The Bad Batch spoilers are included in this Star Wars article.
The Bad Batch's latest episode, "Faster," continues to expand on an idea originally used in George Lucas' most divisive Star Wars sequel.
The Phantom Menace, arguably, has received the least attention from Lucas' Skywalker Saga films, owing to Jar Jar Binks, an obvious Padmé reveal, and the young Anakin Skywalker's storyline. The Bad Batch, which has not shy about paying tribute to familiar Prequel Trilogy moments and imagery, effectively takes one of the former as its latest homage, upping the ante with a much more dangerous form of podracing.
Riot Racing Is the New, Even More Lethal Podracing
Grini Millegi, played by Ghostbusters' Ernie Hudson, is a muscular Dowutin who replaces the evil Watto from The Phantom Menace. Before things turn violent, Cid asks Millegi for 24 hours and offers a double-or-nothing offer to wipe Cid's slate clean. (played by Jake Lloyd in the first prequel)
The Bad Batch brings an interesting new twist to the competition. While Anakin was doing pole trotting in The Phantom Menace, Tatooine's gangsters were unaware of it. However, each speeder is equipped with a weapon.
The Phantom Menace's time trials in Knights of the Old Republic are just a few of the franchise's best achievements so far. Armed competitors, a twisting track complete with trick tunnels and dead ends, and unexpected obstacles popping out of the track when you least expect it give these sequences a Mad Max or Death Race 2000-style feel. Who knew there was just so much more ways to blow up?
So Many Easter Eggs From The Phantom Menace
"Faster" does a good job of introducing a higher stakes podracing style for The Bad Batch. Also, it does not skimp on The Phantom Menace easter eggs.
TAY-0 is a nosaurian race against Jet Venim, which is a follow-up to Episode I. Clegg Holdfast, the first Nosaurian in Star Wars, was one of the competitors in the Boonta Eve Classic.
There is an even deeper-cut reference to The Phantom Menace. During one of the racing sequences, you will notice a yellow version of the Seraph-class urban landspeeder that appeared in the movie. There are also the iconic DUM-series pit droids that made their debut in Episode I but have recently appeared as comedic side characters to Amy Sedaris' Peli Motto in The Mandalorian.
When TAY-0 is wiped out by a rogue racer, the Batch looks like it's doomed – forcing Tech to take the droid's place. This is in line with a throwaway line in The Phantom Menace where Anakin claims that he's the only human capable of podracing.
Millegi marvels at how Jabba the Hutt supervised the race from his own tower on Safa Toma, and things culminate in a thrilling chase where we're not sure who has won. Like Sebulba, Venim suffers an epic crash, and Tech triumphs in the end like Anakin.
When we get to the events of The Bad Batch, Skywalker has unfortunately turned to the dark side. However, if he weren't the charred Lord Vader, we anticipate him to be serious about riot racing.
Season 2 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch is now available on Disney+.