Welcome to The Bad Batch Explained, our new 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 2 (“Cut and Run”) and examine how the Empire tightens its grip on the universe.
The Empire is moving quickly. With the Jedi gone and the Republic smashed, Palpatine is racing to establish his order across the galaxy. Existence must rest on his rule. To ensure such a mental state in his citizens, he goes for their money first and their identity second.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 2, entitled “Cut and Run,” reveals how the new Emperor digs his claws into his kingdom. The renegade Clone Force 99 escape to the planet Saleucami. There they meet up with their pal, Cut Lawquane, last seen in The Clone Wars episode “The Deserter.” Hunter and his squad need to lie low with Moff Tarkin’s goons gunning for their backs, and Cut’s the best guy to teach them such devious deception.
During the First Battle of Geonosis, Cut barely survived. Petrified, he fled his station and found a new life, married with children, on Saleucami. The war eventually found its way to his doorstep, and Captain Rex reluctantly aided in the defense of Cut’s homestead. At the time, Rex couldn’t imagine a life beyond the Clone Wars, but in hindsight, Cut merely got a jumpstart on what the rest of the clones would eventually face.
As we saw during last week’s premiere, the Empire can no longer afford a fancy clone army. Conscription Stormtroopers are the future. As a result, Jango Fett’s children will soon be out of work. Even worse, out of purpose.
What’s a clone without a war? Star Wars: Rebels explored this notion somewhat. Rex and his men simply found a new war, the Rebellion against the Empire. This time, their new battle wasn’t a sham. In striking against the Empire, Rex finally found meaning as a soldier.
However, Rex never freed his identity from the blaster rifle at his side. Is this the same fate for Hunter and his Bad Batch? Cut proves that it is possible to shed his programming. As a husband and a father, he makes his family his mission. However, so soon after fleeing Kamino, Hunter can’t conceive a reality minus a trooper’s helmet. And, frankly, nor can the audience. That’s why Cut is a guest star, and Hunter is the star.
To survive in this new Empire, the more agents on your side, the better. A fist is tightening around everyone. The clones have spent their lives running from their serial identification, but the Emperor now hopes to make every name a number.
The Bad Batch Episode 2 identifies the moment chain codes are enacted. As Hunter witnesses on Saleucami, if a person wants to travel across planetary borders, they need to be identified and categorized. Chain codes were first mentioned in The Mandalorian; it’s what Boba Fett showed Din Djarin to prove his right to the sacred Mandalorian armor. They’re ID markers that also carry biometrical data and biographical information. Basically, they’re the permanent record your grade school teacher always warned you about.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the Empire devalues Republic credits, forcing galactic citizens to trade their cash for the Imperial equivalent. Nothing of the old world can remain. Wherever the galaxy looks, they must see the Empire. The Emperor’s flag is planted in their wallets, and once it’s there, removing it will require another cartoon series and a trilogy of movies. And then another trilogy of movies for good measure.
Omega, the clone female, might be Hunter’s lifeline. But, while Hunter spends most of Episode 2 encouraging Cut to add Omega to his brood, the child firmly cements herself in the Bad Batch by episode end. She tells Hunter straight, “I left Kamino with you. This is where I want to be.”
Hunter, having witnessed her wonder as well as her tenacity, cannot deny Omega. Her will is important to him. He never had a will of his own. He was created to serve on the battlefield. He did his duty. He never questioned orders—until that 66th one.
Hunter accepts Omega as another Bad Batch member. She’s a kid he can help. She’s a second chance.
Hunter is still processing the guilt over the child he failed to save during the season premiere. In that episode, Caleb Hume, the Jedi Padawan, and future Rebels hero Kanan Jarrus met Hunter’s eyes with terror. The soldier couldn’t understand why his comrades turned their blasters on the boy. He merely knew their actions were wrong, and the child deserved protection. Protection rejected by Caleb.
Hunter knows Cut can play dad. He’s not so sure about himself. Although, protection he can do. He’s guarded many a Jedi on the fields of battle. And what’s parenting but protection. You can see him working it out during this week’s final shots. He’s committing himself to this kid, and Omega is committing to him. Neither is in a position to cut and run.
Hunter’s rebellion begins with Omega. He observes her wonder at the world, and it becomes his wonder. She’s never been off Kamino. Even dirt and dust elicits awe from her. It gives him a giggle, and us, but her naivety is profound. The ground beneath her feet is a miracle. Every day Hunter gets to put his feet upon it is astonishing.
The Empire wants to erase him from existence. They’ve got a good shot to do so. So enjoy that dirt while you can, soldier. Be Omega. Love everything and be there for each other.