The Bad Batch
From the moment The Bad Batch was announced, everybody was waiting for the show to answer one big question: What happened to the clones once the stormtroopers were introduced? So far, the ultimate fate of the clones has been a slow affair, with various bills and propositions about a conscripted army being presented in the Senate. But, now it is clear that there is no going back — the age of clones is over, and the time of the stormtrooper is here. What’s shocking is that, even now that the inevitable has happened, is how quiet and understated the whole thing is. There is no giant declaration of a mass retirement for the clones, no ship transporting every clone to a farm upstate, or even a mass execution. Instead, they are being slowly left out to die with negligence, the Empire’s favorite weapon (give or take a Death Star).
This week we see the return of Crosshair, who has stealthily become the MVP of the season. In a staple of the Star Wars franchise, his redemption has been telegraphed from the very first episode of the show, so it is rather satisfying to finally see Crosshair reach a crossroads in his personal journey of discovering what makes a good soldier.
Now that Palpatine duped the whole Senate into passing his conscription bill, the clones are getting the boot. We see a very unsympathetic officer dismissing concerns by the clones asking what they are supposed to do now that they’re being forced into retirement. As for Crosshair, he is still useful to the Empire, so he’s being shipped off to his next assignment, retrieving some stolen cargo from a remote imperial outpost. Making matters worse, his commanding officer is some imperial lieutenant with about as much regard for the clones as Pong Krell.
Indeed, this episode feels like a spiritual successor to the “Battle of Umbara” story arc of the original Clone Wars, which follows a clone troop as they clash with a Jedi general with zero regard for their lives, one who uses them as expendable bait. (That arc also boasts an episode directed by Walter Murch, the editor of Apocalypse Now.) “Battle of Umbara” served to shine a different light on the relationship between clones and Jedi, which had up to that point been rather friendly, even brotherly, and “The Outpost” is making the dark side of that type of relationship clear to Crosshair.
Once Crosshair and the group arrive at their destination, they meet the clone in charge of the facility, a commander named Mayday. From the get-go, the imperial lieutenant is rather hostile toward Mayday, despite the clone being technically the higher-ranking officer. The lieutenant scolds him for losing men and the cargo, which is being kept secret from the clones, in a facility that is in terrible conditions. Several times, Mayday remarks that he petitioned the Empire for better equipment, or even just repair the equipment they had, to zero success.
When the outpost is attacked by raiders who slip past the place’s defenses and steal more cargo while killing the rest of Mayday’s men, the lieutenant orders him and Crosshair to go retrieve them. We quickly learn there is something more to this outpost than we’re being told, and Mayday doesn’t trust anyone. For one, he is an experienced combat vet, but here he’s just babysitting some crates full of who knows what. Unsurprisingly, Crosshair doesn’t care, he’s still fully in his “good soldiers follow orders” bullshit.
Turns out, the cargo was just entire crates full of shiny new gear and uniforms, the same gear Mayday has spent months asking the Empire for. Except, the new gear is not for them, this is stormtrooper gear and uniforms they’re protecting. That’s right, the clones are quite literally digging their own graves, protecting and transporting the gear for their replacements while their own falls apart.
Just as they find the crates, Mayday and Crosshair are struck by an avalanche that nearly kills Mayday. The clone commander tells Crosshair to leave him behind, but this time, he is not a good soldier who follows orders — he is a good comrade who risks his life to save a fellow clone, his brother. When the two make it back to base, what should be a heroic welcome turns sour immediately with the presence of a whole bunch of stormtroopers. Crosshair pleads to the imperial lieutenant, but he doesn’t budge, he just tells the two clones that they failed the mission since they don’t have the crates with them. He doesn’t care that Mayday is dying, to use imperial resources on a clone would be a waste, so the commander breathes his last breath, serving his purpose as an expendable soldier of the Empire.
Mayday was a good soldier, he followed orders — and this is how he got paid for it. This is how every clone is going to be paid for their service. Is Crosshair going to keep taking it? Hell no. He outright shoots the lieutenant, fully becoming a traitor like his brothers, before passing out.
This is it, the whole thesis of this entire show laid bare. This was going to happen with the Republic either way, since they just commissioned an army bred for battle, without any sort of plan as to what would happen to them later. With the Empire in charge, however, things are simply getting worse more quickly. This is Palpatine’s plan for taking care of the remaining clones: Treat them like garbage, send them out on dangerous missions with absolutely no help or supplies, and then just wait for them to die out or defect.
The episode ends with Crosshair waking up in front of a doctor who injects him with something. The doctor tells him to cooperate and maybe he’ll live. This is Emerie Karr, who briefly appeared in the last episode. The place Crosshair is at? The Empire’s secret cloning facility.
The Mission Report
• Why would they need Crosshair? Sure, his genetic mutation makes him different than the other clones, but given Palpatine’s disdain for clones, why would they need him? Is this related to his own cloning on Exegol, or to some other kind of superweapon we’ll see later?