The Bad Batch season 3, episode 5 review: The Return

Does PTSD count as a breather episode?
Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 3 "Shadows of Tantiss." Crosshair. Image Credit:
Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 3 "Shadows of Tantiss." Crosshair. Image Credit: /

"The Return" felt good as a much smaller episode focused on the core cast. But as The Bad Batch's third season has proven so far, there aren't any small episodes. This episode was very needed, as Crosshair rejoining Clone Force 99 has a ton of baggage to address. It wouldn't be like sticking a puzzle piece into a missing slot. Betrayal takes a long time to heal, and this was the first step.

I love the choice to have Crosshair confront Hunter, too. It's a given that Crosshair would be the center of the Batch's ire. However, Star Wars has always loved its "from a certain point of view" stories, and Crosshair has his own reasons to be upset with his leader. Season 3 has meticulously built the bond between Crosshair and Omega. He clearly has taken a shine to her. So when Crosshair points out that after he risked everything to warn his brothers, Hunter ignored it. In turn, Omega was taken, and she, with Crosshair, suffered for it. It's a solid moment because Crosshair's pain is just as real as Hunter's. It adds a heaping dose of grey morality to them both, as they are very flawed.

Besides, Hunter has always been a jealous character. He clearly didn't like when Omega openly looked up to Phee in Season 2. He doesn't like that she's warmed up to Crosshair. Good on Crosshair for spotlighting one of Hunter's character flaws. Now that it's in the open, Hunter can address it.

By laying everything out on the table while fighting an ice wyrm, healing can begin. It's time for the Batch to move forward. It's also a hilarious touch having Echo back as the group's "mom friend." Since his arrival, he's been the voice of reason and balance, knowing the two brothers just needed to hash it out in their own way.

The location of "The Return" was a stroke of genius by sending us back to the setting of "The Outpost." The episode could have been too on the nose, but the creators handled the writing and visual storytelling well. It's all about what's not being said. Hunter and the rest of the Batch have no clue about the significance of the outpost they're on. However, the audience knows exactly what's going on. They know Mayday's helmet when they see it. They know the ice vulture is a symbol of Crosshair's journey. We don't need some big, emotional speech from Crosshair explaining what happened on Barton IV. This allows for some of the best visual storytelling of the series. The lack of dialogue on top of the music from the Kiners carries on its own, and it's excellent.

This might be a full article for another time, but it's incredibly disappointing that the emotions around Tech's death have been completely handled off-screen. Crosshair finding out his brother is gone off-screen felt like a huge missed opportunity. That kind of reveal could propel his redemption arc in so many ways. Maybe he backslides from guilt, having worked for the organization that led to Tech's death. Maybe it's what pushes him to join Omega to escape Tantiss. Or if he found out after "A Different Approach," realizing Tech isn't with Hunter and Wrecker, maybe it's what makes him want to fix things with the other Batch members. We just don't know when this has happened.

And I know I'm biased. Tech is still my favorite character in the series. He was an incredibly important piece of representation to so many people. If anything, the fans needed that time to process. Though, I'm not surprised. Processing meaningful emotions has never been a strong suit of this show. It's why "The Crossing" was such a surprise when Tech and Omega actually had a conversation.

Now, I will happily eat my words if they're avoiding this topic because Tech is actually alive. It's a big fan theory that the mysterious new clone commander from the trailer is Tech. I am very much in the camp that Tech is alive because we never saw a body. The only person who said he was dead was Doctor Hemlock, a villain who could be lying. But if Tech isn't alive, not addressing the death of their brother on screen, especially for Crosshair, is one of the biggest disappointments of Season 3's otherwise stellar run.

"The Return" was another banger episode for The Bad Batch. It might have been smaller in scale, but it was very much needed to set the rest of the show into motion.

Next. Tech’s death and the neurodivergent community. Tech’s death and the neurodivergent community. dark