When Star Wars: The Clone Wars was canceled abruptly in 2013, it left numerous planned storylines laying on the drawing board. One of these unused concepts, perhaps the best of the lot, was set to focus on the kindly Wookies and their homeworld of Kashyyyk. The abandoned four-episode arc would have explained Yoda’s vague Episode III – Revenge of the Sith line about having “good relations” with the planet and its people, teaming the famed Jedi Master with both the Bad Batch and the Wookies in a battle against the Separatists and their Trandoshan allies. In this week’s episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, this plot is revived, albeit condensed, and replaces Yoda with a far more important figure from George Lucas‘ lore – Gungi, the legendary Wookie Padawan.
Titled Tribe, the sixth episode of The Bad Batch‘s second season is, without a doubt, one of the series’ best overall. Admittedly, the return of Gungi, who hasn’t been seen since his brief introduction in The Clone Wars‘ fifth season, plays a huge role in the amount of palpable joy felt throughout the 25-minute installment. Simply put, it’s great fun to watch him do anything, and it’s honestly sort of shocking it’s taken this long for him to pop up again. While it’s always enjoyable to see unique characters achieve worthwhile screen time, using one like the Force-sensitive Wookie, who has deep connections to multiple aspects of the universe he exists in, as a means of mixing fan service with actual thematic storytelling is just a stellar move to make.
Tribe makes an obvious effort to compare Gungi with its own Omega, crafting a mirrored experience between the two young heroes as lost members of their respective tribes (that’s the title!), struggling to be innocent in a world rebuilt for the immoral. As unsubtle as it is, the theme works wonderfully, inserting a simple message into the midst of some pretty cool, fairly grand world-building. It’s enough to make a viewer wish The Bad Batch spent more time fleshing out arcs, as opposed to moving on so quickly between episodes. The original four-episode plan contained a multitude of details and features that could have easily transitioned from The Clone Wars era to the time of its sequel series, but instead, the writers packed as much as they could from that longer pitch into only a single entry, resulting in a somewhat rushed adaptation of a larger tale.
That being said, what actually makes it to the screen in Tribe is impeccable. Kashyyyk, which continues to be one of the Star Wars franchise’s best locations, creates a beautifully dynamic setting for the show’s protagonists to function. The Wookies’ connection to the planet’s wildlife, and its flora, help bolster the action sequences and set up some rather gratifying payoffs in the episode’s third act. Additionally, it looks pretty awesome when Wookies show up to fight Trandoshans on massive cats with bat-like ears. It’s the type of “wow factor” that Star Wars can fully lean into without betraying its defining thematic elements, and honestly, probably should happen more often. Also, Our Lord and Savior Gungi the Wookie Jedi finally coming into his own as a warrior and peacekeeper is the stuff dreams are made of and is likely to be exactly what Star Wars fans dream about after seeing the episode.
With any luck, this will not be the last time audiences get a glimpse of Gungi and his (hopefully) soon-to-be-storied career, but if it is, it’s definitely a worthy send-off. Tribe is a solid grab bag of the action, emotion, and moralities that often compose the animated branch of Lucasfilm’s long-lived fictional galaxy, and both Gungi and the titular team of rebellious clones thrive for it.