It is a truth universally acknowledged, that characters in an installment of a Star Wars who poke around in the dark will be attacked by skittering space insects. Such is the case with the 13th episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, aptly titled “Infested.”
Star Wars is no stranger to borrowing (or flat out stealing) things from other sci-fi adjacent genres, especially the various animated series. The Bad Batch joins that proud tradition, and Omega (Michelle Ang) learns a lesson along the way. Fun all around!
***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be spoilers for episode 1.13 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch. If you haven’t watched yet, hop in that cart and slip away quietly.***
The Batch (all members voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) arrives back on Ord Mantell fresh off of another side quest from Cid (Rhea Perlman) which unexpectedly found them going up against a nest of Gundarks. Cid’s not in her office, though. Instead, a Devaronian named Roland Durand (Tom Taylorson) has taken over her operation and filled her parlor with members of the Pyke Syndicate.
Cid is waiting for the Batch back at their ship requesting their help, and Omega insists that they do just that. They plan to steal crates of spice that Roland has stored in Cid’s office to mess up a deal he has going with the Pykes, and to do that they have to travel through a dark and creepy tunnel.
The Batch tries to be stealthy, but come on, they’ve proved many times now that stealth is not a gift they possess. They do their best, making their way through the webbed-up dark with flashlights, but soon they are swarmed by “Irlings.” These nocturnal insect aliens are highly unpleasant.
They get the spice, but the Irlings steal it from them on their return trip. They’re all caught by the Pykes, and after they take Omega hostage (along with Roland) the Batch has to go back into the caverns with Cid to get the spice back.
Every journey through this cavern conjures memories of other moments of sci-fi horror, from Alien to Big Dumb Insect Space Movie. That last title isn’t real, but someone could make it one day.
You don’t even have to look to other franchises to get a callback, as clones poking around in the dark while terror lurks nearby was the basis for the nightmare Season 2 installment of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, “Legacy of Terror.” This episode thankfully doesn’t have any undead Geonosians, but the Irlings don't exactly come from Sesame Street.
They are resistant to light, so Tech manages to keep them off using a giant flash-bang device. So much for them, and after the spice is returned, the Pykes chop off one of Roland’s horns and then beat it.
That would seem like the end of it, except for what lesson Omega has learned this week. The lesson is not “don’t drop flashlights into big alien big nests” though it should be.
While in captivity, she talked with Roland, and found that Ruby the space lizard (rescued and brought to Cid’s by Omega and the Batch a few episodes prior) is picky about who she likes and who she doesn’t. Ruby is a good judge of character we guess, and she likes both Roland and Omega.
When it looked like the Pykes were gonna rub Roland out for good, Omega sticks up for him. Hunter asks her why she did this, and her response is, “I don’t know. Ruby likes him. Maybe he’s not all bad.”
On one hand, our hearts are touched by how pure Omega is and how kind she is. Roland kicks their benefactor out of her bar and is out for himself, yet Omega is willing to give him a chance. She’s better than we are, because we would’ve told the Pykes to go for his head and not his horn.
As heartwarming as this is, Omega is basing her opinion of Roland almost solely on the likes and dislikes of Ruby the space lizard. This either makes Omega a rube (a kind one, but a rube nonetheless), or it makes her a genius for realizing there’s more to Ruby than meets the eye.
If Ruby the space lizard ends up being the savior of the galaxy at the end of the season, then Omega will have called things correctly. Judged solely on this giant insect, nightmare-fueled episode though, Omega still has a lot to learn.
She’s way too nice. We love that about her, but the franchise isn’t called Star Friends. Harsher lessons than one chopped-off horn could be lying in the darkness ahead.
New episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch stream on Disney+ every Friday.