The Bad Batch
The Clone Wars managed to be many things at once. There are episodes that fully leaned into being a war drama and showed the horror of the titular galactic conflict. Sometimes it was a grand adventure where a Jedi did incredible stunts or a wacky comedy starring droids. More often than not, the show was at its best when it was a political thriller dealing with the big conspiracies behind the Clone Wars and the sinister powers that prevented the way from ending earlier — like the “Lightsaber Lost” episode or the Ahsoka trial arc. This week, The Bad Batch joins the latter tradition with one tense double-episode, “The Clone Conspiracy” and “Truth & Consequences.” They’re the best episodes of the seasons, adding a lot to the overall lore and saga of the clones while forever changing the dynamic of this show.
We start with a sight for sore eyes: the city planet of Coruscant, a whole world that is just one massive metropolis and the capital of the Galactic Empire. From the moment the city-planet first debuted on the screen in The Phantom Menace, it was instantly memorable, a place so unlike any other location in Star Wars but one that perfectly fit that universe. Sure, it looks like just a city, but it’s the multiple levels both above and below ground, the massive, titanic skyscrapers and its shady underworld that makes this a fascinating location. It is simultaneously opulent and ugly, grand and spooky — which fits right into the story of The Bad Batch. There’s fun and wackiness to be found, but there’s also bleak darkness lurking and looming.
The show brought us back to Coruscant to follow up on the little issue that was the destruction of Kamino. (Remember that?) Apparently, the official story is that a cataclysmic storm hit the planet and destroyed their cloning facilities and their entire cities. Of course, we know different, and so do clone troopers Slip and Cade, who we meet at a familiar location, the 79’s clone cantina. Cade is distraught, wondering why Vice-Admiral Rampart — you know, the guy who killed a clone in the premiere episode for daring not to lie on an official report — is lying about what happened on Kamino. Rampart himself ordered the bombardment on the capital Tipoca City, and Cade and Slip were serving on his ship when Rampart fired on the city. Cade is starting to feel guilty about it and starting to ask questions about why Rampart might be covering up what was supposed to be an official order. Why hide something the Empire itself ordered as a good thing to do? Sadly, before Cade can go to the Senate and act as a whistleblower, an assassin silences him forever, though Slip manages to escape.
From then, we cut to the Senate, where there’s an important discussion happening — a topic that has become the clear core of this show: the replacement of clones with conscripted soldiers. If The Bad Batch were just explaining how clone trooper uniforms changed into stormtrooper uniforms it would be dreadfully dull, but this episode shows that there are much more complicated factors at play, including some political commentary on the treatment of veterans. During the Senate meeting, a few senators confront Rampart and his bill to open conscription. There are more important things to discuss than the creation of yet another army since it is supposedly peacetime, but of course, the Banking Clan fully supports Rampart, using the rise of insurgents as an excuse. (Of course, the Banking Clan is back and of course they are still the worst.)
Senator Chuchi (who we first met in The Clone Wars) is the only one to raise an even bigger question — what of the clones? What happens to them when the Senate brings in a new army? Turns out, due to the clones’ accelerated aging, they’re getting old very fast and soon enough there will simply be millions of retired soldiers around. One of the delegates suggests just “decommissioning” them, but Chuchi won’t stand for it, naturally. She takes it upon herself to make sure the clones have someone to speak on their behalf in the Senate, seeking to make sure they are repaid for everything they’ve sacrificed for the Republic.
After The Clone Wars went to great lengths to make sure the audience cared about the clones and saw them as individuals, it is both brilliant and tragic to see The Bad Batch leave no stone unturned in implying a sad ending to these characters. Sure, we know Rex makes it to Return of the Jedi, but what about the others? What about the millions of clones who didn’t get the luxury of being best buds with the Jedi? Or the ones that don’t have connections to senators and freedom fighters? When Chuchi heads to 79’s and asks the troopers about their future, one tells her that they are not trained to think about what happens when they age — but perhaps they should.
Chuchi then meets Slip, who tells her about Rampart’s lies, and how every clone who tried to speak up was either reassigned, went missing, or ended up dead. Sadly, right after Chuchi convinces Slip to help her expose Rampart, the Vice Admiral’s assassin shoots him. Before he dies, Slip does tell Chuchi where to find evidence of the bombardment on Kamino — aboard Rampart’s personal ship. The only reason why Chuchi is able to escape meeting the same fate is because she’s saved by Captain Rex himself, who arrives just in time to stun and capture the assassin. Turns out, it’s another clone! Not only that, but when they try to interrogate him, the assassin says he is “a believer” and then bits into a suicide pill, killing himself.
In “Truth & Consequences,” the Batch accepts the mission Rex offers them. Even though every fiber of their being tells them not to, they’re headed to Coruscant, risking their lives in order to retrieve the incriminating data from Rampart’s ship. The stakes of the mission aside, it feels like a thrilling throwback to when we first met the Batch in The Clone Wars — a Mission: Impossible–meets–The A-Team heist with outside-the-box thinking, cool stunts, and lots of property damage.
Meanwhile, Chuchi tries to find support against Rampart, taking Omega with her, and meeting the former senator of Kamino, Halle Burtoni. Burtoni advises Chuchi to stop digging around, but it is Omega and her mix of sincere emotion and naïveté that convinces Burtoni to testify if they find concrete evidence of Rampart messing with the clone program.
The Batch successfully obtains the ship’s log and delivers it to Chuchi, who in turn is able to present the footage of the attack on Kamino to the Senate. Suddenly a familiar face enters the Senate floor — Mr. Senate himself, Sheev Palpatine! After a supposed long absence from the Senate, this serious subject made the emperor decide to appear in person once more. Speaking before the senators, he shares his shock, his sadness, and his gratitude to Chuchi. Palpatine throws Rampart under the bus and says he acted alone. worse yet, he spins the situation to his favor and points out that it was clones who blindly followed Rampart’s orders without hesitation. He urges the Senate to pass the conscription bill, claiming it’s more relevant now than ever. And, with that, the age of the Imperial stormtrooper is here.
What really seals the tragedy is the fact that it was the Batch themselves who made this all possible. The emperor played them. It’s exactly because they do not play by the rules — they act in the shadows, independently of an army — that they were able to deliver exactly what Palpatine needed. It was them who sealed the fate of their brothers. Still, it is not totally over. Chuchi won’t give up and pledges to continue to fight for clone rights.
In a double-episode full of twists and turns, perhaps the most shocking is the unexpected yet inevitable goodbye at the end of the episode. Having realized his role in dooming the clones, and after several episodes of feeling useless as part of simply a scavenging group of mercenaries, Echo decides to stay behind with Rex. There are clones that need his help, and Hunter and the others are not doing enough, so Echo is staying behind. It is an emotional goodbye, especially when Omega asks him to stay with her, because she needs her brother too. But, Echo has been on a different path for a while and there is no turning back. The Bad Batch breaks yet again, the clone army is gone, and nothing will be the same for this show.
The Mission Report
• This episode shows the right way to do Star Wars cameos. Like Andor, it focuses on one particular setting (in this case, the Senate) and simply shows us characters that would fit in that scenario, like Bail Organa or Mas Amedda.
• When Organa meets Chuchi, he tells her the emperor is reportedly very, very afraid of the new insurgencies turning up across the Empire, threatening his rule. It may be over a decade before the rebellion properly starts, but the episode makes it clear the fight for freedom never stopped or wavered.