Star Wars: The Bad Batch is back on Disney Plus for its third, and final, season. The show really added to Star Wars lore last season, filling in parts of the story of the early Empire days only covered in Legends and some Canon comics and games. And it left us with a cliffhanger, which followed some literal hanging, at least close to a cliff.

The three episode premier of the Dave Filoni-helmed animated series just dropped, so let’s get into it episode by episode. Also, SPOILERS AHEAD:

Episode 1: Confined

Omega in her cell on Mount Tantiss in Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 3 Episode 1 Confined (Lucasfilm/Disney)

The season started out with a real slow burn, tonally much more somber than what we’ve seen previously in the series. I’d say it’s a first for Star Wars, but then I remembered Andor. I’d say this is very Andor-esque, and a first for Star Wars animation.

We didn’t see the titular Bad Batch, except for Crosshair (Dee Bradley Baker), who parted ways with the core group early in the first season. Instead the story focused on Omega (Michelle Ang), and her detention in Mount Tantiss, a hidden Imperial lab where she was taken at the end of last season.

We follow Omega on her first day in captivity as Emerie (Keisha Castle-Hughes), her “sister” clone who works at the facility, takes a sample of her blood, then as Nala Se (Gwendoline Yeo) destroys Omega’s blood sample while cataloguing samples from other clones. As part of her duties, Omega feeds the caged up Lurca hounds, and befriends one she calls Batcher. She also passes Crosshair in the hallway, and later tries to convince him to help her escape.

And then there’s a time jump to several days later. There are a few changes, but Omega’s day-to-day has become a rut. Batcher was more docile due to her feeding him good food and healing his wound, and therefore scheduled to be terminated. So she helps him escape into the wild, and generally unsafe nature of the planet. This is when she encounters Dr. Royce Hemlock (Jimmi Simpson), the administrator, who tells her of a downed Imperial shuttle we saw in the opening, to illustrate that Batcher clearly won’t survive. This is the first time Emerie shows Omega some compassion, by returning a doll she had previously confiscated.

It’s moving, and we’re getting plot developments, mainly that The Empire is taking all of these samples in order to find one clone that can receive blood from someone who is Force-sensitve with out a degraded M (Midichlorian, remember that from the prequels?) count. But the focus here is the atmosphere, and how Omega is dealing with everything emotionally.

And they’re using stunning animation, better than what the series has offered so far, to set the mood and bring us into this new world, and back into the world of The Bad Batch. Even the more understated score by Kevin Kiner really worked well. A pleasantly surprising new take on a series I’m already into.

Episode 2: Paths Unknown

Deke and Stack lead Hunter and Wrecker through the jungle in Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 3 Episode 2 Paths Unknown (Lucasfilm/Disney)

We caught up with Hunter and Wrecker (both Dee Bradley Baker) in the second episode of the season, which felt like a side quest, but not exactly a filler episode. It was, after all, part of their main quest to find Omega, and the unexpected side-mission was part of achieving that goal.

In a move reminiscent of The Mandalorian (specifically Din Djarin’s appearance in The Book of Boba Fett), the pair returned a wayward Pike to Lady Isa Durand (Anjelica Huston, yes, THAT Anjelica Huston) in exchange for information on Omega’s whereabouts provided by her son Roland (Tom Taylorson), who we did meet before. After hearing that Rex and Echo wouldn’t be able to join them in enough time, Hunter and Wrecker head down to a jungle planet in search of the Imperial base holding Omega.

They soon learn that The Empire destroyed their own base through orbital bombardment and are confronted by Deke and Stack (both Julian Dennison), two younger clones who were sent from Kamino to be test subjects, and later abandoned, with the base. They lead Hunter and Wrecker to their leader Mox (Daniel Logan, who also voiced young Boba Fett in Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Hunter, Wrecker, and Deke head off to grab a piece of equipment that may lead them to Omega, while the other two toy with the idea of stealing their ship, but ultimately decide to rescue them. The Bad Batch get a lead on Omega and decide to drop the young clones off on Pabu (the haven for refugees from Season 2).

That’s pretty much the plot. Most of the episode is action. We do get introduced to slither vines, a genetic mutation created by The Empire, which got out of hand, and forced, in part, the abandonment. We also met more clones with their own story of how they were treated by The Empire, and what was going on at the base. Plus we were reminded how Omega’s abduction But, for the most part, this was a fun diversion.

Episode 3: Shadows of Tantiss

Emperor Palpatine prepares to leave Mount Tantiss, followed by Dr. Hemlock, Nala Se, and guards in Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 3 Episode 3 Shadows of Tantiss (Lucasfilm/Disney)

If you want to be sure that an episode is important to the overall series plot, you bring in Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine, and that’s just what Bad Batch did with the third episode of the season. We were back on Mount Tantiss, and back with Omega.

For the central chunk of the episode, we cut back and forth between The Emperor touring the facility with Doctor Hemlock, accompanied by a reluctant Nala Se, and Omega trying to escape, after Nala Se told her to. However, there is a third, and underlying, throughline: Omega’s blood sample.

This time it was Emerie testing all the collected samples, and the fact that she won’t discard Omega’s is what prompted Nala Se to warn the young clone to flee, and provide her with a pad to help make the escape possible. The sample in the chamber waiting to be tested served as a ticking clock that really heightened the sense of urgency and impending doom. This was some next-level drama for Star Wars animation.

This episode was a well-crafted combination of action and plot development. We got confirmation that Omega is the perfect match The Empire has been looking for. I’m not sure if that means she is Force-sensitive herself, or just a perfect conduit for Force-sensitive blood. Though she has shown “Jedi reflexes” more than once.

We also learned that Project Necromancer involves something in a tank. No confirmation on whether or not this is Snoke, and that this will tie into Grogu and/or the Sequel Trilogy, but there are strong hints in that direction.

I like how this episode brought back the crashed Imperial shuttle, and the now-free Lurca hound Batcher, from the first episode and had them play a key role here, as some good payoff to the seeds planted. Also, nice to know that Batcher escaped with Omega and Crosshair, and will probably be joining the crew.

The way Hemlock decided in an instant to call off the attack really underscored Omega’s importance. His subsequent assertion of his newly granted powers, and how he can use them to find her, set things up nicely for episodes to come.

I enjoyed the bits of comedy, mostly involving Crosshair. Such as his playing along grudgingly with the escape, and his reaction when he realized they were escaping during a visit from The Emperor himself. But it was also really nice when he got back on board and re-joined with Omega, and unofficially with his former, and now once-again brothers The Bad Batch.

The highlight of this episode for me, though, has to be McDiamrid’s vocal performance as Palpatine at the height of his powers. It’s always a treat to listen to.

Releasing three episodes together was a smart move, as this last one really got me excited to see where this goes.

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