Warning: This article contains spoilers from multiple episodes in The Bad Batch season 2.
Live-action Star Wars television may feel like it is getting the most attention these days, but The Bad Batch is proof that Star Wars animation continues to thrive. After a strong first season in 2021, The Bad Batch returned with an even stronger second season this year.
This follows the trajectory of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, animated series that had good first seasons and great second seasons. The Bad Batch continued to tell the personal story of a family while also telling the larger story of what happens to all of the clones after Order 66 when the Empire is at the height of their power.
What ultimately made The Bad Batch season 2 even better than season 1?
Development for more characters
Season 1 did an excellent job developing Omega and Hunter. There was a consistent focus on how they evolved as individuals and in terms of their relationship.
Season 2 continued to develop Omega and Hunter, one of the best parts of which was Omega getting more agency and Hunter trusting her as an equal member of the team. Along with Omega and Hunter, season 2 also provided more development for Tech, Echo, and Crosshair.
The season 2 premiere “Spoils of War” and “Ruins of War” showed Tech realizing his understanding of Separatists was not as clear-cut as he once believed. These episodes also explored the bond between Echo and Omega, a relationship that did not receive much focus in season 1.
Tech’s development continued to be at the forefront in “Faster,” the very next episode he appeared in after the premiere. “Faster” showed Tech adapting and using his intellect in a new way as he used his analytical thinking to win at riot racing. Tech took a bold risk and stepped outside of his comfort zone to help others, and even got an unexpected opportunity to shine in the public eye.
In addition to focusing more on the Echo and Omega relationship throughout the season, Echo finally did something about his increasing frustration at doing random jobs for Cid instead of helping other clones. Joining Rex’s network to help clones in need felt like a natural progression for Echo, just like when Echo first joined the Bad Batch in The Clone Wars season 7.
As the Batch struggled to move forward without Echo, episode 9 “The Crossing” enriched Tech’s development even further. There was tension between Tech and Omega because of the polar opposite ways they responded to Echo’s sudden absence. This led to a rare moment of emotional vulnerability for Tech in a scene that deepened his relationship with Omega.
While Crosshair wasn’t in many Bad Batch season 2 episodes, he received more focus and development in these episodes than in most of the season 1 episodes he appeared in. He was the main character in the outstanding season 2 episodes “The Solitary Clone” and “The Outpost,” episodes that dived deep into his character in a way that arguably didn’t happen in season 1 until episode 15 “Return to Kamino.”
Crosshair got to be the star of “The Solitary Clone” and “The Outpost” and his story didn’t have to feel secondary to the rest of the Batch’s story in the same episode as was sometimes the case in season 1. Without the Batch around, Clone Wars fan-favorite Commander Cody and a new clone Mayday had the most substantial impact on Crosshair’s development, a great example of how this season utilized both new and familiar characters so effectively.
Almost every episode, even the ones that some fans dubbed as “filler,” had a tremendous payoff by the end of season 2.
Without “Faster” and “The Crossing” in particular, Tech’s sacrifice in the finale wouldn’t have been as impactful or heartbreaking. Tech was a likable and entertaining character in season 1, but season 2 fleshed him out individually and in his relationships, and made the audience care about him deeply.
The seeds of Cid’s betrayal and the Batch eventually parting ways with her were also planted in “Faster.” She was always a shady and selfish character, yet this was the first episode that framed her as being dangerous, and teased that the Batch’s unrequited loyalty to her would cost them one day.
Another episode that was deemed “filler” was episode 5 “Entombed.” Without the trust forged between Phee Genoa and the Batch during their treasure hunt in that episode, the Batch never would’ve found their way to Pabu later in the season, giving them a taste of peace and home they’d never had before. Leaving Pabu and the chance of losing that peace and home raised the stakes in the finale.
There was plenty of other payoff throughout the season, such as Crosshair’s game-changing development in “The Outpost” and episode 14 “Tipping Point” being a direct result of the events in “The Solitary Clone.” That episode showed the clones being gradually discarded and even loyal soldiers like Cody going AWOL. The midseason event episodes “The Clone Conspiracy” and “Truth and Consequences” followed up on that as the Defense Recruitment Bill officially ordered the clones to be phased out and replaced, which paved the way for the most devastating moments in “The Outpost.”
The season 1 finale “Kamino Lost” felt a little anticlimactic and more like an epilogue whereas “Return to Kamino” felt like the true finale. Meanwhile, the season 2 finale paid off threads from almost every episode, and not just the ones that focused on Tech, Crosshair, and Cid.
“The Summit” and “Plan 99” are among the most intense and gripping episodes in all of Star Wars television. The numerous cliffhangers concerning Omega, Crosshair, the rest of the Batch, Dr. Hemlock, Emerie Karr, and everything on Mount Tantiss makes the next season already feel like must-watch television.
Did you like The Bad Batch season 2 more than season 1? Let us know in the comments!