Warning! Spoilers follow for The Bad Batch episode 12.
In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, we came to learn about a little thing called “inhibitor chips.” You can read about it more in-depth here, but in a nutshell, it’s a chip implanted in every Kaminoan clone. And once activated, it simply makes them follow orders without question (such as executing Order 66).
There are a few people who were actively able to work around that. That includes Captain Rex, who had his chip removed in The Clone Wars. And most recently, the members of the Bad Batch had their chips removed during their series as well. Technically, they were nearly safe from the effects of the chips because of their modifications, but Wrecker’s unstable behavior mid-season began to prove that the chip could have a delayed effect.
Still, that’s about all we knew about the inhibitor chip. You either get it removed and enjoy your free will, or you keep it and follow orders. That is, that’s all we knew about them up until episode 12 of The Bad Batch, “Rescue on Ryloth.” And now there’s evidence that there’s something in between those two extremes.
Malfunctioning inhibitor chips?
Last week, in episode 11, we were introduced to Captain Howzer. And we realized that his sympathy for the Syndulla family was a bit too strange for someone who’s supposed to be a mindless drone controlled by the Empire. That wasn’t the case, and he strictly defied orders when it came to the family.
In episode 12, when the Syndulla parents landed in jail, Howzer let his intentions be clear: he was there to help Hera and her family. Hera’s father, Cham, had a hard time believing him initially. But as a viewer, you could sense he was telling the truth. Later, when Hera called on the Bad Batch for help, we saw Howzer come together with them to support Hera and stand up against the Empire.
While Howzer distracted his troop from the prison break, he asked them to come to their senses. “We came here to free Ryloth from Separatist control, and we succeeded,” he said. “But look around you. We’re now being ordered to target the very people we swore to protect. And I will not be a part of it any longer.”
When he asked who would stand with him, I was personally expecting his entire troop to attack him that very instant. But instead, a few soldiers laid down their shields and weapons in solidarity with him. Did those clones just exercise free choice and free thought?
Of course, under the watchful eye of Crosshair, an order was placed to arrest the traitors. But we do have proof that there’s something bigger going on with the clones. Not all were as complacent as we thought they were.
The big question here is: what comes next? We know that somewhere in the timeline, the Empire goes from using the Republic’s clones to regular humans in their stormtrooper program. And with the knowledge that not all clones are as affected by their chips, it makes you wonder how the story of the clones will progress.
Similar to the inhibitor chip detection arc in The Clone Wars, this is a fascinating new story arc we’re uncovering, and The Bad Batch is the perfect place to explore this topic. We hope more information about this will be revealed in the episodes to come and possibly even in a second season.