Becoming The Bad Batch: Bounty Lost

The opening salvo of the ninth episode of The Bad Batch started prophetically with Wrecker shouting, “It’s getting hot back here!” Yes, Wrecker, it is. With the addition of Cad Bane, and his capture of Omega, the heat has been turned up to Mustafarian levels.

It is telling that the eerie Bracca theme, entitled “To Bracca” on the recently released Bad Batch soundtrack makes its return here as the team escapes. A monster is lurking, its origins unknown, its path only slowly being revealed. The theme continues to play as the scene transitions to Bane’s ship, to the “asset” being bathed in the red glow of her prison cell. This is the second time in as many episodes that Omega has been associated with that color. In “Reunion” she noticed the red warning light, and now she is bathed in it. A monster lurks….

If Omega is that monster, she is Frankenstein’s. Dr. Frankenstein created the monster out of a need for control, and the monster was judged by others before being given the chance to live. The same holds true as it regards the Kaminoans and Omega. While the mystery remains, Cad Bane’s hologram conversation with the panel of cloners makes it clear that they are the Dr. Frankenstein, and they see Omega as their greatest monst— creation. As it was for Dr. Frankenstein, though, things have not been going as planned.

The juxtaposition between The Bad Batch and the Kaminoans is visually represented in the way their conversations take place. Multiple times throughout the season, Omega has been seen at the center of a circle created by the team. She is the focal point and she is the one to protect, but there is also a symbiosis that harkens to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s, “What happens to one of you will affect the other.” On the other hand, the Kaminoans are seen sitting in a half circle, opened towards Cad Bane but focused on Lama Su. There is an attempt to uphold the facade of unity, but the unity isn’t there. They are more chain than continuum and even the Sith know that chains are meant to be broken.

The timeline of the galaxy fortells that the Kaminoans don’t have much time left on the clock. The Hail Mary is being thrown with Cad Bane, but the extent to which it scores is in question. While it is easy to assume that the Kaminoans, like the Geonosians before them, were wiped out, The Mandalorian presents the Pershing Possibility. Dr. Pershing, infamous for his testing of The Child and fear of The Client, has a Kaminoan patch on his left shoulder, as do the young clones in Episode II. “Bounty Lost” indicates that the chain from Kamino to Client may be the same through paralleling the dialogue of Lama Su and The Client.

Lama Su: “Once you have retrieved the genetic material necessary, terminate her.”

The Client: “I order you to extract the necessary material and be done with it.”

Correlation certainly doesn’t lead to causation, but paralleling dialogue is not a new trick for this dog. In the first episode of the series the famous “he’s more machine now than man” quote was used, and Boba Fett himself even echoed Jango in season two of The Mandalorian when he said, “I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the galaxy.” It seems that Boba is also a simple man making his way through every Star Wars property. After Tech identifies Boba as Alpha, and the only other clone to be a “pure genetic replication” of Jango, he explains that Boba has disappeared. This leaves Omega as the last known source of Jango’s DNA. However, Boba is not dead and will likely make a return to screen in The Bad Batch.

The series as dealt a great deal with duality, a particular emphasis on the tension in choosing sides of that duality. Crosshair was an ally who became an enemy, and the Batch has not given up on him returning to their side. Wrecker became a danger who was redeemed in the episode “Battle Scars,” which provides hope for the wayward brother. In “Decomissioned,” the Martez sisters start off as perceived enemies but become allies, as do the droids that the clones spent years battling against. At the end of that episode, Rafa echoes Ahsoka in telling Hunter, “In the end, we all choose sides.” Being the missing Alpha to Omega’s… well, Omega, identifies a duality that had been in the shadows. First it seemed Hunter would be the “Alpha” in being her father figure, and then Wrecker seemed to be the “Alpha” in being her big brother. Neither is moot, but Boba will have to play into the equation in one way or another.

Alpha and Omega are not the only ones whose sides are unclear. Originally assumed to have been hired by Lama Su, Fennec Shand returns in this episode to once more try to get through to Omega. Later it is revealed that she is in fact working for Nala Sa, the Kaminoan specifically responsible for Omega at the start of the series. While Nala Se did help The Bad Batch escape, her proximity to Lama Su and her role in Omega’s life still leave in question her loyalties. The easy answer is that she wants to protect Omega, that she loves her and views her as a surrogate daughter. But if Attack of the Clones teaches us anything (other than that Obi-Wan can be “very grumpy”) it is that the answers on Kamino are never easy.

Omega tries to get answers, asking Shand, “What does [Lama Su] want me for?” Shand retorts, “You already know the answer.” It is at that moment that both Omega and camera pan up to look into the vats of green holding the bodies of beings that appear to be Snoke-like, akin in some fashion to the figures seen in Mandalorian. These vats lead to a storm of new questions linking to cloning, Palpatie’s Contingency, midichlorian manipulation, and even Grogu, but they somehow hold answers for Omega as well.

In the moment the answer they provide is a diversion, as Omega releases one of the containers onto Fennec Shand. This is the first in a series of birth metaphors throughout the remainder of the episode, all being linked back to Omega. Here a creature is “birthed” from its tube, a parallel fall to juxtapose Oemga climbing through a tube to be “birthed” to her family again. Prior to that, however, Omega has to raise a satellite to signal The Bad Batch. The satellite rising is phallic in the same way Pride Rock is in The Lion King, not in crassness but in promise. Afterwards Omega escapes to the flight pod, which flies with a tail behind it that makes it look reproductive.

Such symbolism could be written off as coincidental or even momentary if not for, once more, The Mandalorian season two, which was rife with female reproductive allusions. From eggs to the womb like Razorcrest, there is no denying the intentionality of the creators. With seven episodes of unknown run time remaining, these connections will become more and more developed. For now, though, they remain in gestation.

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