“Tribe” finds the Batch making a delivery to a notorious crime syndicate on Cid’s behalf. Echo and Omega are tasked with watching the ship while the others make the drop. However, when Echo decides to prep the Havoc Marauder, Omega sees her chance to explore and runs into Gungi. Gungi is a prisoner of this faction, but Omega, being herself, intervenes. This leads to the Batch leaving without a payout yet again. They head to the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk so Gungi can go home, but they soon find that the Empire destroyed the village they knew of. A fight breaks out when they encounter Trandoshans with a Wookie hostage. The freed Wookie returns with friends and leads Gungi and the Batch back to their village. Before long, the Trandoshans attack the village with Imperial forces. With the help of the trees of Kashyyyk, the Batch and the Wookies overcome the attack.
Season 2 has settled into an adventure-of-the-week feeling where each episode feels somewhat disconnected. I’m not sure it’s fair to call each one filler, as things are presumably being set up for later. “Faster” finally gives Tech the spotlight, and last week’s “Entombed” gave us a better look at Phee Genoa. Some potential conflict is introduced, as Phee values treasure and glory above all else. But while I’ve enjoyed the episodes to varying degrees, I’m getting frustrated at this point. We’re almost halfway through the season, and it feels like the Batch is spinning its wheels. They still haven’t achieved anything financially, as each mission fails one way or another. They’re still under Cid’s thumb for work and anonymity from the Empire. It hasn’t come up again, but I’m frustrated that Omega was still trying to find her place in the group in the premiere. To a lesser extent, this reminds me of Tangled: The Series season 2. Rather than jumping off from the previous season’s setups, that show took its protagonists on a wild series of unrelated adventures. Similarly, The Bad Batch season 1 ended with the destruction of Tipoca City and a full aerial assault on Kamino. Why is the Batch fooling around with nothing missions? There are ten episodes left in this season, and things could improve a lot. As I said, I definitely think they’re intentionally laying the groundwork for what’s to come. But I wish these episodes felt more impactful, aside from “The Solitary Clone.” That felt like the later seasons of The Clone Wars once they really got their formula down. I think part of the problem is that’s what fans want: more introspection with the clones and the harsh reality of war. There have been hints of that this season, like Rampart executing Wilco and Crosshair killing the Governor. I like this show, but it’s infuriating to see such promise overwhelmed by mission-of-the-week adventures and cameos.
This week’s cameo comes in the form of Gungi, a young Wookie Jedi who was introduced in The Clone Wars. Season 2 hasn’t been as cameo-packed as season 1, and Gungi isn’t exactly a legacy character. He also serves the story and Hunter’s arc, so I’m not bothered by his inclusion. Helping the Wookies rid Kashyyyk of the Trandoshans and the Empire is one of the first times the Batch has done something truly altruistic. That’s what Omega and Echo push for, while it’s usually Hunter who wants to focus on staying safe and allowing Omega to have a normal childhood. Wrecker and Tech don’t seem very involved in this argument, at least to me. I think Wrecker just wants to wreck things, and Tech doesn’t do well with the more human aspects of existence. I’m hoping this mission will finally jumpstart Hunter’s epiphany so we can make progress. The problem is that, like Wrecker’s inhibitor chip problems in season 1, it feels like Hunter is perpetually spinning his wheels. The progression isn’t there, so I get the impression that one week he’ll just finally realize what he needs to do and pivot. It’s not the most satisfying or believable type of character development.
One facet of “Tribe” that’s pretty cool is the tribe itself. I believe this is the most we’ve learned about Wookie culture in a film or TV series. They explain that the Wookies believe the trees own the planet and have sentient thoughts and feelings. When the Trandoshans charge, Gungi and other Wookies even ask the trees for help. I think “The trees have a plan” was a little cringey, and I was afraid it was going to be a cheesy Lord of the Rings homage. The way the battle played out wasn’t bad at all, though. It’s also nice how the Batch automatically has sympathy for children, drawing a parallel between Omega and Gungi. They have a soft spot for kids in danger. This goes all the way back to Caleb Dume in the season 1 premiere.
I hate to beat a dead horse, but this is yet another time when some cuts to Crosshair would have been beneficial. He’s the most interesting character, and his starring episode is the only time we’ve spent with him thus far in season 2. Splitting episodes between him and the rest of the Batch (and perhaps beefing up the runtime to compensate for these scenes) could really elevate some of the show’s “filler-y” installments.
“Tribe” isn’t bad, but it’s not great, either. It’s my least favorite episode of season 2 thus far, refusing to progress Hunter’s character development in any meaningful way. The animation looks great, as always, and I can’t deny that the action is exciting. I just really hope the season picks up in the next ten episodes; I do not feel the writers are fulfilling season 1’s promise at this point.
"Tribe" has good animation and I can't call it filler, but it hardly ranks among The Bad Batch's stronger episodes.
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About time we got to Kashyyk in this format. I thought it was good. I understand the irritation and I’m sure something’s going to come up with the two-part episode next week. I love the mounts the Wookiees ride on called mylaya. They remind me of another Star Wars creature called a momong or Trandoshan monkey that was featured in Clone Wars. I was expecting some wyyyschokk spiders from Fallen Order to come down, but turned out to be kinrath.