You have to hand it to Disney; they know how to nail media synergy. Currently blasting through the pages of Marvel’s Star Wars comics line is War Of The Bounty Hunters, which features Boba Fett booking it to Tatooine with his bounty in tow (the be-carbonited Han Solo), as all hell—in the form of several bounty hunters looking to take what’s his—comes down all around him. It’s an event that connects the admittedly unnecessary dots which lie between The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, but it still kind of owns, And this week’s episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch sure looked like it wanted in on all that bounty hunter brouhaha.
Of course, the production schedules of an animated series and an entire comic book line are both incredibly complex; they can’t be expected to perfectly sync up whenever the Mouse House demands it. Still, chalk it up to kismet that the bounty hunter Cad Bane found himself warring with the ruthless Fennec Shand over Omega, his ill-gotten asset, in the foggy corridors of the abandoned cloning facility of Bora Vio in this week’s episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch. The ensuing scrap was a lively bit of catharsis following last week’s rapid-fire series of dramatic gut punches, and a heartening one as well, character-wise: while the fate of Omega was once again thrown up in the air, the small clone from Kamino took matters into her own hands and facilitated her rescue as Fennec and Bane exchanged blaster fire over their would-be bounty.
“Bounty Lost,” this week’s adorably-named episode (directed by Brad Rau and Nathaniel Villanueva, and written by Matt Michnovetz), turned out to be a meticulously-paced entry port to the latter half of this debut season of The Bad Batch. Rife with intricate, storyboarded-up-the-wazoo fight scenes and bookended by two equally riveting sequences aboard the Havoc Marauder, the episode makes some time to finally explore how Omega felt about this whole “lamming it from the only home she’s ever known” thing, and how she’s still coming to grips with being a clone of an infamous bounty hunter who has lived the first years of her life without a family to call her own. (We’ll come back to Omega’s revelations in a bit.)
As Omega discovers just how valuable she was to the cloners of Kamino, Hunter’s paternal instincts kick into overdrive. (It’s worth noting here that Hunter’s affection for Omega reflects Jango Fett’s bond with Boba, a young clone the bounty hunter once attempted to raise as his son.) After suffering their worst failure yet, Hunter’s Bad Batch hustles out of Bracca with the freshly-singed and absolutely furious Crosshair, who has one of his sharp-shootin’ eyes bandaged up, nipping at their heels. It was that old Star Wars chestnut: heroes attempting to make the jump to hyperspace while dodging fire from their mortal enemy. Only this time Hunter refused to make that jump—at least, not without Omega.
Fortunately for her (not to mention the episode), Echo, who has been quietly stepping into his role as the conscience of the Batch over the last couple episodes, quickly reminds Hunter that Cad Bane was certainly off-planet with Omega and they’d never have a chance to find her if they were shot out of the sky. So it’s to hyperspace that they fling themselves, to parts unknown, burdened with heavy hearts.
The Batch aren’t the only ones hot-footing it through hyperspace in the beginning moments of this week’s episode: Cad Bane’s shuttle, the Justifier, hurtles towards its destination with Omega locked up inside, her only company largely being Bane’s smarmy support droid, Todo 360 (voiced magnificently by Seth Green). However, Omega does get a chance to face her kidnapper, who shows her the kind of mercy you would expect from a gunslinger such as Cad Bane. “No one is coming for you, little lady,” he says artfully over his shoulder, toothpick dangling between his teeth (like a good cowboy ought). Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, and Echo are out there somewhere, Omega knows. Getting back to them in one piece is the trick.
Omega’s primary tasks break down like so: navigating the social mores that come with reasoning with a digi-dweeb like Todo; evading that frenetic hallway face-off between Fennec and Bane; boosting a distress beacon from the semi-functional Bora Vio facility so that the Marauder could find her. Omega meets each challenge without losing her nerve once. (She even has the grace to apologize to Todo after betraying his tenuous trust, taking the soldering torch she used to reattach his broken leg and glitching him out with it: “It’s only temporary.”) Later, as Fennec makes her presence known and Cad Bane goes on the offensive, Omega comes upon a long-discarded batch of alien clones, black manufactured eyes staring back at her from within the darkened glass that contain her strange distant cousins. When Fennec reveals that Lama Su has all sorts of heinous plans in store for her, Omega begins to grasp the truth of her existence that Hunter confirms by the end of the episode.
As the newest member of Clone Force 99, Omega has served a particular function on The Bad Batch: the MacGuffin. Secrets and revelations have swirled around this character from the very beginning, and for the first eight episodes, those secrets remained locked up tight. “Bounty Lost” finally opens up the baggage Omega has been unwittingly carrying around with her, which contain information that holds serious ramifications for The Bad Batch as the show propels precariously towards the midseason mark.
So what, specifically, is Omega? First and foremost, she’s a person, one who loves to play ball with kids her age and enjoys learning new things like shooting her new Zygerrian crossbow with startling proficiency. She likes goofing around with Wrecker and trusts Hunter with her life. But as far as Lama Su is concerned Omega is little more than a clone—and this week we discover that she’s probably the most important clone since Alpha was brought into the galaxy well before the Clone Wars. (You’d know Alpha by his other name: Boba Fett.) Omega is a pure genetic replication of Jango Fett, a 1:1 clone created without behavior mods or growth acceleration. And since Alpha, the only other clone built this way, has gone missing (since his dad’s death on Geonosis towards the end of Attack Of The Clones), that makes Omega the only living source of Jango Fett’s raw genetic material.
Echo reasons that the Kaminoans put the bounty on Omega for these reasons, which means they’ll never stop pursuing her until she’s laid out on an operating table and her precious DNA is once again in the hands of Lama Su.
The last time Fennec and Omega brushed against each other, Fennec warned the young clone that, ultimately, the only person Omega will ever be able to rely on is herself. Fennec hits that refrain again this week, which reverberates all the way through to that final scene on the Marauder, where Hunter attempts to reassure Omega that, so long as she had the Batch at her back, she’ll be safe.
“I don’t want to end up an experiment in a tube,” Omega says. “That’s not gonna happen,” Hunter replies, far too casually. Omega knows that the likes of Fennec and Cad Bane will rear their nefarious heads again before this story is told, and again, and again after that, no matter how often Hunter and his Batch fend them off. Her worth is too great to the galaxy’s worst kind of people. This new life of hers may never truly be safe, no matter how many times Hunter tries to convince her otherwise. “You can’t fight them all.” With that, Hunter makes a promise to Omega, which in drama is almost always the kiss of death: “You are never going back to Kamino.” Omega smiles at that, warily.
- When Echo identified Cad Bane for the Batch, he brought up Bane’s participation in the plot to abduct Chancellor Palpatine way back in The Clone Wars Season 4, Episode 18, titled “Crisis on Naboo”.
- There was even more trouble brewing on the choppy waters of Kamino this week: Lama Su called out Nala Se for having a “personal interest in the young clone,” which, he said, had “threatened [their] operation enough.” We discovered Lama’s plans for Omega as he ordered Nala to, upon receiving Omega from Cad Bane, retrieve Omega’s vital genetic material, and then, at last, terminate her. So the revelation that Fennec was hired quite separately by Se to keep Omega safe from Su and his operating table came without a shock. Seems Omega brings out the caring parent in everybody.
- Bane, to Todo: “Get your chassis up here! I can’t see anything in this chop!”
- Todo’s wonder at how “new” his reattached leg felt was cute.
- The abandoned facility on Bora Vio was another lovely environment for The Bad Batch, a Bespin-esque wonder of forgotten spires and wispy clouds. We didn’t spend near enough time outside this week, I think.
- “By hook or by crook, you’re coming with me.”—Cad Bane gets all the great lines and Cory Burton got to emulate a bit of Peter Weller while doing it. I’d be fine with him being the primary heavy of the show next season, just saying.
- It’s like poetry, it rhymes: Omega calling out to the Batch from the sky-high spires of Bora Vio recalls Luke’s hail mary cry from the sky-high spires of Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back. (Just substitute the Force with a wee satellite dish.)
- Bane’s jet-powered boots rule.
- What do you say, group? Is Crosshair’s left eye bound for the pirate patch? Have we seen the last of Cad Bane on The Bad Batch? Are we ready for Omega’s inevitable life-action, grown-up appearance on The Book of Boba Fett? Set your comments to “speculate” below.