Belonging and The Bad Batch: Aftermath

“You can either adapt and survive or die with the past.” In the aftermath of a war, in the aftermath of any trauma, there are but those two choices. One most grow and evolve, absorbing trauma into self or die. The death may be metaphorical rather than literal, as we all can think of someone who has let a tragedy of their past take over the remainder of their life. The heart might beat, but the soul is gone. 

Then there are those moments, the once in a generation, sometimes once in a millennia, events that shift entire cultures. These collective traumas, such as September 11th or the assassination of John F. Kennedy stand out in that regard, with their Star Wars equivalent being Order 66, the moment that killed the Republic, the Jedi, and the identity of so many across the galaxy. Including, as the first episode of the new series shows, Clone Force 99, aka The Bad Batch.

Good soldiers follow orders, but good soldiers don’t turn on their leaders. Do they? Good soldiers serve what’s right, not just who has power. Don’t they? As the Republic shifts to the Empire, these questions plague The Bad Batch. They are undergoing a paradigm shift within their beliefs, their identity, and even their role in the larger galaxy. For a group of outcasts who have only had each other for their entire lives, this paradigm shift is something that happens both individually and collectively, as evidenced by the betrayal of Crosshair and the embracing of Omega. 

In this shifting galaxy, however, The Bad Batch’s imperfections actually make them exactly what the galaxy needs. Prior to meeting Omega the team was incomplete, much like Ben Solo and a Rey before they met. Something was missing, a something they tried to fill with the addition of Echo. But Echo is “more machine now than man,” his behavioral modifications coming from technology rather than genetics. While he is a member of the team, he cannot fill the hole that is left by Omega’s absence, because he is not a part of the five in that sense. 

Five has a long history and is often considered to be the number of humanity. Five fingers, five toes, five senses. Likewise, five symbolizes the grace of God in Christianity, and is associated with perfection going as far back as the Mayans. Having five remaining clones with “desirable mutations” left to navigate a galaxy that is mutating itself is layered with metaphor and meaning, which will evolve across the season and the series. 

One episode in it is clear that this will be a story of finding belonging and what happens when it shatters. While the post-Order 66 galaxy has been explored via many different stories, never has their been a story of the outcast. Characters like Kanan, Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan are normal, as far as Star Wars is concerned, and have been cast out. But they did not start as outcasts. 

Omega appears to be the character who will the centerpiece in helping The Bad Batch find belonging.  The twenty-fourth and last letter in the Greek alphabet, Omega is a stopping point, as the character seems to be for The Bad Batch. She is symbolic of the ending of their one reality and the transition to their new one. This team has never been considered special save for their specialities, thus when Omega willingly chooses to sit with the “freaks” it continues to shift the paradigm. Even Tech, with his enhanced intelligence, can’t comprehend. “You want to sit with the us?” he asks her. “That’s never happened before.” For Omega, this is also true. As she puts it, “I like you. You don’t fit in around here either.”

Before Order 66 it was so clear. The Bad Batch belonged in the field doing what they do. When “what they do” sends them to a camp of civilians led by Saw Gerrara, they have to decide what “what they do” is going to mean going forward. Will they just follow the master in power or will their moral compass point them in a different direction? Crosshair and Hunter have very different answers to this question, which leads them in very different directions. This split centers on Omega, whose sharpshooting skills physically separates Crosshair from Hunter, separating them philosophically and emotionally as well. If they reunite or don’t will likewise center around the female clone, the feminine to their warrior masculine. Without both, identity cannot be complete and belonging will always be a step away.

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