Stellar visuals and a sense of breakneck fun elevate this mostly standalone episode.
This recap of Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 2 Episode 4, “Faster”, contains spoilers.
“Faster” is, essentially, a standalone episode of The Bad Batch. Echo and Hunter aren’t even in it. It has no bearing on the wider overarching story, has nothing to do with the Empire’s expansion and the period of political flux the galaxy is currently in, and it barely even progresses individual character arcs and dynamics. Instead, it’s twenty-odd minutes of pure, breakneck-pace fun, continuing a long and storied tradition of Star Wars animation spending a week on stories that have nothing to do with anything just because.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 2 Episode 4 Recap
Sure, there are interesting elements if you really look for them. For one thing, the whole episode is structurally reminiscent of the podracing subplot from Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, complete with the high-stakes race that is generally impossible for humans to partake in, the last-minute inclusion of a human racer who ultimately emerges victorious, shady backroom betting, a bloodthirsty crowd, and a lot of computer-generated stunts and chaos. It isn’t podracing this time, though, but Riot Racing, which seems to be a slightly more dangerous and less organized variant but that is nonetheless basically the same thing.
The crew, or at least Omega, Wrecker, and Tech are present because Cid wants to earn some credits on her new racer, a smug droid named TAY-0, and she needs security to do it because the place is filled with unsavory types including an old acquaintance named Millegi who immediately wants to put up big money. TAY-0, for what it’s worth, was a standout for me, playing explicitly as comic relief and acting quite unlike any other Star Wars droid I’m aware of.
When Millegi’s pilot, Jet Venim, cheats his way to victory, Omega proposes a double-or-nothing follow-up race which is complicated by the fact that TAY-0 gets smashed to bits in another crash that it’s heavily implied Millegi also arranged. That means that Tech has to race and utilize his hyper-intelligence and logical decision-making to take a victory against the odds.
I assumed “Faster” was going to have Omega become the pilot here and I’m glad it didn’t, since that would have been a little too on the nose when it comes to evoking Anakin’s racing history and besides, the only explanation for her being able to do it would be “she’s Force-sensitive”, which hasn’t been implied until now and would be boring anyway since it’s the quintessential Star Wars excuse for absolutely everything. Tech manages to succeed because of his already-established character traits, which makes much more storytelling sense.
But, even on paper, this is a simplistic setup for an episode, and I can see why fans wouldn’t be entirely thrilled with it on its face but seeing it in motion puts any cynicism to rest. This is spectacularly well animated, excitingly designed, genuinely kinetic feeling in its speed and swerves, and packed full of funny or interesting or clever bits of detailing. It’s my favorite purely visual achievement of The Bad Batch so far.
Success in the race means that Tech wins Cid her freedom from a situation that her own bad decision-making put her in, so again, this episode exists on its own terms. But don’t worry about that. Millegi’s indications that Cid can’t be trusted may or may not mean something down the line, but even if it doesn’t, there’s plenty to enjoy here in the meantime.
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