The Bad Batch is the near a perfect culmination of everything both Clone Wars and Rebels did so well. The clones, the military presence, and the rising darkness in the galaxy seen throughout the seven seasons of Clone Wars is certainly there. Likewise, it is akin to Rebels not simply in having characters like Caleb Dume/Kanan Jarrus, Hera Syndulla, and Gregor make cameos. Both are stories of a band of misfits that forms a family which helps them to overcome the Empire’s power (at least to some extent).
The Bad Batch has stuck to the core themes of Star Wars, and after the first part of the finale it is clear that there are 4 key aspects the creators are focusing on. These ideas are not four separates but one whole, however for the sake of brevity the ideas of birth, choice, trust, and identity will be analyzed individually.
Birth, life, and death, or in other words the stories of creation and destruction, are timeless themes. They transcend even into stories about characters that were created rather than born. As they return home, The Bad Batch has to face the realities of that creation in order to be reborn into something new and better.
After getting to the planet, Omega has to guide Tech to a secret landing platform that lead directly to their womb, the place they were made, Nala Se’s secret research lab. The platform rises from the waters, welcoming them to a baptism that will quite literally end in fire. From there they have to go through tubes to be born into a side of Kamino they never knew. The season has brought many things to light as far as the secrets of the Kaminoans, and this birth serves as the culmination of those revelations and a step into their being the ones who are going to do something about it.
While the how and why of The Bad Batch is important, the central creation of focus is Omega. The first female clone, a direct replication of Jango Fett, and somehow more empathetic and heroic than just about any clone in history, fans have wondered what her story really is. There have been hints, such as her knowledge of the inhibitor chips, that lead one to believe she knows her story. However, visually the story has said otherwise. For instance, when running from Cad Bane and Fennec Shand, Omega runs into green vats similar to those that made appearances in both The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker. While the former remains a mystery with regards to its contents, it is a viable conclusion to assume they hold some version of Snoke as presented in the latter. Omega saw her reflection in those vats, and here she must face a similar container. This time, however, who she is is much clearer.
This is in part because the season has seen a rebirth in purpose for the team as a whole, a birth that comes to term here. As Echo, Wrecker, and Tech stand on the platform that will lead them into the battleground where Hunter and Crosshair wait, they tell Omega to stay back. She has become their ward and their purpose, and they willingly go to sacrifice themselves to protect her and try to save Hunter. While they certainly do not want to, and likely do not believe they will, die, this is heroism in the vain of Luke Skywalker jumping into the belly of Bespin rather than turning to the dark side. This is The Bad Batch’s belly of the beast.
Choice and Morality
The team enters into the battleground willingly, in the same way their leader gave himself willingly to protect them. Rebirth is a choice, a choice often based on where one’s moral lines are drawn. For Crosshair that line is one that the rest of the team will have to cross in order to be on the right side, the side of the Empire. But for Hunter, Crosshair is still on their side of the line. At least, that is, until he finds out that Crosshair removed his inhibitor chip.
Crosshair believes he has it all figured out. “You can’t see the bigger picture. But you will,” he tells Hunter. As far as Crosshair is concerned, he did not draw the line in the sand. Hunter did. He even tells Hunter that he was never given the chance to make his own choice because Hunter broke his trust. This is a certain point of view situation, but for Crosshair it is no less true. “You betrayed everything we stood for, “ Crosshair tells him. “You weren’t loyal to me.”
Every great villain is the hero of his own story. This is true for Crosshair, who really believes he is the one with the moral high ground. He believes himself altruistic in saying, “I’m going to give you what you never gave me. A chance.” Ironically, it is Crosshair that misses the point of what The Bad Batch is all about, which is loyalty to one another.
Loyalty is inherently based on trust. Crosshair’s loyalties change when Hunter lies to him about the Padawan, Caleb Dume, which he sees as a personal betrayal. Thus he chooses the Empire, fallaciously choosing the side that would only choose him as long as he provided. The relationship between Crosshair and his new Empire is transactional, which is not really trustworthy.
True trust is seen amongst the remaining members of the team. Hunter clearly trusted his team to save him, thus his sacrifice. But when looking at the arc of the season, the growing ability to trust Omega is the greatest aspect of growth for the team. The series premiere makes it very clear that they have no need nor reason to trust Omega, but over the season she earns that trust. She shows this not so much through deed, although her deeds are certainly blocks that build the trust, but through her loyalty to her moral compass. She sees the good in people and always wants to help, thus when she knows how to get into Kamino via a secret entrance they have no reason to doubt her.
This trust births a newer version of the team, where they really are all becoming more and more equal. They are baptized once more in the waters of Kamino to take on the task ahead more together than ever. This is in direct opposition to Crosshair’s situation, as the new troopers of the Empire make it very clear that they do not trust him nor any other clones. By choosing the institution, Crosshair loses trust. By choosing the individuals, and the individuality they bring, The Bad Bach gains trust.
Above all this story is about identity. It can be argued that every story is, but there is a clear emphasis on it in this show, particularly when it comes to Omega. Aspects of her identity have been slowly revealed, with her and the rest of Clone Force 99 literally returning to their place of “birth” here.
Again the difference between Crosshair and the rest of the crew is the dichotomy through which to understand the message. Crosshair sees himself and the rest of Clone Force 99 as superior, and thus essential. His identity comes through power and prestige. But the lessons of the season have shown Hunter that there is something bigger than self, leading him to challenge Crosshair in saying, “You really don’t know who we are, do you?”
That is the crux of change for all of the characters. Starting the season Crosshair knew exactly who he was. A good soldier who followed orders. On the other hand, Hunter and his side did not know who they were supposed to be. Order 66 was an affront , and killing their commanders, the Jedi, was not what good soldiers do. So, with the addition of Omega, The Bad Batch went searching for purpose. The female clone ended up being that purpose, which made a team of macho men into selfless brothers and fathers. So when returning to Kamino, The Bad Batch knows who they are. Meanwhile, Crosshair says he knows who he is while seeming clearly conflicted. He is not just talking to Hunter when he says, “This is who I am.” He is trying to convince himself.
All of this literally blows up in their face when Admiral Rampart begins to blow Kamino to bits. Together the team has to go once more into their home, while it is being destroyed by the very institution that tore them apart. But they are together in the darkness. The only question is: is there light at the end of that darkness? Friday will hopefully provide that answer and, because this is Star Wars, give us so many more questions at the same time.