“Pabu” finds Phee and the Batch dealing with some shady customers. After learning about their split from Cid, Phee takes the Batch to Pabu, her home planet. Omega immediately hits it off with mayor Shep Hazard’s daughter Lyana, and Phee suggests they stay and raise Omega on Pabu. Everything seems perfect on Pabu until they experience a sea surge, something like a tsunami. The people are evacuated to Upper Pabu, and Hunter rescues Omega and Lyana, who are out at sea. Lower Pabu is destroyed, but everyone survives, and the Batch pledge to stay and help rebuild.
This is the most likable Phee has been thus far by a wide margin. She appeared briefly in the season premiere and featured heavily in “Entombed,” and I really didn’t enjoy her as a character. She wasn’t funny or endearing, just weird and needlessly snarky. In “Pabu,” we learn that her claims of being a “liberator of ancient antiquities” are true. She lives on a planet full of people seeking refuge from the Empire. Out of love for them, she finds treasures from their cultures, whether they have financial value or not. I love the opening scene, where she makes the deal for the artifact. This felt very Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which I assume was intentional. I love the interactions between Phee and the people of Pabu, especially Shep and Lyana. She also has good moments with the Batch, especially Omega and Tech. My husband noticed and pointed this out before me, but it feels like they may be setting up a romance with Phee and Tech. She calls him “Brown Eyes,” which is a more endearing and humanizing nickname than Cid calling him “Goggles.” What really sells it is when Tech rescues Phee once the tsunami begins. I hadn’t considered a relationship for one of the clones because, honestly, that’s just not something I actively look for in entertainment. But based on this episode, I wouldn’t mind at all if they go in that direction. The two actually have good chemistry, and I like Tech a lot this season. Giving him a love interest might help bring out some of his emotions. However, after the explanation he gave Omega in “The Crossing,” I’m more than okay with his reserved nature. I think Tech feels that he is expressing himself through all his techno-jargon, and the fact that most people don’t understand isn’t his problem. His introverted, awkward personality meshes well with Phee’s sense of adventure and bravado.
But setting aside everyone’s new OTP, “Pabu” is an excellent episode for Omega, too. I love seeing her behavior shift when paired with another child like Lyana. The Batch tells Phee they don’t understand why she thinks Omega needs friends her age who “don’t share her genetic profile” because they never had that. But Omega is a different person with Lyana, full of wonder and excitement. This is the side of Omega I’ve been missing; her reaction to the phenomena on Pabu is reminiscent of her being awestruck at the sight of grass and dirt way back on Saleucami. I like Omega’s eagerness to help the Batch just fine, but I prefer seeing her as a child. This distinguishes her from her brothers/surrogate dad trio, and I appreciate seeing a child’s vulnerability in these outrageous situations. “Pabu” tells a smaller story. I can already hear some people calling it “filler” or a waste of the show’s ever-shrinking airtime. However, I love that they took it down to the basics. Hunter wants Omega to have a good, normal life, as much of one as he can give her. Phee nudges him toward staying on Pabu, where Omega can have that and have real friends. But he has other concerns, like Cid’s looming threat and the greater one the Empire poses. Speaking of Cid, I think I hate her now! Like Phee, I didn’t like Cid initially, but she slowly grew on me. But she’s directly threatening Omega now, a child with no blame in the situation who has previously stood up for Cid! I know she’s supposed to be a cold-hearted businesswoman, but she has shown softness toward Omega before. This is just disgusting. I also wonder how the Batch linked up with Phee for the mission in the beginning without Cid knowing. It’s crazy that Phee, someone they hardly know at this point, wants to stick her neck out like this and potentially ruin a business relationship for the Batch. Phee is apparently going to be the ally the Batch thought they had in Cid, who is just as rotten as Millegi implied. And since Phee says Cid has never been to Pabu, maybe she really won’t/wouldn’t find them there.
Speaking of Pabu, this is a gorgeous setting! The scenery is lush, and it’s jaw-dropping when everyone lights their houses up at night. This reminded me of the lantern festival in Tangled. The initial scene where Lyana shows Omega around reminds me a little of Atlantis: The Lost Empire. This is one of the best-looking episodes of the show, which is crazy to me; usually, The Bad Batch is at its best in the darkness. The smoke effects and shadows look so lifelike it’s amazing. But this episode is bright and colorful, full of hope that the Batch maybe could have a happy life with their kid. We all know that isn’t going to happen, but what a nice note to end an episode on. I don’t know what more I can say about Kevin Kiner, but his score here is as beautiful as the landscape, and it supports the story nicely. This may be purely because of how Phee is presented, but I liked Wanda Sykes’ performance here much more than in prior appearances.
“Pabu” is a fun episode full of gorgeous visuals and challenging questions for the Batch to ponder. It’s not the show’s biggest or most profound installment, but the simple character work at play makes it one of my favorites.
"Pabu" is a smaller adventure for the Batch, one that hits closer to home in more ways than one. Episodes like this make me frustrated that it took over half the season to kick into gear. We're getting into the good stuff now, and I appreciate it even if it took a while.