Warning: This review contains major spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 1 Episode 4
A familiar face returns this week in Star Wars: The Bad Batch episode 4: Fennec Shand, the bounty hunter from The Mandalorian. Naturally, she's not there just to say hi, but to hunt for a bounty – which is, of course, Omega.
Ming-Na Wen returns to voice Shand, who's in full bad guy mode throughout the episode. It's great to see Shand depicted in animation: the costume looks even better than in The Mandalorian, and Wen does a great job of playing Shand as calculated and cool, with a few moments of the softness we saw by the time she meets Din Djarin and Grogu.
"Cornered" sees the Bad Batch and Omega head to Pantora to gather supplies and scramble their ship's signature so the Empire can't track them down so easily. Pantora is a planet with a bustling, vibrant city that's a feast for the eyes thanks to the impressive animation. The Clone Wars' older animation style couldn't have done the city justice, with its gorgeous mix of neon cyberpunky signs and Middle Eastern-inspired architecture. The hustle and bustle makes the city feel lived in, and the vibrant hues of alien skin tones and space garments are visual candy.
Naturally, a busy city in a newly minted Empire is as dangerous as it is beautiful, and the Bad Batch quickly learns their tried and true military tactics won't cut it here. It's funny to see how messy the gang are when they can't rely on their military training and expertise – they often end up bumbling their way through a situation as if they're a bunch of nervous dads, and not the infamous Clone Force 99. Wrecker and Tech have to bribe a crooked shipyard owner to not scan their ship, Hunter has to pretend Echo is a droid and sell him to a greedy merchant, and Omega learns that wandering away will almost always have consequences.
In this episode, that consequence is Shand, hunting Omega at the request of an unknown entity (although it's probably the Kaminoans). She happens upon a lost Omega and promises to help her find her friends. At first, she comes off like a jaded older sister, stealing a space fruit for Omega and preaching about her hardened outlook on life. But then Hunter shows up, and the blaster in Shand's hand is no longer just for protection, as she initially claims.
The action is great, with moments that feel like the Bad Batch and Shand are treating the Pantoran city like a Grand Theft Auto game. Hunter steals a speeder, Tech hacks the city's security cameras, and Shand kills quite a few cops. There's a moment where she fires a blaster shot that goes straight through the windshield of the officer's speeder and blasts a hole through his chest that had me genuinely shocked. The Bad Batch may be a children's animated series, but it treats its action just like the original trilogy, which loved cutting off limbs, remember?
While the Batch ultimately gets Omega back, Shand isn't done searching for the special clone child. You know she'll be hot on their tail for the next few episodes, but will we get a glimpse of the Shand who helps Din Djarin and Grogu, or will she remain steadfastly focused on securing the bounty and her credits? She does tell Omega to "tuck and roll" before throwing her at a space garbage truck, so there's a kindness in the bounty hunter that we know will eventually be fleshed out. But it wouldn't be interesting if she immediately goes soft and starts helping the Batch – I want her to feel like this series' Boba Fett. The Bad Batch episode 4 feels like a sneak peek at The Book of Boba Fett, and if it continues down this path, we're in for a treat.
While this episode isn't quite as strong as last week's (mainly because there's a lack of emotional depth between the Batch and Omega), it's still a rock-solid romp that keeps your interest the whole way through. Every moment feels cinematic, from the clever camera angles to the tight pacing and beautifully choreographed action. This is top-tier star Wars animation, and we get to watch it every week.
The Bad Batch episode 5 debuts May 28 on Disney Plus.