I think it’s indisputable at this point that The Bad Batch is a series destined to be a tragedy. We’re nearly halfway into this 16-episode season, and the breadcrumbs the show is dropping might as well be bad omens. It’s the kind of foreshadowing that gets more and more chilling as this story progresses.
The Bad Batch‘s 75-minute premiere, “Aftermath,” planted the seeds of ruin for clones with a shifted perspective on Order 66. The directive resulted in clones turning on the Jedi, their allies against the separatists, wiping their kind nearly out of existence with one command.
Much of the focus on this devastating piece of Star Wars history has centered on how it crippled the Jedi Order, allowed the Empire to successfully grab absolute power, weakened the resistance before it could even really begin, and halted galactic progress.
But this series begs the question of how it affected the clones, effectively grounding the story in discussions of autonomy, agency, and personhood. There’s no clearer indicator of this than the inhibitor chip each clone has implanted in their brain, it’s the very thing keeping them in thrall to the Empire’s agenda.
The Bad Batch’s inhibitor chips still function
The clones commissioned, and I use this word purposefully, by the Kaminoans were created for the expressed purpose of carrying out their duties according to who has command of them. They are meant to follow orders, fall in line, and not question what’s asked of them.
To ensure that this happens, an inhibitor chip overrides any disobedience or straying from mission objectives. Essentially, it’s a tool specifically designed to keep clones on a leash and prevent them from making decisions that don’t align with their handlers’ plans.
Within The Bad Batch, clones are considered to be “all the same,” not only in their appearance, as they all look like the bounty hunter Jango Fett, but also in how they act. This, of course, isn’t true for the Batch or any of the clones, to be frank.
It’s a perception. One further perpetuated by the clones’ betrayal of the Jedi in unison. What sets the Batch apart is their weakened inhibitor chips due to their genetic mutations. Or at least that was the case before Crosshair fell prey to the Empire’s command.
Initially, there seemed to be some line walking on whether Crosshair was following orders because he’s a “good soldier” or because of his inhibitor chip but once Tarkin had the Kaminoans dial the chip up to 11, it became quite clear Crosshair was no longer in control of himself.
Their tampering led to his disturbing rationalization for slaughtering civilians along with a disobedient member of the human team under his charge in “Replacements”. It’s the kind of miscalculation that’s set the dominoes in place for a seemingly inevitable fall for the clones at large. We know this because Governor Tarkin is set on re-categorizing the Clone Army as a temporary force within the Empire’s control.
His plans have been waylayed by Admiral Rampart’s Project War Mantle, but that is simply because he’s willing to entertain human soldiers being trained by elite clones. It’s beneficial to his agenda of strengthening the Empire’s regime, however, his bias against clones could be the catalyst that ushers in a new age to this time period in the Star Wars universe.
Are the Bad Batch at risk of being decommissioned?
A point of history in Star Wars that hasn’t been explored at length, in the live-action or animated series of this universe, is the disappearance of clone forces. In the prequels, clone soldiers are everywhere, but they’re absent in the original trilogy and the sequels. Human stormtroopers have taken their place and there’s no real explanation for it.
The Bad Batch seems to be filling in that narrative hole with its slow, creeping reveal of information that continues to stack the odds of survival against the Batchers and their fellow clones.
Episode 6, “Decommissioned,” drew a comparison between the droids being decommissioned and the clones with a line from a droid who has no idea what’s going on or why he’s attacking but is doing it anyway because “orders are orders.”
This comes on the heels of the Batch and the Martez sisters reprogramming a tactical droid to get out of a sticky situation and gain the upper hand over police droids in their way. It’s no Order 66 but the parallels can’t be ignored.
Paired with Wrecker’s head bump that pushes him further into his chip’s hypnotic compulsion to be a good soldier and follow orders, things aren’t looking good for our misfit crew. If Wrecker eventually sides with Crosshair because he’s compelled to by the chip, that leaves the possibility that the others could follow suit.
While that doesn’t mean they’ll go to the same lengths as Crosshair to fulfill a mission objective if they end up controlled by Tarkin, it would put them into a situation that could threaten their existence.
Crosshair, if left unchecked, could be a liability to all clones, and it’s unlikely Tarkin would see his extreme measures as an isolated event. Rather, it’s just the excuse he needs to end the Kaminoan clones project altogether, citing an imminent danger to the Empire’s objectives. Ironic, considering the very tactic they used to usurp control of the galaxy could lead to their downfall. You have to love hubris.
Clones are seen as no different than droids in The Bad Batch
However, a move of this nature does put the Batch and their fellow clones on a path to being decommissioned. They’re already seen as a means to an end. Tools and weapons not people with their own opinions, desires, and personalities.
“Decommissioned” isn’t the first time the clones were compared to droids in the series. Echo pretended to be one in episode 4 “Cornered” after Hunter hatched a plan to pawn him for money.
It was a plot played for laughs, but the two episodes present an interesting parallel and further pushed the following questions: Who is considered a person? Whose autonomy is respected and seen as integral to their being? Whose life is seen as having value in its very existence not simply in what way they can be used?
The clones are a separate class unto themselves and, depending on the individual, aren’t treated as equals to those who aren’t clones. The Batch in particular are even ostracized from their own kind.
The very existence of the inhibitor chip demonstrates that the autonomy of clones, the ability to make decisions on their own and choose for themselves, isn’t respected. The use of that chip by the Kaminoans and whoever is in command of a clone unit at any given time shows this explicitly.
Finally, while clones like Cut, who has a wife and a family, and the Batchers (who have each other), are seen to have value to one another, that’s not the case across the board.
Clones exist to follow orders; that is their purpose. Defying the nature of their creation is a direct contradiction of why they were commissioned. As such, if they can’t be reprogrammed like Crosshair, and potentially Wrecker, then the only logical step for those who don’t see them as people is to decommission them.
The more The Bad Batch progresses, the more I fear that’s the impending future for our misfit crew. Or, if not their future, then the threat shadowing their steps.
What this could mean for Omega, I’m not sure. She’s been presented as special. Perhaps, she is the lone clone who doesn’t have an inhibitor chip. Her role in all of this is still unclear, however, with potential tragedy on the horizon, she could find herself without the found family that’s cared for her since the beginning.
I hope not but the foreshadowing is becoming more and more apparent and grim.