One of the hallmark topics of the Star Wars franchise is Family: what constitutes Family and what are you willing to do for Family. This can be seen in the original trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi) in the relationship between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. The first two seasons of The Mandalorian focus on the creation of a father-and-son bond between Din Djarin and Grogu. And The Bad Batch follows that tradition with the growing relationship between Omega and the Batch, particularly Hunter.
Spoilers ahead, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the episode yet.
The episode picks up shortly after the end of episode one, with the team heading to Saleucami to look up an old friend, Cut Lawquane. For those like myself who watched The Clone Wars, Cut was a clone trooper who deserted, finding peace with his wife Suu and their two children. Cut was the first clone trooper who showed a separate individuality from the clones that had been shown up to that point, aside from Cody and Rex. In the end, Cut was left to raise his family in peace. Now that the Empire has arisen, Hunter and the rest of Clone Force 99 seek refuge there, regrouping to figure out their next course of action.
Omega gets a large amount of screen time in this episode, particularly since all of this is new to her. She is a child who has never had to interact with other children, never seen open air or sunlight. With Cut’s family, she gets a glimpse of what its like to play like other children normally do. When Omega is nearly attacked by a Nexu (the feral cat seen in the arena scene of Attack of the Clones), Hunter is clearly distressed and doesn’t hesitate to rescue her. But then he harshly admonishes her for her recklessness, not realizing yet that he can’t treat her the way he would treat his other clone soldiers. Cut intervenes, showing that he’s taken the lessons of fatherhood to heart. It’s apparent immediately that Hunter regrets speaking to Omega that way but it’s the conversation with Suu that convinces Hunter a different path is needed for Omega. Suu’s statement that children will always find their way into trouble and it is the responsibility of a parent/guardian to get them out of trouble and protect them from harm that sticks with Hunter.
The rest of the Batch have some fun in the episode as well as some poignant moments that show how far the galaxy has fallen. The Empire insists on everyone receiving a chain code and ID chip. Tech rightly points out that this is so the Empire can readily keep track of individuals. Echo’s sentiments hit home for those who watched The Clone Wars: one of the major storylines of that series was the clones fighting for recognition as individuals and not numbers. Now, with the Empire in power, people are lining up to be given registration numbers. The universe in this story has turned upside down and the Batch are right in the thick of it.
On a side note, who wouldn’t want to have fun with Uncle Wrecker?
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The ending of the episode was also quite touching. Omega gives up the chance to leave with Cut’s family and have a relatively normal life to go back to Hunter, Tech, Echo, and Wrecker. This is the family she’s chosen and she says as much to Hunter at the end of the episode. Hunter, having grown to understand a bit of his feelings toward the young clone, accepts that if she wants to be with the Batch, then that’s where she stays. I’m still not certain what abilities Omega will develop during the story, which is a good mystery to hold off on for the time being. Right now, Omega is a catalyst character. Through her interactions with the Batch, she is going to force the disparate individuals that make up the group to question who they are now that the Clone War is done and they aren’t soldiers anymore.
In other words, the change is happening now, thanks to Omega, for them to stop being a squad of elite soldiers and become a Family. Star Wars is and always has been built around stories of Family and the responsibilities that come with that moniker. We do anything for Family, up to and including putting our lives on the line for them. It’s still early in the story but the seeds are being planted by Filoni and his writers to bring about that dynamic for The Bad Batch.
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