Features and Columns · TV

The Most Notorious Mobsters in ‘Star Wars’ Arrive in ‘The Bad Batch’

How is Clone Force 99 ever supposed to join the Rebellion if they keep falling in with such a wretched hive of scum and villainy?
The Bad Batch Episode 13 Explained Infestation Roland Durand
By  · Published on July 23rd, 2021

Welcome to The Bad Batch Explained, our weekly column dedicated to those rough and tumble Clone Wars leftovers and their march through a bold, new galaxy far, far away. In this entry, we’re charging into Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 13 (“Infested”) and confronting the franchise’s most notorious crime syndicate as they deal with Roland Durand. So yes, there are spoilers here.

When we talk Star Wars we talk in absolutes: the Light Side versus the Dark Side. Star Wars: The Bad Batch is trying to break us from such thinking. Clone Force 99 doesn’t know what to make of their new place in the universe. They fought for the Republic, but the Republic is now an Empire. Hiding from their sight in the shadows forces the soldiers to operate as mercenaries. It’s a job that doesn’t sit well with their leader, Hunter, but his loyalty to his mates compromises whatever small values bubbled to the surface during the Clone Wars.

In each episode of The Bad Batch, we watch Clone Force 99 inch ever closer to the burgeoning Rebellion. But just when you believe they’ve turned a corner in their thinking, and someone like Captain Howzer shows it’s possible to lash out against your former masters, Hunter’s crew falls back into bounty hunter ritual alongside their underworld contact Cid. Changing spots is a damn difficult process.

At the start of The Bad Batch Episode 13, titled “Infested,” the troopers return to Ord Mantell fresh from completing another profitable mission. Sure, this one involved a scrap with some nasty Gundarks, but there’s always a hiccup buried somewhere in the plan. When they walk into Cid’s bar, they discover it swarming with goons. Their criminal liaison is out, and Roland Durand, son of crime boss Isa Durand, is in.

Hunter is not about to start taking orders from the jerk who ousted Cid. He rejects the authority of Roland Durand and heads for their ship. Their life as mercs is over. Ha!

Cid darkens their ship’s doorway. Clone Force 99 is not getting rid of her that easily. She explains that Roland pushed her out and hooked up with the Pykes. Cid’s bar on Ord Mantell is a perfect home base for their massive smuggling operation, and if she doesn’t unseat Roland quick, this particular corner of the galaxy will become an even more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Hunter accepts Cid’s offer. What options does he have? With no Cid to bark orders, he’ll have to start thinking for himself. But going up against Roland Durand means navigating treacherous pathways that could lead them into conflict with the Pykes. Getting on their bad side, which is definitely Dark adjacent, is a death sentence.

The Pykes are Star Wars‘ answer to Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel. They’re the nastiest of the nasty, solely concerned with running Spice and turning profit. Wedge yourself between them and their goal, and you’ll wind up in some Rancor’s stool.

We last encountered the Pykes in the Clone Wars Season 7 four-parter that introduced Trace and Raffa. Before that, they allied themselves with Darth Maul’s Black Sun organization and aided in reclaiming Mandalore for the terrorist group Death Watch, a.k.a. The Mandalorian‘s righteous clan. They’re also the ones who took control of the Spice mines on Kessel, the critical location we saw during Solo: A Star Wars Story that would eventually lead to Han Solo’s introductory bragging rights in A New Hope.

The Pykes are a vicious lot who hold no sanctity for life. Whenever they appear in Star Wars, they send shivers through the characters in the know. During The Bad Batch Episode 13, when they discover that Clone Force 99 has stolen their Spice from underneath Roland’s nose, they bring the galaxy’s terrible knowledge of their deeds to his office. Roland draws a blaster on the three present Pykes, but they know that he knows that they are legion. He can pull the trigger and kill these three, but the next morning will see Roland’s entire family chopped into cubes. The wannabe hoodlum has no choice. Either Cid returns the Spice, or he and his people are Rancor meat.

Cid and Clone Force 99 might have left Roland to dangle, but they also know the Pykes will come for them if the Spice doesn’t reappear. Hunter and company lost the cargo in the bottomless caverns below Ord Mantell. They have no choice but to battle the predatory bugs that live deep down in the dark. These little nasties are a hassle, but handling hassles is part of every job. As already mentioned, there are always Gundarks to swat.

What’s more intriguing in The Bad Batch Episode 13 is what occurs once the action escapades are over. They deliver the Spice to the Pykes. The mobsters accept, and they turn their attention to Roland. They can’t allow for his failure to go unpunished. His head should do nicely.

Omega, however, sees the possibility within Roland. She cannot watch as Pyke daggers extinguish it. She speaks up, and the shock of her brashness connects with the Pykes. They don’t take Roland’s head, just the tip of one horn on his head. To his amazement and everyone else, he gets to walk away from this scrape.

The chopped horn is curious. It recalls the appearance of Star Wars: Rebels supporting player, Cikatro Vizago. Could these two characters be the same person? It’s possible. Vizago is no hero. He’s a smuggler and the ringleader behind the Broken Horn Syndicate. No friend to the Empire, Vizago frequently partnered with the Rebels‘ Ghost crew and offered them Imperial intelligence in exchange for various mercenary missions.

But whether Roland and Vizago are actually one character is not as important as Hunter’s reaction to Omega’s pardon. The soldier is confused. “Why did you stick up for him after what he did?” he asks. Omega responds by noting how his pet lizard, Ruby, sees some good in him. If the animal can snuggle with such a scoundrel, there has to be a hint of Light inside him. And where one ounce of Light exists, more can shine in.

The look on Hunter’s face says everything. They’re not specifically talking about Crosshair, but the connection is obvious. Their former colleague is a killer. He betrayed the group, threw himself into the Imperial business of subjugation, and only sank further into treachery from there. But, once upon a time, he was a member of Clone Force 99. Hunter yearns for his pal’s redemption, and as we already know, Star Wars is all about redemption.

There is no pit a person can’t escape. Is all forgiven regarding Anakin Skywalker? No. But, he did not let his history dictate his future. He turned on the Emperor and tossed his bony butt down that Death Star reactor shaft. If Darth Vader can reject the Dark Side after years of loyal service, so too can Crosshair.

Omega allowing for the possibility of Light inside Roland Durand offers hope to Hunter. He hates what his brother has become, but he can’t condemn Crosshair in his heart. He must believe, the way Luke Skywalker believed, that the Imperial sharpshooter can one day recoil from the Dark Side that surrounds him. Forgiveness for others means there’s a possibility of forgiveness for us.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 13 is now streaming on Disney+.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)