While last week’s episode of Disney+ and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Bad Batch pushed its main characters aside to bring back fan-favourite Hera Syndulla, this week built off that. Episode 12, “Rescue on Ryloth,” brought Clone Force 99 back into the mix and gave us an episode filled with action, heart, and even some nice mythology that showed the full scope of what the animated series can be.
The story picked up right where last week’s episode left off. As predicted, Hera Syndulla — on the run after her parents were imprisoned and falsely accused of an assassination — put out a call for help. But she didn’t call Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, and Echo, she called Omega (in a moment absolutely meant as a callback to Princess Leia asking Obi-Wan Kenobi for help in A New Hope). Hunter and Tech are sceptical of Hera’s transmission but Omega convinces them to check it out. Meanwhile back on Ryloth, things aren’t going exactly to plan.
Vice Admiral Rampart thinks they are, as he threatens Cham and Eleni Snydulla, but clone Captain Howzer begins to become sceptical. He saw what happened with the Syndullas and knows Rampart is lying about it. Slowly but surely, Howzer is beginning to realise the Empire isn’t bringing the peace he and his fellow Clones fought for. Which is interesting because we assume he wouldn’t question orders after Order 66, but it’s one of the first instances we’ve seen of that programming beginning to lose hold.
The Bad Batch arrives on Ryloth but instead of immediately agreeing to help Hera rescue her family, they decide to assess the situation first. However, that plan goes sideways after an Imperial Probe Droid discovers them spying fairly quickly. They now know the Empire has been alerted to their presence and, even worse, Crosshair. Hunter is ready to cut and run but Omega begs him to say.
“She’s trying to save her family,” Omega tells him. “I’d do the same for you.” Oof, right in the heart. Still, Hunter is smart, he’s not going to risk everyone’s lives on pure emotion. So Omega tells Hera they’ll need to devise a plan to convince him, which they do. The scene of the Bad Batch sitting around as a young Hera explains her plan to them was just so Rebels it damn near brought a tear to my eye. “We’ll follow your lead,” Hunter tells her. He might be the first to do so, but he certainly won’t be the last.
Hera’s plan involves attacking the refinery to draw the troops away from the capitol, where her parents are being held. Things seem to go OK until Chopper (hilariously) gets caught and she and Omega have to improvise. They steal a ship and even though Hera doesn’t quite know how to take off yet, her manic flight patterns confuse the Empire and she’s able to disable the guns at the refinery. That allows Wrecker and Tech to start the attack, which draws the troops away from the capital.
All is going well, except for Crosshair — he knows a Bad Batch plan better than anyone and decides to stay at the capitol as everyone else is drawn away. Hunter and Echo are able to free the Syndullas, who are both surprised and shocked to hear that Hera is still alive, and that she was able to hire mercenaries to break them out.
As they attempt to escape, Crosshair sets a trap for them but Howzer finally chooses a side and alerts them to it. He even attempts to convince his fellow clones that what the Empire is doing is wrong and though a few follow him, they get arrested for disobedience. All of which proves enough time for the Snydullas to safely escape.
And so Hera is reunited with her parents, who now realise the Imperial occupation and imprisonment of innocent beings on Ryloth isn’t only happening on their home planet — it’s happening everywhere. The Syndullas leave, once again a family, knowing their days of fighting aren’t done. Omega is sad to see her new friend Hera go but at least she still has her family too — a family that Vice Admiral Rampart finally allows Crosshair to hunt as the episode ends, which brings The Bad Batch full circle to its first episode.
Two of the biggest complaints we’ve had about The Bad Batch this season are that it’s been too focused on characters who aren’t the Bad Batch and that when the show does focus on them, it’s superfluous side missions that don’t mean much. But “Rescue on Ryloth” hit a very nice balance between the two. Yes, it was a seemingly random tangent, but it had a purpose in showing the audience more of the Empire’s rising power in the galaxy. At the same time, we saw Hera Syndulla’s bravery and leadership abilities beginning to grow.
Then, along the way, Omega found a friend and gained self-confidence in her own abilities while Hunter realised the importance of family sometimes outweighs simple strategy. Take all of that and add Crosshair finally setting up a showdown, and The Bad Batch is starting to bring everything together.