Welcome to The Bad Batch Explained, our weekly column dedicated to those rough and tumble Clone Wars leftovers and their march through a bold, new galaxy far, far away. In this entry, we’re charging into Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 11 (“Devil’s Deal”) and considering how resistance forms rebellion. So yes, there are spoilers here.
Clone Force 99 slinks into the shadows this week, appearing in only one scene of Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 11 (“Devil’s Deal”), which is instead primarily concerned with tracking the burgeoning rebellion breeding on Ryloth. Last week, in The Bad Batch Episode 10, we observed how one lone senator resisted Imperial occupation. Now we witness what happens when a senator with far less noble characteristics hands his people and his planet to the Empire willingly.
Senator Orn Free Taa was a frequent face in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The greedy Twi’lek was one of the first politicians to throw in with Chancellor Palpatine, and he was standing next to the dictator when he declared himself Emperor in Revenge of the Sith. It was Taa’s applause that killed liberty.
In The Bad Batch Episode 11, Orn Free Taa remains a glutenous creature, eagerly encouraging his people to lay down their arms and accept Imperial rule. The Twi’leks gather at his balcony and meet Taa’s words with hisses, but they silence when General Cham Syndulla appears by his side. Cham was a Clone Wars hero, and his actions always supported his vow. If he tells the people to lay down their arms, they will.
We know that making nice with the Empire will only last so long. A New Hope is on the horizon, and Ryloth will be one of the first Outer Rim planets to resist Palpatine’s galactic grip. In Star Wars: Rebels, the animated series that bridges the prequels to the original trilogy, we learn that Cham and his wife, Eleni, ignited this rebellion against the Empire. And in the process, Eleni died, forever altering Cham’s relationship with his daughter Hera.
But in The Bad Batch Episode 11, this dark history is their unstoppable future. We, their audience, can do nothing but watch and whimper. For most of “Devil’s Deal,” Cham goes along with Orn Free Taa and Admiral Rampart. He can sense a terrible fate, and considering they just survived a nightmare, he’s not eager to jumpstart another one.
What he can’t know is that it’s not a case of one nightmare leading into another. It’s all one long nightmare, carefully plotted by Palpatine. Cham is too entrenched. He can’t see what little options he has. The former “Hammer of Ryloth” reluctantly sheds his legendary war-born status.
Hera, however, charges forward with youthful zeal. The Rebels heroine has a destiny too. And she knows it and does not fear it. She sides with her uncle, who recognizes her desire to pilot starships as a skill to harness. Alongside Chopper, another Rebels icon, Hera gathers intelligence regarding the Imperial refinery scarring the Ryloth landscape.
Watching Hera and Chopper collaborate in The Bad Batch Episode 11 is a dang delight. Cats like Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia will walk in their footsteps. These two refuse to fall in line and allow fear and its mongers to set their path. Right now in The Bad Batch, they’re locked on Ryloth, but her starship, the Ghost, awaits.
Eventually, a small band of resistance fighters will form around them. The Ghost will carry Kanan Jarrus, the Jedi padawan who escaped Order 66 as seen in The Bad Batch Episode 1. She and Kanan will grow close, fall in love, and sire a son, Jacen Syndulla. Their romance is bound by Grand Admiral Thrawn’s downfall, equally tied to the Empire’s destruction.
On the Ghost, Hera will also inspire Ezra Bridger, the young Jedi who vanishes into hyperspace with Thrawn and a half-dozen space-whales during Rebels‘ climax. And, as we learn in The Mandalorian, Ahsoka Tano is hunting Thrawn, probably hoping to reunite with Bridger. Countless soldiers fight the war between the Dark Side and the Light Side, one resistance fighter inspiring the next.
The Star Wars prequels reveal how heroes (and villains) stand on the shoulders of many. Teenage Hera senses Imperial injustice. Her parents wish her no harm, but when her mom learns of her refinery spying, she encourages Hera to tell all. Eleni’s strength in the face of tyranny emboldens Hera, which plants her on her uncle’s military supply run, where she comes face-to-face with Clone Force 99 and their kid sidekick, Omega.
Hera and Omega’s meeting is the highlight of The Bad Batch Episode 11. The two younglings are both so eager to prove their worth. Hera’s immense jealously over Omega’s starship-living is adorable and telling. Hera will get there soon; she’ll house her own bad batch aboard her Ghost. In Omega, she catches a glimpse of what’s to come. It’s a future married with happiness and tragedy. We can’t help but be both excited and sorrowful for her to reach that destination.
The Bad Batch Episode 11 ends with her uncle’s supply run being foiled by Clone Force 99’s ex-comrade, Crosshair. Admiral Rampart puts Hera in chains, forcing her father to draw against the Empire. His insurgence is ignited, a road that leads to his wife’s murder and his daughter’s estrangement. And that estrangement puts her on the Ghost, leading the resistance fighters who achieve what Cham never could.
The credits hit on a cliffhanger, but it’s easy to infer what’s coming next, in The Bad Batch Episode 12. Hera once mentioned in Rebels how Clones saved her life. We never got the details of that story, but we can bet that those clones were Clone Force 99. Next week, it will be Omega and Hunter to the rescue.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 11 is now streaming on Disney+.