When last we left Star Wars: The Bad Batch — which was just renewed for a second season — Hunter was trapped. The group’s villainous former friend Crosshair captured the leader after the events on Daro and the question became: would the rest of Clone Force 99 go back to save Hunter? Well, despite the main Disney+ menu calling the episode “Finale Part 1,” the episode’s actual title answered that question before the action even began. The title is “Return to Kamino” — and return everyone did.
Using Hunter as bait, Crosshair knew he’d be able to draw Omega, Echo, Tech, and Wrecker back to Kamino, so the Empire was ready and waiting. Thankfully, Omega knew a back entrance to the city, complete with secret landing pad and underwater tube system to get them across. These early scenes set the tone for the episode to have a bigger, different feel from the rest of the season.
While we’re used to hearing Kevin Kiner’s music on Bad Batch, these scenes weaved in some of John Williams’ music from Attack of the Clones, giving it a cinematic Star Wars feel. Even the animation was taken up a notch, with the Bad Batch in the rain, out to sea, looking way more dark, mysterious, and detailed than usual, right down to Omega’s wet hair being matted down for the next few scenes.
Once back in the city, Omega’s old friend AZI-3 filled everyone in on what was happening; the clones and Kaminoans were all gone, it’s just Crosshair and a few of the new TK troopers. Which, I have to admit, was a little odd. It’s somehow just not natural to hear anyone but Dee Bradley Baker’s voice come out of a trooper on a Star Wars animated series. But we got plenty of that here. The balance in Star Wars is changing.
A confident Crosshair knew that his fellow clones would come to him if he just stayed put with Hunter, which allowed the two of them to have some very interesting discussions. Most interesting was the fact that Crosshair felt like he’d been betrayed when they left him. On the one hand, how could they not considering he was actively trying to kill them along with a huge number of troopers — yet, at that moment a few feet away, their friends were knowingly walking into a trap to save Hunter. So, maybe Crosshair had a point. These clones do anything for each other. But the conversation felt like it was happening to let the audience know Crosshair had something else up his sleeve.
We find out soon enough when Tech, Echo, and Wrecker spring the trap and enter the training room from earlier in the season, which is where Hunter is being held, and are instantly caught by a bunch of troopers. Crosshair explains to everyone how he felt betrayed and believes their best course of action is to join the Empire because they’re superior to the others and can help them (and maybe themselves) achieve great power. As it’s unfolding you’re left to wonder: when did this change happen? Wasn’t Crosshair out for blood? Now he wants to team up?
Nevertheless, things get tense and Crosshair realises the TK troopers joining him do not have his back. So he kills them all, basically saving the day… until Omega, who’d been left behind just in case, activates the training room with a bunch of deadly droids.
And so the full Clone Force 99, with Omega in tow, are reunited to save their own skins in an epic battle back in the training room. The show’s end credit theme even played to make you realise how big this moment was. After 15 episodes, the gang is all back together. Just as they’re triumphant, however, Crosshair drops a bombshell.
His allegiance to the Empire isn’t because of his Order 66 inhibitor chip, as everyone assumed. Apparently, he had that removed long ago (when, exactly, we don’t know yet) and this is just who he is. His friends are shocked, and luckily Hunter is able to stun Crosshair with his blaster, realising they can figure this out at another time.
Here’s where that chapter of Star Wars history gets closed. This isn’t some normal destruction. This is the place the Bad Batch were born, yes, but so much more. Rex, Cody, Fives, and so many other clones we’ve come to know were also born there — heck, the entire Republic Army. It’s where Obi-Wan Kenobi first met and fought Jango Fett. The birthplace of Boba Fett! It’s such a crucial location in the lore and here we see it being blown to bits. And so the first part of the two-part season one final ends with the Bad Batch inside a city that’s exploding all around them and falling into the sea.
Being part of the season finale, it makes sense just how crucial “Return to Kamino” was for the show. Crosshair is back with the team, albeit unconsciously. But we also now know he, consciously, made the choice to help the Empire. The cloning facilities on Kamino are almost gone, basically marking the end of clones used as troopers for the Republic turned Empire.
You also can’t help but wonder what the Empire wants with that cloning technology and if that’s something that ties into either Palpatine’s plan or whatever Dr. Pershing is doing with Grogu’s blood in The Mandalorian. Lots of questions, and we’ll probably get some answers next week on the second part of the season finale of Star Wars: The Bad Batch.