The last few weeks have been some of The Bad Batch‘s best; a remarkable turnaround from a fairly lame first half of the season. Where episodes once felt flat and pointless, they are now full of life and purpose, aimed towards a clear end goal with actual substance. The latest entry, titled Pabu, continues this trend with a wonderful excursion focused on community, something the leading group of rebels has found themselves severely lacking. A perfect mix of calm and storm, the episode manages to be both a singular adventure and a catalyst for the development of its heroes in one gorgeous outing.
Pabu sees the Bad Batch accompany their occasional business partner and not-a-pirate Phee Genoa, played by Wanda Sykes, to the episode’s titular planet for a bit of rest and relaxation. After a betrayal by their previous employer, the group needs a safe place to hide and a refresher on what it means to be alive, something Genoa believes she can supply in the form of a peaceful refugee city. Of course, things don’t go exactly as planned, and the group ends up having to protect the citizens from a massive tidal wave that wipes out half the community’s infrastructure. The resulting escapade is a lovely look into what the clones could have, and uphold, if they were willing to lay down their guns and give up the fight.
It’s an excellent follow-up to last week’s installment, The Outpost, which saw Crosshair finally submit to a devastating revelation about the Empire. Similar in fashion, the Bad Batch have come to see their own allegiances in a new light, ditching Rhea Perlman‘s Cid and complimenting their former comrade’s journey in a subtly clever way. The parallel between the two storylines is likely far from accidental, with the show’s nearing finale kicking the series’ overarching plotlines into their final gears. One of the best aspects of Pabu, an episode that appears to be potentially one-off at first glance, is how effectively it pushes the narrative forward for its protagonists. Even if the Bad Batch don’t grow to call the planet home, their experience there opens up new ideas and helps both Dee Bradley Baker‘s Hunter and Michelle Ang‘s Omega consider other methods of living.
Also of note is the ingenious bait-and-switch of Genoa’s role in the series. After several episodes of the character claiming not to be a pirate, something played as a joke every time, it turns out that she is not, in fact, a pirate. She truly is a “liberator of stolen artifacts”, as she puts it, and an advocator of the downtrodden. This reveal works in a few ways. It’s surprising and endearing, yes, but it’s also another notch in The Bad Batch‘s allegorical belt. From the start, the series has made no false pretenses about its intentions to portray the “soldiers post-war” dilemma, and refugees are a large part of that conversation. It’s truly very intriguing to see The Bad Batch manage to tie another character, one who seemed to be outside of the thematic elements of the show, into the grander image.
Overall, Pabu is a solid half-hour of television. It’s whimsical in its ideals and thrilling in its execution. The Bad Batch has really hit its stride in the back half of this season, and it really feels as though the show is leading to something special. Hopefully, it can stick the landing.