Becoming The Bad Batch: Common Ground

War makes it easy to look at the enemy as “other.” To dehumanize them and make them an abstract rather than a living being who simply has a different perspective. For clones, created for the singular purpose of protecting the Republic from the Seperatists, this “othering” is simplified because they did not fight against other living beings; they battled machines. It is hard to have sympathy or empathy towards one of different ideals when crushing “clankers.”

But these biases must be confronted. Ahsoka Tano had to do so when she accompanied Senator Amidala to Raxus, the home of the Seperatists Senate and the main location of “Common Ground.” Lux Bonteri challenges Ahsoka to defend her prejudices towards the Seperatists and she is found wanting. The Seperatists now have a humanity for Ahsoka, rather than being abstract manifestations of an ideology. Learning that the Seperatists simply had different ideas and beliefs made it hard to look at the war as “us vs them” and shaped Ahsoka going forward.

Now The Bad Batch story has taken audiences back to Raxus to deal with this idea once more. Now, however, there is no war. There is no Republic, and thus there are no Seperatists. There is only the Empire, and if you don’t believe it ask the Empire. They’ll tell you. “The Empire is not your enemy,” as Captain Bragg tells the citizens of the former Seperatist capital world. But Senator Avi Singh sees what is really happening. The Empire does not come to create, it comes to consume. In it’s consumption it enslaves its citizens through propaganda and programming similar to the chips installed in the head of the clones.

The Bad Batch no longer have those chips and are capable of free will, but bias and prejudice are ingrained deep within one’s soul. It cannot be turned off and on, thus getting the call to help a former Seperatist, and that call coming from a droid, challenges the Batch to confront what they believe.

This harkens backs to the episode “Decommissioned”, wherein the Batch had to trust those they perceived as enemies, the Martez sisters, and use their former opponents, droids, as allies. In the closing of that episode, Rafa Martez tells Hunter, “In the end we all choose sides.” In the beginning of the episode, Singh chooses his. In saving him the Batch has chosen their’s as well, albeit they are not one in the same.

The Bad Batch will have to face the Empire, particularly with regards to solving the mystery of Omega, but they are not so much against the Empire as they are about family. Hunter, as the leader, wants to protect that family at all costs, which is why he wants Omega to stay back with Cid as they go on their mission into the belly of the beast.

This is where Qui-Gon’s famous line, “Your focus determines your reality comes into play. When the Echo focuses on the label of “Seperatist” he cannot see the danger of simplifying people into labels. By the end of the episode, however, he echoes what GS-8 says to Singh. “He’s right,” is not just an acknowledgement of the best path, but an acknowledgement that the path is starting to look much different than what he expected. When focused on the war, and being a soldier, Echo wanted to get in the fight. That has been his ark the entire season. He still wants to fight, yes, but realizes that his focus on facing forward and attacking might not be the best means to their ends.

The only solution to war is to see people not for what they can do, or what they do not believe, but rather for what they can add. Omega shows Hunter her value in paying off their debt to CID via winning dejarik game after dejarik game. It would be a stretch to say that Hunter didn’t value Omega, but not to say that he did not quite view her as a part of the team. By having to confront his bias against droids and Seperatists in a context he understood, the throws of battle, Hunter is able to confront his preconceived notions of Omega. He sees the value she brings to the team, and together they may just win the day.

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