After escaping Kamino with the enigmatic female clone Omega, the Batch are back for round 2. The Bad Batch had an excellent series premiere, tying into several different periods of Star Wars history and focusing on the plight of the clones following order 66. Can this series keep that momentum up and maintain interest in these characters, even in smaller stories? “Cut and Run” is a good test of the show’s versatility, telling a more intimate story than its predecessor with fewer characters and plot points.
The mysterious planet Hunter mentioned at the end of “Aftermath” proves to be Saleucami, home of the deserter clone known as Cut Lawquane. When the crew comes knocking on Lawquane’s door, he recognizes Hunter, Tech, and Wrecker and welcomes them with open arms. Omega takes a liking to Lawquane’s children, and the guys leave them to play. Cut tells Hunter and the others that he and his family need to leave the planet and find shelter further from the Empire’s influence. The guys decide to help him, but he declines a ride, fearing that their wanted status would compromise his family’s safety. Tech creates false “chain codes,” new registration numbers employed by the Empire, to help Cut’s family escape. After seeing how good Cut is with children and how Omega has taken to the kids, Hunter asks Cut to take Omega with him. Both reluctantly agree that a peaceful family life would be best for the girl, but Hunter doesn’t tell her or the rest of the Batch. Tech and Echo call the government and have their ship impounded with them in it. However, what they don’t know is that Omega is also aboard. After some espionage and scrapes with Imperial forces, the family is off with their new codes. When Omega realizes what’s happening, she protests, asking Hunter if she’s done something wrong. However, Cut and his family are hurried through processing and onto the next transport ship. As the guys prepare to make their exit, Omega runs to Hunter and reiterates that she wants to stay with him.
“Cut and Run” continues the usual gorgeous animation The Clone Wars and “Aftermath” have spoiled us with. I’d forgotten what a stunning setting Saleucami can be, and I wasn’t expecting ever to see it again. So far, I love how they’ve been able to organically tie existing characters into the story, a trend I expect them to continue. Kevin Kiner’s musical score continues to impress me. I loved the little tune that played when Omega first stepped out of the Bad Batch’s ship and experienced the scenery. Dee Bradley Baker carries the episode as Cut, Hunter, and the rest of the clones. Michelle Ang’s performance as Omega is moving, and I really like her chemistry with Hunter in particular. This is a roll-over from The Clone Wars, but I really don’t care for the vocal performances for Cut’s kids. You can tell they’re adults, which is a big pet peeve of mine in animation. It’s Kath Soucie and Nika Futterman, both excellent voice actresses and who I like a lot. But I can’t help wishing they’d get kids for child roles. There is much less action in this episode since it focuses more on characterization and relationships. The action that is present is okay, but nothing like we got last week. That’s alright, though; sometimes, things need to slow down.
“Cut and Run” is a quieter, slower episode despite only being about a third of the runtime of “Aftermath.” The story reminds me of “Sanctuary,” the fourth episode of The Mandalorian’s first season, with Hunter realizing that the Batch may not be the family Omega needs. The moment where Hunter scolds Omega for wandering beyond the fence rather than comforting her, only for Cut to intervene and display his parenting skills, speaks volumes. One big difference between this episode and the aforementioned Mandalorian adventure is that Omega is old enough to make her own choices. Rather than staying together because of external forces, Omega chooses to remain with the Batch and Hunter specifically. This means all the more given the fact that she now knows just how dangerous their life is and how nice Cut’s family is. Earlier on in “Cut and Run” (brilliant title, by the way), I liked the work they put into Omega’s character quite a bit. The scene where Omega steps off the ship and marvels at grass and dirt is subtle but magical. It reminded me of the scene in Tangled where Rapunzel first left the tower. The looks of shock and confusion on the Batch’s faces were great too. A lot can be said with simple gestures and facial expressions. I also enjoyed the scene where Omega plays ball with Cut’s children. It’s clear she’s never played before and doesn’t know how, and, again, her delighted reaction to interaction with other playful children is heartwarming.
Likewise, the episode does a lot of heavy lifting for Hunter as a character, and I’m growing to like him quite a bit. Cut’s line about Hunter needing to forget the soldier life if he wants to disappear was great. In fact, there’s a lot of great dialogue in “Cut and Run.” Tech remarking that the guys are all deserters now was memorable. One of the guys mentions how ironic it is for the clones to be assigning numbers to people when they fought to have names instead of their ID numbers. That part gave me chills and reminded me how sad this really is. We spent seven seasons of The Clone Wars growing to love these clones and see them as individuals. To see them essentially mind-controlled and co-opted by the Empire like this is a tragedy. I wonder if we’ll see Rex at some point, especially since Cut mentions having seen him the day before the Batch arrived. I love that Rex and Cut became friends after Cut and his family saved Rex, who initially wanted to turn him in as a deserter. If I have one gripe with the story, it came too soon. I imagine they wanted to get this plot point over with since it is a familiar one to Star Wars, but the guys just met Omega. I feel like Hunter deciding to put her needs first and consider giving her up should have come later. Give them more time to get attached. This would also make a bigger impact with Omega’s insistence that she stay with Hunter no matter what.
Overall, “Cut and Run” is a good episode of The Bad Batch, but not a great one. It’s nice to see Cut and his family again, and I like the contrast between how he deals with his kids and Hunter’s inexperience with Omega. The voice acting for Cut’s kids and the episode’s placement in the season hurt it in my eyes.