by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 15: Return to Kamino
As Clone Force 99 returns to Kamino and the long-awaited confrontation between Hunter and Crosshair occurs, Star Wars: The Bad Batch’s first season draws to a dramatic close in Part I of a two-part finale. Titled Return to Kamino, episode 15 sees Echo, Tech, Wrecker, and Omega journey to Kamino to rescue Hunter. Meanwhile, Crosshair and the Empire have plans of their own.
Return to Kamino feels like a perfect, poetic start to a final arc that ties together the different emotional threads and plot points of The Bad Batch’s debut season. The long-awaited confrontation between Hunter and Crosshair that the series’ pilot brilliantly set up is executed with tremendous and emotionally poignant effect in episode 15. Although Crosshair’s “turn to the dark side” was a shock in the first episode, the former member of Clone Force 99 has largely played a backseat role in the show’s first season. While, at times, this has been a bit disappointing, it made the emotional payoff in Return to Kamino all the more impactful after weeks of waiting. The big moment in this episode comes from Crosshair’s reveal that his alliance with the Empire was not driven by an inhibitor chip, but, rather, by a deep-rooted philosophical difference in how he perceives their role in the galaxy. To Hunter, Crosshair was a man who (unwillingly) betrayed his family for the sake of a regime deprived of all moral standing. But, to Crosshair, he was abandoned by his family for simply following orders in an effort to restore order to the galaxy. As viewers, we obviously know that Crosshair’s reasoning is weak to say the least and, nonetheless, this is still a powerful scene. Crosshair is not a mindless villain following orders against his will; he made a decision of his own volition that led to his separation from those closest to him. This reveal makes the events of this scene all the more heartbreaking, while interestingly setting up this plot moving forward as Hunter rescues Crosshair rather than leave his brother behind.
It probably goes without saying at this point, but the animation on display during this sequence and the entire episode is stunning. Kamino comes to life as it did in Attack of the Clones in beautiful fashion. And the Kiners brilliantly recall John Williams’ theme from Episode II, which adds yet another cinematic quality to the episode. There’s still mysteries of Kamino to unpack in this episode as Omega introduces the crew (and the audience) to the underground tunnel system on Kamino. Here, Omega introduces the Bad Batch to their place of birth. There’s a lot of intrigue and mystery surrounding Omega’s origins and scenes like this showcased how we’re likely to get even more reveals next week. And, poetically, we’re left on a somber note of the destruction of Tipoca City. Glimpses into the empty halls of the cloning facilities were haunting and continued the long-standing theme in the series of exploring the state of the galaxy after the fall of the Republic.
We’ve always known that clones were faded out by the time of the original trilogy, but how we ended up there always remained a mystery. The Bad Batch has deftly explored this topic so far, with the introduction of conscripted soldiers and the swift closure of Kamino’s cloning operations seen in previous episodes. The destruction of Kamino’s capital city in episode 15 was the icing on the cake, figuratively and literally showcasing how the Empire is remaking the galaxy according to their wants and wishes. It’s terrific storytelling that interconnects the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy era by addressing long-standing questions of the transition from clone troopers to stormtroopers. There is surely more to come with this thread, but needless to say The Bad Batch’s exploration of different facets of life and business in a quickly transitioning galaxy has been a highlight of the first season.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+