Through the first five episodes of The Bad Batch, very traditional and clear Star Wars themes are shining through. Family, hope, rogues, underdogs. All present and accounted for. Where the series is dressed in such traditional Star Wars garb, the connection and contrast between identity and belonging has put the spotlight clearly on itself after episode five, “Rampage.”
Identity and belonging have always been a part of Star Wars, of course, but The Bad Batch puts a twist on the traditional presentation in that this crew was cast out before the casting out of Republic loyalists. This team was also created for a singular purpose, a purpose that is now non-existent. Thus they have to struggle with what their new, post-war, identities will be both individually and communally. (For the sake of making the connection and contrast clear, belonging will now be referred to as communal identity, whereas identity will be referred to as individual identity.)
The clones were made to be soldiers. As they grew and evolved they crafted their own individuality, but clones were warriors. What is a warrior without a war, though? This idea, brought up by Rex in Clone Wars season seven, is a motivating factor for The Bad Batchers. The team each has a more clear and distinct individuality than “regs,” but they’re also soldiers. Or, they were.
With the rise of the Empire, which in a way existed before the fall of the Republic, uniqueness is dangerous. But uniqueness defines each member of the team, meaning that to survive in this new climate they must take on unexpected identities. Hunter has become a father, Wrecker an older brother, and Tech and Echo have become the brains of the operation (literally and figuratively). It is Omega, however, whose identity is both the most intriguing and the most mysterious.
Symbolically this episode is encouraging audiences to consider the mystery of her identity through the visage of the rancor. As it is with Omega, this is a layered approach to storytelling. For one, Moochi is first called a child, later to be revealed as an adolescent rancor. This makes the team’s job harder than expected, as has held true with protecting Omega. Moochi’s reveal most likely foreshadows some major reveal about Omega’s true purpose, although arguments could be made that it foreshadows a shift in Wrecker, the “beast” of the team, that has been promised by the repeated focus on his head injury. Considering that the rancor was first presented as a monster trying to kill hero of the saga Luke Skywalker, it is also noteworthy that the monster is now the hero. Omega’s unexpected identity will reveal itself in a similar way, first as something traditionally considered negative and then shifting to something positive and heroic.
Humans have a need for community and social interaction that has been scientifically proven time and again. Depression is often linked with loneliness, while fulfillment comes from being part of something bigger than one’s self. The Bad Batch as a team is that bigger self, yet it is an identity that has come into question.
The loss of Crosshair was the first crack in the foundation. Omega’s finding his weapon kit and now having his comm clearly sets her as the filler of this crack, but that does not mean the vulnerability is gone. In times of crisis, the support of the community becomes even more critical. If each pillar does not hold up, “the person next to you will pay the price.” Omega is a member of the team’s communal identity, even though she still has a ways to go in order to fully belong. Her creation of a Bad Batch doll is an outward manifestation of this internal reality. With every episode, the gap between her desire and reality becomes less and less, but they are not united yet.
If dragons continue to play a part in the story, this may happen sooner rather than later. Dragons have numerous symbolic meanings depending on the culture and story wherein the creature appears. In this time and place, dragons are representing chaos and disruption of order. First the Ordo Moon Dragon threatened the team until Omega found a unique way to defeat the creature. In “Rampage” a new dragon-like creature threatens the team. Once more the dragon is defeated by a youth, this time the Teenage Mutant Ninja Rancor. After both dragons are defeated in their respective episodes, the team is able to come back together once more, holding onto their communal identity. All the while, neither dragon was slain, hinting that the threat of chaos and disorder still looms.
Dragons, particularly when considering Chinese culture, have been symbols of imperial power. Or, in this case, Imperial power. The threat of the Empire is out there and it is not going away. The defeating of the two dragons thus far could be hints to how the team will overcome this threat, at least as far as it concerns Omega, or their unfinished slaying may doom any hope for Omega to achieve her truest purpose.