Star Wars: The Bad Batch S2 Eps 1-4 | Crooked Media
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January 20, 2023
X-Ray Vision
Star Wars: The Bad Batch S2 Eps 1-4

In This Episode

On this episode of X-Ray Vision, Jason Concepcion and Rosie Knight join the Bad Batch! First in the Previously On (2:51) they discuss the possibility of a VFX union and why it matters plus continue their ongoing discussion on AI-generated art in light of a class action suit against AI companies. In the Airlock (25:12), Jason and Rosie dive deep (deeep) into the first four episodes of The Bad Batch season 2, recapping episode 3 as the dramatic highlight so far and discussing theories, Crosshair, Cody and more. Then in Nerd Out (46:12) Jason and Rosie discuss their first listener theory from Rodney on a possible skrull in Marvel’s upcoming Secret Invasion series.


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Nerd Out Submission Instructions!

Send a short pitch and 2-3 minute voice memo recording to that answers the following questions: 1) How did you get into/discover your ‘Nerd Out?’ (2) Why should we get into it too? (3) What’s coming soon in this world that we can look forward to or where can we find it? If you’re sending a theory, feel free to send only a summary of your theory (no audio needed) for Jason and Rosie to react to on air.


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The Verge & Polygon articles with more info on AI Art.




Jason Concecpcion [AD]


Jason Concecpcion Before we start the episode, we wanted to share some tragic news Brian Vasquez the composer of our theme music and our interstitial music, as well as the theme for my show Take Line, and for other Crooked properties like Dare We Say, passed away early this week with his friends and his family around him.


Rosie Knight As you may know, Brian was diagnosed with leukemia in November. We mentioned on the show at the time with a link to the Go Fund me supporting Brian’s medical costs, which many of you kindly contributed to, and we’re very grateful for that here at X-ray.


Jason Concecpcion We won’t forget Brian’s contributions to the show, his generosity, amazing talent, his positive attitude, and of course, through his music, he’ll always be a part of the show. He’s a joy to work with. As anyone who had the opportunity to collaborate with him can attest.


Jason Concecpcion Warning. This podcast contains spoilers for the first four episodes of The Bad Batch Season two. Hello. My name is Jason Concepcion.


Rosie Knight And I’m Rosie Knight.


Jason Concecpcion And welcome to X-ray Vision, the Crooked Media podcast, where we dive deep. Into your favorite shows, movies, comics and pop culture.


Rosie Knight In this episode in the Previously On, we’re going to be talking about that VFX union simmering in Hollywood.


Jason Concecpcion Let’s go.


Rosie Knight Let’s go. It’s time to happen. Some very interesting parallels with the comic book Union’s struggles. We’re going to be talking more about the A.I. art conversation. We have a very interesting and quite unexpected update in the airlock. We’re going to be catching up on The Bad Batch Season two. I know our Discord is excited. It’s going to be episodes one to four. There’s a lot of fun, weird stuff in there. And in the Nerd Out, Rodney pitches us on a Secret Invasion Skrull theory that I am actually shocked we hadn’t already thought about. So we’re gonna be talking about this.


Jason Concecpcion Oh, yeah, I think it’s a good one. Coming up, let’s get into it. Previously On. Okay. First up, as reported by Vulture, January 13th, 2023 story written by Chris Lee, VFX workers in the movie industry. I wanted to say Hollywood, but I think an important wrinkle in this story and the issues here in is that.


Rosie Knight It’s global.


Jason Concecpcion There’s often no physical proximity of these workers to the places where these movies are made. They’re all over the world. So essentially, these workers all across the globe are talking about forming a union. Here’s a quote from the piece Talk to any VFX artists or tech working in modern Hollywood, and certain complaints come up over and over again. The punishing deadlines, the grueling work hours, too few workers charged with too much work, underpayment and systematic, quote pixel fucking an industry phrase used to describe the behavior of nit picking clients who lack the VFX knowledge to communicate their needs. I think that that last bit is an important part of this, this incredibly skill based, tech based, obviously specialized field. And I think it seems like magic if you’re not directly involved in creating this stuff.


Rosie Knight Yes.


Jason Concecpcion And I think it can be very easy to say, well, can’t you just like, make the fur move when you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. And the end result of this is artists being put through the ringer to create stuff and the MCU. Marvel is front and center of this just because of the weight of the footprint that they have in the space.


Rosie Knight Yes, this whole article is just full of brilliant reporting, but there are some unbelievable numbers in this article about how, you know, in the era of a kind of like industrial lights and magic, like just post original Star Wars, you’re talking about like 10% of all movies that would have any kind of CG post-production, and now it’s 90%.


Jason Concecpcion Yeah, right.


Rosie Knight And not just that, but places like Marvel, which, you know, this was something we spoke about this topic before in summer last year when this massive amount of stories, Reddit threads, tweets came out about the way that Marvel had been treating people in post-production houses. And one of the biggest complaints that comes up against here is one of the ironically comes from one of the best things that Marvel does, which is why they taken under, represented or newer director who has maybe only made a few indie movies Chloé Zhao, Taika, Ryan Coogler. And then there doesn’t seem to be a good go between between that director, the studio and the VFX. So one of the things that they get into quite detailed here, which is just shocking, is this kind of having to rewrite the entire end of the movie a month before they’re meant to be done, and then they’re having to rebuild from scratch because a lot of times they’ll just say, This happens instead.


Jason Concecpcion Right.


Rosie Knight And then you have an artist who has to craft that entire thing. There is also a number in here, I believe, where and this one is really painful when you think about how much money these movies make. I believe they said that they did a survey of payment of people who worked in these fields. And one of them, the lowest pay that they found was like $17.34 an hour, which is just absolutely nightmarish for these 18 hour days. You know, that you have to work to be able to finish this movie that is going to make $1,000,000,000. So I’m really glad that there’s kind of this voracious quest for unionization. But the thing I find really interesting from reading this article that kind of blew my mind, I didn’t really realize how similar the problem is, as you kind of very astutely pointed out, Jason. The lack of a physical space that all of these people work in. It’s not a warehouse. It’s not an office.


Jason Concecpcion Makes it harder. Yeah.


Rosie Knight There are 12, 15, 16, 18, 20 houses, sometimes all around the world working on this. And the biggest similarity, it’s comics. A lot of people who do this job are freelancers. It is incredibly hard to unionize as freelancers. That has what for a long time has kept comics so hard to unionize. Because when you write a comic book for work for hire, you are not an employee. You may be an editor who is an employee who perhaps writes a story, but in general you are hired, work fired. You are not an employee. You don’t get benefits. You don’t really have any employment rights. You are just hired for that one thing. And that is very much in the same scope as what the VFX space is struggling with. I’m very interested to see where this goes because a lot of times all you need is the one place to do it and that’s something they talk about here, right?


Jason Concecpcion Break the seal.


Rosie Knight You know, we had talked about Image Comics unionizing, right, And how that inside the company workers had tried to start a union that was not voluntarily recognized. Very ironic. But the takeaway from this article that some people have in the piece is kind of that hopefully one house will unionize, one space, one company, the people within it will unionize. And then from there, that can be the start of a bigger union.


Jason Concecpcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight Which I think is what everyone hopes for for comics too. Yeah, this was just such a great read. And I’m very interested that while this thing is like if there was a strike and obviously will be like a wildcat strike because there’s not a union, but like if there was a strike, I mean movies would just that would just the industry would come to a standstill.


Jason Concecpcion I mean, the issue is, as you noted, is the kind of diffuse nature of the VFX industry, various houses, they’re all around the world. How do you get them to strike as one? Because what would happen, you know, the threat is significantly lessened when a producer, a platform, whoever can just say, okay, what you’re not going to do and I’m going to go over to this other place. And so that’s why these issues are very important. And it’s also an outgrowth. I see this as very related to the issue of Crunch in the video game space. Crunch being the kind of like culturally accepted portion of the production schedule of a video game during which it is expected that employees essentially live at the fucking office and kill themselves to make this game go gold. Now, significant difference being oftentimes with Crunch and with video game production, you do have employees all in the same place. And there is, I think, controversy Hollywood and television. There is from the leadership in video games, a keen understanding of the work and the type of work that goes into creating the game, so.


Rosie Knight And I would also say that that was a huge and very widespread movement by the Game Workers Union to start a union that really did like spark off some change there. So that’s kind of what I feel like could happen here, hopefully.


Jason Concecpcion I think in general, just this conversation, the fact that it’s happening out in public, the fact that VFX workers are having their voices heard about the issues that impact them, it’s really positive. And if the end result of this is, you know, a wing of IATSE for VFX workers or the like, then I think that we’ve made a big step. Listen, the rest of Hollywood is extremely unionized. The directors, the producers, the writers, a member of the Writers Guild. Yeah, that’s how I get my health insurance. You know, It’s like you see the benefits of it. And it just makes sense to me that this extremely integral piece of the machinery should also unionize, just as the rest of them have.


Rosie Knight I totally agree. And it seems shocking like it says in this article multiple times, like you speak to like a camera operator and some and you’ll tell them you’re not unionized and they’re like, What the fuck? How are you not unionized?


Jason Concecpcion What the fuck? Yeah, yeah.


Rosie Knight I think that I have to say and look, people listen to the podcast. They know what we talk about. They know what we read. I have a copy of Uncanny X-Men 185 behind me, you know, Storm without her powers. But I think there is a direct line here between the way that Marvel and DC, but let’s talk about Marvel, because this what we’re talking about have always treated creators and the rights of the artists who have made this work for them. Direct line from that to how little they value the creatives who are now making these movies for them. And I hope that with the current lawsuits, with the heirs of some of the biggest superhero characters, including like the heirs of Steve Ditko for Spider-Man and the upcoming potential reversion of rights that that lawsuit could have alongside this potential VFX union. I would love to see a shift and a change in that corporate culture that could. Finally maybe start to put the rights and the proper capital and ownership and also just compensation back in the hands of the people who make these stories possible, whether it’s comic book creators or VFX artists who nowadays are equally important to those stories.


Jason Concecpcion I actually do see them as significantly different issues. The work for hire creators who created Batman, Superman, the X-Men, etc. are not getting their due, I think it’s a very specific and sad issue that has been addressed in dribs and drabs. You know, Marvel and DC both give royalties now, etc. like there is a bonus paid when created character goes into a movie.


Rosie Knight Sometimes. Sometimes, let’s say very minimal.


Jason Concecpcion The VFX workers, while it is a creative job, are to me more like the grips and the lighting people in that they are doing a mechanical thing, not just like following a flight of fancy to be like, Oh, I’m going to make this character’s costume exactly the way that I want. Like they’re following a set order of things that are kind of passed down from the creators. At the same time, they are integral to the process. And I think that part of we’re going to be talk about the AI art class action lawsuit right after this. I think that broadly there is something that is not talked about enough when it comes to these kind of like tech based worker issues and it effects the consumers as well. And it’s that. Things change so quickly in tech. The way that we make movies now with the volume and etc., it’s completely different. Even though like computer graphics have been around for 30 plus years, it’s completely different than they were making movies ten years ago, 20 years ago, etc..


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concecpcion And so there is, I think, often an ease of disconnect between the older generation of producer, creator, whoever that has been working in the space and the younger people, more tech savvy people who are coming up. It’s just the worlds are so different that they operate in that it’s very easy and almost financially incentivized to just like, not really know what they do.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm. And that she causes a big problem. That that’s one of the things that comes up time and time again in this conversation is if you have a director or a producer who doesn’t really understand the nature of the work, then it’s easy for them to come to you three weeks before the movie’s meant to be done and say, Hey, I need you to redo the ending. Like completely. Right? And I don’t really have a visualization for it. This just needs to happen. It’s very like you said, that disconnect makes it easy to push that work onto people without necessarily thinking about how much time off it takes. And I also think that, like you said, the there’s a lack of knowledge in education, maybe purposefully, but about how those changes are happening. I was incredibly shocked to find out that Victoria Alonzo, who’s done so much brilliant work at Marvel, I was very shocked to find out that she’s the head of post-production space in that company. That is a job that I would assume you would have somebody who worked in post-production doing. So they could be that. Passing between the two. You can be that middleman who make sure that the people know, the directors know what is needed, and the VFX people know what is needed. So I think there’s that disconnect is a huge problem and hopefully a union would be able to at least bridge that a little bit.


Jason Concecpcion I mean, use the leverage and the weight that they have hopefully for good in order to have the workers issues heard and certainly not create a thing where people are working around the clock in order to make a movie or TV show happen. One of the people I work with, Peter Marietta, who created Wizards of Waverly Place. He always says there’s no such thing as a television emergency. I would say that the same thing is true for movies while people, you know, it’s good to work hard and sometimes you’d need to put in a 12 hour day. We get it.


Rosie Knight But they’re saying regular 18 hour days.


Jason Concecpcion But there should be no situation in which people are like are just grilling themselves in order to make a fucking Avengers movie come out. I love Avengers movies, but like, come on. Okay. The A.I. class action lawsuit, we’ve been talking about it. The Internet has been talking about the leaps and bounds by which creative A.I., whether it’s chat, GPT and the written word, or the various A.I. art engines, stability, A.I., stable diffusion, etc. have been kind of reshaping the creative space. And now a selection of artists have filed a class action suit against the A.I. Companies MidJourney, who makes stable diffusion as well as deviant art, who they allege allowed these AI engines to kind of like scrape their platform of art without informing the artists who post there have filed a class action lawsuit from a Polygon article from January 17th written by Nicole Clark. Quote, The suit alleges that these companies violated the rights of millions of artists by using billions of Internet images to train its air art tool without the consent of artists. Without compensating any of those artists, these companies benefit commercially and profit richly from the use of copyright images. The suit alleges, quote, The harm to artists is not hypothetical, the suit says, noting that the works created by generative art are, quote, already sold on the Internet, siphoning commissions from the artists themselves. I mean, we talked about this briefly. I’ve been surprised that there haven’t been more class action suits, but I think this piece takes that on, saying that it’s most of the experts while kind of split on whether what Stability or Midjourney are doing are actually illegal. Do you agree that depending on how this class action suit goes, there will surely, surely be others?


Rosie Knight And the good thing about a class action lawsuit is anyone can just jump on once it’s out there, you know?


Jason Concecpcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight And this is a big deal because there’s actually like, these are like high profile people. I’d actually read a really great article written by Sarah Anderson who makes the webcomic Sarah Scribbles, which if you don’t immediately know it by name, you will immediately recognize it if you see it. And she’d written about how people had taken what were essentially like her diary comics and put them into this and were already replicating them. And so these are quite big name people. One of the other names on this is like an illustrator who’s done stuff for Marvel, like the film studios and for West Coast. So I think that helps as well, having like three high profile people who are willing to put their name to it and the filing is wild. They found 40 pages of alleged copyright infringements and stuff and different ways that I was infringing on people’s rights. So I’m very interested to see where this goes. I think this is good. I think that as a lot of people have pointed out, this could be the moment when it goes from like a Napster type thing to a Spotify. You know, this could be that turning point where people find a way of doing it. I hope it ends up being more financially viable for artists and Spotify is. Yeah, But yeah, I think this is probably an interesting thing that we should definitely be keeping our eyes on.


Jason Concecpcion Yeah, I think that, you know, who knows? There is some interesting conversation in a Verge piece written by James Vincent about this that kind of tries to dissect issues regarding fair use of this art and whether training in AI is fair use versus whether using that training to create content is fair use. I think there’s that’s really going to be where the rubber meets the road zooming out because who knows how that’s going to go. I think one of my concerns with this is that A.I. art and the way it’s trained, A.I. art and the text generation A.I., the way they’re trained, it seems to bring us back to like an earlier form of wealth creation that was based on I get richer by taking your shit post. You can whatever criticisms we all have. Of capitalism and neoliberalism and the way it exploits workers.


Rosie Knight Yeah, like weird autistic feudalism. It’s like I’m taking your shit.


Jason Concecpcion Post the mid-nineteenth century. The basic thesis is like, okay, like, you give us your time by working in the factory and you make a little bit more money so that you can buy some conveniences that make your life easier. Meanwhile, the rich get richer. Okay, The A.I. era is you have done all this really, really hard work.


Rosie Knight For decades.


Jason Concecpcion And we’re just going to take it and we’re going to fucking take it. And that’s how we’re going to build the value of our company. And that is really troubling.


Rosie Knight I think you’re absolutely right. I think that’s the most worrying thing. And I also think that’s something that a lot of people seem to have missed in these conversations is like, yeah, mid Journey is scraping from billions of images or millions of images, whatever they say, and that you can make the argument that that makes it harder to compensate people or to give people credit. Right. But I have seen multiple examples of people who are using these generate as or generate is that use this and just feeding one person is often feeding 50 images of that person’s art and then just plagiarizing that person’s saying they created it. And yeah, so I think you’re spot on and I think there’s numerous different issues with this. One of which is that it devalues the work of artists and not just like it’s really weird how all of this stuff is kind of tied in because something people will be like, Well, you know that VFX artist who is earning $17 an hour? Well, that’s just they’re doing their job and that’s what the jobs are valued at. But no, because when you do a job, you’re really being paid for all the work that went into it or the way the time that you have to spend to do it, or the rigamarole that takes on your body, like there’s all these different things. And as an artist, when you do a commission, when you pay an artist $500 to commission you some beautiful portrait, you’re really paying for, not just the time that they spend to draw it, but all of the studying that they did or the practice, all of that. And while some people argue the A.I. art democratizes art, because then, you know, anyone can just make a picture by writing a word on the Internet. That’s not really that simple. That’s like a really nice, idealistic viewpoint. And I love the idea of accessibility. But guess what? Also readily accessible. You just need a pencil, a pencil and a piece of paper.


Jason Concecpcion You know, I said this the previous time we talked about this, but it’s essentially the way it’s being used now. It is a wealth transfer from the working artists who do storyboards.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm.


Jason Concecpcion Who do the art for book covers? Who do the art for album covers. We already seen that happening. And transferring those moneys that those artists would have earned and taking it at scale.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concecpcion And transferring it to the value of these A.I. companies because of the work that they can make easier for the people who are producing various kinds of products. And I think that that is, you know, we need to grapple with the question of whether that’s actually something we want to do. And hopefully this lawsuit will open the floodgates and we’ll see some more because I think, you know, just some of the ways that these various companies have kind of like built. Their corporate structure. It’s very clear that they want to insulate themselves from lawsuits the way that they’ve targeted where to scrape art. Very clearly shows that they’re targeting artists who don’t have the resources.


Rosie Knight They’re not scraping Mickey Mouse. They’re scraping. Yeah.


Jason Concecpcion No, we’re not going to Disney dot com and like, you know, like they’re very clearly avoiding, you know, big landmines. And that to me lets you know that they kind of understand that what they’re doing is going to be objectionable to a great many people.


Rosie Knight Yeah they’re creating like a gray legal area where this was actually in that Verge piece, you know, the James Vincent piece that you mentioned that was written in November last year. And they actually say that part of the reason why they think there hasn’t been any lawsuits is because it’s so expensive. Yeah. And that’s what this class action lawsuit could potentially answer. And that’s kind of why it’s a bit of an out there. People expected it to be a corporation or or someone with a lot of money who would be able to bring that first lawsuit. But this allows multiple people to be a part of it. And yeah, I’ll be very interested. That law firm is very well thought of in these cases. And they have I saw them one of the first people I saw who posted it said the lawsuits claimed back like 4 billion for people in similar class actions. So I’ll be very interested to see where it goes. It’s such a complex topic. But like you said, even between now and the last time we talked about it, yeah, Tore had to do an apology. The publisher, because they had bought a cover art that they thought was from a stock artist on a website, and it turned out it was generated by A.I., but they’d already made the books and they couldn’t afford to reprint them. So this is already taking money from artists pockets, even in the most abstract way. Even if we’re not talking about someone directly plagiarizing, this is already like that lawsuit claims taking money out of the pockets of artists. And like you said, it’s a wealth transfer. I think that’s a really great way to put it, and it’s not the way that it’s supposed to be. And I hope this lawsuit can open, like you said, open the floodgates, open the doors on a bigger conversation about the morals of this stuff.


Jason Concecpcion Up next, we’re going to be catching up on the first four episodes of The Bad Batch on Disney Plus. And. We’re stepping out of the airlock to join forces with Clone Force 99, a.k.a. the Bad Batch, those genetic mutants that we all love so much. For more Action and Thrills in Season two. Note For listeners, Unlike the Last of US, we won’t be covering the Bad Batch week to week, but we’ll be dropping in mostly on on our second episode of the week. Our Friday episode. The Bad Batch created by Dave Filoni, of course, starring Dee Bradley Baker as the Bad Batch. All of them. That’s right, all of them. Great booking by Bradley Baker, Hunter Wrecker, tech Crosshair and of course Echo Michelle Ang as Omega. It must be so crazy to do all these voices.


Rosie Knight I know, especially now, it’s like a two season long show. This is no longer like a four episode arc, you know, as it was supposed to be.


Jason Concecpcion I got to say, season two of the Bad Batch opens really, really strong. Yeah, but we’re going to focus on the last two episodes, starting with episode three, The Solitary Clone, and then episode four Fastener, which is really just an action episode, but a really great action episode. Shouts Attack Good Driving. Starting with episode three, The Solitary Clone. We see an imperial shuttle arrive on Dessex, which is a farming world, and it’s carrying the imperial governor of the planet, plus a squadron of clone troopers in their new early stormtrooper armor. They are met by Tawney Ames, who is the native governor of this planet, the Imperial governor Groton is here to bring Dessex, which was the separatists world, a separatist holdout into the empire. And Ames is like, no, we fought on the side of the separatists against the republic. We want to be independent. We fought for that independence. We earned it. And there’s a reason we haven’t joined the empire, and that’s because we don’t fucking want to. And then she calls out her army of battle droids. Who have they ever won a battle anyway? She calls her army of battle droids.


Rosie Knight She’s feeling optimistic.


Jason Concecpcion She’s feeling good about it. And the battle droids eject the Imperials from the planet with a message that’s essentially like, Listen, don’t come back and don’t try it. On Coruscant, Vice Admiral Rampart summons Crosshair from the mess hall. Crosshair. There’s a really nice detailing here where we see how different Crosshair is from the rest of the imperial clones. First of all, he wears the black armor. Second of all, nobody wants to eat with him.


Rosie Knight Yeah, I was going to say these mess hall scenes for so long in Star Wars animation have been this space of like camaraderie where we get to see the way the clones interact. So it’s really, really stark and striking that we see Crosshair here and alone. No brothers, no clones. This is just him. And yeah, it’s it’s, it’s really it’s really good, smart storytelling.


Jason Concecpcion So Rampart calls Crosshair to his office and he says, Listen, I’m sending you to Dessex. Your mission is by hook or by crook, you bring down Tawney Ames, the governor. So whether we can replace her with the, you know, our governor, Governor Groton. Crosshair then goes to meet our old friend, Commander Cody. And what, what what a.


Rosie Knight What a delight.


Jason Concecpcion What a delight to see our good friend, Commander Cody. It’s maybe not so great that he’s still working for the bad guys, although it’s very clear that he feels a type of way about it.


Rosie Knight Yeah, and this is really cool. I mean, I wasn’t expecting this, and maybe I missed it in the trailers, but this is like our first cannon Commander Cody appearance since, like, Revenge of the Sith.


Jason Concecpcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight Like, this is what this episode does so well and what this show does so well. But like you say, I was like, Oh, still there. But then I was very interested by this choice of, like you said, to use him as kind of this in to where the clones are when it comes to order.


Jason Concecpcion 66 That is such an interesting part of this conversation and I think kind of like this series is very Clone Wars esque, obviously, because of that subject matter in the period that we’re working in, but also in the sense that you can feel a kind of like overarching thematic structure for a season and then we’ll drop in and out of that with different battle episodes like faster like different things in the same way The Clone Wars would kind of like move in crab like fashion towards in an arc from the beginning of a season, towards the end of a season, but also would drop out and have like, you know, battle episodes for Jar Jar Binks or whatever. I think for me, the most interesting part of Bad Batch is this idea of one, Where do the clones find themselves? What place do they have? Both the Bad Batch, you know, on their own, and then the Imperial clones, what place do they have in the Empire? They’re about to be replaced by stormtroopers, though they don’t know it. And on top of that, how do they feel about Order 66? How do they actually feel about it? And delving into that is really, really fascinating. So Crosshair meets Commander Cody. Cody says, Oh yeah, the Bad Batch. Not surprised at all that you guys went rogue. In fact, like, your whole purpose was kind of like, go rogue like. And he notes that clones have been discussing in small groups amongst themselves Order 66, what it meant, whether it is right. Were the Jedi really traitors to the Republic? Unclear. Crosshair, however, and it remains to be seen how deep this belief goes. But he is a believer. He is a true fucking believer.


Rosie Knight In this moment he is looking at Commander Cody like Commander Cody is the threat. He’s like, You don’t understand because the Secret of Crosshairs mission is like they’re going on a diplomatic mission. But we know from Rampart that really he sent Crosshair for a reason.


Jason Concecpcion And I think that’s another thing that’s so interesting about the show is the way it takes Star Wars themes and shoots them through the lens of each of these clones. The main theme being here, How far to the dark side can you go before being pulled back, before it’s too late? And I think down to his voice and everything, the way he acts like you can’t help that every time he’s on the screen. I wonder, what would it take for Crosshair to go, okay, this is too much now. It’s too much. Back on death. Tawney Ames knows the imperial diplomats are not there to negotiate. She understands she gets the empire. Maybe, you know, one of the earliest ones to kind of see the truth about the empire is she says that and this is a really cool wrinkle that Dooku, who was really an idealist.


Rosie Knight Yeah, he was.


Jason Concecpcion If you look at his history, was a real idealist that Dooku at some point lost faith and understood that the Empire would be the end result of what was happening between the separatists and the Republic and the kind of machinations that Emperor Palpatine was putting in place. She sends her droids and tanks against the imperial ship. It crashes. But of course Cody and Crosshair are not so easily killed and both of them survive. Along with a handful of clones. We get a really cool action scene where Crosshair snaps an entire fucking tank through the barrel and then they work together to fight their way into Ames’ fortress. Crosshair and Cody just kind of like fight their way to a top of a tower where Ames is protected by droids, and she’s holding Governor Groton hostage there. Ames then insists that, hey, Dessex is independent again, like we’ve been for many years, We’re fighting a defensive campaign against the empire. We’re not attacking the empire. You’re attacking us. So like, what the fuck? Cody then delivers the company line about the empire. Hey, the Empire is just here to bring order after the chaos of of, you know, the Clone Wars. We’re here. Just bring peace. Unity. Ames is like, Okay, well, DISICK’S tried years ago to negotiate a peace deal with the Empire, but the empire was not interested. Not even a little bit. They want everything. Yeah, they don’t want a negotiated peace. Cody is trying to talk names down. He vaguely threatens her, saying that like, Hey, if you release Groton, you should do it for the good of your people, which is a very imperial kind of like, Hey, what if we just kill everybody? What about that? So she does. And then Governor Groton immediately is like, Hey, Commander Cody, kill Tawney Ames. Commander Cody is a good guy. And so he hesitates. But then Crosshair just fucking does it. And this is where I say to you.


Rosie Knight You think that’s the No.


Jason Concecpcion He’s gone too far, has it?


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concecpcion I think he’s gone too far at that point. What do you think?


Rosie Knight It’s Dooku killing Yaddle.


Jason Concecpcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight It’s Mace Windu. You know, it’s those moments.


Jason Concecpcion Yeah. I mean, it’s a cold blooded murder.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concecpcion I think it’s an order, but, like, I think he’s gone to, like, do you think that Crosshair can come back from this?


Rosie Knight I think the nature of this story and the story of The Bad Batch in particular is to explore the concept that that kind of nature versus nurture concept, but also the idea that even if you have done terrible things under the guise of following orders, you can become a better person and make right. I do think that in what is essentially a child’s TV show, if you think about the the way this is probably marketed within Disney, as much as I think this is brilliant adult storytelling, I do think that once you murder someone in cold blood, you probably you’re probably not going to have like a full redemption arc. Like this is like a gangsta style, like a mafia hit. Like he just yeah, he does it. I wanted more Crosshair and I wanted to see where he was at. I find the story very interesting. I think we’ll be in a position where Crosshair will have the chance to die to do something that’s right.


Jason Concecpcion I think that’s correct.


Rosie Knight I think that, sadly, is the only redemption that is left for him at this point. I was so interested by how dark they went with this episode.


Jason Concecpcion A very, very dark.


Rosie Knight The first two episodes are really great and they and they set them in these beautiful, exotic.


Jason Concecpcion Tropical.


Rosie Knight Tropics beaches. And there’s a lightness to it, even when you’re dealing with those.


Jason Concecpcion Squash buckling fun. Yeah.


Rosie Knight Yeah. And. And those same big questions that I’ve always made, in my opinion, the animated show so good, which is that how do other people exist in this huge space that aren’t skywalkers? What happens if you’re created to be a killer? Like, how do you break out of that? What do you mean? How do you what does it mean to have agency? There’s a lot of episodes in Clone Wars, I think too. And Rebels as well, where people go, Oh, you’ve got to watch this episode. And I feel like this is going to be one of those episodes. It appears to be an action episode on the surface, but it really has this kind of deeper depth in what it means for Cross has this kind of uncross able line, no pun intended, but also it has like lots of Easter eggs. There’s like, you know, the tech troopers, they look kind of like Ryan Corey’s original designs. You have that reference that you mentioned about Ames talking about go into the Republic, and that was kind of direct reference to an episode of Clone Wars. So it’s this really great mix of that kind of deep emotional storytelling that Filoni does. But with that fun kind of Star Wars fan service that makes this show so exciting.


Jason Concecpcion You mentioned the darkness. Here is some dark shit. What do you do with Tony Ames, the late governor of Jessica’s body? Groton is like, Put her body in the square. Let it be a warning to the rest. They let that moment, I think, smartly play on Cody’s face. And you really see Cody at this moment, doubt and really not even doubt, but like know that he’s at that point, you know, you’re on the wrong side and you just murdered somebody who surrendered.


Rosie Knight It’s the are we the bad guys moment? The answer is yes.


Jason Concecpcion That is the moment. Cody then has a private moment with Crosshair and asks, Do you think we’re doing the right thing? Which is a weird question to ask someone who just murdered someone in cold blood, like, but, you know, asks. And there is some discussion about the battle droids and what they do and how their role is very similar and that they go out and they fight the war that they are tasked with fighting, just following orders. But they’re saying that in a different way. And Cody very wisely says here, okay, here’s the difference. The droids don’t have any free will. They do with their program to do. They fight who they’re programed to fight, where they’re programed to fight it. We can make the choice about whether or not, say, murdering a gaggle of younglings is right. You know, depending on the justification, we can weigh those things and make our own decision and should not should not we do that? Crosshair looks at Cody with very clear suspicion. I mean, like the vibe I got from Crosshair was like, I’m going to have to kill you at some.


Rosie Knight Yeah. It’s which I think is very interesting because I feel that the reason Cody asked him that is I almost feel like he was trying to, like, scope out.


Jason Concecpcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight Like he was like, does he realize what he’s done is wrong? Or is this someone who just had the same realization that I did? Is this an ally in maybe questioning? But he learns that it’s actually the opposite for Crosshair, that for whatever reason, he is fully committed to this imperial mission and he will do the worst, most horrific things if he thinks that they are necessary.


Jason Concecpcion There’s also something really fascinating about the idea of here are all these clones. They have their identity, at least initially, was their numbers, you know, like very small differences in the way that they are, their identity that’s been created for them. But we see here through the course of this story, and this is really one of the deepest like questions of the Bad Batch in general is even if you are a complete genetic recreation of another person, you can have a difference of opinion with that person.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concecpcion And that’s really interesting here. I also felt like maybe Cody is kind of like trying to get an idea of where Clone Force 99 the rest of them are landing.  Trying to use Crosshair as kind of a lens to kind of see where they might be in that very clone Z way of like trying to find out, okay, like, well, what are the rest of your batch? Think about this later on Crosshair plane is bunk. He’s lost in thought. He goes to mass again again, these wonderful moments that kind of like heighten the isolation of Crosshair. Rampart calls him again. Rampart has another mission for him. Why not Cody? He asks what Commander Cody is going to call.


Rosie Knight Dun dun dun.


Jason Concecpcion Dun dun.


Rosie Knight I love this because I actually think it’s a huge, well-done bait and switch because like, you think this is the start of understanding where Crosshair’s journey is going to go, and it is. But I think the real big returning character here is Commander Cody, and I think that this hints that we will see Commander Cody on a redemptive arc of his own.


Jason Concecpcion I think so too.


Rosie Knight That will be far more heroic and easy to swallow than trying to do that. For Crosshair, who has committed this horrific wrong right in public view.


Jason Concecpcion X-ray vision will be back. And we’re back. All right. Let’s talk about episode four, Faster, which is really just a fun clones war era battle episode. Echo and Hunter are off doing a thing. They’re not available. So our good friend, the gangster Cid, brings in the rest Omega wrecker and tech as like her bodyguards to watch her back because she’s got to do some gambling on this version of pod racing. Which I mean, who doesn’t fucking love pod racing, you know?


Rosie Knight Yeah. Pod racing is so fun.


Jason Concecpcion We get to meet her driver, TAY-O, who is a kind of very, very flashy and arrogant droid voiced by Ben Schwartz, who got to double dip in the Star Wars universe. Not only did Ben get to be BB8, but now gets to be TAY-O.


Rosie Knight I know I love this. Just like your go to, this is the go to droid man now.


Jason Concecpcion There are various wrinkles and TAY-O cannot continue because of a crash. So guess what? Our good friend Tech needs to pilot the craft and tech uses his, you know, strategic mindset and the information about the track delivered to him by Omega to kind of like master the track. It culminates in a wonderful like Luke you’re targeting systems turned off, is there anything wrong moment, where he takes all the energy from his weapons and puts it like in the rest of the ship and then like makes a jump that nobody thinks he can make and then he wins. And Cid is absolutely relieved and is wondering, you know, God, how long can I keep escaping like this with, with the use of these clones? And we also get a nice kind of like gesture at whether Cid is trying to be a better person.


Rosie Knight Yes, it seems like Omega kind of making this deal. So that Cid can be safe.


Jason Concecpcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight That kind of gives Cid the little nudge to kind of be like, Oh, maybe I need to kind of be. There’s a lot of moral complexity to the characters in this series and Sid is definitely leaning into that area like, Oh, maybe I could be inspired to do bad things and be backed up by these people who are around me. And this is just, yeah, like you said, you love pod racing, you love swoop racing. Everyone’s favorite chef from the Knights of the Old Republic. Like this is a really fun, kind of almost like silly breather. Yeah. After the bleakness that we saw.


Jason Concecpcion Extreme bleakness. Yeah.


Rosie Knight It kind of makes the last episode even sadder because you get to see the camaraderie and, like, friendship and trust. Yeah. That the rest of the crew have. While Crosshair is kind of living this isolated killer life.


Jason Concecpcion It feels like something you save for the penultimate episode in the finale, but they have to cross paths again. Sorry. Right.


Rosie Knight They do. I mean, what do you think the will Crosshair be sent to kill them? Is that what it’s going to be like? I feel like that seems like the ultimate kind of poetic. Maybe specifically to kill Omega.


Jason Concecpcion Yeah. I think that the Bad Batch as set up in the first two episodes are going to make the decision that. Okay. We’re doing our own kind of independent thing, scuttling across the galaxy in the outer rim, doing jobs for Cid, doing little other jobs here. But what we really need to do, which is something they grappled with in the first few episodes, is get involved in this fight such that it exists. Get involved in this fight against the Empire. And I think they’re going to go do some sort of hasty job and Crosshair is going to be there with his clone troopers to meet them and try and take them down.


Rosie Knight Yeah, And my prediction is that Commander Cody will kind of be alongside the Bad Batch at that point.


Jason Concecpcion That will be fucking great. Yeah.


Rosie Knight And you know what? You actually called this because you said you felt like this season was going to be, well, something you’d really like to see that you thought could happen would be like, how did the Bad Batch become involved with the rebellion? And that is from the very light you said the very first episode, second episode. That is a big theme. I mean, they even have the repainted suits with like the red, which the red hints towards the Rebel alliance. So we’re seeing that move. I think by the end we could see them fully. Embracing the rebellion. Also, I mean, that first season when I was rewatching it for the pod, like there are so many huge cameos, not less that huge like opening episode retcon opening, which I just loved, which kind of changes the fate of a really famous character. But. I would be very interested to see who we’re going to see them come up against from other Star Wars stories. I feel like they’re keeping an intimate moment with these characters that we know who are so intrinsically connected by feel like that penultimate episode kind of showdown could take place in a space where the rebellion is already forming, where we could see some familiar faces.


Jason Concecpcion One more question. There is a 12 green Twi’lek in the crowd of the Padres, and I mean Hera has already shown up in the Bad Batch season one. Was she just like in the crowd, like just taken in a race?


Rosie Knight Oh, my God, I would love that. She was just chillin. She’s like, I need to see how things go for tech. Like, I just like. I mean, I love Hera. I feel like they’re having a lot of fun with these, like, recognizable alien life forms. Kind of like what we talked about in The Mandalorian, where they want you to look at them and be like, Oh, is that character the character I think it is? I’m always for more, more Hera, more Rebels. Anyone from Rebels.


Jason Concecpcion My my Star Wars wife.


Rosie Knight I want to see it.


Jason Concecpcion We’ll be checking in on the Bad Batch intermittently in the coming weeks. Up next, a very exciting Nerd Out.


Rosie Knight In today’s Nerd Out, where you tell us what you love and why, or a theory that you would like to share. Rodney, listened to us. I’ve been saying on these episodes that you can send in a theory. I’ve been saying send it in, make it tinfoily. Make it as wild as me and Jason would make it. And you know what? Rodney actually came up with an incredibly logical pitch. I’m very impressed by it. I’m actually surprised this hadn’t come up on our list. So this is from Marvel’s upcoming Secret Invasion series, and it is one of the questions that we and our listeners have been asking the most, which is who is going to be a Skrull? Jason, why don’t why don’t you read the theory, it’s a pretty good one.


Jason Concecpcion Sure. This is from Rodney. Hi there. Never sent in a question before, but listening to this week, speculation about who could be a Skrull in the MCU, I’m flabbergasted.


Rosie Knight Perfect word.


Jason Concecpcion No one has theorized the one that seems like a no brainer. Sharon Carter, she’s now the powerbroker in Madripoor making shady deals. She’s got to be one. Thanks for the fun pod. Always excited to hear you both every week. Thank you, Rodney. Thank you for these thoughts. Yes.


Rosie Knight Yes. I mean, yes, so much sense. Look, Sharon Carter.


Jason Concecpcion It makes too much sense.


Rosie Knight So I’m not like I’m not like the world’s number one, like Agent 13 fan. That that vision of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not like something that gets me so excited. But I will say I did not believe that Sharon car was essentially an upset like an ex-girlfriend of Steve Rogers. But it’s like, what? Like you’re. You’re mad about like that. The Avengers didn’t help you. I’m like, Why are you talking about this is ridiculous. No, I love this. It makes so much sense. I really like the idea that this would be an absolutely different kind of power base for a Skrull to have. It would be a Skrull with millions of dollars. It would be a Skrull with contacts in the shadiest place in the Marvel Universe where every criminal knows to come. It would also this is a bit tinfoil, but broker can give people powers. We know that the Skrulls and the Super Skrulls can replicate while the Skrull specifically they can replicate a power. Maybe there’s something there, some kind of Skrull technology that would be allowing Sharon to give those powers. I’m very interested in this theory, Rodney. She’s on the list now.


Jason Concecpcion I’ll go further. I think it makes a lot of sense from a strategic point of view. If you’re the Skrulls, what are the Skrulls want to do? They want to take over, but first they want to do so covertly. Why? One, because they’re skrulls and they’re shapeshifters. That’s just the nature of the thing. Secondarily, it’s because Earth is really, really strong. They fought off mannose. They fought off multiple different kinds of incursions from gods, from aliens, etc. They have heroes that are really, really powerful. They have a defense structure that is, you know, pretty powerful on its own. They need to weaken all of that from the inside. So how do you do that? You weaken trust in powered people by giving losers and weirdoes and criminals and people who don’t deserve it. POWERS Anybody who can pay for it. You give them powers. And by the way, those powers aren’t even that good. They’re just like, I can beat somebody immaculate.


Rosie Knight Yeah. This theory is so good, Jason.


Jason Concecpcion And so now you’re creating this kind of corrosive misinformation, creating this this environment in which people who used to look up to Tony Stark, to the Hulk, to Captain America, are now like, is this really a good thing that.


Rosie Knight There was like six of them before, but now it’s anyone who has powers.


Jason Concecpcion Now it’s anybody. And and that is all working towards what the Skrulls want to do, which is create this chaos, this kind of weakening of the of the social fabric so that they can sneak in there and take control. I think it makes a lot of sense.


Rosie Knight I love this and I think that that would do so much to destabilize the MCU as we know it and it would explain that choice to me. Plus, I would love to see a space where you have like this Skrull powerbroker Sharon Carter involved with this like, Thunderbolts esque team. Yes, The valleys putting together there could just be so many maniacal, evil things occurring in a way that we haven’t really seen. You know, one of the classic superhero stories, that kind of classic to the point where we brag on it when we see it, like, you know, oh, no, Spider-Man, there’s an evil Spider-Man, and he’s doing something must be quite Monster and Evil or Batman. And it’s just someone dressed up like them. We haven’t gotten to see that in the MCU because of the nature of how these stories are told and the huge scope. So the idea that we’ll get to see this inversion of what a superhero can be is actually really exciting on a narrative level and as a fan and leans into some of the most fun storytelling tropes of comics. But like you said, this again, I’m sorry, it’s going back to the X-Men. This sets up that distrust and suspicion. That we would need. And that could be something that could actually see the Skrulls get defeated or destabilized themselves, because if they are in those roles, it’s going to be much harder for them to continue to be in power as people stop to trust them. But if the Skrulls revealed themselves in different forms or as Skrulls and said, Hey, these Sabra is a terrible, we’ll stop them, then you’re in a really interesting place where they can take even more power.


Jason Concecpcion It’s a great one, Rodney. You killed it.


Rosie Knight Thank you, Rodney. If you have any theories or passions you want to share, like Rodney, hit us up at Instructions as always in the show notes.


Jason Concecpcion That’s it for us, Rosie. Plugs, plugs, plugs, plugs, plugs.


Rosie Knight Any plugs you can find me. Rosie  Marx at Instagram and Letterbox’d. I have a website where you can read all of my articles which are archived on all three. You can read some of my comic books there. Maybe I’ll be able to tell you something about my top secret project coming soon. But if it’s going, that’s for sure. Oliver’s artwork is looking beautiful, as always. Yeah, and just listen. Thanks for your vision. You know where we are. You hear us now two times a week talking about all this cool stuff.


Jason Concecpcion You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Netw3rk with three in the work. Reach out to me there. Catch the next episode on Wednesday, January 25th with more of The Last of US. We’re going to be doing a double Last of US next week covering the show on our Wednesday episode and then our second installment of our coverage of the video game in our Friday episode. And remember, two episodes a week, two episodes a week, we’re bringing you two. That’s two episodes a week, two episodes a week twice the tinfoil hat series, twice the deep dives, twice the stuff. We’re double in it, folks.


Rosie Knight And so to make sure you get the double stuff, you’ve got to subscribe to the show on YouTube, follow XRVPod on Twitter and check out our Discord, where we’re always hanging out, meet and hang out with a ton of amazing fans and listeners, and me and Jason will be in there. I’m really excited to chat in the Discord about The Last of US when we watch it. That that live watch was really great.


Jason Concecpcion Really, really fun. Five star ratings. We need them. We got to have them. You have them. You got to give them to us. Here’s one from Doris Henryk. Amazing. Five stars, quick and to the point. And that’s what we love to do. Thank you, Doris  Henryk. See you next time. X-ray Vision is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Chris Lord and Saul Rubin. The show is executive produced by myself and Sandy Girard. Our editing and sound design is by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Delon Villanueva and Matt DeGroot provide video production support. Alex Reliford handles social media. Thank you Brian Vasquez for a theme music. That’s it, Bye.