Becoming The Bad Batch: Rescue on Ryloth

For light there is dark. For hope there is pain. For enemy there is ally. Simple concepts to consider, muddied by the reality that the line that divides is much thinner than general conception. But turn off a light and see how quickly the dark arrives.

For the clones of Force 99, that line revolved around a chip in their heads designed to enhance (read: control) their obedience and loyalty. The line between following Order 66 and the Empire versus sticking with what they believed in was but a sentence. On one side stood Hunter, Tech, Echo, Wrecker, and eventually Omega. On the other, Crosshair and the might of the new Galactic Empire desperately trying to erase the history of the galaxy in favor of its own agenda.

A similar line was drawn on Ryloth, with Cham Syndulla, father of Hera, on the side of the Empire. Cham believed in what he was doing in standing with the growing regime, and at the time very few on Ryloth could indeed even see the line. But when Hera is put on the wrong side of said line, Cham and his wife Eleni cross it without hesitation and with the full support of his convictions. In a moment, as Admiral Rampart points out, he went from liberator to traitor.

Now the line of separation is the red shield door separating Rampart from his framed insurgents. The red shows the passion both speak with, a testament to each’s belief that they are on the right side of the line. Eleni, Hera’s mother, makes this very clear when she tells Rampart, “I have seen how you treat your allies, Admiral. I prefer to be your enemy.” Likewise the door represents the pain Captain Howzer faces, being torn between his loyalty to his friends, and what he clearly believes to be right, and his mandate to be a good soldier and follow orders. Which side he decides to stand by will decide his allies and enemies, for the difference between the two is but a decision.

The Bad Batch faces a similar decision. Chips now removed from their heads, and a plethora of empirical (Empire-ical) evidence showing that sides must be chosen, the Batch is not quite certain of where their line is. Are they mercenaries? Soldiers? Liberators? Traitors? Ask Admiral Rampart and the answer will most certainly be the latter, however each episode creeps them closer and closer to players in, around, and amongst the future Rebel Alliance.

There is one line that is clearly defined for the team, as it was clearly defined for Cham. As Dominic Torreto would say, that line is “family.” The moment Hera is in danger, Cham makes his choice. Hunter is not quite as resolved as this, but it is a hint to the future of the characters. For now, the certainty is Omega. She is the team’s child, sister, and the centerpiece of their family. Indeed, multiple times throughout the season she has been shown in the center with the team circling around her.

The final assertion of that line will indeed be what brings this season to a close. Nearly every episode has dealt with this concept, be it showing characters like Trace and Rafa modeling what it looks like to be certain of one’s convictions, or Howzer in this episode, protecting the Syndullas and standing in front of his brothers to say, “We are now being ordered to target the very people we swore to protect. And I will not be a part of it any longer. Who will stand with me?”

Words only go so far, though, leaving actions to complete the transition. Harkening back to Luke in Return of the Jedi, Howzer throws his weapon away as he declares his convictions more important than his very life. Omega completed a similar action when she faced down the Ordo Moon Dragon earlier in the season, both being a testament to the importance of this idea in Star Wars and in the series.

The Bad Batch knows who their family is and are more clearly seeing where their line will be drawn, thanks in part to the actions of Cham and Howzer. The final question is not if they will draw the line, but where they will draw the line. And where will Crosshair be when they do?

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