Ever since George Lucas introduced the concept of the Republic clone troopers in 2002’s Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, fans have been wondering how exactly the Empire transitioned from use of the clones to the standard, conscripted stormtroopers that were omnipresent in the original Star Wars trilogy.
That subject was touched upon in season one of Lucasfilms animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch, in an episode dealing with the so-called Project War-Mantle. And now, in a double-header of episodes that debuted today as part of The Bad Batch season two, we get a great deal more information about just how the Empire decommissioned and replaced the clone troopers.
The first of today’s two new installments, entitled “The Clone Conspiracy,” opens on the city-planet of Coruscant, where clone troopers are starting to become disillusioned with the Imperial way of warfare. Two clones named Cade and Slip (both voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, as are all the male clones of Jango Fett), who served aboard Vice Admiral Rampart’s Venator-class Star Destroyer during its destruction of the Kamino cloning facility, express their dissatisfaction with that mission at a clone bar, and then become targets of an assassination attempt. But Slip manages to escape the attack and goes into hiding. Meanwhile, the Imperial Senate debates Rampart’s (Noshir Dalal) proposition to decommission the clone troopers, with the main opposition coming from Senator Bail Organa (Phil LaMarr) and Senator Chuchi (Jennifer Hale), the latter character having carried over from The Clone Wars animated series. After Chuchi reaches out to the clones to get their opinions on how best to handle their eventual retirement, she is approached by Slip, who covertly tips her off about what really happened on Kamino. This leads to a series of events that puts Senator Chuchi in the line of danger as she further investigates Rampart’s true motives.
Today’s second episode, entitled “Truth and Consequences,” follows up on the events of “The Clone Conspiracy” by having Clone Force 99 called in by Captain Rex to assist in bringing Rampart’s actions to light. The Bad Batch are tasked with retrieving information from the Venator, which is currently docked in Coruscant’s shipyards. Meanwhile, Omega (Michelle Ang) tags along with Senator Chuchi during her day, meeting Bail Organa and even interacting with Rampart, who does not recognize her. Chuchi also meets with the Kaminoan Senator Halle Burtoni (voiced by Jameelah McMillan, also from The Clone Wars) who seems disinterested at best in helping our heroes go up against Rampart and his plans. The bulk of this installment is spent following Clone Force 99 on their mission, which culminates in the Bad Batch intentionally crashing the Venator and escaping with the information just in time for Omega to deliver it to Organa and Chuchi during a Senate assembly meeting. When Rampart is publicly exposed for having destroyed Kamino and its people, Emperor Palpatine (special guest star Ian McDiarmid) appears to decry his actions and take him into custody, using the revelation to distance the Empire from the Vice Admiral’s actions and end the clone trooper program once and for all.
I found this two-parter of The Bad Batch to be immensely satisfying for finally following through on delivering answers to questions Star Wars fans have asked for literal decades. This is such a huge piece of the larger narrative puzzle that it absolutely makes sense that it was broken up into multiple episodes, and that the entire first half-hour here had to be entirely devoid of the title characters in order to properly set things up. I also loved spending more time in the Imperial Senate during this era, and I’m fascinated by how Emperor Palpatine very cleverly used information that should have collapsed his reign, turning it to his advantage. It’s sad to see Echo go, but as he says when he bids farewell to Omega, I’m sure he’ll be back in the company of Clone Force 99 before too long. I think anyone who’s been complaining about “filler” episodes of this series will have very little to nitpick about here, as this double-dose of The Bad Batch will undoubtedly prove to function as a key turning point in the show’s overarching story, not to mention the Star Wars mythology as a whole. I have to say I was not expecting Rampart to go down so early in this season, but that just means the creative team behind the series is setting up Crosshair as the primary antagonist going forward, which should prove very interesting indeed for the remainder of season two.
New episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch are released on Wednesdays, exclusively via Disney+.