The tempestuous sea-planet Kamino, first introduced in Episode II—Attack of the Clones, has long been one of the more distinctive and beautifully realized environments in all of Star Wars. Outside: a dark, raging storm forever bearing down upon a domed city perched over a bottomless ocean, an unsubtle deluge of visual foreboding. Inside: stark, fastidious hallways and sterile laboratories where war is made inside test tubes, a visual representation of what the Empire would ultimately impose upon the galaxy: strict order, a lack of identity, efficient, calm, quiet. Not this week.
This week the sleek confines of Kamino, and all the various intrigues, ambitions, and hopes of Prime Minister Lama Su and chief scientist Nala Se, have come to a fiery end. Vice Admiral Rampart accomplished what he set out to do from the very beginning of Star Wars: The Bad Batch: to transition the Empire’s forces from clone dependency to a new TK faction of natural-born recruits. And in a perverse act of cruelty, he ordered a clone to open fire on the only place any clone could ever call home. Rampart’s face didn’t betray any emotions about giving the order or its subsequent bombardment, not even a hint of satisfaction for a job well done. For Rampart, forever wiping Tipoca City off the galactic map was just him being thorough in his duties. So, into the raging sea the cloning facility of Kamino went, with Omega and the Bad Batch trapped inside.
“Finale, Part I: Return to Kamino”, directed by Nathaniel Villanueva and written by Matt Michnovetz, marks the end of an era for Star Wars. For almost 20 years, clone trooper helmets (and the endless parade of Jango Fett faces beneath them) have been an enduring piece of iconography for Star Wars, representative of the calamitous Clone Wars and all the lives lost in that destructive conflict between the Republic and the Separatists. Star Wars: The Clone Wars bridged a narrative gap between Episodes II and III; more, it told a unique tale about the soldiers who were literally made to fight and die for an idea. Then that idea changed. The galaxy changed. Which brings us to Star Wars: The Bad Batch.
The Bad Batch serves a similar function to the saga as The Clone Wars, answering questions about the lore and putting an end to speculation as to the final fates of certain characters and locations. It’s a more intimate story than The Clone Wars in a lot of ways, thinning the cast of characters down to one found-family unit (until it suddenly doesn’t) and following them through the galaxy’s hectic transition from a Republic to an Empire. Hunter, Omega, Tech, Echo, Wrecker, and Crosshair, another family torn apart by war—or, rather, the end of one.
That rift between Crosshair and the rest of Clone Force 99 (who were originally designated, we discover this week, “Experimental Unit 99”) is finally brought to the fore, with Hunter and Crosshair both attempting to reason with each other even though their ideologies are seemingly irreconcilable. “I had my chip removed a long time ago,” Crosshair reveals to the Batch, after he fires a well-placed blaster shot and all but wipes out his Imperial death squad. “This is who I am.”
Is it, though? Later, after a frantic sequence where the Batch briefly reunites with their wayward brother against a horde of battle droids, Hunter searches Crosshair’s head for the scar that would confirm the sniper’s claims. The burns he sustained during “Reunion” could possibly conceal this chip scar, but if it doesn’t, then what’s the real nature of Crosshair’s gambit? Why would he kill his own unit in this desperate appeal to Hunter to essentially join the dark side? What purpose does that serve, if he remains loyal to the Empire? It’s clear that Rampart isn’t in on this ruse (“let the clones die together,” he says), so clearly Crosshair has plans of his own in this post-clone paradigm. But, since Hunter stuns Crosshair (in a strangely edited sequence) and not-drowning appears to be the next item on the Batch’s itinerary, the Crosshair conundrum will have to keep until next week. (At least one line from the toothpick-chomping heavy, however, indicates there’s more to unearth here: “You still can’t see the bigger picture. But you will.”)
“Finale, Part I: Return to Kamino” is a big-deal episode that leads the viewer down a path of revelation and reckoning. It’s an especially big episode for Omega, who returns to the site of her birth in Nala Se’s private lab despite Hunter’s promise that she would never again have to go back to the water planet. (He apologizes for this before things begin to explode.) Omega, who has long been an essential part of this team, takes the lead and ushers the Batch to Hunter’s rescue via a tube network, a shimmering retro-futuristic shuttle sytem hidden under the depths of Kamino’s sea. There, Omega is reunited with her former droid companion AZI, who helps her launch an armada of training droids to rescue her Batch brothers even after they shunted the little clone to the sidelines for the umpteenth time. (When, oh when, will the Batch appreciate Omega’s great worth? And while we’re on the subject, when is Omega getting her own Batch helmet?) Once she springs her surprise robot attack, Omega flies to the rescue, hurtling purple laser arrows with expert proficiency. Her rescue’s timing may have been a little off, but it served to reunite the Batch, Crosshair and all. For a time.
It’s the last sequence of the episode, however, that truly underscores Omega’s growth. Hustling to safety through the pristine halls of Tipoca City with Hunter, Wrecker, and the rest (with a downed Crosshair in tow), Omega powers ahead of the group. It’s here where the episode stops everything for one final look at the Kamino cloning facility, once the home to every clone trooper there ever was, reg and deviant alike. The mess hall. The cloning chambers. The Batch’s old quarters. All these spaces, each a part of Omega’s home until the galaxy changed and things no longer made sense, now emptied of life. There’s truly no going back. The Empire rains fire on the past to fortify its future, and Omega is forever changed.
- Since The Bad Batch hasn’t really followed Crosshair or delved into how he went about acclimating to the Empire’s way of managing the galaxy, we’ve had to infer a few things about his station as one of the few remaining high-ranking clones in the Empire. “I question the clone’s motives with his old squad,” a member of Crosshair’s unit tells Rampart early in the episode. “I don’t trust any of them.” I wonder what me might have seen had we spent a little more time with Crosshair this season, witnessing his frayed relationship with his own Imperial unit.
- Looks like Gregor gets dumped off with Cid this week. Wrecker: “She wasn’t happy about it.” I can’t imagine.
- AZI-345211896246498721347 hovered back onto the show this week, after spending what I presume was half a season hiding from the Empire in Nala Se’s private lab. Is there room on the Marauder for another droid? I guess there’ll have to be. (Provided, of course, that AZI survives the Kaminoan fallout.)
- Good exchange: Crosshair: “They don’t leave their own behind, most of the time.” Hunter: “You tried to kill us. We didn’t have a choice.” Crosshair: “And I did?”
- I appreciated the visual bookending in this season: the last time we saw the Batch on Kamino, they were united as a team in the training room, proving their value to Tarkin. They teamed up in that training room again this week, Crosshair and all, only under different circumstances. (Plus, there’s Omega and her Zygerrian crossbow chipping in.)
- It’s like poetry, it rhymes: Tarkin gives the order “you may fire when ready” as somebody’s home is about to be destroyed forever, just as it was when he ordered the Death Star to fire upon Princess Leia’s homeworld in Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.
- Say! This week, Disney+ announced that a second season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch will drop at some point in 2022. Break out the Mantell Mix!
- How are you feeling, group? Did that last look at Kamino wreck you as it wrecked me? Did the Marauder survive the Imperial bombardment? Will AZI and Gonky become the new power droid duo of Star Wars? Let’s pour one out for Kamino in the comments below.