The last few episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars gave us a heartbreaking glimpse at the fallout caused by Order 66. Ahsoka Tano was forced to defend herself against the Clone Troopers who she once fought beside, resulting in the eventual destruction of an entire starship full of Clones.
Darth Sidious’ manipulative machinations came to fruition decades after being seeded, resulting in the ultimate destruction of the Jedi, and leaving no one to defy the Sith Lord. The one-hour special premiere of The Bad Batch on May the 4th gave us an alternative perspective of the immediate chaos that ensued after Order 66 was given. Apart from that, it also showcased how the democracy loving Republic was transformed into the authoritarian Galactic Empire.
Warning – Major spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch
The episode opens with Jedi Master Depa Billapa and her Clone forces getting cornered by Seperatist forces on the planet of Kaller. Things look rough until Clone Force 99, a.k.a. The Bad Batch, save the day using their trademark “unusual tactics” – only to find the Clones turning on Billapa after Order 66 is in effect.
Upon returning to Kamino, the squad is perplexed to find the good Chancellor constantly being referred to as “Emperor Palpatine”, who now rules over the “new Galactic Empire”. While they find these new terminologies a bit confusing, The squad’s fears are confirmed when the Sith Lord demands an all hands briefing to announce the ‘new direction’ the Republic will be taking.
The scene is eerily similar to dictatorial propaganda rallies where the overlord’s fear instilling words are met with cheers by his underlings. “Still don’t think the regs are programmed?” asks Tech, as the Bad Batch realises the reality of the situation.
The first sign we’re given of the Empire in this new series is the introduction of Admiral Tarkin; it’s unclear whether he’s taken up his iconic designation of Grand Moff as of yet. Tarkin visits Kamino to discuss halting further Clone production with the Prime Minister, and states that the agreement was with the Republic, which ceased to exist overnight, and that conscripted troopers would be cheaper for the Empire.
However, the next words of the Kaminoan Prime Minister reference one of the biggest Star Wars tropes since the original trilogy. The Minister claims that the skill level of their Clones could hardly be matched by mere conscripts.
And don’t we know that? Right from A New Hope, we’ve seen that Stormtroopers just can’t hit their targets. Over the years, this has become a joke among the Star Wars community, but it reveals why the Stormtroopers appear to be such doofuses compared to the efficient and clinical Clones.
While the Clone Wars series beautifully illustrated the events of the Republic’s war with the Separatists, one of the major plot points was the Clones themselves. A running theme during the series was about how each Clone carved out his individuality while being surrounded by an army that looks, sounds, and is programmed to behave identically.
The Clones did this by giving each other nick-names instead of serial numbers, customising their armour, and getting different haircuts or tattoos among other things. Time and again, the show would question the expendability of these frontline soldiers, whether it was via the Clones themselves, or via Jedi protagonists like Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka, who constantly reminded them that they were more than just Clones and serial numbers. To the Jedi, to the Clones, and to the audience, there was no CT-7567 – there was only Rex.
Whereas in Bad Batch, post Order 66, we see that the Clones have already begun their transformation into Stormtroopers. Clean white armour, strict serial numbers call signs, and no trooper without a helmet. There’s no individuality, only conformity, just as authoritarian regimes like it.
After the Bad Batch realized what’s going on, they had to escape, or risk termination. The best bet was the planet of Saleucami, where Clone Wars deserter Cut was hiding out with his wife and two children. However, the planet was not the same as when we last saw it.
There seemed to be more troops and checkpoints than when the war was still on. Citizens of Saleucami were suddenly ordered to show their chain codes everywhere they went. The Empire wanted to document, regulate, and track every citizen; even those from relatively smaller planets. Asking for a chain code is the Empire’s way of saying, “Papers, please.”
The biggest fear of any authoritarian government is a united public. Keeping the masses divided, or better yet, fighting amongst each other, is how a dictator manages to stay in power. In addition to the mandatory chain codes, Saleucami also found itself suddenly very isolated. The Empire seized all space faring vehicles, and interstellar travel was only allowed via authorized Empire ships, and a chain code clearance.
But this subjugation method wasn’t just used on the planets. Upon realising the threat that Clone Force 99 posed to the Empire, Tarkin decided to break them up from within. Towards the end of the premiere, we see that he has managed to program Crosshair and turned him against the squad. He knows their tactics, and he knows how to find them. With the sniper on their backs, the Bad Batch would be too busy to pose any threat to the Empire.
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