A friend of mine, over the weekend, had not yet seen The Bad Batch, episode 2 (Cut and Run). He asked me what I thought about it, and the word that first jumped to mind was ‘cute’. People rarely use the word ‘cute’ when referencing Star Wars (Ewoks. Porgs maybe), so it felt a bit odd to say that, but at the same time the more I thought about it, not only did the term fit, but it also expressed how this episode came from pure Filoni magic in story telling. Episodes like this one are why Dave Filoni deserves the title “Best Story Teller in All of Star Wars” and beyond.
Let’s jump in our DeLorean and take a trip. The year is 2008 during the summer time. Star Wars hit the big screen for the first time in a non-live action format. The Clone Wars movie kicked off a new series from the mind of George Lucas, but created by one Dave Filoni. Fans were intrigued and excited for the new content – until it hit theaters. To say the movie bombed would be an understatement. It opened to just $14 million and only managed to gross $35 million overall. It was TERRIBLE! The best reviews could only call it tolerable. It felt much like the type of kids movie parents take their kids too while either holding their breathe or hiding in what ever app they could find on their cell phones.
The premise looked solid, but the animation was not up to snuff yet, and we were introduced to a new little brat that ran around using new terms like Sky-guy and Artooey. Many fans debated how Anakin Skywalker even had a Padawan. Did that fit into the timeline at all? Another in a long line of miscues, or so it would seem.
Let the Magic Begin
We know where this leads. The movie launched the television series by the same name that spanned 12 years, 5 seasons and 133 episodes. When execs pulled the show, fans cried foul even though we knew the show was drawing to an end anyway. Love for the show later allowed Filoni to finish some of his unaired episodes in a partial sixth season, followed by a seventh season to wrap up many of the loose ends. Fans swallowed these ending seasons up hungrily, always wanting more, and now we have The Bad Batch to continue the era. What changed? What took such a terrible start and transformed the show into one of the best Star Wars stories told. How did a little brat go from being so hated to becoming perhaps the most loved character in all of Star Wars? The answer? Filoni Magic.
Filoni told stories. Sure, he included lightsabers, classic fighters and vehicles, but he took the time to tell the stories that needed to be told. Everything meant something, and if it didn’t add up now, it would come to fruition later. Side clones that never featured more than a few seconds on screen now garnered not only episodes, but story arcs. The opening squad of clones would show up throughout the entirety of the show, right down to its final episode. Viewers all carried their own personal favorites, but not only did Ahsoka become loved, so did Rex, Fives, and let’s not forget about Clone 99. Filoni weaved his magic through out the entire series and gave us stories we didn’t know we wanted so badly.
Pure Filoni Magic – Summed Up in a Single Episode
Cut and Run exemplifies everything Filoni does so well. One major thing Filoni excels at is using existing lore and characters and bringing them back to finish stories or expound upon them. He did it in the first episode with Depa Billaba and her young padawan we would later know as Kanan Jarus from Rebels. In this episode he jumps all the way back to season 2 of The Clone Wars series. Episode 10, called ‘The Deserter’, introduced us to a deserter named Cut Lawquane and his wife Suu Lawquane. Filoni excels at knowing the Star Wars universe and bringing in the right characters for the right stories, unlike say Rise of Skywalker.
Another thing Filoni excels at are the little things, many film makers and story tellers brush over and that’s the little things. The perfect example is Omeega (yes I know it’s Omega, but that’s not how she says it). When the Bad Batch reaches Saleucami many would have the clones disembark and keep moving. Filoni stops and shows us Omeega’s reaction. She not only takes the planet in with a sense of wonder, but marvels at dirt. A kid doesn’t know what dirt is! I chuckled at first but then I really thought about it. She has never seen dirt coming from the ocean world of Kamino. Not only that, the scene hints at what’s to come. This is a kid that doesn’t know how to be a kid! Filoni later develops this even more when she tries to play with Shaeeah and Jek, Suu’s two kids. This little girl doesn’t have the vaguest notion of ‘FUN’!
There are a few more examples but they flow into the next and best example.
The Story Not Told
When Bad Batch began, we all thought it would be a story about a group of misfit clones trying to survive in the new Imperial galaxy. While we still get that, this show through two episodes is becoming about something much more – family. Omeega’s presence changes the flow of this show greatly, and I love it because it’s setting up a story Hollywood just doesn’t tell.
Look at Hollywood and how they set up stories. More times than not, the father is not present or the bad guy. The only exceptions that spring to mind are Superman and Lois and Finding Nemo. I am sure there are one or two more, but the father is rarely the focus. Now narrow the focus a bit more. Can anyone name a modern story that focuses on the father/daughter relationship? I can’t. Dave not sets up a family story, but one that looks like it is increasingly focusing on the father/daughter relationship between Hunter and Omeega. This episode’s use of Cut takes things a bit further.
Omeega chases down the ball she threw into the field. She does not know this planet, or why Shaeeah and Jek told her to leave it. Obviously her encounter with the Nexu scares the crap out of her. Hunter jumps all over her because he only knows the way of a soldier. Cut immediately knows how to act as a father and comforts Omeega. Hunter knows immediately he knows nothing about being a father. The ending scene does a great job of cementing this relationship going forward. They will both make mistakes, but they will move forward together.
Pure Filoni Magic – The Rest of the Family
Not only is Filoni setting up a great story of family, but he’s using the whole squad to do it. Hunter takes the father role. He’s the leader. It makes sense, but what about the others? Wrecker plays perhaps the second biggest role. Wrecker plays the big brute who loves to kill things, destroy things and blow things up. He single handedly pushes AATs over cliffs with his bare hands. A brute like this surely would know nothing of family – WRONG!
Not only is he Wrecker, he’s Uncle Wrecker to Cut’s adopted kids. Wrecker represents the favorite uncle that comes over and not only spoils the crap out of the kids but plays on their level. In every way Wrecker is nothing more than a giant kid himself. The perfect example is his ‘discussion’ with the stormtroopers. They want to see his ID. He holds up one hand. Nope. Not here. He holds up the other empty hand. Nope not here. Then he smashes their heads together. I also love the opening scene where he and Omeega are crashed back in the mess of the shuttle’s hold. He even carries around his own stuffed animal, Lula, which Omeega makes sure she saves for him.
Tech and Echo represent the distant cousins. They show up for family gatherings and love talking to their fellow adults, but they are clueless about kids. The perfect scene for this is when Tech and Echo engineer the capture of their shuttle. Little did they know Omeega was still on board. When Hunter tells them she is, she smiles and waves at the two. The two are clueless on what to do. Of course Omeega remains several steps ahead of them through out the rest of the episode.
Pure Filoni Magic – To What End?
It’s this detail to story and character that makes Bad Batch such a great addition to Dave Filoni’s long running resume of great story telling, but the big question hanging out there is – to what end? The Bad Batch needs to learn how to survive in this new galaxy as well as how to be a family, but the story needs to head towards something. We know Crosshair and his new armor will haunt the team. Is Crosshair the first in a new breed of Imperial soldier? Does he succeed in killing any of Clone Force 99. or do they off him?
Perhaps the biggest question revolves around Omeega. Who is she? Why is was she made? Dex tells Obi-Wan that the Kaminoans are cloners, damn good ones. Cut reiterates this in episode 2. He tells Hunter “The Kaminoans don’t create without a purpose. You all have one, so what’s hers?” And a name like Omega can’t be a mistake. Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet and the biblical verse in Revelations added the importance of it being used as an absolute finality. It cannot refer to the clones as Lama Su argued with Tarkin about NOT ending the cloning contract. What ending was Omeega designed for??
Trust in the Filoni magic as we follow this emerging family and find the answers. To paraphrase Obi-Wan: Filoni won’t let us down. He never has.
For more on Star Wars, make sure to stay tuned to That Hashtag Show.