of Hunter and Crosshair finally coming face to face again was a great closing moment heading into next week’s episode.

Verdict: 8/10

Brought to life by jaw dropping animation, War-Mantle excels in delivering a tense mission of the week packed full of interesting world building and reveals. While the episode is a bit formulaic at times, the rescue of Gregor and the elements of canon this plot affords an exploration of are captivating. Concluding with a terrific cliffhanger of the long awaited confrontation between Hunter and Crosshair, we can’t wait to see how events unfold in the season’s final two episodes.

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 13

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

As the Ryloth arc comes to a conclusion, The Bad Batch are back at the center of their story (sort of) in another episode focusing on Clone Force 99’s run-ins with the criminal underworld. Episode 13, titled Infested, sees Cid’s power taken away from her by a new gangster on the scene named Roland Durand. In turn, Cid recruits the Bad Batch to overthrow Roland and take back her spot, while avoiding the grip of the Pyke Syndicate in the process.

Infested is an entertaining, but, ultimately, lightweight episode of the series. The Bad Batch felt somewhat sidelined in the past two episodes and this served as a refreshing change of pace and focus for the series. So now, at this juncture, the series feels due for another more intimate look at the crew as other episodes have done this season. Unfortunately, Clone Force 99 feel like side characters in an episode that, largely, focuses on Cid. Rhea Perlman’s character has been a fantastic addition to Star Wars canon and it’s great to see her get a bit more of an arc in the series. Nonetheless, Infested makes Clone Force 99 feel, mostly, like generic clones for the first time in the series to date. Each member is given things to accomplish their mission, but little time is spent on more in-depth characterization.

That being said, Infested still offers a solid adventure for the Batch to tackle. The clones and Cid trek the mines of Ord Mantell to steal Roland’s spice, which leads to an eerie cave sequence that draws inspiration from The Fellowship of the Ring. The entire sequence is tense, especially when Roland’s goons are thrown into the mix. But, things don’t go as planned, and the Bad Batch soon find themselves back in the mines to recover the lost spice for the Pykes.

By the end, not much has changed. Cid reclaims her throne and the Bad Batch have an employer again. Some of the most interesting character work in the episode comes from Roland. He’s introduced as an aspiring criminal trying to live up to the standards of his parents. As the episode goes on, however, we see more depth to Roland and, through his interactions with Omega, get a glimpse into his good side. Roland will surely appear in the series again and it’ll be interesting to see where the writers take his character moving forward.

Verdict: 7/10

Infested is perhaps the most throwaway episode of The Bad Batch yet. A largely inconsequential plot is coupled with relatively little character work, which is a shame given the backseat the Batch have played in the previous episodes. Nonetheless, Infested is a compelling episode and it’s harsh to fault the series for not always going out of its way to propel the narrative and characters forward. A focus on Rhea Perlman’s terrific Cid and the introduction Roland offer points of intrigue as The Bad Batch moves into its final few episodes.

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 12

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 12: Rescue on Ryloth

After a step away from the action, the Bad Batch take center stage again in Rescue on Ryloth. The twelfth episode of the Disney+ series is a direct follow-up to its predecessor, showing Hera team up with Clone Force 99 in an effort to save her parents from Admiral Rampart and the villainous Empire.

Rescue on Ryloth proved to be Part 2 of a two-parter arc that falls somewhat short of Part 1. Devil’s Deal was a refreshing step away from the show’s central characters in focusing on the Empire’s rule of Ryloth as an anthology-type episode. And, while it was interesting to see a more distanced episode like this, inevitably, Clone Force 99 would be thrown into the mix, which was the case this week.

The episode proceeds in an entertaining, albeit procedural manner. Conversations between Hera, Omega, and Hunter add depth to a common theme in The Bad Batch: what is Clone Force 99’s place in the universe now that the Clone Wars are over? It’s an interesting theme to explore that isn’t really touched on in other stories in canon. Hunter sees the danger in helping Hera. He says, “We can’t put our lives on the line every time someone in the galaxy is in trouble.” But, Omega sees it differently. “Why not? Isn’t that what soldiers do?” This period in the galaxy is a transition for everyone, and seeing Hunter and the crew deliberate their newfound roles and responsibilities continues to be of interest.

Meanwhile, Crosshair and Rampart offer formidable opposition to the Bad Batch in this episode. Rampart is yet to stand out as anything more than a generic Imperial villain so far. Granted, he has had relatively little screen time, but the intriguing villain work is largely left to Crosshair, who continues to play an unexpectedly marginalized role in the series. Crosshair’s arc this season has felt very stop-start, with some interesting progressions interrupted by a string of absences. Crosshair is given plenty of attention in this episode, although little, if any, time is spent on the complexities of his villainous turn.

Nonetheless, it’s Clone Captain Howzer’s role amidst this conflict that proved the most gripping in Rescue on Ryloth. Howzer is an intriguing character, and one we’re not quite sure what to make of yet. It’s clear his inhibitor chip either failed to work or has been suppressed (perhaps due to his connection to the Syndullas?). Howzer navigates the moralities of siding with the Empire, eventually disobeying orders and standing with those he was initially tasked to serve. All of this proves to be tense and compelling storytelling with (potentially) important implications for Crosshair and other Clones. Here’s hoping that this is explored in later episodes.

Amidst all of this, we still have the Twi’leks themselves, but take a backseat compared to last week. Cham and Eleni are relegated to a cell for the majority of the episode, although their conversations with Howzer were impactful. We see more of Hera and Omega’s relationship: their innocence and pure-hearted nature continues to be so endearing in the series. 

Verdict: 7/10

Ultimately, this episode is a return to a focus on its titular characters with mixed results compared to some of the superb installments in the series we’ve seen before this. Perhaps, this is just The Bad Batch being so entertaining at times that episodes that miss the mark somewhat (like Rescue on Ryloth) stand out more. Regardless, the conclusion of this two-parter offers plenty for Star Wars fans to feast as the Bad Batch’s role in the galaxy is further explored and interesting questions are posed regarding the free will of Clones.

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 11

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 11: Devil’s Deal

The Bad Batch take a surprising backseat in a captivating and slow-paced episode featuring a fan favorite Star Wars character. Devil’s Deal shifts away from Clone Force 99 and focuses on the Empire’s occupation of Ryloth, the home world of the Twi’leks, as Cham Syndulla tries to balance his planet’s autonomy and safety.

Overall, Devil’s Deal was a welcomed change of pace for the series. The Bad Batch showcases once again that it isn’t merely a story of rogue clones surviving in the Imperial era, but, rather, is a broader tale of what life is like in the quickly changing galaxy. We’ve gotten some insights regarding life for civilians, soldiers, and bounty hunters under Imperial rule, and now the focus shifts to local politics once again following last week’s episode on Raxus. The episode doesn’t get bogged down in action, instead taking the time to showcase how each of the major players are dealing with this situation. Admiral Rampart recognizes how tenuous the situation is and appears to be taking a page out of Thrawn’s book with a more subtle strategy of control. Meanwhile, Gobi is on the other end of the spectrum as he fundamentally disagrees with the Empire’s takeover of Ryloth and takes steps to retake his planet. Orn Free Taa epitomizes self-interest as he quickly finds himself an ally of the Empire. And, of central importance to the episode, we have Cham, Eleni, and Hera (!!!) Syndulla.

Hera is easily one of the most well developed Star Wars characters in recent years and her appearance in The Bad Batch was surprising to say the least. Obviously, the character goes on to play major roles in the Rebellion and New Republic, but here she is a spirited and curious young girl, very much akin to Omega. Kevin Kiner brilliantly leans into John Williams’ Leia theme to deliver a warm and touching melody to accompany Hera in this episode. And, from a canon standpoint, it’s interesting to see the humble beginnings of the eventual Rebel leader. Of course, Hera is accompanied by Chopper, who was also great to see again. So far, we’ve seen Kanan, Hera and Chopper – could other Star Wars Rebels characters make appearances in the future? Either way, seeing Hera and Chopper again was simply delightful.

Hera’s interaction with Omega also adds another layer to The Bad Batch’s exploration into life in the Imperial era. Hera and Omega are children plummeted into very serious situations. They’re deprived of the protected and insulated childhood they deserve as the galaxy crumbles around them. With the exception of The Phantom Menace, the live-action films largely stay away from children in central roles, leaving a gap that the animated shows have brilliantly filled. Amidst the turmoil on Ryloth, Hera is warm and kind and curious, showing that there’s still light left in the darkening galaxy.

With the exception of this scene with Omega, Clone Force 99 are nowhere to be seen in this episode. And this is seldom an issue due to the strong writing on display in Devil’s Deal. The political machinations of Ryloth are more than interesting enough to sustain an entire episode, and hold us over until the Bad Batch’s inevitable inclusion next week. Crosshairs also makes a return this week, sporting some new injuries from his last tussle with his former friends. So far, Crosshair’s intermittent presence in The Bad Batch has been a little underwhelming given the weight behind his turn in the pilot. Nonetheless, the series still has plenty of time to explore this character in upcoming episodes.

Verdict: 8/10

The Bad Batch step aside as the focus shifts to the tumultuous political landscape of Ryloth in an episode full of fan favorite characters and examinations into life in the Imperial era. Devil’s Deal sets the stage nicely for Clone Force 99’s reintroduction in the next installment after this deliberately paced and captivating episode.

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 10

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 10

After a string of interconnected episodes, The Bad Batch takes a step back this week with an interesting episode exploring a theme of ideologies explored in The Clone Wars. Common Ground follows Clone Force 99 as they attempt to rescue Senator Avi Singh from the grips of the Empire on the formerly Separatist world Raxus. Meanwhile, Omega stays back with Cid and exercises some of her strategic skills to pay off her crew’s debt.

The prequels detailed the most important overarching events leading up to the fall of the Jedi and the rise of the Empire, but left much of the nuances of this tumultuous era in the galaxy to The Clone Wars. As such, one of the central themes of The Clone Wars that remained untouched in the prequels pertained to the notion of good guys fighting on both sides of the war. Little information is provided about what the lives of Separatists look like in the films, but The Clone Wars added a humanity to these characters, evidenced by the Mina Bonteri episodes of the series.

This week’s episode of The Bad Batch explores the humanity of the former enemy, while providing some interesting world-building throughout. Common Ground is largely set on Raxus, the former capital of the Confederacy of Independent Systems that battled the Galactic Republic in the Clone Wars. Through the struggles of Avi Singh (voiced by the incredible Alexander Siddig) and the people of Raxus, we see that Separatists were victims too. They didn’t willingly align with Dooku, nor are they willingly aligning with the Empire now. This adds some retrospective nuance to The Clone Wars and much of the events in the prequel era and is, once again, evidence one of The Bad Batch’s highlights so far in its focus on a quickly changing, Imperial-led galaxy (we’ll get to that in a moment).

The theme of humanizing the Separatists is largely explored through Echo, who, more than other members of the crew, voices concerns about helping and trusting their former enemy. Echo’s concerns felt natural and well-deserved, especially given his experiences with the Separatists in season 7 of The Clone Wars. And, although this was only superficially explored, it was interesting to see Echo come to a greater understanding of the plights of citizens and rulers under Separatist control.

Back to one of The Bad Batch’s core strengths, the series continues to impress in its examination of the beginning days of the Empire. Each episode, including Common Ground, add a layer to what life is like in the immediate aftermath of the Republic’s fall. This week opts to focus on the internal struggles of a leader, whose planet has been occupied by the Empire. Alexander Siddig conveys incredible empathy and concern in his performance as the senator grappling with the ethics of succumbing to the Empire. Hopefully, Singh will appear again as it felt like there was more to explore with a character whose planet was controlled by Separatists and the Empire back-to-back.

Away from the central story, Omega and Cid are given a fun, light, and inconsequential plot to navigate. The issue of where Omega finds herself in this team is explored once again: is she a bona fide member or is she a child that needs protecting? Dialogue between Omega and Cid fleshes this out more and showcase the struggle between the innocence of youth and the want to grow up that the young clone is experiencing. And each week, Cid seemingly becomes a more integral part of the series. Her interactions with Omega, while out of self-interest, add a level of kindness and trust to the seedy character. Rhea Perlman’s inclusion in the Star Wars universe continues to take us aback and Cid has unexpectedly become one of our favorite new characters of the show.

Verdict: 8/10

The Bad Batch furthers a theme introduced in The Clone Wars regarding the blurry lines between good and bad in exciting, albeit surface-level, fashion this week. Common Ground excels in world-building and emphasis on Echo and Singh as two individuals navigating this confusing time in the galaxy. The episode doesn’t reach the exciting heights of the previous few installments, but is yet again an enthralling addition to the animated series.

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

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Star Wars Holocron

What’s New in Star Wars – July 2021

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

From new episodes of The Bad Batch to more in the War of the Bounty Hunters, exciting adventures in a galaxy far, far away continue this month with a host of new projects. Below includes a list and description of upcoming Star Wars projects in the month of July. It is important to note all of these release dates are subject to change.

July 2 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Common Ground

The adventures of Clone Force 99 continue in the series’ 10th episode debuting this month.

July 6 – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Graphic Novel Adaptation

Alessandro Ferrari’s graphic novel adaptation of The Phantom Menace will be individually published this month after it was previously involved in a Disney-Lucasfilm Press release. The publisher’s summary is ass follows: “Experience the excitement and thrill of the epic Star Wars movies in this young-reader friendly adaptation of Episode I! Peace reigns in the Galaxy, guarded by the thousand-years old Jedi Order. But dark forces plot in the shadows to restore the power of the Sith, long believed gone. Unaware of this evil plan, two Jedi knights rescue Queen Amidala of Naboo and discover a young boy. Capturing the galaxy-spanning action of The Phantom Menace, experience Episode I as a beautiful graphic novel combining the epic wonder of Star Wars with streamlined, young-reader friendly designs.”

July 7 – Star Wars Adventures 6

IDW Publishing’s impressive Star Wars Adventures series continues in this new issue by Katie Cook and Shaun Manning. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Padme and Anakin have grand plans to have a romantic night together after a long separation. But before they get a chance to get together, Anakin is Jedi-napped by a group of outlaws! Now it’s up to Padme to use all of her cunning to infiltrate the outlaw group and rescue him. Then, get a glimpse into the times of The High Republic with a story of the Nihil!”

July 7 – Bounty Hunters 14

Ethan Sacks’ impressive Bounty Hunters series continues this month with another issue situated in the broader narrative of the War of the Bounty Hunters. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Hunted by the mysterious assassin DEATHSTICK, a wounded VALANCE and his reluctant partner DENGAR are running out of options! T’ONGA is outgunned and outnumbered… but she does have one last surprise up her sleeve! And the shadowy force behind all of the danger makes its move!”

July 11 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Devil’s Deal

The 11th episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch also debut this month.

July 14 – Doctor Aphra 12

After Durge’s explosive debut in canon, Alyssa Wong’s Doctor Aphra series continues this month with another issue crossing over with War of the Bounty Hunters. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “A MYSTERIOUS INVITATION leads DOCTOR APHRA and SANA STARROS to an exclusive party… teeming with scum and villainy! Will Aphra and Sana be able to survive the underworld social event of the century? Or will their cover be blown by A FAMILIAR FACE with an agenda of their own?”

July 14 – War of the Bounty Hunters 2

After the shocking appearance of Qi’ra in the first issue, the second issue of Charles Soule’s War of the Bounty Hunters comes out this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Notorious bounty hunter BOBA FETT has tracked his missing prize — heroic smuggler HAN SOLO, frozen in carbonite — to the remote, frozen world of JEKARA. But representatives from many of the galaxy’s most powerful factions have gathered, and they all want the same thing — Solo. Things go from bad to worse, as Boba Fett realizes that he himself has become almost as valuable to the galaxy’s hunters as Han Solo, and he must turn to the least trustworthy person in the galaxy for help…DOCTOR APHRA…”

July 16 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Rescue on Ryloth

The Bad Batch will seemingly journey to Ryloth in another episode of the series this month.

July 20 – Star Wars Mazes

An exciting and interactive activity book releasing this month will allow fans to navigate illustrated mazes of iconic scenes and locations throughout the Star Wars saga. From Chronicle Books, the publisher’s summary is as follows: “Expert maze creator and lifelong Star Wars fan Sean C. Jackson brings the saga to life through more than 30 beautifully illustrated mazes of iconic scenes and locations ranging from the forest moon of Endor to Bespin’s Cloud City, the dark side planet of Exegol, Jabba’s palace, pod races, clone armies, and much more. Each full-color maze includes notes about the environment and special bonus elements to find hidden along the way.”

July 20 – Star Wars Legends: The Old Republic Omnibus Vol. 1

The entire Dark Horse Comics series Knights of the Old Republic and the miniseries Knights of the Old Republic: War are collected in this hardcover omnibus with terrific cover art by Brian Ching. The publisher’s summary is as follows: A“long, long time ago, the Star Wars galaxy was a very different place. Welcome to the Old Republic! When young Jedi Zayne Carrick is framed for murder by his own masters, he goes on the run with three unlikely allies: con artist Marn Hierogryph, fugitive scientist Camper and bodyguard Jarael. But can they survive long enough to clear Carrick’s name, uncover a conspiracy and maybe gain a bit of profit along the way? Strap in for an adventure that spans the galaxy as this ragtag group of heroes face corrupted Jedi, deadly Mandalorians, the power of the Sith and more! Collecting STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC #1-50, STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC — WAR #1-5, STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC HANDBOOK and material from STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC/REBELLION #0.”

July 20 – The Star Wars Book of Monsters, Ooze and Slime

DK has a tradition of delivering exciting Star Wars books for kids, and the Book of Monsters, Ooze and Slime will hopefully continue this impressive track-record. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “The strangest and yuckiest secrets of the galaxy. What does the Zillo Beast feast on for breakfast? Does slimy Jabba the Hutt ever have a bath? What are the three yuckiest things he eats? Take a trip on the wild side and discover the weirdest facts in the Star Wars galaxy! From gross creatures and strange bugs to dangerous deserts and sinister Sith, this icky picture book is the perfect gift for young readers.”

July 21 – Darth Vader 14

Greg Pak’s Darth Vader series for Marvel Comics also continues this month with its 14th issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “For decades, no figure has stood as close to the EMPEROR with so much mystery surrounding her. Who is the UMBARAN? What is her role within the EMPIRE and in the WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS? And what happens when she emerges from the darkness to challenge Darth Vader himself? Featuring an unprecedented look at the inner workings of the Emperor’s inner circle — and the return of IG-88!”

July 21 – War of the Bounty Hunters – Jabba the Hutt 1

Jabba the Hutt is given the spotlight in this upcoming one-shot comic written by Justina Ireland. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “JABBA NEVER FORGIVES! JABBA NEVER FORGETS! JABBA THE HUTT is one of the most powerful and ruthless gangsters in the galaxy—and BOBA FETT, his most trusted bounty hunter, has failed him. How will Jabba deal with betrayal? VIOLENTLY. And what does this have to do with a bounty hunter with ties to the HIGH REPUBLIC?”

July 21 – The High Republic Adventures 6

Amidst all of the War of the Bounty Hunters content, this month also features a continuation of adventures in the High Republic with Daniel Jose Older’s comic for IDW Publishing. The publisher’s summary for the upcoming sixth issue is as follows: “As the galaxy prepares for the Republic Fair, Qort and Farzala leave their Padawan friends to join Leox Gyasi and the crew of the Vessel on a secret mission for the Jedi. What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out: literally everything.”

July 23 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Infested

Another episode of The Bad Batch hits Disney+ this month, titled Infested.

July 27 – The High Republic: Out of the Shadows

Justina Ireland’s terrific young-adult novel in the High Republic hits bookshelves this month. And the publisher’s summary is as follows: “The darkest secrets are the hardest to bring to light….Sylvestri Yarrow is on a streak of bad luck with no end of sight. She’s been doing her best to keep the family cargo business going after her mom’s death, but between mounting debt and increasing attacks by the Nihil on unsuspecting ships, Syl is in danger of losing all she has left of her mother. She heads to the galactic capital of Coruscant for help, but gets sidetracked when she’s drawn into a squabble between two of the Republic’s most powerful families over a patch of space on the frontier. Tangled up in familial politics is the last place Syl wants to be, but the promise of a big payoff is enough to keep her interested…Meanwhile, Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh has been summoned to Coruscant, but with no idea of why or by whom. She and her Padawan Imri Cantaros arrive at the capital along with Jedi Master Cohmac Vitus and his Padawan, Reath Silas—and are asked to assist with the property dispute on the frontier. But why? What is so important about an empty patch of space? The answer will lead Vernestra to a new understanding of her abilities, and take Syl back to the past…and to truths that will finally come out of the shadows.”

July 27 – Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 2 — The Engine Job

This upcoming trade paperback collects issue 6 through 10 of Alyssa Wong’s Doctor Aphra series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Someone sinister has put a price on Doctor Aphra’s head… and it’s none other than Domina Tagge! Now Aphra finds herself running for her life, trying to shake every bounty hunter on her tail. But one of those hunters is Aphra’s angry ex Sana Starros — and for Sana, it’s personal! Aphra can’t out-think Domina or outrun Sana… so what choice does she have left? Perhaps locating a mysterious piece of tech that could shift the balance of the galactic civil war? Aphra’s desperate hunt takes her to Corellia — but unfortunately for her, that’s right on Sana’s doorstep. And our roguish doctor isn’t the only one with an eye on this prize…”

July 28 – The High Republic 7

After the terrific The Rising Storm, Cavan Scott’s incredible run in Star Wars continues with The High Republic 7. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “A JEDI FACES THE DARKNESS! KEEVE TRENNIS has put everything on the line to save her former master, but the scars run deep. As AVAR KRISS summons a task force to deal with the DRENGIR THREAT, a desperate NIHIL REMNANT attacks a distant outpost. Can Keeve fight back the shadows long enough to stand for light and life? Guest-starring ORLA JARENI, Jedi Wayseeker.”

July 28 – Star Wars 15

Luke, Leia, Chewie, and Lando continue their involvement in the deadly War of the Bounty Hunters in the 15th issue of Charles Soule’s Star Wars main line series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “LUKE SKYWALKER embarks upon an epic mission with WEDGE ANTILLES and the brave pilots of STARLIGHT SQUADRON to rescue a lost division of the REBEL FLEET. LEIA ORGANA, CHEWBACCA and LANDO CALRISSIAN attempt to save HAN SOLO from the evil clutches of BOBA FETT. But what hidden vision will the Force send to Luke about the troubles to come?”

July 30 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch – War Mantle

The last Bad Batch episode of the month is ominously titled War Mantle…

For reference, a condensed list of upcoming projects in July without descriptions is included below:

July 2 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Common Ground

July 6 – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Graphic Novel Adaptation 

July 6 – Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Old Republic Vol. 4 

July 7 – Star Wars Adventures 6 

July 7 – Bounty Hunters 14 

July 11 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Devil’s Deal

July 14 – Doctor Aphra 12 

July 14 – War of the Bounty Hunters 2 

July 16 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Rescue on Ryloth

July 20 – Star Wars Mazes 

July 20 – Star Wars Legends: The Old Republic Omnibus Vol. 1 

July 20 – The Star Wars Book of Monsters, Ooze and Slime 

July 21 – Darth Vader 14 

July 21 – War of the Bounty Hunters – Jabba the Hutt 1 

July 21 – The High Republic Adventures 6 

July 21 – Star Wars Adventures 7 

July 23 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Infested

July 27 – The High Republic: Out of the Shadows 

July 27 – Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 2 — The Engine Job 

July 28 – The High Republic 7 

July 28 – Star Wars 15 

July 30 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch – War Mantle

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm, Disney+, Marvel Comics, IDW Publishing, Titan Comics, Chronicle Books

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 9

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 9: Bounty Lost

After last week’s jaw-dropping cliffhanger, the adventures of Clone Force 99 continue in yet another suspenseful and action-packed installment. Titled Bounty Lost, episode 9 sees the Bad Batch desperately try to rescue Omega, as the young clone attempts a mission of her own to free herself from the infamous Cad Bane.

Bounty Lost stands apart from previous episodes of the series so far by primarily centering on Omega, relegating the original members of the Bad Batch to only a few brief scenes here and there. This was a welcomed change of pace for the series as we got to see Omega on her own and in imminent danger, only relying upon herself to stay alive. While last week’s episode concluded on a note that was extremely reminiscent of events in The Mandalorian season 2, Bounty Lost departs from the structure of the other Disney+ series by showcasing how Omega takes the situation in her own hands.

It was interesting to see Omega, the true focal point of the series, caught in the middle of so many warring parties in Bounty Lost. Her new family, the Bad Batch, want to secure a safe return for Omega. Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand has intentions of her role as she tries to retrieve Omega. And, of course, Corey Burton’s Cad Bane wants to deliver the bounty to the dangerous Kaminoans for a hefty reward. More than ever, we get to see just how capable and intelligent Omega is and, once again, showcased how the new character is a highlight of The Bad Batch.

Bounty Lost also offered a number of intriguing insights into some lingering mysteries of the series. For starters, Tech (once again) delivers news that he was seemingly just waiting to reveal to the team: that Omega is an unaltered first-generation clone. This has a number of interesting implications for Omega and canon more broadly, including the fact that this reveal essentially makes Omega and Boba Fett siblings. Given the reference to ‘Alpha’ and the role bounty hunters have played in the series so far, it feels like The Bad Batch is setting up for a meeting between Omega and Boba, but we’ll wait with baited breath to see if that happens.

Also revealed this week was more about the motives of the different bounty hunters in the show. Although Fennec was a formidable foe earlier in the season, it seems that this formidable foe likely has interests that are more aligned with Clone Force 99 than Lama Su. Fennec’s conversation with Nala Se confirms that the Kaminoan doctor is secretly at odds with her leader Lama Su and merely wants Omega to be safe, even if this means remaining with the Bad Batch. From the get-go, the mystery surrounding Omega has been so compelling and episodes like Bounty Lost emphasize how the slow unraveling of this mystery is what we most look forward to seeing week after week.

Although we expected this, it was also revealed that Cad Bane is working for Lama Su in order to deliver Omega back to Kamino. It was mentioned last week, but it’s worth mentioning again – it’s incredible to see Cad Bane back in the fold again. His appearance last week was truly unexpected, but feels so natural within the context of the plot The Bad Batch is exploring. Corey Burton’s performance as Bane and the iconic design of the character really add a sense of gravitas and weight to the bounty Hunter. From top to bottom, Bane is a menacing presence on screen that you can’t keep your eyes off of.

Bounty Lost ends on a warm note with the return of Omega to Hunter and the rest of her new family. It was nice to see the episode not gloss over the horrors of being kidnapped and taken away from your family. Omega is frightened and desperately seeks reassurance from her father-figure Hunter. Although this theme still runs perhaps a little too close to The Mandalorian, it’s executed so well by Brad Rau, Jennifer Corbett, and colleagues that it’s easy to dismiss some of the more overt similarities. Hunter and Omega’s bond is at the heart of The Bad Batch, and we see the fear and eventual relief in Hunter as his daughter is safely returned to him. Hunter’s “promise” that he will keep Omega safe and that she will never return to Kamino was a lovely, yet haunting final note of the episode. Yes, Hunter gave Omega the reassurance she so desperately needed, but is this a promise he can keep? With Cad Bane, Crosshair, and others after them, it’ll be interesting to see if Hunter can keep this promise and protect Omega against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Verdict: 9/10

Star Wars: The Bad Batch picks up where it left off with an Omega-centric episode packed with brilliantly crafted fight sequences, interesting reveals, and heartwarming moments. The focus on Omega allows for the audience to grow more accustomed to this lovely new addition to the Star Wars universe and feel what it’s like to be in such peril. The mysteries surrounding Omega continue to unfold in interesting ways, and the episode concludes on a touching and worrying note as we head into next week’s installment.

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

ROUNDTABLE INTERVIEW: The Bad Batch’s Jennifer Corbett, Brad Rau, and Ming-Na Wen Talk the Mystery of Omega, Holiday Special, Cad Bane, The Mandalorian Parallels, and More

by @holocronGeorge & @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

WARNING: Contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 9: Bounty Lost

After following the adventures of Clone Force 99 in a quickly changing galaxy over the course of eight emotional and unpredictable episodes, Star Wars: The Bad Batch hit its halfway mark this week in characteristically superb fashion. We recently had a chance to attend a roundtable looking back at the series so far and orienting ahead as to what’s to come with supervising director and executive producer Brad Rau, head writer and executive producer Jennifer Corbett, and the voice of Fennec Shand herself Ming-Na Wen. Here are some of the highlights from the press event.

Ming-Na Wen became an instant fan favorite upon her debut in The Mandalorian and she has since reprised her role in The Bad Batch before appearing in The Book of Boba Fett later this year. In a response to a question posed by us at Star Wars Holocron, Wen spoke how excited she would be to see Fennec Shand appear in other mediums.

“Anything at all! Bring back the holiday special! Whatever! I’m excited about any venture into this universe. Of course, if I got to participate in a cinematic release of a film in the future that would pretty much make me pee in my pants! But yeah, anything. You know, I’m just excited to see the dolls and the toys that are gonna come out. Like I hear that one of the black series is coming out and I’ve collected Star Wars toys since I was little, so this is insane. It’s just unbelievable.”

Despite her sprawling role in a galaxy far, far away now, Ming-Na Wen was initially unaware of how important Fennec Shand would be, as revealed when she spoke to Endor Express.

“I had no idea [of the depth of my role], but, boy, am I happy it happened the way it happened. When Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni offered me this role, I was really excited, because my entire life has been trying to manifest this moment when I get to be a part of a Star Wars project, but when I read the script and she dies I was like, ‘…Oh.’ [Laughs]. That’s kind of sad. So, I wasn’t sure. But you realize, this may be my only opportunity so I gotta check this off my bucket list. And of course talking with Jon and Dave, it’s three people talking the same language, because we all love Star Wars so much.”

In The Bad Batch, Ming-Na Wen is not only approaching the character in a new medium, but at a different time in her life as a less seasoned bounty hunter. Wen revealed to Fantha Tracks how she sees the Fennec we see in The Bad Batch compared to the Fennec we see in The Mandalorian and beyond.

“I know that the 22 year old me is very different from me now. But, at the same time, I’m still that geek nerd girl [where], every time I get on a new set and see the Star Wars characters, I geek out and freak out like I would if I was a teenager. So those are the elements I try to bring into the young Fennec. Definitely less experience. More ambition. More of a drive to prove who she is and make her mark in the world. I think her energy and her focus and her tactics might be a little bit more raw and different. And I give her a slight, little pitch change, but not too much.”

Incredibly, in response to a question by Coffee by Kenobi, Ming-Na Wen revealed that she delivered her performance as Fennec Shand in The Bad Batch under interesting circumstances…

With live action, you have other actors to work off of. You have a set or scenery. You have a director to help you – producers, writers. You have costume, makeup. It’s a full-on process. When you do voice acting you could be in your pjs and in fact with The Bad Batch because of Covid, they brought in all this equipment. The computer – they delivered it all. The microphone, everything. I had to set it up in my home and the only place that I found to be really good for sound buffering was in my closet because of all the clothes. So I did the season of The Bad Batch in my closet. So can you imagine you had to like create this whole – like bring this character to life with your imagination while you’re surrounded by your clothes. It’s pretty crazy. I love it.”

Wen also spoke to the team at the Skywalking Through Neverland Podcast regarding how she draws upon attributes of the fennec fox when playing the bounty hunter:

“It’s interesting, because I watched a lot of videos of foxes, especially fennec foxes, and there’s a slinkiness to their walk. They’re loners and they listen, they’re mean. The fennec fox has huge ears, so they’re very, very alert and aware, and another thing that I actually said [Fennec] can read people or she thought she could read people really well except for that one time with Toro but, you know, he has no scruples. That’s why that’s a whole other thing. But for the voice, I wanted to kind of give a little bit of that quality to her so there’s like a sort of a more elongated slinky rhythm that, you know, came from the fox and so when she talks it’s there. There’s a little bit of an exaggeration and a stretching of words here and there, and whenever she does speak it’s, you know, there’s a pointed reason for it.”

When speaking to Dork Side of the Force, Ming-Na Wen spoke about her conversations with Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau about Fennec’s origins, but remained guarded as to what these conversations entailed.

“It’s kind of difficult for me to talk about that, because the stuff that Dave Filoni and I, and the writers of The Bad Batch discussed about what young Fennec Shand would be like and why she became a bounty hunter – we collaborated and we threw out a lot of ideas. You know, [we] threw a lot of ideas out at each other. So I don’t know what will stick and what won’t. So, I’m worried that if I reveal something from that conversation that hasn’t been explored yet or brought to life in the animation or in future episodes, in either, you know, down the line or in other venues, so I can’t discuss that. I really wish I could.”

One of the highlights of Star Wars: The Bad Batch so far has been the newest member of the crew – Omega. Ming-Na Wen spoke to Ion Cannon Podcast about the interesting dynamic between Fennec and Omega.

“I feel like with Fennec, especially young Fennec, she is good at reading people, manipulating, and playing a certain quality to invite herself into that particular person’s trust. So I’m not sure how sincere and genuine her care for Omega is, or if she sees her as a bounty and a gig that she had to fulfill. So, that’s really interesting…I’d like to think there is also a quality and a side to her that she connected with Omega in a certain way, but we’ll see.”

Ming-Na Wen spoke to Star Wars News Net and Fangirls Going Rogue about the role model figure Fennec is and how important greater Asian-American representation is in such expansive roles.

“I think it’s kind of cool to see sort of this young civilian female bounty hunter who’s able to kind of keep up, if not, be feared by the others and making a mark for herself. I think it’s a great role model, in many ways, for women even though she’s an assassin. I know okay, okay that’s a technicality, but I love roles like that. Where she’s sort of an outsider and yet she makes up her own rules, and she believes in herself. She believes in what she’s capable of doing and she’s fearless in pursuing her goals…For me, I’m just grateful that more characters have been incorporated…What was lacking early on was Asian characters and now there’s been so many [like] in Rogue One…It’s great. And I wrap Temuera [Morrison] in this expansive Asian blanket. It’s just wonderful and I’m so thankful that fans like her, because, as a big Star Wars fan myself, it’s a gift. I’m grateful and I hope that this sort of success story will only encourage them to create more Asian characters.”

On a touching note, Ming-Na Wen emotionally outlined to Syfy how much Star Wars meant to her during her formative years. 

“I grew up and I came to the United States when I was younger and I had to learn English in 3rd grade. I think for me science fiction and fantasy was always like a great form of escapism, and so I was already a fan of that genre. But, when Star Wars came out, I had no idea what it was. We didn’t have social media back then, you just kind of hear word of mouth that there’s another great movie out and everybody was kind of crazy about it. The experience I felt from the moment the music came on and the scrolling of the story, and then the big Imperial cruiser going over our heads as a young kid you’re just like it’s endless. It just went on forever. I just knew I was in for an amazing adventure and the connection I felt with Luke Skywalker especially at the time when he looked at the binary sunset. I think this might be for all of us – that one moment. It’s like 30 seconds of celluloid, but with the music and him staring out there thinking about ‘Will I ever fulfill my dreams? Will I ever be who I want to become?’ That was me. I totally understood that being a kid stuck in Pittsburgh – I mean not that I was stuck, but I felt stuck – and wanting and dreaming about being an actor, being Asian and being a woman, and knowing the obstacles ahead of me. So, I think it was just all of that. I mean the force became a religious experience the whole thing, and I’m sure for you guys too on many levels, right? It’s so cool. It unites us all. Oh! And then when I got on the set of The Mandalorian and that volume lit up and it was Tatooine with the binary sunset – oh you should have seen how much I freaked out! I cried. I literally cried! I was so happy and then I had the AD take a picture of me looking at the binary sunset.”

Supervising director and executive producer Brad Rau and head writer and executive producer Jennifer Corbett also spoke at the roundtable event, detailing a host of interesting information about the Disney+ series.

Rau and Corbett spoke to us at Star Wars Holocron about their favorite characters beyond Clone Force 99 to approach in an ensemble piece like The Bad Batch.

Rau: “I love Sid. Sid is so good because she gives everybody an equal amount of guff, and it’s just delightful. Rhea Pearlman is such an outstanding actress. It’s been fun seeing how her voice when we first started recording affected some of the future scripts – some of the way that Syd would talk. Then when our animation and lighting department started bringing Sid to life, it’s just this awesome character. It’s exactly the kind of character that I love as a Star Wars fan. So yeah, she’s a blast.”

Corbett: “I personally loved Cad Bane, just being a massive The Clone Wars fan and you know him being so terrifying to watch on screen and intimidating. Having the chance to just see how he interacts with the batch compared to a different bounty hunter and what’s changed for him in his life since we last saw him. So he was fun to bring back.”

Speaking of Cad Bane, Coffee with Kenobi asked about the evolution of the infamous bounty hunter from The Clone Wars to The Bad Batch.

Corbett: “When talking about the first half of the season, obviously the Kaminoans put this bounty to have Omega return to them and we knew we wanted to have the batch interact with Fennec Shand – just to see how they end up because they’re still not fully street smart yet. They’re still very much soldiers. They don’t really know how the galaxy works in different ways and while Fennec is new to the scene, she’s still very dangerous. To sort of compare that interaction with when the Kaminoans hire an even bigger gun, and just a completely different experience for the batch where Hunter was able to get away that first time, but this time no one is going to outdraw Cad Bane. So, it’s kind of like just a continuation of who this squad is interacting with, and how each interaction, each experience they’re learning something new about other threats that are out there in the world, and how that affects them moving forward.”

Rau: “I’ll say Corey Burton – he’s such an amazing, fantastic, decorated actor. We have such a blast working with him. For the design of Cad Bane we were looking at some designs that had never fully gone into production that were in progress in The Clone Wars both for his look, and also for his ship that you see in 109. It was a lot of fun to go back to those and sort of take them out of the garage and tinker with it , push it, and rework it a little bit so that Cad Bane and his ride felt familiar, and yet a little bit more nuanced. A little more detail, but yeah Corey and his performance – it just informs all of the animation and a lot of the blocking. He’s phenomenal.”

Cad Bane isn’t the only antagonist Clone Force 99 bump heads with though, as one of their own – Crosshair – shockingly allied with the Empire in the series’ pilot. In speaking with Dork Side of the Force, Corbett revealed what it was like to make Crosshair the central antagonist.

Corbett: “Early on in the development process we knew that Crosshair was going to be the one who would sort of be the foil to this group and and be our main antagonist, but you bring up a good point because one of the things we always try to talk about with this series and when The Bad Batch are dealing with the regs, is that question of choice. Because with the chips, they didn’t really have a say and they’re conditioned to follow orders. With Order 66, we see them execute that without hesitation, so what the regs are going through and what Crosshair is going through is something we continue to explore throughout the season. So we don’t want to give too much away, but the discussion of choice is a big topic.”

Rau detailed to Star Wars News Net the mystery surrounding Omega and the fact that she is, technically, Boba Fett’s brother.

Rau: “There’s definitely a mystery that we won’t go into too much today, but we’ve just had a lot of fun playing the mystery up, to be honest. Just to see that there’s something to this kid. Something that makes me excited is when we can show this kid whoever it is, wherever she’s from, whatever her deal is. When you see her training alongside these other guys and failing, honestly sometimes and then seeing her overcome, that’s the most exciting part of her character. More than anything else, but there are other parts of her story to tell that we will be excited for you guys to see in the future.”

The exploration of the era in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope has been one of the highlights of The Bad Batch so far. Rau and Corbett spoke to Fantha Tracks and Syfy about telling a tale while navigating the ins and outs of this interesting slice of canon.

Rau: “It’s something that we’re really excited about in this era that hasn’t been really explored in the Star Wars timeline. There’s so many things going on, there’s so much change. There’s like a kind of wild west sensibility, and yet, the rise of the empire. How does that look, are things that get us really excited for the stories that these characters go into 100%.”

Corbett: “The [Lucasfilm Story Group] keep us very honest. Because, as Brad said with this timeline, we have a bit of wiggle room before we start getting into Rebels and even Solo and A New Hope. There’s an opportunity for us to explore lots of things, but anytime we have a story discussion or an episodic discussion the story team weighs in on things that could potentially be an issue or things that could potentially be a tie-in. And if it makes sense creatively that’s something we discuss and talk about, but we’re never really confined by things. It’s just if we like to shoot for the stars and if it gets into a certain area we have to be careful about, then we have a longer discussion on what we’re trying to accomplish and if it can fit with anything else.”

Rau: “…in this era there are a lot of different characters sort of bumping around, so anytime we can maybe see one or two of them in our show we’re just super excited about that.”

Speaking of characters bumping around, Rau teased the inclusion of characters from Star Wars Resistance to Jedi News.

“That might be too loaded of a question actually, but I’ll just say Resistance was an awesome show with this amazing cast of characters. Our crew working on the show primarily is the same crew both here at Lucasfilm and overseas as well, and it’s interesting how that show and the production of that show has affected what we do as we continue to push forward in the animation process. As far as specific characters, I mean I’m not going to go into too many details. There is definitely a long amount of time from where we are to where Resistance was, but it’s an interesting question.”

The adoptive father-child bond and the theme of found family are not only at the heart of The Bad Batch, but also The Mandalorian too with Din Djarin and Grogu. Rau and Corbett spoke of the similarities and differences between the themes explored in the two series.

Rau: “Really, for us, there are some similarities for sure that rollover the idea of a found family especially with grizzled warriors sort of having parenthood forced upon them, and then learning how to deal with that for good and for bad is just this classic storyline that when we were looking at The Bad Batch, it made sense to go that way really quickly. Not intentional as a symmetrical nod to The Mandalorian necessarily, more so just to create interesting point of view that could get the audience into the series where you might not always identify as a super soldier or as a clone, but as a family as a big brother a little sister – whatever it might be – it seemed like a natural way to get into this show.”

Corbett: “I think, to ground it in real life, when you see different families on the surface, they all may seem similar or you know have similarities, but really when you get into their dynamic and what they’re going through, that’s where you see the different shades. So, I think that’s kind of true with Star Wars as well.”

The Bad Batch has made headwaves with many of the series episodes being written by women so far, another example of Star Wars’ commitment to representation in front of and behind the scenes. Rebel Cells – the Star Wars Animation Podcast asked Corbett and Rau what makes a successful writers’ room.

Corbett: “It’s definitely all about collaboration and it’s great to bring in so many excited writers who love Star Wars, and who just want to play in that sandbox. The enthusiasm they bring and then from story breaking on through the whole script stage, and then production, we work closely with each freelancer and then with Brad and his team to each step along the way fine-tuning, adding, giving it that extra Star Wars thing to really kind of make the episodes pop. And yeah if i could say anything it’s collaboration, collaboration, collaboration, and I owe a lot of that to to Brad and the production side, because we give them stuff written on a page, but then seeing how they execute it – it’s like they take it from here to here and each time I’m amazed with every script.”

Rau: “I’m gonna swing that right back to you Corbett. You are the best. I mean really this collaboration that we have is unlike any other show i’ve ever worked on because truly when these amazing scripts – and they are amazing – and they’ve gone through so many stages, there’s so much love, blood, sweat and tears on each page, you can just feel it, but once we launch into our story phase, and into animation and lighting, and all the way to the end – we’re constantly talking, we’re constantly reworking things, and making sure they line up. So it’s that part of the collaboration that is really great and not every show is like that. I think it’s one of the special things about Lucasfilm Animation.”

Especially after speaking with Brad Rau, Jennifer Corbett, and Ming-Na Wen, we’re more excited than ever to see what Clone Force 99 will be up to in the remaining episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch. With Cad Bane on the table now, and the threat of Fennec, Crosshair, and the entire Empire looming over the Bad Batch, Hunter, Omega and the team will have plenty on their hands as The Bad Batch heads into its second half.

New episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch are available to stream on Disney+ every Friday! Stay tuned to Star Wars Holocron for more coverage of Star Wars: The Bad Batch!

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm