The Bad Batch: Return to Kamino and Kamino Lost Thoughts
Part one of the season finale has the team return to Kamino to confront Crosshair, and some hard truths as the Empire looms in the background.
The beginning of this episode has a plot device straight out of the show 24 Hours as you hear a faint ticking clock sound. The sound continues as we see an Imperial ship traveling through hyperspeed. Hunter is being taken back to Kamino, and Crosshair uses his communication link to signal the others, and this episode does not take its foot off the gas, so here we go:
Who Gets Rescued and Who Gets Left Behind
This whole show can be a metaphor for this statement. The Bad Batch has spent most of the season deciding who to rescue and who to leave behind. And they have always chosen to rescue people when they can (with some convincing by Omega or Echo). Except in the very beginning of the show, when they leave Crosshair behind. As Hunter puts it when Crosshair throws not-so-subtle shade, they had no choice as Crosshair was trying to kill him. Crosshair retorts by saying he didn’t have a choice. Forgive me if I do not care. Even if they somehow managed to take Crosshair with them, they would still have to deal with the sharpshooter trying to kill them.
No, what Crosshair is really mad about is they went back for Omega and left him behind. Throughout the whole series, Crosshair has been particularly hostile towards Omega. Calling her their “little side-kick,” while demeaning, is telling on how Crosshair views Omega. Crosshair does not see her as a part of the team because that would mean she was his replacement. Before ES-02 gets knocked out, Crosshair instructs her to put Omega on a shuttle off-world, not to protect her, but to get her out of the way. Well, now that Crosshair has been saved by his teammates and given a chance, what will he do? Continue to hold a grudge? Probably.
Crosshair’s Glorious Purpose
Crosshair is a bad person. A supremacist to be exact, which has been seeded since their arc in The Clone Wars. He thinks that he and his brothers are better than the regular clones and better than the conscripted troopers. Skill wise, he is not wrong, but that does not matter to the Empire.
His superiority complex is on full display as he tells Hunter that the Empire cannot protect the galaxy without strength and that this is what they were made for. It is all sounding pretty Sithy. Crosshair then does a very Sithy thing and kills his own team, telling the Bad Batch that they all are meant for more than drifting through the galaxy. It is another twist as Crosshair intends to replace his current teammates with his old brothers.
And that leads to the big revelation: Crosshair tells the team that he had his chip removed a long time ago and that this is who he is. And if someone tells you who they are, believe them. As for the inhibitor chip being removed, the timeline is sketchy because this would have been after the Kaminoans scanned his head to confirm that the chip was activated. But the mark is there that he had some operation on his head when Hunter checks. Hunter stuns Crosshair and tells Wrecker to grab him as they make their way towards the exit.
I cannot stress enough that Crosshair should not be redeemed in this series. Star Wars has an ugly history of redeeming horrible people with one act of heroism. Both Darth Vader and Kylo Ren were mass murderers and did not earn their hero moments (Vader especially). Filoni’s animation-verse has been better at treating villains like villains. And even when there is redemption like Agent Kallus in Rebels, it is earned. What message would it send if someone like Crosshair, who has supremacists beliefs and has killed civilians (possibly without his inhibitor chip), gets redeemed? Not every person can come back from evil acts, and Star Wars needs to be better at making that clear. It is significant that Crosshair does not have that inhibitor chip and cannot fall back on that as an excuse. We will see how it plays out, but if this is another path towards redemption, that would be a huge disappointment.
One Last Look
Kamino is a major location in the Star Wars animation-verse, and the training room where the final showdown takes place has played significantly into character growth for clones like the Domino Squad. The shots of the empty hallways, cafeteria, and the lab while the team is fleeing the facility are haunting.
Even though we knew Omega would return to Kamino, it was a good spin that she returned to rescue Hunter. And Omega was clutch in this episode from start to finish: from knowing the coordinates to a secret landing pad, the tube system leading to Nala Se’s private research lab, and using battle droids as a distraction. There should be no more doubts or hesitancy with her place in the team. The reunion with the droid AZI provided the necessary exposition to get the team up to speed with what has happened since their departure. Key Kaminoan medical personnel were forced into transports (those who refused were eliminated), and the clones were reassigned and transferred off-world.
We learn that not only was Omega created in Nala Se’s lab, but so was the Bad Batch. They were called Experimental Unit 99, echoing Cut’s point in “Cut and Run” that the Kaminoans have a reason for everything. Kamino holds a lot of history for every clone and, wherever the rest are, I wonder how they will feel learning that it was destroyed by the Empire.
When Admiral Rampart is speaking to Tarkin that the cloning technology and key scientist is secured, Tarkin gives his favorite order “you may fire when ready.” And one of the officers targeting the facility is a clone. The mystery still remains what the Empire is planning on doing with the clones.
Earlier in the episode, Tech notes the tube transport system is not documented on any of the schematics, which means the Empire probably does not know about the transport system either. Later, the team retreats back inside the main facility for cover, and the episode ends as the building goes down in a hail of fire from the Venator Star Destroyers with all Bad Batch members supposedly inside. And the transport system is probably their way out. Kamino held many secrets, and there are still some on other planets (including the abandoned facility from “Bounty Lost”).
But the door finally closes on Kamino this season. Farewell.
Some Love for Dee Bradley Baker…and all other Voice Actors for the Clones
As if Dee Bradley Baker’s voice talents could not be outdone from The Clone Wars, he is almost a one-man show on The Bad Batch. Aside from Omega, he is having conversations with himself. Each voice is distinct enough but similar enough where you buy it (and Baker breaks down his Bad Batch distinctions in this ET Interview). I only have experience with Baker being in the US, but I want to give some love to the other voice actors for the clones in the international markets who have been putting up the work: José Luis Orozco (Latin America), Henrik Jandorf (Dansk), Martin Keßler (Germany), Jordi Ribes (Castilian Spanish), Markus Niemi (Finnish), Serge Biavan (who does everyone but Tech in French), Alessandro Ballico (Italy), Akio Kaneda (Japan), Jim de Groot (Netherlands), Halvard Djupvik (Norway), Ricardo Schnetzer (Brazil), José Neves (Portugal), and Steve Kratz (Sweden).
The Bad Batch: Kamino Lost
Part two of the season finale takes place mainly on Kamino as the Bad Batch (together again) race against the elements and have a few conversations along the way.
Most of this episode is an “escape from” story with a series of conversations. The team comes to terms with Crosshair’s nature and says goodbye, with a whole lot of tension in between. Thoughts on the finale, “Kamino Lost”:
The Production Design is Felt and Heard
This has been evident in some episodes more than others, but the first and last episodes have felt particularly cinematic. In the beginning, when the team is running inside the main facility with the sirens going off, an explosion temporarily impairs Omega’s hearing. No one is saying anything. All that can be heard are explosions and a crumbling structure as the Bad Batch tries to survive. It is a tense few minutes to begin the episode, but the cinematography, production, and sound design shine during these few minutes. The weight of water is also felt during the Bad Batch’s escape, even when they are not in immediate danger. Tensions rise in both conversation and environment when the team is in the tube system headed towards Nala Se’s office. They must walk through the compromised system surrounded by cracked glass, which is the only thing separating them from death. All while listening to Crosshair berate them for following Omega’s advice. While all of the episodes have had standouts, the entire production design takes center stage in “Kamino Lost,” giving Kamino one last hurray before going into that sweet goodnight.
No One is Left Behind
This is the first time that everyone is together since the first episode. Numbers-wise, it is the biggest group in a Star Wars staple (with AZI it is one more than Rebels). And throughout the whole episode, there is an eery sense that someone is going to die. The circumstances are too dire, and the obstacles keep piling. One of the tensest scenes comes when the team uses medical tanks to float to the surface. It’s a brilliant idea, but they have to avoid debris cracking the glass so they turn to AZI. The droid is waterproof and can help navigate the tanks. But the little droid’s battery is depleted, and he is tapped into his reserve power. This is not going to end well. Before he can get to the surface, AZI’s power runs out. He shuts down, sinking to the bottom of the Kamino ocean…nope! Omega breaks her medical chamber and goes after the droid, almost getting herself killed. Then Crosshair shoots a rope wire hitting the droid to bring both AZI and Omega up.
The act makes sense and does not seem out of place for Crosshair, given that Omega saved him from drowning earlier in the episode. He makes it clear that they are even. It is a good bookend to the season and a chance for both sides to correct their mistakes. But the Empire’s ascendancy has driven a wedge between Crosshair and his former teammates that cannot be fixed by simply removing an inhibitor chip. And now the Bad Batch has another droid on their team that has Kaminoan medical knowledge. Medical knowledge that could include more information on “Alpha” aka Boba Fett. Very interesting.
Acceptance and Moving On
It took all season, but the Bad Batch finally came to terms with Crosshair’s nature. There is no inhibitor chip excuse. Wrecker calls Crosshair out on his hypocrisy that he, too, could have sought the team out after removing his chip. And Crosshair is a hypocrite. He accuses Hunter of taking things too personally when Crosshair has been holding a grudge against his former teammates this entire season for leaving him. But Tech is the one who puts it plainly, telling Wrecker “Crosshair has always been severe and unyielding. It is his nature. You cannot change that. He cannot change that.” Tech adds to Crosshair that he understands him, but that does not mean that he agrees with him.
And Executive Producer Jennifer Corbett and her writing team do not let up on that fact. Crosshair only starts to help when Omega confronts him and says that she wanted to believe it was the inhibitor chip that made him the way he is, but she was wrong. Proving that, even if you are an unyielding person, there is something about a child’s disappointment that can shame you into doing the right thing. Crosshair suggests AZI as the directional tool to escape through the medical tanks and then saves Omega when she is about to drown. But he still stays behind for the Empire to find him…and the rest of the team finally lets him go. Where his journey will take him next season is entirely up to Crosshair.
The Shows Cannot Do All the Heavy Lifting for the Films
Just like The Clone Wars is credited with redeeming the Prequel trilogy (there is still a lot of awful to be found in those films), The Bad Batch is attempting to make The Rise of Skywalker make sense. Good luck. And I mean it. I wish nothing but good luck to Star Wars animation (and The Mandalorian) to try and make me like The Rise of Skywalker. The last scene brings Nala Se back, and she does not appear to have any Kaminoan medical personnel. Arriving on what could be Doros flanked by TK troopers, an Imperial scientist greets Nala and says the Empire has big things planned for her. It is a slow wink that Nala Se will be working on the cloning project referenced in The Mandalorian and likely leading to Palpatine’s return in The Rise of SKywalker.
But is this how Lucasfilm wants to continue to operate? To keep having the shows correct the plot holes from the films? Hopefully, now that Disney’s Lucasfilm has gotten sloppy out of their system, they have put poor planning behind them. The shows can be great complements to the films while telling their own individual stories, like Rebels. But when you have to watch seven seasons of an animated show to get all of the development for major characters like Anakin and Padme or understand why Order 66 was so tragic (not just for the Jedi, but for the clones) your script is lacking. Granted, there is more time between Episode VI and Episode VII where certain things can be explained in detail, but it should not be on these shows to completely support the films.
Everyone in the main cast got their moment in the finale except Echo. This whole season has felt like a holding cell for Echo, who only had one side story focused on him ( Cornered where he was mistaken for a droid). They are not wanting for conflict: between the entire clone army being replaced, to further exploring the galaxy without Jedi, there are plenty of avenues to travel with Echo. His trauma from being a Separatist tool has barely scratched the surface, and that is only if one watched The Clone Wars. Next season needs to do right by him, and I have confidence in the story team that they will.
Overall this season has been a rollercoaster of thrilling episodes mixed with ones that did not quite fit. Now that a second season is confirmed, those episodes and the characters introduced will likely come back. But within the context of a single season, momentum does slow down. I also hope this season has closed the book on Crosshair as the main antagonist. He will likely have a storyline with the Empire, but the conflict between him and the Bad Batch (now truly separate) should be over. The Empire and Admiral Rampart is more than enough for the Bad Batch to have to contend with next season.
Originally published at http://creditsandcanon.com on August 14, 2021.