It was a dark and stormy night. A basic introduction to a ghost story, and in the instance of “Reunion” a quite effective one. The storms of Kamino, the rain, waves, and lightning striking terror into the hearts of fans who know what awaits the intrepid heroes of Clone Force 99. For the new fans, particularly the younglings, the imagery promises that the worst is yet to come.
While symbolism can be, and should be, layered, the utilization of basic tropes allows audiences to connect immediately with the tone of the story. For four episodes viewers wondered where Crosshair was and how his story was developing. With the strike of lightning leading into his reappearance, it is immediately apparent that he, the Kaminoans, and the Empire as a whole are just as haunting and terrifying as they have ever been.
The story shifts to Wrecker teaching Omega how to disable a thermal explosive to emphasize the idea that their lives have both been and will be blown up. The explosive is not live, but it was an intentional choice by the creators to have the explosive be a smoke bomb. Many stories would have the bomb not go off; it is simple and clean storytelling. Instead, something that seemed dangerous is in fact not. The same may be said as it regards Crosshair by season’s end. As smoke fills the air, similarly to Rex departing into the fog at the end of the previous episode, things become even more unclear.
If the storms and smoke are not enough to foreshadow the danger ahead, walking into the ruins of the Clone Wars, more particularly the wreckage of a Jedi cruiser, immerses them in the darkness of Bracca, of the Empire, and all the good that has left the galaxy. That good seems to still be alive in Omega, but she still has a lot to learn. It is becoming more and more evident that she was sheltered from the realities of the galaxy, so much so that she has no grasp of what the war was like. Naïveté can be a great benefit through its capacity to maintain hope. Until it turns to the subtle obliviousness that Tech suffers from. He brushed off Wrecker’s headaches until it was almost too late, and in this episode he brushes off the red warning light as a malfunction. If this trend continues, the malfunction in the team may indeed be Tech himself.
Despite Tech’s assumption, the red light warns of the return of Crosshair and the Empire. Darkness has fully consumed the planet by this point. The grim reaper has arrived. As he walks through the line of troops, listening to the regs being deceived by “atmospheric interference,” Crosshair knows the truth. “They’re still on board,” he declares. He pins them on the artillery deck, caught between the Empire and a pit into the unknown. Into the underworld. The team will have to forgo the objective they were trying to achieve and are being forced to face their own darkness. This death will later be balanced with birth symbolism, as the crew slides through a hole and into the engine itself.
But first the confrontation between The Bad Batch and the bad guy must take place. “So predictable,” Crosshair chides, and it’s true. Not because of their strategy, but because of their heart. Hunter still tries to reach out to his fallen friend, warning him of the inhibitor chip. “The Kaminoans put chips in all the clones,” Omega says. Crosshair is a clone, as is Omega. His future centers around whether he chooses to believe he has a chip, and the same may be true for Omega. “All the clones” would include her, despite her differences from her brethren. Where Crosshair wrongly believes he understands his true nature, Omega may have no concept of her own. Only through the truth, as explosive as it may be, can set them free.
In order to solve their current predicament, though, the Batch has to go through the engine. The ship is breaking all around them, cutting to Crosshair and back to the team as it does so. A joke on the surface, Omega attesting to never having climbed through an ion engine is a testament to her inexperience, for the engine is not the engine. It is the Empire, and possibly more particularly it is Palpatine. Tech calls the engine, “Quite the engineering marvel.” The same can be said of the Bad Batch and clones as a whole. The Kaminoans engineered their life, but Palpatine engineered their existence. Along with that, he engineered the galaxy into the darkness it is consumed by, doing it all without being discovered until the very moment of his desire. An engineering marvel, indeed.
When they do the power from the destabilized engine hits Crosshair, his helmet is knocked off to expose his true self. That true self is injured, requiring him to wear bandages that foretell of his repaired and redeemed self, one that will come through confronting the engine of the galaxy and the engine that created the clones in the first place.
Omega is somehow a part of that engine. She is an engineering feat, one that the Kaminoans either consider to be or will utilize to create the “superior clone.” (How very Nazi of them.) They send a bounty hunter to scavenge from the wreckage of the team. Their scavenger of choice…..
Bane’s return mimics classic Western films, an obvious choice considering Bane’s evil-Clint Eastwood aesthetic. Quick draw music plays as Bane and Papa Hunter move their hands to their holsters. Hunter is trying to keep his team, his family really, together despite them wreckage; Bane cares only about the parts that help him. To him this is but another day at the office. “Once you figure out one, the rest are easy,” he tells Hunter.
Hunter’s replies, “You’re in for a surprise.” Cad Bane’s shot to the heart stops that suprise for now but, like Thor, he should have gone for the head. The camera switches to Hunter’s point of view, a surprise for the audience in that the show has always stayed in the third person. Twice Hunter has been told he is predictable, first by Crosshair and later by Cad Bane. This unpredictable change in perspective does more than allow the viewer to experience Hunter’s panic and terror. It sets up the change of perspective both audience and Hunter will have to have in order to save Omega.
The truth shall set you free, and Hunter will have to face the truth in order to free his adopted daughter. The truth of the Empire, the truth of the Kaminoans, the truth of Omega, and, most importantly, the truth about himself. His chip may be gone, but the nurtured side of his existence still lurks inside of him, a dragon waiting to break out. A dragon that cannot be contained.