Becoming The Bad Batch: Battle Scars

When The Bad Batch began, it was a story of belonging, be it where Omega belonged, where her antithesis, Crosshair, belonged, or where the team as a whole fit into the overall narrative of the galaxy. While still present, after “Battle Scars” it is clear that the story is much more about identity and who we become in the most difficult of circumstances. (Hence the change in title for this series of articles.) A part of identity is found in belonging, as the relationships we have shape who we become and inform the choices we make, as it does for Wrecker and Omega. But the other side of the identity coin is the nature to that nurture. 

Bringing Rex back at this point is critical because he is an example of both the nature and the overcoming of it. He is, as the episode makes very clear, a “one” or a start. Rex is, for all intents and purposes, the origin point of the clones and a precursor to the Batch. Omega is the other side of that spectrum, an end point in the same way that the letter Omega is the final letter in the Greek alphabet. Paralleling her and Rex, particularly when Rex gets down on her level and she identifies him as a “generation one,” is a sign of the evolution that has occurred. 

One is an important number in this episode, making four appearances. First, Omega identifies Rex as a “generation one” clone. On Bracca, Wrecker jokes that the first-off-the-line Jedi cruiser is, “Just like you Rex.” Prior to Wrecker getting his inhibitor chip taken out, Omega tells Hunter that she is afraid she will be left with no one if things go wrong. Finally, after the successful removal of Wrecker’s chip, Rex proclaims, “One down. Three to go.” Western culture and monotheistic religions have transformed the number one to be a sign of both unity and individuality (“We are all one.”; “One and only.”).That has not always been, though: 

The Pythagoreans did not consider 1 to be a number at all because number means plurality and 1 is singular. However, they considered it to be the source of all numbers because adding many 1s together can create any other (positive whole) number. In their system, where odd numbers were male and even numbers female, the number 1 was neither; instead, it changed each to the other. If 1 is added to an even number, it becomes odd; similarly, if 1 is added to an odd number, it becomes even.

The singularity, aka individuality, of a being transforms the communal identity of the other singularities around that individual. As each character interacts with those around them, they become something more. Rex helps the Batch remove their chips, thus becoming more independent and capable of free will. Omega helps Wrecker overcome his chip by showing him compassion and friendship. When “adding many” clones “together” a better team is created. Essentially, a community helps overcome the scars left from trauma (battles) of the past, as well as one’s inherent nature, represented by the inhibitor chips.

Metaphorical “monsters” have been present through the series, paralleling the struggle of Wrecker versus his chip. For the third time in the series, a dragon-like creature has appeared. First was the Ordo Moon Dragon, then the dragon that fights the rancor (notably right before Wrecker does the same), and now Ruby. Western culture holds dragons as beasts of intimidation and danger, and the appearance of dragons is a reminder of the dragon within Wrecker. Due to his inability to overcome that natural dragon within, Wrecker becomes a monster. As he attempts to cross over the murky waters on the Jedi cruiser, his fear of heights rears its head. This fear combines with his weight and size, all natural parts of his being, and plunges him towards the water. The water that Rex, the audience’s moral compass when it comes to clones, warned about. Within that water is a familiar monster, a dianoga. The dianoga uses its tentacles to baptize Wrecker after a literal tug-of-war between the two sides of his personality, monster and clone, good and bad, nature and nurture. Such baptismal symbolism has been mainstay in Star Wars, all the way back to when Luke was baptized by a dianoga in the garbage compactor, cleansing him of his idea that he was some great hero who could rush in and solve everything with gusto. Being baptized in this murky water foreshadowed his murky future, as it does for Wrecker. In the original trilogy, Luke slips closer and closer to the dark side. He arguably crosses the line as he berates his broken father with heaves of his lightsaber, right before he looks down at his hand and sees what he is becoming. He sees the monster, throws away his weapon, and pulls the good man within Darth Vader back out once more.

In this episode, Omega is the Luke to Wrecker’s Darth Vader; Omega has been connected with Luke once prior. When in the cave with the Ordo Moon Dragon, the first of the dragons in the series, Omega throws away her light in a parallel to Luke’s decision on the second Death Star. Like Luke, she could have killed the monster. Like Luke, she had compassion. When facing the monster of Wrecker, Omega crawls behind a wall panel that serves as a new cave. Wrecker breaks into that cave as the Ordo Dragon did, and Omega calls out to him, “I am your friend.” This message is a light that tugs him in another direction. Her compassion and love for her friend gives enough of a pause to allow Rex to stun Wrecker and remove his inhibitor chip. As he sleeps, she touches his heart and waits for his rebirth.

The removal of their chips solves one of the looming issues for the Bad Batch, but who they are becoming and where they belong is not fully realized. The closing conversation between Rex and Hunter reminds audiences of the similar conversation between Hunter and Rafa Martez in the previous episode. Rafa told Hunter, “In the end we all choose sides.” It is clear that Rex has chosen his side, the Republic, but even what that is and what it means is unclear during such dark times. When asked what Hunter is fighting for, he replies, “I’m still figuring that out.” “I guess we all are,” Rex says before descending into the fog of the junkyard planet.

If even Rex, the most moral and beloved of clones, is descending into a fog, there is no doubt the path for the Bad Batch is far from determined. 

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