Loose ends are continuing to transform into firm connections on Star Wars: The Bad Batch. There’s a bit of time between the end of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the beginning of Star Wars Rebels, and this series is seriously bridging that gap. We’d heard about many of those gap-bridging events in Rebels, sure, but now we’re seeing them for ourselves.
One of the stars of Rebels (and their family) is the main focus of the episode “Devil’s Deal.” The episode revolves around them to the point where the titular Bad Batch (all voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) are guest stars in their own show. We don’t mind, because the character who upstages them is insanely important and beloved.
***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be major spoilers for the Star Wars: The Bad Batch episode “Devil’s Deal.” If you haven’t seen the episode yet, turn back now.***
Fans likely saw it all coming the moment the episode began, because it opens on the planet Ryloth. Not just that, we’re in the capital of Lessu and in the company of Senator Orn Free Taa (Phil LaMarr), who is still at odds with freedom fighter Cham Syndulla (Robin Atkin Downes). These two have been at it since the Season 1 Ryloth arc in The Clone Wars, and their beef is still in the slow cooker.
Cham is ready to stop fighting, but his main man Gobi (Corey Burton) doesn’t trust the Empire. Neither does Cham’s wife, Eleni Syndulla (Ferelith Young). We heard about Eleni in Rebels (and followed the drama of Grand Admiral Thrawn stealing a precious Kalikori that she created) but we’ve never met her before.
Why is she important? Aside from the ongoing political upheaval on Ryloth (must be a Tuesday), she is the mother of Hera Syndulla, hero of the future Rebel Alliance and star of Rebels. The Bad Batch show began with a cameo from young Caleb Dume, aka Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.), who would grow to be the “Dad” to the Rebels Ghost crew. Ten episodes later, we meet the Twi’lek who will grow to be “Mom.”
The young Hera Syndulla herself pops in and upstages everyone this week, still voiced by Vanessa Marshall, and with Chopper by her side. It is almost an episode of Rebels done in the Clone Wars style, because aside from turncoat Crosshair working with Admiral Rampart, the Bad Batch (and Omega) don’t enter until we’re over thirteen minutes in. They get one scene, and that’s it.
We barely noticed, because we were too busy enjoying what could have been the pilot of Young Hera. In Rebels, she often talked about her early days on Ryloth and her dreams of flying. We see all of that here.
She watches the skies with wonder, and she might as well be looking at twin suns. She knows that things are dangerous, but she has an innocent side that the older Hera doesn't have. One of the biggest highlights of this episode is a bonding session between her and Omega (Michelle Ang) when Omega gives her a tour of the Batch’s ship.
The centerpiece of the tour (for Omega) is the little room that Wrecker made for her. Hera tells her that her dream is to live on a starship, and Rebels fans know that she’ll definitely go on to live that dream. She teaches Omega about flying, saying that it’s all to do with feeling. “The instruments help guide you, but you plot your course. You’re free,” she says.
This makes an impression on Omega, though Tech doesn’t like the sound of it. The Batch’s main function here is delivering weapons to Gobi (from Cid), but Gobi then gets caught on Ryloth thanks to Crosshair. Admiral Rampart is playing everyone on this planet, especially the perpetually selfish Orn Free Taa.
Cham (who is really ready to lay down his arms) finally has it out with Taa after he and Eleni rescue Hera, who was scooped up with Gobi and given no trial. He has him at the point of a blaster, but Eleni prompts him not to shoot.
Crosshair has no problem shooting on the hidden order of Rampart, so he nails Taa with a shot to the head. Taa is dead (we won’t miss him) and Rampart now has the means to implicate the entire Syndulla freedom fighting contingent.
Hera escapes in a speeder driven by Chopper, on the orders of Eleni. The skies are dark, and her flight from danger is not the stuff of dreams. We’d guess that we’ll be staying on Ryloth for another episode, because things here are not wrapped up. We can see where they are going, though, because we know where many of these characters will be in the future.
We know that Cham continues to be a revolutionary, fighting the Empire instead of the Separatists. We also know that Hera decides to leave Ryloth (becoming estranged with Cham in the process) and that Eleni isn’t around for any of that. She’s dead by the time Rebels begins.
What could firmly set Cham back on the path of being a fighter for life, and simultaneously put Hera on her path to becoming General Syndulla of the Rebel Alliance? The death of Eleni.
Rampart and Crosshair are turning the spiteful gears of change on Ryloth, and those Doonium mines need to keep producing because it’s a vital component needed for the construction of the Death Star. Whether for this or some other reason, Eleni is unfortunately marked for death. It's the unfortunate catalyst that will seal the fates of the Syndullas for years to come.
Unless it's not, and the happy family goes to live full and loving lives on Rainbow Mountain. Speaking of which, we have a bridge to sell you.
New episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch are streaming on Disney+ every Friday.