Belonging and The Bad Batch: Cut and Run

The Mandalorian was expected to be the dark and gritty Star Wars show. Instead, it’s a story about a dad and his kid. Enter The Bad Batch, a show expected to be focused on a group of outcasts on the run and hiding for survival. But, once more, it is a story about a dad and his kid. This is Star Wars after all.

Watching Omega play ball with other kids for the first time immediately brings to mind Baby Yoda’s interactions with the kids on Sorgan. Likewise, when Omega experiences dirt for the first time, she is as stunned as Rey looking at the green on Takodona or the rain on Ahch-To. These are moments where the wholeness of the galaxy, the potential of life, becomes real for these characters.

“Aftermath”, the first episode of the season, created a paradigm shift for The Bad Batch, setting up a crisis of identity individually and collectively. With the Empire implementing chain codes as a means to track civilians, that crisis became as literal as it is metaphorical. Along with Omega’s headband, the chain codes are a manifestation of the identity struggle for these heroes intrepid. The codes are locked away behind the the barrier of Imperial power thus only by defying the Empire will The Bad Batch be able to become what they need to be for Omega and the galaxy. As Cut tells Hunter, “Put being a soldier behind you and begin your new life.”

Crossing that boundary (threshold if using Campbellian language) is no easy feat. Hunter needs to see that Omega, despite being a clone, is “not a soldier.” Being a kid, she forces his hand without even intending to do so. Trying to please her new friends, and not being conditioned to the dangers of the galaxy, Omega crosses the boundary fence to retrieve a lost ball. That puts her in the territory of a nexu, a monster that instantly strikes fear in audiences (here’s to you Attack of the Clones)! Hunter, evolving into a father, rushes after her with his masculine energy, while Suu, the feminine, snipes the nexu after climbing her home to gain the needed perspective. It takes both, the protection and perspective, the masculine and the feminine, to save Omega.

But Omega is no wounded duck. She makes her own choices as she shapes her own identity. She chose to go with The Bad Batch, the only people in the galaxy she feels would understand her. Now that they are on the run, The Bad Batch are deserters and rebels. To show her rebellion, Omega removes her headband and literally lets her hair fly free. The headband marked her as special, almost as if it were a crown for the princess of Kamino. That is no longer who she wants to be, for prominence and importance can never replace belonging.

Hunter has different ideas, though. Having never lived outside of the storm of war, he tries to send Omega with Cut and his family. As Din Djarin did with Baby Yoda on Sorgan, Hunter tells Cut, “I want Omega to go with you.” This is what he things is best, and any parent worth their salt will always make that choice. “They’ll give you the life you deserve,” he tells Omega.

Omega has different ideas, though. “I want to stay with you, “ she says to her new father figure. Walking away, she looks back to Hunter. Her eyes fill with a sorrow, angst, and fear reminiscent of Anakin Skywalker as he walks away from his mother. Later, when they are reunited, she admits to Hunter, “I know I made a mistake, and I have a lot to learn. But you don’t have to get rid of me.” Rebels portrayed a similar dynamic between Kanan and Ezra, wherein Kanan tried to “dump” Ezra to be trained by (deceased) Master Luminara Unduli. For this Ezra admonishes Kanan in saying, “I don’t want the best teacher. I want you!”

What Kanan has to realize, as Hunter will have to, is that what may seem “best” on paper may not be what is truly best. That knowledge and protection without love and belonging is hollow. He may have learned it in this episode, as he tells Omega, “If this is where you want to be, then this is where you’ll stay.” Like Kanan, he must truly learn the Yoda’s lesson, “Do or do not. There is no try.” He has to be vulnerable enough to admit that he doesn’t know it all, that he’s out of his depth and his chances of failing are equal to if not greater than his chances for success. “To tell you the truth kid, I’ve got a lot to learn to,” he tells her.

Mistakes will happen, and with the stakes as high as they are with the rise of the Empire, those mistakes may be grave. Both Hunter and Omega will contribute to those mistakes, and hopefully to the solutions, by doing. Not by trying. By giving each other the faith, trust, and unconditional love that Shmi gave to Anakin. They may be unable to see the end of the road, but, unlike Shmi and Anakin, though, they may be able to get there together.

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