TV Review / Recap – Tech Goes Riot Racing in “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” Season 2, Episode 4 – “Faster”

The sport of automotive racing has always had a place in the works of George Lucas. Not only did the filmmaker grow up building and maintaining hot rods in mid-20th-Century Northern California, but he also included fast vehicles and the people (or robots) who drove them in movies like American Graffiti, THX 1138, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, and others.

As far as the Star Wars galaxy goes, Luke Skywalker had his X-34 Landspeeder that zoomed along the desert landscape of Tatooine, and then Episode I – The Phantom Menace introduced the concept of Pod Racing. But now, thanks to the latest installment of Lucasfilm’s animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch on Disney+, there’s an even more dangerous version of that particular pastime– namely Riot Racing.

“Faster” begins on Ord Mantell, where Cid (voiced by Rhea Perlman) has a new task for Clone Force 99, or a few members of the team, anyway. She has Omega (Michelle Ang), Tech, and Wrecker (all the male clones are voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) accompany her to the planet Safa Toma, which can be “a little rough around the edges”– hence the need for Wrecker as security. There, Cid introduces our heroes to Riot Racing, which is similar to Pod Racing except for the lack of external engines and the fact that a good number of the pilots are droids. After Cid’s racer TAY-0 (guest star Ben Schwartz from Parks and Recreation, doing his best sassy droid voice) wins and we get to know his boisterous personality, Cid– or Ciddarin Scaleback, as is apparently the Trandoshan cantina owner’s full name– is confronted by local Dowutin heavy Grini Millegi (Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters fame) and his Riot Racing “champ” Jet Venim (Jonathan Lipow from Doom Patrol). Cid and Grini make a side wager on an upcoming race, and then Millegi rigs the outcome so that Venim comes in first, kidnapping Cid until her cohorts are able to pay what she owes. And when TAY-0 proves himself more accident prone than we were first led to believe, Tech must step up as the pilot of Cid’s speeder.

We’ve all seen racing movies before, so we pretty much know where this is going, but I have to say– despite this being on the lower-stakes side of The Bad Batch episodes, it’s a fairly entertaining ride. Like the Pod Racing scenes in The Phantom Menace, the race sequences here are all quite well-choreographed, and I actually found myself on the edge of my seat even though I could have easily predicted what the outcome would be. But the real highlight of “Faster” is its cast– not only do we have Baker, Ang, and Perlman bringing their usual appeal to The Bad Batch, but the addition of Schwartz and Hudson (both of whom I’ve been a fan of from their previous work) really elevates the game here. I loved the designs of TAY-0 and Grini Mellegi as characters and I could see them becoming fan favorites if they began making regular appearances (probably somewhat less likely in TAY-0’s case, considering the condition in which we left him). But for me, the best moment of the episode comes at the very end, when Mellegi compliments Tech, Wrecker, and Omega on their devoted loyalty to Cid, but also warns them that she may not reciprocate that loyalty if and when the tables are turned. That’s the kind of story beat that makes an otherwise throwaway episode feel a bit heavier and more important in the long run, especially when that information inevitably pays off later on down the line. I don’t mind a one-off adventure here and there, but this kind of tangent feels all the more worthwhile when it connects to the larger story.

New episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch are released Wednesdays, exclusively via Disney+.

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