Return to Kamino was a fantastic episode of The Bad Batch, setting up an exciting final episode of the season with appropriate amounts of tension and drama.
We knew what the stakes were going into this first part of the finale – Hunter was captured by the Empire and in need of rescue. Naturally, this installment is geared around that rescue mission but the show still managed to throw in some twists and turns and intriguing character beats as some of the season’s long running plotlines were wrapped up.
This is a very dark episode, dealing with a lot of the larger narratives at work in the early days of the Empire. Without spoiling anything yet (the episode title already reveals that our heroes will be returning to Kamino), the return to Kamino feels very grim. In the premiere, Tipoca City already felt ominous as the post-Order 66 clones marched around like robots, and yet somehow the city that the Bad Batch returns to feels even more unsettling.
It sets the stage for a confrontation that is so dramatically charged, you can’t take your eyes off it. Not all of the action is dealt with before the episode ends either, which isn’t surprising given there is another episode left. The cliffhanger itself doesn’t feel quite as tantalizing as previous ones, but it still does a good job of setting the stage for the second part of the finale.
The most interesting character in this episode proved to be Crosshair by a mile. We spend the whole episode assuming he is still under the control of his inhibitor chip, as he sets a trap in place for the Bad Batch by activating Hunter’s beacon. In hindsight, the episode does a good job of building to the huge reveal that his chip was actually removed some time ago.
It’s not stated when it would have been removed, but Hunter’s quick inspection of Crosshair’s burn scars suggest that it might have been removed after he sustained the industrial-grade burns back on Bracca. It did seem odd that his squad seemed to question how he might react when face to face with his old squad, as his inhibitor chip would have removed any possibility of that happening.
It seemed equally unlikely that the Empire would have removed it willingly, and I was spending most of the episode wondering how Hunter and the rest of the Bad Batch were going to go about removing Crosshair’s chip from his brain.
But the reveal that Crosshair was staying loyal to the Empire by choice was staggering. Sure, we’ve always known that he was a bit of an ass even when they were on the same side, but the idea that he would back the Empire is something I never would have expected, considering every member of his old squad and Rex, Howzer and Cut (basically any clone with a personality) correctly saw the Empire as an oppressive regime.
The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch and Star Wars Rebels has set a precedent that every clone to get rid of their chip has decided to do the right thing and turn against the Empire. Crosshair is the first clone we have seen who believes that the Empire are the good guys.
Part of his decision seems to be caused by the fact that Crosshair feels abandoned by his former comrades. We saw that the Bad Batch were unable to bring Crosshair with them when they escaped Kamino, but it’s interesting to hear Crosshair’s side of the story. He believes that they fled at the first sign of trouble and didn’t even try to make him see their side of the story. Of course, Crosshair’s chip made that impossible, but he seems to believe that by turning their backs on the Empire, they also turned their backs on him.
I really didn’t think the conflict between Crosshair and the Bad Batch would be a philosophical difference in opinion like this, but it was a great choice by Dave Filoni, who pulled the rug out from under the audience. In the middle of this confrontation, we were treated to a few wonderful action scenes, the first being Crosshair’s single shot that bounced off the walls and killed every present member of War-Mantle with a single bolt.
It was thrilling to see them team up against the practice droids, just like they did in the premiere. It shows us that both parties desperately want each other to be friends again, despite their irreconcilable differences, and that creates such an intriguing relationship between them.
The episode also tried to do some interesting things with Omega, but with mixed results in my opinion. On the one hand, she proved her usefulness by showing the Bad Batch a back door into Tipoca City and did well to trick the War-Mantle squad member who came after her.
On the other, I don’t feel that the episode did enough to dig into the sadness she expressed when they all entered Nala Se’s private lab. The reveal that this was where Clone Force 99 was created should have been a bigger deal, but it felt like something was missing. There was an interesting hint that Omega was there when they were created and “birthed”, but the scene moves on from it pretty quickly.
That’s understandable as the priority was still saving Hunter, but I was a bit confused as to why Omega felt so down about being back in the lab. She brushes it off when someone asks her what’s the matter, so perhaps the final episode will be able to delve a bit more into this, but in the context of this episode alone, it felt a little half-baked.
That brings us to the final moment of the episode, as Admiral Rampart gives the order to bombard Tipoca City (after a very quick cameo from Tarkin), finally answering the question of what the Empire actually did with the Kaminoans and their cloning technology. Rampart confirms that the cloning tech and Kaminoan scientists are now under Imperial control, and happily gave the order to destroy the city while Crosshair and the Bad Batch were still in there.
We even got a montage of an empty Tipoca City, with the machines housing the cloning pods all brought to a standstill. The city was already a pretty sterile environment in Attack of the Clones and The Clone Wars, but seeing it as a ghost town was a sombre moment. Effectively, what we saw was the last sign of the Republic getting obliterated as the clones were shuffled away and their home destroyed. We’ve spent so many years rooting for the clones that it was sad to see.
It’ll be intriguing to see what’s in store for us next week. The show has wrapped up the subplot with the Empire and the Kaminoans, and with the latter dealt with, there are also presumably no bounty hunters after Omega anymore. We’re left wondering how on earth the Bad Batch will escape Tipoca City (we know that they will, now that it’s been announced that The Bad Batch will return for season 2), but the more pertinent question is what will happen with Crosshair.
He might remain stunned until they escape Tipoca City, though that seems unlikely. But what will he do when he wakes up and realizes that the Empire has betrayed him?
It’s unlikely that he’ll just forgive the Bad Batch, so perhaps once they escape Kamino he’ll decide to go his own way. It’s that question that has remained the most intriguing aspect of the season going into the final episode. I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out.
For more of our thoughts on Return to Kamino, watch James Baney of The Resistance Broadcast discuss the episode below.
Come back next week for our review of part two of the finale, and make sure to regularly check out Star Wars News Net for everything going on in a galaxy far, far away.