“On the Wings of Keeradaks” is the third episode of the “Bad Batch” arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ final season. Streaming now on Disney+, it shows the troops of the Bad Batch, alongside Rex, Anakin Skywalker, and the newly rescued Echo, working to escape Skako Minor in one piece. It’s full of many little things that would be of interest to dive deeper into, so let’s take a look.
As the Bad Batch retreats in this episode to increasingly difficult positions, they seal the doors in and look through thermographic imaging to see battle droids crawling around the outside. This reads very much like sequences in Aliens with the Colonial Space Marines, being hemmed in closer and closer by bug-like xenomorphs, crawling all over the place. Clone Force 99 are able to handle the situation with aplomb, though. Instead of retreating out of a ventilation duct like the survivors of the Space Marines, Wrecker and crew are able to crawl out of a spire on the ceiling. Wrecker goes to make a sacrifice similar to Vazquez and Gorman’s, blowing up the control room behind him. Unlike the Space Marines, though, Wrecker had Anakin Skywalker to back him up, so he’s rescued from the enemy weapon and explosions just in the nick of time, thanks to the Force.
D-Wing Air Support Droids
To carry on with the similarities to Aliens, the new battle droids introduced in this arc have a very alien-bug-like appearance. These spindly droids are new to The Clone Wars and are known as D-Wing Air Support Droids. After the clones and their Jedi colleague escape on the backs of the local, winged Keeradaks, the D-Wing droids reveal their own wings and attack. They’re the most bizarre configuration of battle droid we’ve ever seen, but The Clone Wars has done its best to introduce more and more droids to the Separatist oeuvre. From BX-series Commando Droids that can infiltrate clone outposts to the Tactical Droids that command Separatists ships, the show has expanded the range of the droids considerably.
The oddly shaped D-Wing droids can fold out and soar in the sky all while firing their blasters. They don’t have any great accuracy, but they’re still a menacing force to be reckoned with.
Also interesting to note: during this sequence, Wrecker seems to have a distinct fear of heights. With the Bad Batch a little bit like The A-Team, it’s easy to draw a line between Wrecker’s fear of heights and B.A. Baracus’s fear of flying. Especially since the next thing Wrecker is asked to do is hop on the back of a Keeradak and fly to safety.
War of the Worlds
After landing in an indigenous village on Skako Minor, Anakin Skywalker and the clones are left open to an all-out assault from the Separatist forces of the Techno Union Army. One of their favorite support craft are the Octuptarra magna tri-droids. These massive tanks have a rotation of three different laser cannons and aren’t the easiest things to take down. These were first seen in Star Wars in Revenge of the Sith, but have since been expanded upon in The Clone Wars. The coolest thing about them, though, is that they look very much as though they’re inspired by the tripods in War of the Worlds. At the beginning of their appearance in this episode, the massive tri-droid comes out of the background and fires on fleeing civilians and warriors in a way that looks as though it came right out of an adaptation of the H.G. Wells story.
Echo on the Wings of Keeradaks
These last two weeks, we’ve covered Echo’s transformation and it seems to get worse and worse the better a look we get at him. Wat Tambor in this episode even seems to view him more as property than as a person. You can read about Echo’s history in this piece and more about his appearance in last week’s episode in this one.
This episode gives us even more Echo and more of his heartbreak. This character has been through so much and it touches on some of the most fascinating science fiction in Star Wars. What life are clones bred only for war owed? Do they have the same rights of self-determination as others? Or are they property? By contrasting the Jedi philosophy, where the Bad Batch and Anakin Skywalker will stop at nothing to free Echo and give him his autonomy back and the Techno Union treats him like nothing more than the meat-ingredients of a science experiment. Neither side will just let him go and seek a life on his own. Is this arc, thematically, leading us down a road where Captain Rex will opt out of the service before Order 66? Only time will tell.
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