There are times in stories where the end is inevitable. The writers, directors, and audience all know where things have to go, but it still hurt when it gets there. The mask descending onto a newly minted Darth Vader comes to mind, as does Ahsoka and Rex having to go into hiding after Order 66. When done correctly this does not take away from the story; when done perfectly it can make the tragedy all the more tragic.
The first season finale of The Bad Batch takes the destruction of Kamino and tells a story about as perfectly as audiences could have asked for. As with its first part predecessor, “Return to Kamino”, “Kamino Lost” focuses its story around four main themes that shows how far, in both directions, Clone Force 99 has traveled since the series premier.
Where the first part of the season finale focused its symbolism around birth, the second part focuses on death. The title itself contains the word lost, a euphemism for death. Tipoca City is being murdered, the pillars that hold it up crumbling under the blasts from the Empire. By the end of the episode it is completely gone. Only smoke remains, reminding the clones that their home has burned.
The death is intimate and personal for The Bad Batch. It is where they were born (or created depending on your certain point of view) while also being the place where the betrayal of Crosshair tore them apart. Crosshair is getting another chance to repair that relationship, to let his connection to the Empire die, when baptized in the waters of Kamino. The antithesis of everything he believes himself to be, Omega refuses to actually let him die. She literally sets him free from the destruction of the Empire and gives him a chance to be born again through this water baptism.
Ironically, one place where the team ends up is in their metaphorical womb, the lab of Kaminoan scientist Nala Se. In the last episode the team emerged into this room before learning that it is where they were all genetically modified. At that point it was clean and full of light. Now it is their last point of escape, a withering place from which they must escape. The change is a shorthand for the change over the entire season, wherein these clones had to leave what they always knew to become something new. But the only way to do that is to escape from the traumas of the past.
Nala Se’s trauma might not be done, however. At the end of the episode she is seen in Imperial custody and told that they have a new use for her. While it might seem obvious what the Imperial scientist, dressed similarly to both Galen Erso and The Mandalorian’s Dr. Pershing, has in store, the audience is quite literally left in the dark as the screen goes black, an ominous foreshadowing of her future fate.
All stories deal with birth and death in some way, often centered around the idea of choice. The Bad Batch has not shied from that conversation, in fact putting it at the forefront by contrasting the choices of Hunter and Crosshair with an emphasis on the inhibitor chip’s role in those choices. The chip is analogous for brain-washing, and its absence a declaration of free will. By no longer having the inhibitor chip, Crosshair holds all personal responsibility for his actions. “If you want to stay here and die, that’s your choice,” Hunter tells him. Then he reminds his fallen brother that he always had that choice. “We made a choice, and so did you.” As far as Crosshair is concerned they “made the wrong choice.”
But Star Wars is also a story of second chances, thus it is no surprise to see Crosshair being offered a second chance (or maybe third?) (or is it the forty-fourth?) (you get the point). “You offered us a chance Crosshair,” Hunter says. “This is yours.” At this point either Crosshair really does believe what he is fighting for or he is too stubborn to admit his faults, because he doubles down. “I made my decision,” he tells Hunter before walking away to sit by the window displaying exactly what his choice has led to.
When Omega comes to sit by him it is reminiscent of the scene in the premier where Omega begged Crosshair not to make the choice she knew he was going to make. Seeing Omega, who has shown herself to be so pure and gracious that she almost cannot see the bad in people, walking away from Crosshair is about as declarative as a statement can get. Crosshair has already dug his grave, and now he’s just waiting for the dirt to be thrown on top.
As the pillars that hold Kamino up crumble, one is reminded of the pillars of the Republic. Democracy, the Jedi, and even the clones, the latter of which represented a belief that the Republic was worth fighting for, were what held things together. But the cost of war is darkness, and the Republic is left in shambles as those representatives of the Republic play the role of reaper.
Since they can no longer trust their leaders, The Bad Batch needs new ones. Or a new one. While Hunter holds the role of defacto leader, Omega is the team’s guide. She is their Jimmini Cricket and their light. She is seen holding a light multiple times in the episode in order to convey that exact idea. When set in contrast to the beginning of the season, where the team tried to blow her off and had no faith in her at all, her leadership shows both individual and communal growth. Multiple times throughout the season, from the conflict with the Ordo Moon Dragon to their debt with Cid, Omega has saved them. She has proven herself, and the revelation that she is actually older than the rest of the clones is a nod to that growth. It calls the audience to consider exactly how much she has grown, and it puts her once more in contrast to Crosshair.
Crosshair does not trust the Empire because it has helped him grow. He has done so through “blind allegiance.” Although he is unable to see it, he has become a “pawn.”
If Crosshair is the pawn, Omega has become the queen. She earned the trust of the team and thus has stepped into that role of leadership. As Hunter tells Crosshair, “A real leader protects his squad.” Omega has done and continues to do that. Meanwhile, Crosshair finds his identity in an Empire that will only ever identify him as a number, a cog in the machine to be replaced by a newer model.
Despite all of this, Omega still offers him a chance at a new identity. “You’re still their brother, Crosshair,” she says. “You’re my brother too.” While at the end he has not rejoined his family, that identity does not seem as set in stone as it was throughout the rest of the season. For the first time ever Kamino is shown without torrential rain and ominous lightning. Instead it is given a new identity, one of light and hope. Both of those have come through the knowledge and leadership of Omega, who got them to the platform dispute every promise of death along the way. Her identity is now solidified, which only causes Crosshair to question his even more.
Left alone on this now peaceful planet, with the light shining on him, Crosshair is once more tasked with figuring out who he is. Likewise, the fans are tasked with waiting until season two for the answer to that puzzle.