Spoilers for “The Bad Batch” Season 2 Episode 4 – “Faster” follow.
The fourth episode of “The Bad Batch” brings us back to Ord Mantell where Cid (Rhea Perlman) has a job for the crew. Unfortunately, Hunter and Echo are on a mission delivering Nerf Nuggest across the galaxy, so Cid uses Wrecker, Tech, and Omega as muscle as she heads to a planet called Safa Toma. There, she brings them to a racing arena, much like the podrace arena in “The Phantom Menace.” It’s a similar sport but called Riot Racing, and it’s deadly. Cid has purchased a droid named TAY-O and thinks this is her ticket to winning a big score.
The problem is that a gangster named Millegi has a history with Cid and goads her into making a wager between their racers. The loser will be severely in debt to the other. When Millegi rigs the race against TAY-O, Cid doesn’t have the money to pay him. In order to save Cid from her fate, Wrecker, Tech, and Omega bet him double or nothing they can win the next race. When TAY-O gets incapacitated, Tech has to step in to do the race. Of course, his unorthodox thinking enables him to win, allowing the Batch to get Cid and retreat back to Ord Mantell. Millegi, though, offers the Clones a warning about Cid, insisting her history is such that they should watch their backs.
Interesting to note that Cid’s full name is finally given in this episode as “Cidarin Scaleback“.
Speed is something that’s an intrinsic part of the “Star Wars” universe. That was the driving factor of George Lucas and his inspiration for the trench run. He pushed the envelope further with the speeder chase in “Return of the Jedi” and then perfected speed and danger in “Star Wars” in “The Phantom Menace” with the podrace. This episode takes “The Bad Batch” back to those roots by introducing Riot Racing to the universe. This feels part speeder bike chase, part podrace, and part “THX-1138.”
As the race continues, there are tubes and sections of the racing track that are reminiscent of the old BART tunnels where the final chase in “THX-1138” was filmed. Tech has a couple of moments that feel very close to that original inspiration and it’s always nice to see that in “Star Wars”.
In fact, the title of this episode itself seems to refer to George Lucas’s favorite bit of direction on the set: “Faster and more intense.”
Details to watch out for
This episode contains a lot of touchstones of “Star Wars” old and new. Some of it feels pretty obvious, like the holochess game at the beginning of the episode or the callout of Mantell Mix, which is the Outpost Mix popcorn folks can get inside “Galaxy’s Edge” at Disney Parks. Others are deeper cuts and cameos.
The first cut is Millegi the gangster himself. He’s voiced by Ernie Hudson of “Ghostbusters” fame, bringing a really cool sound to the Dowutin. Dowutins are a species first seen in “The Force Awakens” in Maz Kanata’s castle.
TAY-O, the droid Cid purchased, is also a really interesting deep cut. Voiced by Ben Schwartz, it’s important to remember that Schwarz was the voice of BB-8 in “The Force Awakens” and did punch-up work on the script for “The Rise of Skywalker” to make it funnier. In fact, he was responsible for adding what might be Threepio’s best line in the saga — “You didn’t say my name, sir, but I’m all right.”
TAY-O keeps getting beat by a racer named Jet Venim, a Nosaurian. We first saw them in “The Phantom Menace.” The podracer Clegg Holdfast, who lost the podrace to Anakin Skywalker, was of the same species.
My favorite deep cut in the episode was the announcer saying that one of the racers would be taking the expressway to Lotho Minor after getting their racer junked. Lotho Minor is the garbage planet first seen in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” It’s where Maul spent all those years after his defeat on Naboo, going out of his mind and building spider legs out of junk until his brother, Savage Opress, found him.
The final accounting
This episode might seem to move away from the deep philosophy of the last few episodes, but thinking that might be a mistake. Though this is a definite departure in tone from the more recent episodes, letting Omega take the front seat in this dilemma. There’s a loyalty to her character that makes her unable to leave Cid to suffer the consequences of her bad bet. Cid sees this and it’s something that we’ve seen a lot in these episodes where characters have quiet moments of reflection where they are actually considering the future.
Some might dismiss this episode as “filler”, but I think that would be a mistake, too. This moves the story forward as far as the Bad Batch and their relationship with Cid goes. And it does it in a really entertaining way. I doubt this will be remembered as anyone’s favorite episode of “The Bad Batch,” but don’t let the fun wrapper fool you into thinking that the events of this episode won’t play into events later this season or beyond.
New episodes of “The Bad Batch” air on Wednesdays on Disney+.