Hello and welcome to Laughing Place’s regular recap of Lucasfilm’s animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch on Disney+. This week’s installment, entitled “War-Mantle,” is the 14th episode of the show’s first season.
“War-Mantle” begins in the forest on an unknown planet, and a clone trooper rushing through the trees with lights following him in a manner that brings to mind E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Creatures on leases chomp at his heels until he reaches a cliffside and takes off in another direction. Two of the creatures corner him and he places an electronic device under a felled tree. A stun blast erupts out of the foliage and takes out the trooper’s legs, then another that causes him to collapse to the ground. We see the legs of more troopers emerge from the surrounding plants and drag away the stunned man’s body. On board the Havoc Marauder, Clone Force 99 receives a transmission from Rex (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, as are all the clones of Jango Fett), who asks them for help. Rex says he received a distress signal from a clone trooper, but doesn’t have the time to retrieve him.
“He’s an old friend, and he’s in trouble,” says Rex. He sends the Bad Batch the coordinates to the planet Daro, where CC-5576 (AKA Gregor from The Clone Wars and later Star Wars Rebels) is being held. Tech reminds the group that they are in the middle of a mission for Cid, but Omega (Michelle Ang) says that rescuing Rex’s friend is more important than getting paid, so Hunter agrees to check things out on Daro. On Kamino, Crosshair reports to Vice Admiral Rampart (Noshir Dalal) that “the operation is ahead of schedule.” Clone troopers board transports and begin taking off from the hangar bay, while Rampart tells Crosshair to keep his eye on the Kaminoans. “We have our orders.” In a different part of the station, Nala Se (Gwendoline Yeo) leads a group of young clones through a brightly lit hallway. “Your training will continue elsewhere,” she tells them.
Lama Su (Bob Bergen) joins Nala Se, takes her aside, and informs her that the Empire has canceled their contract to create clones. Nala Se says they will be able to find other clients, but Lama Su says they must leave for their own safety because “the Empire is not like the Republic. They will destroy us rather than allow this operation to continue.” The Havoc Marauder arrives on Daro, and the Bad Batch make their way through the forest toward Gregor’s signal, which they find on the tree stump. Hunter follows the trail of the pursuit from the previous night until they come across the clearing where Gregor was taken. The team deduces there must be something happening inside a nearby mountain, because Tech’s signal is being jammed. Despite promising to never leave her out of a mission again, Hunter orders Omega to wait with Wrecker on the ship while the others go investigate.
Hunter finds a spot where he says a shuttle must have landed, and brings Tech and Echo with him to climb the mountain. At the top they find a large man-made hole in the formation built as part of a military base, and a shuttle flies over to land inside. The Bad Batch climbs further down into the structure and spots squads of clone troopers with updated armor. Hunter says they should return to the ship and contact Rex with this new information, but Echo insists they complete the mission, reminding them that they rescued him from a similar situation on Skako Minor. Back on the Havoc Marauder, Omega and Wrecker are playing some sort of tabletop game when they get a call from Hunter explaining the situation. Omega wants to help, but Hunter says they have to remain on the ship as backup. Tech hacks into the database to pinpoint Gregor’s location, and the trio jumps on a lift to sneak into the base.
Hunter observes some of the troopers as they march through the hallways, and Echo says a report in the computer system says only fifty clone commandos are at the base, along with “a thousand TK troopers.” They take out a guard and rescue Gregor from his cell. “Rex sent us.” They move out through the facility, dodging more troopers along the way. Tech attempts to use the computer system to redirect some of the forces, but it sets off an alarm instead. Gregor tells him that clone codes don’t work at this base, and suddenly some troopers appear from around the corner and start blasting at them. Hunter and Gregor use a smoke grenade and some choke holds to take out the troopers, and Gregor tells Clone Force 99 that the only way out is “up.” They remove one of the trooper’s helmets and discover that he is not a clone. “These are our replacements, if you can believe that,” says Gregor.
They battle more stormtroopers as they escape through the corridors, as Gregor reveals he trained the new recruits. “I didn’t teach them everything. That wouldn’t be very smart, would it?” Hunter steals an authorization chip from one of the downed troopers, and Tech uses it to activate an elevator. Gregor elaborates on what he knows about the new conscripted soldiers– how they have come from all over the galaxy to swear loyalty to the Empire. “They're not as skilled, but there’s an endless supply of them.” The elevator doors open at the top level to reveal a squad of stormtroopers waiting for them, so Tech immediately closes the door and the lift moves back downward. “We’ll take a detour,” says Gregor. On the Havoc Marauder, Omega paces back and forth with worry about her friends, but Wrecker reassures her by saying “I’m sure they’ve got everything under control.”
Of course then we immediately cut to the Bad Batch and Gregor fighting more stormtroopers in a chaotic, smoke-filled hallway. Gregor gets shot but they manage to make their way to a control room. They decide to crawl through a series of pipes that Tech says will lead to an external exhaust port. “That is our path to the outside.” Gregor says they wouldn’t survive a jump from there, but Tech counters that they could signal the ship to come pick them up. They blow a hole in the grate and start moving. Gregor continues to explain that he was sent to Daro with other commandos, but he quickly decided to desert when he learned what was happening there. Omega gets a call from Hunter and she and Wrecker take off in the Havoc Marauder to pick up their teammates. But at the same time, the Empire scrambles a series of gunships and fighters to pursue Clone Force 99.
There’s a harrowing firefight, but Tech and Gregor are able to board the Havoc Marauder before Omega is forced to pull away. Tech takes control of the ship while Hunter and Echo grapple with stormtroopers on the exhaust port below. The Havoc Marauder gets shot by the Empire’s ships and its shields begin to lose power, but Omega springs into action and has Gonky the Gonk droid scomp-link into the ship’s systems, repairing the shields. They eliminate some of the fighters and attempt to scoop up Echo and Hunter before more arrive, but Hunter falls to the canopy of trees below, tumbling perilously to the ground. Gonky overloads and gets fried, causing the Havoc Marauder’s systems to fail again, while stormtroopers surround Hunter on the ground. “Get the ship out of here. I’ll find another way back,” orders Hunter before he is captured.
Tech hesitantly takes the Havoc Marauder out of Daro’s atmosphere and into hyperspace, much to Omega’s dissent, while Hunter surrenders to the Empire on the surface. On Kamino, Rampart tells Lama Su he is disappointed, because the Kaminoans had promised the Empire their full cooperation. “That is what I have given,” replies Lama Su. Rampart says he knows Nala Se has been gathering medical personnel in an effort to flee the planet. Lama Su feigns ignorance, but Rampart says his “services are no longer needed.” As the door closes behind him and Nala Se is led off in handcuffs, it is implied that Lama Su is executed by two of Crosshair’s special forces troopers. In Imperial captivity, Crosshair approaches Hunter’s cell and says, “I was hoping for the whole squad, but you’ll do.”
New episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch are released Fridays, exclusively on Disney+.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.