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Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Season 1 Episode 14: War-Mantle

What is it ? : A Clone Trooper flees through a forest, he is hunted by small Lizard-like creatures and their handlers who are other Clone-Troopers. He plants a device, but is stunned as he runs, repeatedly hit and then dragged off.
The Bad Batch are aboard the Havok Marauder when they receive a signal from Rex, he tells them that another Clone Trooper, CT-5576 needs their help. Although they're on a mission for Cid, Hunter reluctantly agrees that they should at least check out whether they can help this clone.
On Kamino, the Clones are all being loaded onto Transports, and a group of Juvenile Clones ask Nala Se if their training will continue elsewhere and will they still be soldiers. She reassures them that this is what they were made for, before meeting with Prime Minister Lama Su who tells her the Empire has cancelled all of its contracts and the two agree that they should make arrangements to leave Kamino as the Empire may turn on them.
Arriving on Daro, the Bad Batch locate CT-5576's transmitter and Hunter follows the tracks towards a mountain which Tech determines has a massive construction inside which is shielded from it's scans. Hunter sends Omega and Wrecker back to the ship, taking Echo and Tech with him to infiltrate this base.
As they sneak closer, they spot through Macrobinoculars some "Clones" wearing new style armour, led by Clone Commando's. They ride the top of an elevator into the base, and Tech hacks a terminal locating CT-5576, and informing them the base is manned by 50 Clone Commandos and 1000 TK Troopers, a designation they are not familiar with.
They reach CT-5576 and release him from his cell, finding he is a slightly erratically behaving Clone Commando, who tells them to call him Gregor. As they return through the base, they discover a large group of soldiers are blocking their way, so Tech accesses a terminal and triggers a Code-16, but alarms blare as Gregor tells them that Clone Codes won't work here.
And as they defeat a group of these TK Troopers, they remove one of their helmets and discover that they are not Clones, but recruits trained to replace the Clone force and available from across the galaxy in vast numbers. With their exit blocked, they head to a control room fighting their way through Stormtroopers on the way, and Tech locates another exit though a reactor port high on the mountain.
They head through the Reactor ducts, and as soon as they are clear of the jamming they summon Wrecker and Omega aboard the Havok Marauder to pick them up from where they emerge high on the mountain. However before they can all board, V-Wing Fighters, LAAT/i's and Rho-class shuttles attack forcing them to manoeuvre away or be destroyed. With Wrecker manning the turret, and Tech now in the pilot seat, they fight their pursuers, but the ship is damaged and its shields drop. Omega connects Gonky up to the ship to power the systems, and they manage to temporarily return, but again are forced away before Hunter can board.
As they move away he leaps for the ship, but falls short tumbling down the mountain side, breaking his fall with his knife. As he picks himself up, LAAT/i's land around him and he is surrounded so he orders the Bad Batch away, which they reluctantly do, taking a few more hits before they can jump to Hyperspace.
Back on Kamino, Admiral Rampart confronts Prime Minister Lama Su with Nala Se, telling him she was caught arranging for scientists to leave Kamino. Lama Su promises she will be dealt with, but Rampart tells him that the Empire has a use for scientists, but none for politicians, leaving Lama Su surrounded by Clone Troopers.
On Daro, Hunter is in a prison cell when Crosshair arrives, who tells him that he was hoping for the entire squad, but Hunter will do for now. . . .

High Points : A good action packed episode and it's great to see Gregor again. Although it's hard to see him in the role he apparently had in this base before his escape, that of a trainer of Stormtroopers. He seems too erratic, and I would have expected them to want him removed rather than turning on the Empire and leaving himself.

It's also nice to see Stormtroopers for the first time, and even nicer that they haven't gone straight to the Movie era Stormtrooper armour, instead having something which nearly there but not quite.

Low Points : When Tech slices into the bases systems he tries to trigger an alert, but Gregor tells him that Clone codes won't work here. Yet much later Rex and Kanan are infiltrating the Empire in Stormtrooper armour, and Rex uses codes that he and Cody created for the Clones. So did the newly emerging Empire stop using the Clones codes, discover their new ones were rubbish and revert at some point to using the ones Cody and Rex created?

At the end of the episode we have the revelation that the Empire is seizing control of Kamino and they arrest Lama Su, and we see him surrounded by Clone Troopers as the doors close blocking our vision of what happens next. But to tell the truth, I kind of expected the doors to just open again, and Lama Su to be standing there with a bunch of Clones now responding to a preprogrammed code to defend their creators. After all of the Kaminoans were told to put chips in the Clones heads to make them obedient, I find it unbelievable that they wouldn't think ahead and add some options to save themselves if needed.
Perhaps I'm pre-empting a plot point from next episode, where we'll see why there are no Clones in the Imperial Era, as the Kaminoans turn them on the Empire and the final two episodes of the series will be the slaughter of the Clones.

So what do you really think ? : A really solid episode which is leading us towards the end of the season, and one which looks absolutely gorgeous. Daro looks beautiful, the forests and mountains are perhaps the most detailed locations we've seen in any of the Star Wars animated series, and the action in the skies above as the Havok Marauder fights with V-Wings and Imperial Shuttles is amazing.

Final Words : There's so many options here, and I really hope that the writers take some of the more interesting ones instead of just playing it safe and not changing the state of the universe too much. Since this time period hasn't previously been well documented, we don't know the fate of the Clones, and have assumed much, so they could be easily turned by the Kaminoans against the Empire, leading to their elimination and later rarity. This could also be how Crosshair returns to The Bad Batch, although I'm afraid that they're just going to have Hunter rescued, and Crosshair continue as a bad guy, so the story can continue without any major shakeup or changes for season 2.
But I could be wrong, and have often been proven so. . . .

Score : 9/10

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