Two StarWars.com writers debate which member of Clone Force 99 is truly the best of the best.
One of the great things about Star Wars is that it inspires endless debates and opinions on a wide array of topics. Best bounty hunter? Most powerful Jedi? Does Salacious Crumb have the best haircut in the saga? In that spirit, StarWars.com presents From a Certain Point of View: a series of point-counterpoints on some of the biggest — and most fun — Star Wars issues. In this installment, two StarWars.com writers take a stand on the most valuable player in Clone Force 99, featured in the Star Wars: The Bad Batch animated series, now streaming on Disney+.
Even as the newest member, there’s a solid case for Echo, says Dustin.
I think we can all agree the entire Bad Batch line-up is pretty great -- they have their own show, after all! But if we have to narrow it down to the best of the Bad, there’s really only one answer: Echo. I know, I know, he’s only been a member of the crew for about, what, 30 seconds? But he’s definitely a part of the gang now as we’ve already seen in the new series.
So what makes a Clone Force 99 rookie the best of the Batch? Well, speaking of rookies…
For fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Echo is a character that anchored us throughout the series. From his very first introduction in Season 1, episode 5 (which was, yes, titled “Rookies,”) he became a beloved character that continued to remind us what the series was about -- not just the Clone Wars in all its politicking and Jedi-fighting glory, but the clones on the frontlines. Many fans, quite literally, grew up with Echo. His story (so far) has spanned twelve years -- far more time than we’ve been able to spend with the rest of the Bad Batch. We’re emotionally invested in Echo in ways we may never be with Tech, Wrecker, Crosshair, and Hunter.
A year and a half after his debut in “Rookies,” we got a one-two punch of Echo goodness: the Season 3 premiere, featuring the prequel episode, “Clone Cadets.” We were once again reminded of the stakes of the Clone Wars, and the names and faces behind those gleaming buckets. And while it was more than a decade ago, Echo was actually part of the original “bad batch” also known as Domino Squad. A group of misfits who learned the value of pooling their unique abilities to create a formidable, cohesive force, it’s no wonder Echo was the perfect missing piece for Clone Force 99.
We also can’t forget the other part of that Season 3 premiere: “ARC Troopers.” Fans were finally treated to a screen version of these elite troopers, and to see Echo join their ranks definitely had me cheering for my favorite rookie.
Finally, what other member of the Bad Batch has given us such an emotional rollercoaster? Our brave ARC trooper seemingly bit the dust in 2011’s “Counterattack,” only to show up nine years later in the final season. That’s some Palpatine-level reappearing! While Star Wars certainly loves resurrecting its villains (Maul, Palpatine, etc.), it’s rare they bring back our beloved heroes. And to see Echo again (even in his haunting cyborg state), brought up some pretty strong “stop-crying-this-is-just-a-TV-show-but-OMG-it’s-ECHO” emotions.
With his snazzy, Lobot-esque cybernetic construct and a host of sure-to-be-amazing cyborg gadgets up his sleeve, let’s just admit they should really be called Echo Squad.
At every turn, Clone Force 99 is successful because of one member. It's Tech, says Jenn.
When getting a crew together to carry out a secret mission, you might assemble a familiar cast of characters: there’s the muscle (Wrecker); the cynical one with an attitude (Crosshair); the one with the good hair and great fashion sense (Hunter); the multitasker (Echo); and then there’s the one who can hack into any mainframe, knows multiple languages, and often shares fascinating facts at the most inopportune times (Tech). Each of them offers a unique set of skills, but only one, in my mind, deserves the title of Most Valuable Player. So let’s break down why Tech should be considered the real MVP of the Bad Batch.
First off, Tech is an expert translator. One of the main reasons C-3PO managed to stick around for generations of Skywalkers is because he knew things. Like, a lot of things. Tech may be human, but he is the closest thing you can get to having a protocol droid in your ranks. If you ever found yourself on a new planet where you couldn’t speak to the locals, Tech could help with interplanetary relations, which is exactly what happened when the Bad Batch landed on Skako Minor. After a couple kidnappings and a confrontation with the Poletecs, Tech spoke with the Chieftain and was able to translate a crucial piece of information---the Poletecs did not want war on their planet. Tech’s ability to understand and speak their language allowed him to calm tensions and in the end, the Poletecs became allies and assisted the crew on their mission -- all thanks to Tech’s translating skills.
Tech is precise. Wrecker loves breaking down doors, but not every operation requires linebacker-type strength. Using the computer terminal on his armor, Tech could easily open a locked door without using any force. This gave the crew the advantage of moving stealthily through the Separatist base in the city of Purkoll. And when it came time to hitting their targets, the squad had no problems thanks to Tech’s trajectory calculations. Sure, Crosshair had exceptional sharpshooting skills, but Tech did it without the unpleasant attitude.
And during the infiltration of Admiral Trench’s dreadnought, Tech stopped Echo from accidentally transmitting their whereabouts to the Separatists and successfully masked Echo’s signal so it looked like it was originating from Skako Minor. If it hadn’t been for Tech thinking one-step ahead, their location would have been immediately found.
Let’s be honest. If it hadn’t been for Tech, would the crew have been successful on their mission in The Clone Wars? I don’t think so. Wherever the clones went, Tech was the one who was always supposed to “get to work on these computers,” as Hunter said. He was the one in charge of notifying the squad when there was a platoon of battle droids, or if Separatist forces breached the outpost. Translate any language? Not a problem. Pilot the squad’s shuttle? Always on it. And if it hadn’t been for Tech, the clones would never have made the biggest discovery of all. It was Tech who hacked into the Cyber Center computer on the planet Anaxes, which led to them discovering that there was a live signal coming from another planet, which led to them learning that the person sending the signal was CT-1409…also known as Echo!
So yeah. All of the members of Clone Force 99 are exceptional, but when it comes to the MVP of the bunch, I’m tipping my helmet to Tech.