As we start to near the end of The Bad Batch‘s first season, Devil’s Deal treats us to a fantastic episode with plenty of returning characters on a familiar planet. It allows the series to continue its fascinating glimpses of how the galaxy is handling the rise of the Empire, and does so with only a small appearance from the Bad Batch themselves.
One of The Bad Batch‘s selling points was its role as the connective tissue between The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Not only do we continue to the stories of the Bad Batch themselves, we got to see how the galaxy adapts to the Republic’s transformation into the Empire. Devil’s Deal gives us the best look at that here, and is probably the episode most emblematic of The Bad Batch‘s mission statement.
The episode even feels like it’s come straight out of The Clone Wars, as we mostly leave behind the main characters and head to a different part of the galaxy to tell a story almost completely unrelated to them. Anyone who loves Star Wars lore and world building is going to adore this episode, especially if they enjoyed Star Wars Rebels. This episode, which appears to be part one of a two-episode arc (presumably they won’t go full Clone Wars with a four-episode arc), acts as a prequel to Star Wars Rebels as much as it is an epilogue to The Clone Wars.
It allows us to see familiar characters in interesting places that we’ve never seen before. One character, who we’re only used to seeing as an angry freedom fighter always railing against some form of oppressive threat, is instead urging their people to accept peace after a long and brutal war. It’s fascinating to explore this change in demeanor and watch how they change into the character we know from other appearances in Star Wars media.
The episode is left on a cliffhanger that sets up part two of the conflict, and hopefully the Bad Batch themselves will be more involved next week. However, their omission this week allowed us to explore these familiar characters in greater detail and I can’t say I missed them terribly. I won’t complain if they’re given a similar cameo role next week as this arc is wrapped up.
I was very pleased to see a return to Ryloth this week, with the rebellious populace already starting to chafe under the Empire’s influence. For a while, I didn’t think the Bad Batch would appear in this episode at all and I was okay with that, as it meant we got to spend so much more time with Cham Syndulla and his young daughter Hera.
I wasn’t sure we’d get to see Hera that much, if at all, so to see her play such a large role in the episode was wonderful, with Chopper at her side. Young Hera is exactly what I’d expect; a wide-eyed, hopeful teenager who just wants to fly amongst the stars and do the best for her people. It’s very reminiscent of a certain Luke Skywalker, and in line with how Star Wars likes to portray its young protagonists. We even heard parts of Leia’s theme as Hera stared up at the sky, which felt very special.
It’s clear that this arc will chart the beginning of Hera’s journey into a Rebel, as well as answer some other questions, like what happened to her mother. It’s very cool to hear Vanessa Marshall voicing Hera in the character’s native French accent, which was only teased during the brief reunions with her father and Ryloth in Rebels.
It’s particularly interesting to watch her relationship with her father Cham, as it certainly seems to be in a much healthier place than it is in Star Wars Rebels. Cham really cares for his daughter and states multiple times that he doesn’t want her to live her life as a freedom fighter, like he did. I doubt we’ll see that relationship sour so soon, as it will likely be implied that it grows stale over the next few years after the events of this arc.
It seems that this will happen after the death of Eleni Syndulla, Hera’s mother and Cham’s wife. Eleni Syndulla is a character we’ve been wanting to see for a while, and she doesn’t disappoint. She cares about her people as much as Cham does, and immediately distrusts the Empire as they refuse to relinquish their grip on Ryloth.
You can see Hera’s passionate and righteous spirit within her and watching her on screen immediately fills you with dread; we know that Eleni died while fighting the Empire, and it seems likely that we’ll see that happen next week.
As for Cham, it’s fascinating to see him in such a different headspace than we’re used to. We’re visiting him at a point where he is relieved that the Clone Wars are finally over, and he’s looking forward to a life of peace again. It’s so different to the man we know who becomes obsessed with fighting the Empire, so it’s interesting to watch him kid himself into believing that everything will be fine.
The man is desperate for peace and even willing to step aside and let the corrupt senator Orn Free Taa rule his people unchallenged. This is helped by the reassurances of Clone Captain Howzer, who is the most human we’ve seen a clone trooper look since Order 66 was triggered.
That Cham’s own followers are already preparing for another fight says a lot about his own state of mind. When his wife Eleni questions the need for clone troopers and anti-air batteries to guard the Imperial refinery, Cham stays silent.
Admiral Rampart makes some reasonable points and almost makes you believe that the Empire is indeed using this refinery for a good cause and wants to protect Ryloth, but his words are betrayed by the existence of these defenses.
He also never claims the Empire wants to protect Ryloth’s people, only ever their interests. It’s a subtle distinction, but one that betrays the Empire’s true objectives, and it’s surprising that Cham either hasn’t spotted that or doesn’t want to.
Of course, Cham will be forced to take up the fight against the Empire after the events of this episode. When the Empire arrested Hera and took her away to be executed for treason along with his top lieutenants, Cham blamed Orn Free Taa. But now that the Empire has framed him for Taa’s attempted assassination, it is plain to see that they are just as corrupt as Ryloth’s senator.
This episode is also notable for the return of Crosshair, who doesn’t look too badly disfigured by the events on Raxus Prime. He’s not the focus of the episode, but this is the sort of appearance I expected more often throughout the season so I’m glad we’re getting more of him. If we’re lucky, we might get another rematch with him and the Bad Batch next week if Sid sends them to Ryloth.
Their cameo role this week made Devil’s Deal feel even more like an episode of The Clone Wars. This is the first episode that hasn’t been about them, which is something out of the Clone Wars playbook. The only members to even get lines this week were Hunter, Tech and Omega; Wrecker and Echo didn’t say a word. We did get treated to a heartwarming conversation between Omega and Hera as worlds collided, and it was so cool to see Hera geek out over the idea of living in a spaceship, knowing that she eventually gets to live her dream.
Nevertheless, it would be cool if we get to see them play a larger role next week in rescuing Cham and Eleni from Imperial prison, a job that would pit them against Crosshair once again. There should be some significant events happening on Ryloth next week, and the Bad Batch’s increased involvement will only add to the drama.
Make sure to come back next Friday to read our review of episode 12. While you wait, you can check out James Baney’s spoiler review of Devil’s Deal right here: