After the season premiere episode “The Bad Batch” last week, newly uncovered evidence left clone trooper Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker) more certain that his presumed-dead clone brother, Echo, may still be alive and in the Separatist enemies’ hands. Led by Jedi General Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter), Rex and the Bad Batch fly off to the Separatist outpost on a ravaged and dust-stormy terrain of Skako Minor to rescue Echo — that is, if he’s still alive.

“A Distant Echo” scatters some humanities, starting with Anakin coyly reminding Rex about a clandestine activity and the revelation that Rex has frequently been covering for Anakin’s holo-transmssions with his secret wife Padme Amidala (Catherine Taber). The discussions ground the main conflict of Rex’s personal feelings, fleshes out Anakin’s concerns, and calls ahead to the tragedy of Anakin’s fall in Revenge of the Sith by depicting a window in time where he wasn’t incapable of self-criticism. Note Anakin’s smile when Padme tells him, “I wonder where [Rex] learned that from.”

The tender moment wraps up with a gasp-inducing reveal where Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) nearly discovers the clandestine conversation and utters to Anakin, “I hope you at least told Padme I said hello,” to which Anakin responds with a knowing glance. It speaks miles about the rapports between Obi-Wan, Anakin, Padme, and Rex. However, it seems curious to jump into Anakin and Padme’s relative return to marital stability while barely suggesting what reparations or reconciliation took place, considering their marriage was in crisis the last time they were seen together on The Clone Wars.

Anyhow, Anakin’s conversation with Rex ties the two men’s conflict and speaks to Rex’s mental negotiations between hope and the grimy reality of war. The practicalities of war in “A Distant Echo” are also underscored when the troops are confronted by the Skako Minor’s humanoid-indigenous inhabitants, the Poletec, and communicate with the natives that they do not mean harm, promising to leave their land once they complete their rescue mission. While unspoken aloud, the chieftain seems to clock in that the clones could deter their Separatist occupiers.

As for the diversely-designed Bad Batch, they don’t seem too challenged beyond their one-note personalities and their unique attributes, although the collective dislike for “regs” (regular clones) indicates a superiority complex. At the very least, we learn briefly that even they are figuring out their lot in the world when Hunter cryptically answers, “Good question [on who we answer to].” But mostly, their participation barely brings conflict outside of octane-fueled combat and some funny lines (“Why don’t you pick on someone not your size?”). Pissing off Rex could have seized an opportunity to insinuate insight about the Bad Batch, but it only amounts to a provocation for Rex’s psychological conflict.

The ending where Rex pulls a wired and frozen Echo from the cyrochamber is affecting, so much that I wish there was more running time to absorb Rex’s “You’re going home” line and wonder if that could be true for a tormented prisoner of war. The journey home is far from over.

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