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 7 (“Battle Scars”) and examining what Captain Rex has been up to since we saw him last. So yes, there are spoilers here.
The mystery of who Trace and Rafa were communicating with during last week’s Star Wars: The Bad Batch is answered almost immediately in this week’s episode. Captain Rex, the defender of the Republic, saunters into Cid’s bar. Hood up, he sips his drink and spies what his old pals are up to with this bounty hunter bartender. Naturally, a clone will gain some attention in this new world order, and a minor dust-up with some scruffy patrons reveals his position to Clone Force 99.
Hunter and his squad are happy to see Rex again. They may fear most regulation soldiers, but Rex was never an ordinary bootlicker. The trooper made his first appearance in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie, but it was in the spin-off television episode “Rookies” where the character ingratiated himself with the fandom.
Rex was our entry into the clone experience. Through him, they became more than numbers, more than lesser copies of Jango Fett. Episodes like “Rookies” revealed how the clones strived for identity despite being bred for a singular purpose. A purpose that was eventually revealed as a Sith ruse. The Clone Wars was a lie, a narrative constructed by Emperor Palpatine to spread fear throughout the universe. And under that blanket of terror, Imperial rule replaced Republic democracy.
The captain isn’t exactly thrilled to see his former colleagues. He makes small talk and plays nice. He puts his eyes on the child Omega and stares in wonder. Rex comments that he’s never met a clone quite like her, and there’s a sense of awe beneath his voice. The Bad Batch episode 7 continues to slowly eke out her importance while adding texture to this untrodden Star Wars era.
But clones are clones. They each have an inhibitor chip locked in their heads. Well, except Rex and Omega. For whatever reason, the Kaminoans never installed one inside her, and Rex had his surgically removed after turning on Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars‘ final season.
Knowing what horror he committed as an Imperial slave, Rex cannot trust the promises of Clone Force 99. They claim that their genetic aberrations interfered with Palpatine’s Order 66, but their compatriot Crosshair has already betrayed them, and Wrecker is screaming about headaches. Rex won’t let them play bounty hunter with Cid as long as they have those chips in their heads.
And Hunter sure doesn’t like the idea of some metal chunk hitching a ride inside him. They agree to travel to Bracca, the junkyard planet, and let Rex play doctor on their noggins using a decommissioned Jedi Cruiser. The surgery does not go off without a hitch. Before Wrecker goes under the knife, Order 66 finally triggers inside his head. They beat on each other for a bit, but Omega and Rex finally take the lug down.
Throughout The Bad Batch episode 7, Rex carries tremendous sorrow. Omega is the first to notice. She tacks the lines on his face. She correctly guesses his classification as a Generation One clone.
Rex has seen more than most. He’s watched his friends die. He’s seen his friends mangled and tortured (hi, Echo, we see your pain too). And after Rex pulled his blaster on Ahsoka, he’s struggled with some serious self-loathing as well.
All Rex has now is the possibility of redemption. He tells Hunter that he still fights for the Republic. It might be in shambles, but there are others out there like him. A rebellion is brewing, and it could use Clone Force 99.
We, of course, know Rex’s future. We’ve seen it in Star Wars: Rebels. Eventually, Rex will hook up with a few other wandering clones and establish a domicile inside a modified AT-TE. Ahsoka Tano will send the Jedi Kanan Jarrus (the Padawan Clone Force 99 rescued from Order 66 during The Bad Batch‘s premiere) to recruit Rex and his clones for her fight against the Empire. As old men, it takes some convincing from Ezra Bridger before Rex agrees.
What’s most noticeable about Rex’s reintroduction in the Rebels episode “The Lost Commanders” is that no one from Clone Force 99 is present. Well, duh, they hadn’t been created yet. But what does that say about their Star Wars future? They could join the Rebellion earlier than Rex. They could not join the Rebellion at all.
What’s clear is that Hunter’s loyalty rests with his squad first. He’ll never follow the Empire. He fought for the Republic, and given a chance, he’ll fight for them again. But first, he must make sure that his troops are safe. Removing the inhibitor chips from their heads is a large step in the right direction.
But they’re also not a whole unit. Crosshair wages war for the other side. They need to get him. They need to get that inhibitor chip outta his brain too.
Clone Force 99 is going to get their confrontation with Crosshair. We haven’t seen him in the series in a while, but The Bad Batch episode 7 concludes with Bracca’s Scrapper Guild ratting out their position to the Empire. Crosshair is coming, and he’s bringing hell with him.
No doubt Hunter will get Crosshair in a medical bay. The question remains, can Crosshair recover from the horrors he’s committed once he doesn’t have the inhibitor chip as an excuse? Their friend turned flamethrowers on Republic citizens in episode 3. He cooked women and children. That’s a helluva sin to overturn.
Star Wars is a franchise constructed around redemption. If Luke Skywalker can forgive daddy Darth Vader, then anyone can overcome their hatred. Ahsoka Tano assisted Rex after he tried to kill her. She understood Order 66 as an extension of Emperor Palpatine’s evil, not her friend.
And forgiveness is not a short lesson. It’s one earned over decades. When we met old man Rex in Star Wars: Rebels, before we even knew the details of what exactly went down in The Clone Wars‘ final season, we witnessed his festering guilt bubbling within. Redemption is a never-ending journey. Hopefully, Crosshair is about to start his.
Rex took that first step with Ahsoka. Anakin took it with Luke. Crosshair can take it with Hunter. Goodness can infect as much as evil. We have to imagine absolution for the worst of us. We all fall to failure, but failure must never be final.
When Ahsoka forgives Rex, Rex forgives himself. This allows Rex to forgive others, and the action spreads across Star Wars. In the captain’s persistence, we see a future for Crosshair and a future for Clone Force 99. Just not in Rebels.