Features and Columns · TV

‘The Bad Batch’ Episode 4 Makes A Major Connection to ‘The Mandalorian’

A new ‘Star Wars’ fighter has entered the arena. Should Clone Force 99 be nervous? Yes!
The Bad Batch Episode Cornered Fennec Shand
By  · Published on May 21st, 2021

Welcome to The Bad Batch Explained, our new 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 4 (“Cornered”) and exploring how it connects to The Mandalorian and the greater Star Wars universe. Yes, there are spoilers here.

With few friends to seek and no Republic to fall back on, Clone Force 99 considers their options. Isolation is their best bet. Hiding their safest action. Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 4 starts with Hunter making the call. They gotta find their way to Idaflor, the barren rock free from neighbors and their spying eyes.

But barren rocks take time and fuel to reach, neither of which our renegade clones have in supply. The amenities the Republic once provided them are gone. If they want rations and supplies, they must fetch them. That means another pitstop and another opportunity for trouble to arise.

So far on The Bad Batch, the series has made several loose connections to the greater Star Wars universe, and most of them attached firmly to The Clone Wars cartoon that came before. Episode 4 determines that it’s time to reach out and add a scintillating link to the Star Wars franchise via The Mandalorian. And with this attachment comes a deepening of The Bad Batch‘s central mystery.

Who is the child Omega? Why was she created on Kamino? Who wants her?

After the first three episodes, the answers seemed fairly obvious, but they appear even more shadowy after The Bad Batch Episode 4. There could be someone else on the hunt besides Crosshair and his Imperial masters. And their desire to snatch the kid in secret requires a vicious interloper.

Unable to reach Idaflor in the state they currently occupy, Clone Force 99 lands on Pantora for a resupply. As wanted men, the soldiers can’t frolic and enjoy themselves. It’s an in-and-out mission. Omega, on the other hand, can’t help herself. She’s only walked upon three celestial bodies, and now that she’s out tumbling around the galaxy, she wants to see as much of it as she possibly can.

While Hunter barters and steals the gadgets necessary to get him from point A to point B, Omega allows her boundless wonder to get her lost. A small encounter with an alien puppy leads her into a chase. That chase lands her smackdab into the grip of Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen).

The bounty hunter made her first appearance during The Mandalorian Chapter 5, “The Gunslinger.” Although, in that episode, she’s introduced as a bounty herself. The anxious and eager hunter Toro Calican begged Din Djarin to help him acquire her hide since she made quite the name for herself as an assassin-for-hire. She proved to be a difficult target, but she got a blaster hole in her gut by the chapter’s end.

Left for dead, we learn in The Mandalorian season two, Shand was nursed back to health by the equally not-dead Boba Fett. The son of Jango Fett, and the biological twin to our Bad Batch rapscallions, made a partner in Shand. Together they tracked Din Djarin to the planet Tython, where Grogu signaled the Jedi, who would eventually reveal himself as Luke Skywalker.

The Shand that stands next to Fett is not the Shand we met in “The Gunslinger” and certainly not the Shand we see in The Bad Batch Episode 4. She’s deeply loyal to Fett. She’s willing to eradicate baby Grogu if given the command. Eventually, she proves to be an ally to Din Djarin, as the three of them, alongside marshall Cara Dune, storm the Imperial refinery on Morak in The Mandalorian Chapter 15. She’s a skilled killer, having survived a lifetime plagued by war and deception.

There is a twenty-eight-year difference between The Bad Batch and The Mandalorian. While every iteration of Shand we’ve met so far is hard and deadly, the one we see in The Bad Batch exists very much in the stone-cold killer category. In her Pantora pursuit of Omega, with Hunter hot on her heels, she whips one poor citizen from his speeder and flings him to his splattery demise many stories below. When two Pantora cops take up the chase, she shoots one squarely in his heart, sending him crashing and exploding into the other.

With the Republic in shambles and an Empire rising, Shand is out here making a quick buck with the skills she’s got. That’s her core character, and nothing is changing that. If Clone Force 99 wants to escape her sights, they either need to kill her or win her over to their mission for independence. Since we know she has a future in The Mandalorian, we know they’re not going to wipe her out. Her current status as a franchise anti-hero most likely means her Bad Batch appearances won’t remain antagonistic.

She fails to put her mitts on Omega by the end of The Bad Batch Episode 4. But she needs that money. So she ain’t calling it quits.

The episode concludes with Shand on her comm. We don’t hear the person on the other end, but Shand admits to failure. “The target got away,” she says. “But I’ll find her.” She turns her sights to the stars, and the score swells ominously. A new hunter has entered the race, and it makes Clone Force 99’s journey to Idaflor seem all the more arduous. Crosshair on their tail is bad enough, but Shand is an entirely different wrinkle.

You gotta wonder about her comm buddy. Who’s the face on the other end? We know Kaminoan chief scientist Nala Se, Omega’s creator, is eager to get the child back under her microscope. With the Empire threatening to halt their clone orders, the Kaminoans need a new product to push. The implication is that Omega is the first in a new breed of super clones. Last week, the Kaminoan Prime Minister clearly stated they needed just one member from Clone Force 99 to be their genetic source material. But he didn’t mention Omega specifically.

The Empire put Clone Force 99 on their most wanted list, which sparked caution in Hunter when they landed on Pantora. No doubt Shand could turn Omega in for some serious credits. However, if the other person on the comm were Admiral Rampart or Grand Moff Tarkin, we probably would have heard their voice or seen the scene from their end.

The Bad Batch Episode 4 is clearly establishing another layer to the Omega mystery. Nala Se as Shand’s recruiter is a good bet, but what if there is a Force wielder aware of Omega’s latent abilities? After the Order 66 execution, the Jedi are in short supply. They need as many compatriots as possible, and a youngling with Force capabilities would be a grand find. Those with either Light Side or Dark Side leanings would be happy to have Omega as an apprentice.

What Jedi and Sith are currently in play? Darth Vader is too busy tightening the Emperor’s grip to get caught up with this kid. We have Yoda and Obi-Wan, but they’re keeping the Skywalker babies under wraps. Maul is skulking about the crime world. He’d be hungry for Omega if he knew about her, and we’d be thrilled to have more cartoon Maul in canon. Finally, Ahsoka Tano is beginning her new life as Rebel, and like Maul, we’d love to see her front and center in the cartoon Star Wars universe again. But, she’s also got a live-action series on the horizon, and Lucasfilm may want to keep her contained to that brand for now.

If The Bad Batch wanted to get as many new viewers as possible, the producers might want to toss in a massive curveball. There’s been some scuttlebutt about the possibility of Mace Windu and Sam Jackson returning to the Star Wars galaxy. His sudden appearance in The Bad Batch would raise many eyebrows and probably pull in a larger audience. Windu never got a proper shot in the prequels, and The Clone Wars cartoons have always been a place to correct those mistakes.

Fennec Shand is a solid bond linking various Star Wars properties. The more we get of those, the more exciting, engaging, and crucial The Bad Batch becomes. The trick for the series will be not losing itself to fan’ish attachments. The Bad Batch is here to reveal a critical moment within the timeline. It’s the darkest era — the Republic is dead, and the Empire is forever. Until it’s not.

Clone Force 99 represents a tiny pocket of resistance. In the face of oppressive evil, they stand sturdy. Omega is their brighter future. They’re here to fight for her and it. Shand better watch herself. Or join the cause.

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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)