When we return to Kashyyyk in the sixth episode of The Bad Batch’s second season, “Tribe,” we know where the story is ultimately going: The Wookie home world will be pillaged and its citizens enslaved, all at the hands of the Empire. We’ve already seen the Empire’s devastating treatment of planets and people that pose even a slight inconvenience: orbital bombardments, mass killings and a general disregard for life.
But what I found most intriguing about this latest journey to Kashyyyk was that we got to see who was doing the Empire’s dirty work. We didn’t encounter an elite team of Death Troopers; we saw no Imperial officers. Instead, we saw Imperial operations being run by a band of Trandoshans—mercenaries, by the look of things—and a handful of clone troopers.
Trandoshans have a special hatred for Wookies and a long, gruesome history of hunting them. (Matthew Rudoy wrote a great piece exploring that bit of Star Wars lore on this very site!) In short, Wookies are a prized prey for Trandoshan hunters, scorned by them as little more than walking brutes who make great coats. It’s an ideological, existential hatred that literally places Wookies at the lowest rung of their spiritual hierarchy.
We see Trandoshan disdain on full display as they burn up the forest, desecrating the Wookies’ sacred spaces. To the Empire, the Wookies may just be another people to oppress, but to the Trandoshans, it’s personal, ideological, meticulous. This is scorched earth warfare, literally.
The Empire clearly knows how to turn its would-be subjects against one another. Leveraging the Trandoshan quasi-religious hatred as fuel and fodder for the Imperial conquest of Kashyyyk demonstrates the shrewd callousness with which the Empire goes about subjugating free worlds. The fact that a couple of outdated clones are tossed into the expedition as target practice—or, more likely, arm-ripping-off practice—only underlines the point.
The Empire is moving pawns about in a cultural and spiritual war, and the Trandoshans are all too happy to play their part.
Compare this to the response of Clone Force 99. Their respect and reverence for local cultures is immediately evident. When creatures of the forest hem them in, they don’t attack; they defer to Gungi—the surviving Wookie Jedi Padawan whose journey home instigated the whole episode—and he helps them escape peacefully. When the Wookies claim that the trees have a plan to defeat the Imperial forces, the Batch agrees to follow it. As the episode progresses, we even see the Batch grow more willing to try local food and drink—a clear demonstration of their deference to and respect for the Wookie people.
Hunter remarks that they can use all the help they can get in battling the Empire. In this episode, he’s specifically referring to wroshyr trees. But these themes of inclusion over exclusion, connecting rather than dividing, curiosity instead of dismissal are foundational to all of Star Wars. It’s what separates the dark side from the light: the reminder that all things are connected, all things can manifest the Living Force—if we are curious and caring enough to look.
The kind of hatred the Trandoshans have for the Wookies is an existential threat not just for the citizens of Kashyyyk but for any sort of rebellion or resistance. Empire always tries to divide and conquer, and the inability of one group to recognize their own inherent biases—their own willingness to participate in division—can become the exposed vent in the proverbial Death Star of any organized resistance.
Delving into what makes up cultures and traditions different from our own—those trees the Wookies commune with, for example—can be an antidote to Imperial practices, one that works in a galaxy far, far away as well as it does in ours.