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Star Wars Holocron

What’s New in Star Wars – September 2021

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

The dramatic conclusion to The Bad Batch’s first season capped off a great August for Star Wars fans, and the content doesn’t slow down as we head into September. From a brand new show on Disney+ to the continuation of the terrific War of the Bounty Hunters series and more, there’s a host of interesting stories and characters to feast on over the next few weeks. 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.

September 1 – The High Republic 9

Cavan Scott takes his The High Republic series for Marvel Comics in a different direction with its upcoming ninth issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “A NEW STORY BEGINS THIS ISSUE – THE SHADOW OF THE NIHIL! Following the terrible events of The Rising Storm, the villainous NIHIL are in retreat, hunted by THE JEDI. WAYSEEKER KNIGHT ORLA JARENI is attacked by a lone Nihil Stormship in deep space, a Stormship commanded by one of the Jedi’s own. Which of STARLIGHT BEACON’S number have joined the Nihil Horde? And how far will they turn from the Light?”

September 1 – The High Republic Adventures 8

Also in the High Republic era this month is Daniel Jose Older’s fantastic The High Republic Adventures series for IDW Publishing. The publisher’s summary for the upcoming eighth issue is as follows: “Back together and safe on the Starlight, Lula, Zeen, Farzala, and Qort recover from their adventures on the Junk Moon and Nal Hutta, but a new challenge awaits them in the form of an old friend. Meanwhile, Marchion Ro encourages Krix’s violent obsessions, leading to an attack on Takodana!”

September 7 – Life Day Treasury

George Mann has delivered great short story collections in the Star Wars universe with Myths & Fables and Dark Legends and looks to do the same with his upcoming collaboration with Cavan Scott and Grant Griffin celebrating the holiday of Life Day. The publisher’s summary for the Disney-Lucasfilm Press release is as follows: “Cozy up with this collection of holiday-themed midwinter stories from throughout the galaxy far, far away! From George Mann and Grant Griffin, the same team that brought us the stunning Star Wars: Myths & Fables and Star Wars: Dark Legends–with the addition of best-selling author Cavan Scott–this collection of eight myths and fables told around winter fires and high-tech heating pods across the galaxy will bring holiday joy to young and old Star Wars fans alike. From Jedi in the city to Ewoks in the forest, from Wookiees to droids, in this charming collection you will find holiday feasts, ghostly apparitions, snowy adventures, and much more. Ultimately these are stories of hope in the darkest of days. Of family, found and otherwise. Of kindness. And of love.”

September 7 – Star Wars: The High Republic: The Edge of Balance, Vol. 1

The High Republic era is explored in a new format with an upcoming manga series written by Mizuki Sakakibara and Justina Ireland from Viz Media. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “In the aftermath of the Great Hyperspace Disaster, young Jedi Knight Lily Tora-Asi is assigned to help displaced civilians relocate to Banchii, a planet in the Inugg system far in the Outer Rim. While balancing the arrival of incoming settlers and teaching the Padawans on their Temple outpost, Lily must also confront an attack by the insidious Drengir and, after the events of the Republic Fair, deal with the growing threat of the Nihil. But the dangers to Lily and her Padawans are much closer than she thinks….”

September 7 – Dark Force Rising – The Essential Legends Collection

Del Rey’s Essential Legends Collection continues with the second installment of Timothy Zahn’s iconic Thrawn trilogy. The publisher’s summary for the re-release is as follows: “Five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, the fragile Republic that was born with the defeat of Darth Vader, the Emperor, and the infamous Death Star stands threatened from within and without. The dying Empire’s most cunning and ruthless warlord—Grand Admiral Thrawn—has taken command of the remnants of the Imperial fleet and launched a massive campaign aimed at the Republic’s destruction. With the aid of unimaginable weapons long hidden away by the Emperor on a backwater planet, Thrawn plans to turn the tide of the battle, overwhelm the New Republic, and impose his iron rule throughout the galaxy. Meanwhile, dissension and personal ambition threaten to tear the Republic apart. As Princess Leia—pregnant with Jedi twins—risks her life to bring a proud and lethal alien race into alliance with the Republic, Han and Lando Calrissian race against time to find proof of treason inside the highest Republic Council—only to discover instead a ghostly fleet of warships that could bring doom to their friends and victory to their enemies. But most dangerous of all is a new Dark Jedi, risen from the ashes of a shrouded past, consumed by bitterness…and thoroughly, utterly insane. Now he schemes to use his awesome mastery of the Force to summon young Skywalker, allay his misgivings, cunningly enthrall him, and ultimately corrupt him to the Dark Side. A tale of brilliant spectacle, startling revelations, and tumultuous action, Dark Force Rising moves with the speed of light across a dazzling epic landscape of galactic proportions, from world to world, from adventure to adventure, as Good and Evil clash across the vastness of space “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….”

September 7 – Darth Bane: Rule of Two – The Essential Legends Collection

Also debuting as part of Del Rey’s Essential Legends Collection this month is Darth Bane: Rule of Two, the follow-up novel to Darth Bane: Path of Destruction. The publisher’s summary for Drew Karpyshyn’s novel is as follows: “Now Darth Bane is ready to put his policy into action, and he thinks he has found the key element that will make his triumph complete: a student to train in the ways of the dark side. Though she is young, Zannah possesses an instinctive link to the dark side that rivals his own. With his guidance, she will become essential in his quest to destroy the Jedi and dominate the galaxy. There is one who is determined to stop Darth Bane: Johun Othone, Padawan to Jedi Master Lord Hoth, who died at Bane’s hands in the last great Sith War. Though the rest of the Jedi scoff at him, Johun’s belief that there are surviving Sith on the loose is unshakeable. As Johun continues his dogged pursuit of the man who killed his master, Zannah, faced unexpectedly with a figure from her past, begins to question her embrace of the dark side. And Darth Bane is led by Force–induced visions of a moon where he will acquire astonishing new knowledge and power—power that will alter him in ways he could never have imagined…”

September 7 – X-Wing: Rogue Squadron – The Essential Legends Collection

The first installment in the X-Wing series of novels by Michael A. Stackpole sees a re-release in Del Rey’s Essential Legends Collection. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “They are sleek, swift, and deadly. They are the X-wing fighters. And as the struggle rages across the vastness of space, the fearless men and women who pilot them risk both their lives and their machines. Their mission: to defend the Rebel Alliance against a still-powerful and battle-hardened Imperial foe in a last-ditch effort to control the stars! Its very name strikes fear into enemy hearts. So when Rebel hero Wedge Antilles rebuilds the legendary Rogue Squadron, he seeks out only the best-the most skilled, the most daring X-wing pilots. Through arduous training and dangerous missions, he weeds out the weak from the strong, assembling a group of hard-bitten warriors to fight, ready to die. Antilles knows the grim truth: that even with the best X-wing jockeys in the galaxy, many will not survive their near-suicidal missions. But when Rogue Squadron is ordered to assist in the assault on the heavily fortified Imperial stronghold of Black Moon, even the bravest must wonder if any at all will survive…”

September 7 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian Sticker Art Puzzles

The Mandalorian Seasons 1 and 2 are featured in an upcoming children’s activity and reference book. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “A new type of puzzle from a galaxy far, far away puts characters from The Mandalorian into your hands. Stick the puzzle pieces into their proper place to create 15 full-color scenes worthy of being displayed! If you can’t get enough of Mando and Grogu(TM), these 15 sticker puzzles featuring scenes from seasons1 [sic] and 2 of the hit television series The Mandalorian will take you on an adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Each puzzle contains more than 100 sticker shapes to be fitted into a tessellated grid—as the stickers are put in place, full-color artworks of your favorite Mandalorian characters, locales, and memorable moments will emerge. When you’re done, you’ll have a spectacular glossy art poster to display. This is the way.”

September 7 – Star Wars: The High Republic Vol. 1 – There is No Fear

Issues 1-5 of Cavan Scott’s The High Republic series is collected in a forthcoming trade paperback titled There is No Fear. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “A new era of Star Wars storytelling begins! Journey back to the High Republic — the golden age of the Jedi! Centuries before the Empire and the Skywalker saga, the Jedi are at their height, protecting the galaxy as Republic pioneers push out into new territories. But as the frontier prepares for the dedication of the majestic Starlight Beacon, Padawan Keeve Trennis faces the ultimate choice — will she complete her Jedi trials, or rescue the innocent from disaster? And can she trust her closest ally? Enter a rich and vast world of new Jedi! New worlds! New ships! And new evils to fight — including the terrifying Nihil!”

September 8 – War of the Bounty Hunters 4

War of the Bounty Hunters continues in the penultimate issue by Charles Soule. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “THE WAR CONTINUES! The true machinations of the theft of HAN SOLO from BOBA FETT become clear, as one-time love of Solo QI’RA has returned her terrifying criminal organization, CRIMSON DAWN, to the galaxy. Qi’ra used Han to bring the most powerful players in the galaxy together, and now the pieces are moving toward their endgame. DARTH VADER, LUKE SKYWALKER, LEIA ORGANA, VALANCE, APHRA, THE HUTTS – all are vying for the ultimate prize, while Boba Fett’s stuck in the middle, a simple man just trying to get what’s his!”

September 8 – Doctor Aphra (2020) 14

The adventures of Sana Starros and Doctor Aphra continue in the 14th issue of Alyssa Wong’s series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “REPEAT OFFENDERS. DOCTOR APHRA and SANA STARROS are imprisoned by a POWERFUL ENEMY! If they want to escape, they’ll have to work together with former foes JUST LUCKY and ARIOLE… And venture deeper into the heart of a CRIMSON DAWN FLAGSHIP!”

September 8 – Star Wars Adventures 9

Michael Moreci and Vita Ayala collaborate for the latest issue of Star Wars Adventures, spotlighting Mace Windu and Boba Fett. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Mace Windu and his Lightning Squadron land on the planet Ridlay, which has gone mysteriously dark, expecting a Separatist attack. But what they find instead is a surprise to them all. Then, Boba Fett makes his Star Wars Adventures debut as he clashes with Han Solo in the time before Episode IV!”

September 14 – Rebel Hero Journal

Studio Fun International and author Calliope Glass are bringing out a new in-universe journal focusing on Leia, Ahsoka, and Rey. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “In a galaxy far, far away, young female rebels like Princess Leia, Ahsoka, and Rey have always done everything they could to stand up for what was right. Discover exactly what makes these brave heroes so special in this beautifully illustrated prompted journal. Young Star Warsfans [sic] will be encouraged to embrace their own heroic traits and learn that they, too, can be a rebel.”

September 14 – Star Wars: The Galactic Advent Calendar

Celebrate the holidays with Insight Editions’ advent calendar this season! The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Filled with more than thirty surprises spread out over twenty-five days, Star Wars: The Galactic Advent Calendar is the perfect gift for any Star Wars fan. Celebrate the holidays and your favorite Star Wars moments with this advent calendar packed with a galaxy’s worth of exclusive trinkets.”

September 15 – War of the Bounty Hunters – Boushh 1

At last, the origins of the bounty hunter Boushh are revealed in this newest War of the Bounty Hunters one-shot by Alyssa Wong. THe publisher’s summary is as follows: “Before PRINCESS LEIA acquired his armor to infiltrate Jabba the Hutt’s palace, BOUSHH roamed the galaxy as a bounty hunter. He and his team of lethal warriors were exiled from their homeworld; but what horrible event from Boushh’s past doomed them all to wander with no hope of ever returning? Desperate to survive, Boushh takes a suspicious job from a shadowy organization to assassinate DOMINA TAGGE, the leader of the powerful Tagge Family – a galactic dynasty stretching back countless generations. But Domina is the most dangerous enemy Boushh has ever faced, and the desperate exile has the most difficult choice of his life to make! ALYSSA WONG and David Baldeón’s one-shot is the third 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.”

September 15 – Darth Vader (2020) 16

Follow Vader’s relentless pursuit of his son Luke in the newest issue of the Darth Vader series by Greg Pak. The publisher’s summary for the upcoming 16th issue is as follows: “TARGET SKYWALKER. All of DARTH VADER’S careful scheming and brutal power moves to claim HAN SOLO’S frozen body have one ultimate end goal: LUKE SKYWALKER, the only person who could challenge Vader’s primacy at the Emperor’s side. Now everything comes to a head as father closes in on son and Luke finally grasps a shocking truth……one that will shape his destiny FOREVER!”

September 15 – The High Republic Adventures — The Monster of Temple Peak 2

The Cavan Scott Star Wars content keeps coming this month with the second issue of The Monster of Temple Peak miniseries set during the High Republic era. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Follow former Jedi turned saber-for-hire monster hunter Ty Yorrick in this adventure-packed High Republic miniseries by Cavan Scott and Rachael Stott! Ty begins the trek up Temple Peak, but the mountain’s hungry creatures and slippery edges put her rusty Force skills to the test. Dangerous monsters, cliffs, and battles are second nature for Ty, though. But dealing with people? Well, that may be the hardest part of her mission…”

September 22 – Star Wars: Visions

As Kathleen Kennedy stated during Disney Investor Day 2020, “Star Wars: Visions will be a series of animated short films celebrating the Star Wars galaxy through the lens of the world’s best anime creators. This anthology collection will bring ten fantastic visions from several of the leading Japanese anime studios, offering a fresh and diverse cultural perspective to Star Wars.” The upcoming animated series will comprise nine anime-inspired short films from various famous Japanese animation studios.

September 22 – Bounty Hunters 16

Ethan Sacks’ consistently gripping Bounty Hunters series intersects with the War of the Bounty Hunters crossover event yet again in this upcoming 16th issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “SHADOW SOLDIERS. VALANCE and DENGAR make a last stand against DEATHSTICK! T’ONGA seeks help from a LEGENDARY BOUNTY HUNTER! The bounty hunters converge on a high-stakes auction as CRIMSON DAWN’S plans come into focus!”

September 22 – Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts of Vader’s Castle 1

Zombie droids in Star Wars? That’s what’s in store for the debut issue of Ghosts of Vader’s Castle. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Join Creepy Cavan Scott, Frightening Francesco Francavilla, and a host of eerie Star Wars artists in the epic conclusion to the Vader’s Castle saga! Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts of Vader’s Castle is a horror-packed, star-studded, five-week event guaranteed to haunt your dreams. In issue #1, life is looking up for Lina and Milo Graf and Crater, but Milo has been having nightmares… about zombie droids! Find out what’s causing these dreams and if Milo can handle being haunted by the GHOSTS OF VADER’S CASTLE.”

September 28 – Star Wars Insider: The Fiction Collection Volume 2

A new collection of Star Wars Legends and canon short stories are debuting in a special issue of Star Wars Insider this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Star Wars Insider, the official magazine of the Star Wars saga, presents a stunning collection of exclusive tales, both Legends and current continuity, from the galaxy far, far away. A collection of exciting short stories featuring tales that take will take you from the Battle of Endor to the desolate world of Jakku. The stories, which cover both Legends and tales that fit in with the current Star Wars continuity, feature popular characters such as Hondo Ohnaka, Lando Calrissian, Asajj Ventress, and Princess Leia. Written by renowned best-selling Star Wars authors including Alan Dean Foster, Mur Lafferty, Alexander Freed, David J. Williams and Mark S. Williams, this volume also includes stunning art from several of the saga’s best-loved interpreters, including Brian Rood, Joe Corroney, Brian Miller, Chris Trevas, and Chris Scalf.”

September 28 – Star Wars: I Wish I Had a Wookiee

A cute new children’s book featuring 75 poems will hit bookshelves this September. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Inspired by the beloved world of Star Wars, this collection of over 75 whimsical and original poems, written by Ian Doescher and illustrated by Tim Budgen, is a celebration of childhood, creativity, imagination, and the early years of Star Wars fandom. In “My Pet AT-AT,” a ten-year-old dreams of playing hide and seek and fetch with an AT-AT. In “Dad’s Luke Skywalker Figurine,” a child opens their dad’s untouched action figure but, instead of getting into trouble, helps their dad re-discover his own sense of play. In “T-16 Dreams,” a little girl imagines herself flying through the galaxy, the Empire hot on her trail, to help with her real-world fear of flying. Set in the hearts and minds of young children who love Star Wars, and filled with the characters you know and love, I Wish I Had a Wookiee is the perfect gift for the young Star Wars fan—and the young at heart.”

September 28 – The Odyssey of Star Wars: An Epic Poem

One of our most anticipated releases this month is from Jack Mitchell and Abramss Books, reimagining the events of Rogue One and the original trilogy in the style of The Odyssey and Beowulf. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “A thrilling retelling of the Star Wars saga in the style of classic epic poetry. “I look not to myself but to the Force, In which all things arise and fall away.” ourney to a galaxy far, far away like never before—through lyrical verse and meter. Like the tales of Odysseus and Beowulf, the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Jyn Erso, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and the Emperor are fraught with legendary battles, iconic heroes, fearsome warriors, sleek ships, and dangerous monsters. Beginning with Rogue One’s rebel heist on Scarif to secure the plans to the Death Star and continuing through the climax of Return of the Jedi, author Jack Mitchell uses the ancient literary form of epic poetry to put a new spin on the Star Wars saga. Punctuated with stunning illustrations inspired by the terracotta art of Greek antiquity, The Odyssey of Star Wars: An Epic Poem presents the greatest myth of the 20th century as it would have been told nearly 3,000 years ago.”

September 29 – Star Wars (2020) 17

Charles Soule’s Star Wars mainline series caps off the month of September with its 17th issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “THE CHASE! SITH LORD DARTH VADER has discovered that his son, Jedi Knight LUKE SKYWALKER, is finally within striking distance. He will pursue him to the very ends of space…Who is hunting whom? Meanwhile, LEIA ORGANA battles the forces of CRIMSON DAWN to regain her lost love, HAN SOLO.”

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

September 1 – The High Republic 9  

September 1 – The High Republic Adventures 8  

September 7 – Life Day Treasury  

September 7 – Star Wars: The High Republic: The Edge of Balance, Vol. 1  

September 7 – Dark Force Rising – The Essential Legends Collection

September 7 – Darth Bane: Rule of Two – The Essential Legends Collection

September 7 – X-Wing: Rogue Squadron – The Essential Legends Collection

September 7 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian Sticker Art Puzzles  

September 7 – Star Wars: The High Republic Vol. 1 – There is No Fear  

September 8 – War of the Bounty Hunters 4  

September 8 – Doctor Aphra (2020) 14  

September 8 – Star Wars Adventures (2020) 9  

September 14 – Rebel Hero Journal  

September 14 – Star Wars: The Galactic Advent Calendar  

September 15 – War of the Bounty Hunters – Boushh 1  

September 15 – Darth Vader (2020) 16  

September 15 – The High Republic Adventures — The Monster of Temple Peak 2  

September 22 – Star Wars: Visions

September 22 – Bounty Hunters 16  

September 22 – Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts of Vader’s Castle 1  

September 28 – Star Wars Insider: The Fiction Collection Volume 2  

September 28 – Star Wars: I Wish I Had a Wookiee  

September 28 – The Odyssey of Star Wars: An Epic Poem  

September 29 – Star Wars (2020) 17  

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm, Disney+, Del Rey, Marvel Comics, IDW Publishing, Viz Media, Abrams Books, Quirk Books, Studio Fun International, Insight Editions, Thunder Bay Press, and Disney-Lucasfilm Press

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 16

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Season 1, Episode 16: Kamino Lost

With the beautiful structures of Tipoca City toppling into the ocean and the titular crew reunited, Star Wars: The Bad Batch wraps up its incredible debut season in entertaining, albeit underwhelming, fashion. Part two of the finale, titled Kamino Lost, picks up where its predecessor left off as the Bad Batch desperately try to survive after the Empire’s destruction of their home world.

Kamino Lost is a beautifully animated and suspenseful episode that would have worked better in sequence with Return to Kamino, rather than a standalone episode. Much of the emotional weight and more introspective topics this final arc of The Bad Batch had to offer was delivered in Part 1 of the finale, with this second part largely serving as an action-packed aftermath of sorts. There’s nothing wrong with this idea in concept, as we see Kamino’s fall not only offer some brilliant constructed action sequences, but also symbolizes the change in the galaxy with the definite fall of clone troopers. However, splitting these two episodes up ultimately makes Kamino Lost feel somewhat anticlimactic. The episode’s few intimate character moments are great, yet pale in comparison to similar scenes in Return to Kamino. All in all, Kamino Lost would’ve worked better if it was merged with Return to Kamino into a single episode.

Nonetheless, Kamino Lost still has plenty of enthralling scenes to offer and interesting themes to explore. The bulk of the episode follows the Bad Batch (newly reunited with Crosshair) as they desperately escape the demolished cloning facilities of Tipoca City. The action is tense and suspenseful, and offers a number of touching moments, including Omega saving Crosshair and Crosshair saving Omega and AZ. We’ve seen the quirky little droid in previous episodes of Star Wars animation dating back to The Clone Wars, but AZ is given a terrific chance to shine in this episode. His sacrifice for Omega was touching and it was such a relief to see Crosshair step in and save the droid.

As for the other characters, Omega and Crosshair are at the center of the episode’s most intimate moments. Over the course of the season, Omega has developed into a curious, strong-willed, charming, and genuine character. From the get-go, Omega has been the highlight of The Bad Batch’s first season and the season one finale affirms, once again, why this is the case. Omega’s care for and kindness toward others is infectious and, as much as Clone Force 99 have helped her, she’s certainly helped them in more ways than one.

As for Crosshair, the motivations underlying the ‘betrayal’ of the former member of the Bad Batch are explored a little more in this episode. Last week’s reveal that is a clash of philosophies, rather than the influence of an inhibitor chip, was unexpected and made Crosshair’s actions all the more heartbreaking. In Kamino Lost, we see Hunter and Crosshair trade verbal blows about their different stances. And Tech perhaps delivers the best line of the episode when addressing Crosshair’s conflicting views: “Understanding you does not mean I agree with you.” The episode ends on a somewhat underwhelming note of Clone Force 99 flying away, leaving Crosshair behind as he has made his decision to fight with the Empire. It’s obvious the series will continue to explore this strained relationship and dueling ideologies; it’s just a shame the finale didn’t deliver a more emotionally satisfying wrap-up to the conflict between Crosshair and the Bad Batch this season.

Thematically, Kamino Lost marks a significant shift in the state of the galaxy. Kamino’s cloning operations are destroyed, plummeted to the bottom of a deep and dark ocean. The Empire has moved on to cheaper and more numerous conscripted soldiers as they dispose of the cloning facilities they now deem redundant (for the most part that is). This is a big moment in Star Wars canon, and one that has been theorized about for decades now. The fall of Kamino is symbolic of the changes in the galaxy at this time. The Bad Batch’s exploration into changes in daily life, military operations, chain codes, the underworld, and more have provided some great insights into the galaxy under Imperial rule, but nothing in the series has been so dramatically evident of change as the events in Kamino Lost. After the recent announcement of a second season, we’re hoping The Bad Batch continues to delve deeply into the aftermath of the Empire’s takeover with an emphasis on clone troopers. How do other clones feel about the Empire’s decision to switch to conscripted soldiers? Do they feel betrayed? Angry? And now that the clones are disposed of, how does the Empire go about building an army that spans the galaxy? We hope all of this and more are given attention heading into season 2.

It wouldn’t be a Star Wars series without ending on a tease of what’s to come and The Bad Batch is no exception. Nala Se is delivered to an Imperial facility as she is still deemed valuable to the new regime. The Imperial officer’s uniform here is near identical to the uniforms worn by Dr. Pershing and colleagues in The Mandalorian, posing a host of questions moving forward. Broadly speaking, it’s brilliant to see shows like The Bad Batch and The Mandalorian complement one another in such a way. And, now more than ever, we can’t help but think the Empire’s interest in Grogu in The Mandalorian has something to do with cloning.

Verdict: 7.5/10

The Bad Batch caps off it’s first season in characteristically beautiful fashion in an episode that, despite some touching moments and an intrigue closing tease, would’ve benefitted from being merged with its predecessor. Crosshair’s decision is given more attention, as is the kindness and innocence of Omega. And, although somewhat underwhelming, Kamino Lost provides a satisfactory wrap-up to many of the first season’s plot threads, setting up nicely for season 2 coming in 2022.

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 15

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 15: Return to Kamino

As Clone Force 99 returns to Kamino and the long-awaited confrontation between Hunter and Crosshair occurs, Star Wars: The Bad Batch’s first season draws to a dramatic close in Part I of a two-part finale. Titled Return to Kamino, episode 15 sees Echo, Tech, Wrecker, and Omega journey to Kamino to rescue Hunter. Meanwhile, Crosshair and the Empire have plans of their own.

Return to Kamino feels like a perfect, poetic start to a final arc that ties together the different emotional threads and plot points of The Bad Batch’s debut season. The long-awaited confrontation between Hunter and Crosshair that the series’ pilot brilliantly set up is executed with tremendous and emotionally poignant effect in episode 15. Although Crosshair’s “turn to the dark side” was a shock in the first episode, the former member of Clone Force 99 has largely played a backseat role in the show’s first season. While, at times, this has been a bit disappointing, it made the emotional payoff in Return to Kamino all the more impactful after weeks of waiting. The big moment in this episode comes from Crosshair’s reveal that his alliance with the Empire was not driven by an inhibitor chip, but, rather, by a deep-rooted philosophical difference in how he perceives their role in the galaxy. To Hunter, Crosshair was a man who (unwillingly) betrayed his family for the sake of a regime deprived of all moral standing. But, to Crosshair, he was abandoned by his family for simply following orders in an effort to restore order to the galaxy. As viewers, we obviously know that Crosshair’s reasoning is weak to say the least and, nonetheless, this is still a powerful scene. Crosshair is not a mindless villain following orders against his will; he made a decision of his own volition that led to his separation from those closest to him. This reveal makes the events of this scene all the more heartbreaking, while interestingly setting up this plot moving forward as Hunter rescues Crosshair rather than leave his brother behind.

It probably goes without saying at this point, but the animation on display during this sequence and the entire episode is stunning. Kamino comes to life as it did in Attack of the Clones in beautiful fashion. And the Kiners brilliantly recall John Williams’ theme from Episode II, which adds yet another cinematic quality to the episode. There’s still mysteries of Kamino to unpack in this episode as Omega introduces the crew (and the audience) to the underground tunnel system on Kamino. Here, Omega introduces the Bad Batch to their place of birth. There’s a lot of intrigue and mystery surrounding Omega’s origins and scenes like this showcased how we’re likely to get even more reveals next week. And, poetically, we’re left on a somber note of the destruction of Tipoca City. Glimpses into the empty halls of the cloning facilities were haunting and continued the long-standing theme in the series of exploring the state of the galaxy after the fall of the Republic.

We’ve always known that clones were faded out by the time of the original trilogy, but how we ended up there always remained a mystery. The Bad Batch has deftly explored this topic so far, with the introduction of conscripted soldiers and the swift closure of Kamino’s cloning operations seen in previous episodes. The destruction of Kamino’s capital city in episode 15 was the icing on the cake, figuratively and literally showcasing how the Empire is remaking the galaxy according to their wants and wishes. It’s terrific storytelling that interconnects the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy era by addressing long-standing questions of the transition from clone troopers to stormtroopers. There is surely more to come with this thread, but needless to say The Bad Batch’s exploration of different facets of life and business in a quickly transitioning galaxy has been a highlight of the first season.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

Categories
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.

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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

Categories
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+

Categories
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

Categories
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+

Categories
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+

Categories
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+