Following a trio of phenomenal episodes that kicked off a surprisingly emotional series, “Cornered” slows things down in the series’ first real filler episode. It’s been said that you can judge the quality of a show by how it handles its filler, so let’s see how “Cornered” fares.
In “Cornered,” the Batch intends to hide out on the uninhabited planet Idaflor, but they end up going to Pantora for supplies. Once there, Tech and Wrecker must learn the new way of the world and bribe an official not to scan their ship. However, just as soon as they’ve left, he makes a call and informs someone of the Batch’s presence. Hunter sells Echo to a shopkeeper under the pretense that he’s a droid instead of a cyborg. Omega wanders off behind a cart of cute animals and ends up lost. She’s intercepted by Fennec Shand, the official’s contact who has been looking for Omega. Shand plays nice at first, protecting Omega and offering to help her find her friends. Fennec even shows Omega how to “accidentally” hustle free food from street merchants. However, Fennec shows her true colors when Hunter catches up to them, and she attacks him. Omega immediately switches back to defense mode, ripping herself free from Shand and running away. Omega and Wrecker find one another, and he, too, is forced to fight Shand so Omega can continue to escape. Shand is more nimble than the hulking Wrecker and knocks him out by using his own weight against him. Omega makes it back to the ship, and so do Echo, Hunter, and Wrecker, and they escape. Fennec pays off her contact, reminding him to reach out to her should the Batch return.
As usual, the voicework in “Cornered” is excellent. Dee Bradley Baker continues to impress with his clone voices, which are distinct but still similar enough to believably belong to clones of the same man. Michelle Ang has excellent chemistry with him, too, particularly with Hunter and Wrecker. She also plays off of Ming Na-Wen’s Fennec Shand really well. “Cornered” doesn’t do much with Shand, but I think it’s clear that she’ll be back as a recurring threat to Omega and the Batch. I like how she plays Omega and that the girl isn’t completely naive. Omega is an inexperienced little girl who puts her trust in a stranger, but she knows well enough to ask questions. She offers Fennec a chance to join the Batch, but she asks why she carries a pistol and seems uncomfortable with stealing fruit from a merchant. There are other little moments I like with Fennec, like when she surprises her contact by paying him instead of killing him for failing to detain the Batch until she arrived. I like Fennec’s animated design better in motion than when it was revealed, but it still seems off somehow. The cartoon version looks too masculine compared to Ming Na-Wen; it might be the sharp angles or her strong chin in animation. As for the bounty on Omega, I think it’s pretty obvious that Nala Se and Lama Su must be trying to get her back to Kamino. They indicated in “Replacements” that they only needed one clone back for their new project to maintain relations with the Empire. The obvious candidate would be Omega since there’s the most mystery surrounding her and the Batch technically “stole” her. It’s still a mystery as to why Nala Se allowed her to leave so easily in “Aftermath.”
It’s also interesting how “Cornered” explores the depths the Batch and Fennec will sink to in pursuit of their respective goals. The Batch scam a salesman to get money for supplies, lying and selling Echo as a droid. They also steal vehicles and bribe local officials to remain undetected while evading the Empire along the way. By contrast, Fennec’s actions are often much worse. She steals a ship as well, but she kills the man who owns it first. She’s willing to do anything and hurt anybody to get the bounty on Omega’s head. At least the Batch care about Omega and don’t needlessly, intentionally hurt innocent bystanders. But it’s still worth looking at that they’re portrayed as being somewhat morally grey. This is in line with their prior performance in the Grand Army of the Republic, where they were known for disobeying orders left and right. They were never above altering the plan to achieve their objectives.
As an aside, I really like what little we got to see of Wrecker this week. He’s upset with the prospect of selling their last bomb, which is in line with his character. In his tussle with Fennec, he hits his head yet again. It’s curious that they don’t mention his head injury from “Replacements;” I really expected something to come of that. I thought that his constant mentions of a headache and rubbing his head where his inhibitor chip would be was leading to a malfunction with the chip. So far, The Bad Batch has expanded on the chips in greater detail after The Clone Wars established them as the reason the clones executed order 66. I can’t imagine this character would sustain head injuries in two consecutive episodes for no reason. Animation is expensive, and I don’t think they’d keep bringing this up for nothing. I look forward to seeing where they take Wrecker, although I hope nothing bad happens to him. Aside from Hunter, he’s my favorite of the Batch, and I love his connection with Omega. Compared to Hunter’s fatherly concern for the girl, Wrecker seems more like an older sibling. After making Omega her own room and giving her the Tooka doll in “Replacements,” Wrecker furiously searches for her in “Cornered.” I’m loving the family dynamic developing between the Batch and Omega, and I look forward to seeing it continue to grow. I hope and expect to see Crosshair rejoin at some point; I imagine the Batch will find a way to remove his chip, like with Rex.
While I liked “Cornered” well enough, it’s my least favorite episode yet. I think this is because it is essentially filler. I also don’t think they used Fennec Shand that well, and I really missed the Imperial storyline on Kamino. That’s been fascinating to the max and adds a lot of context to this time period, as well as granting urgency to the Batch’s actions.