Clone Force 99 in Star Wars: The Bad Batch 'Return to Kamino'
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 1, Episode 15, "Return to Kamino," now streaming on Disney+.
As much as The Bad Batch
Season 1 explores Clone Force 99's growing role in the Rebellion against the Galactic Empire, for Hunter, Tech, and Echo, the battle is as personal as it is ideological. Crosshair's betrayal
continues to hang heavy over their heads in the first part of the season finale, "Return to Kamino," after he and his forces captured Hunter on Daro in "War-Mantle."
However, in a twist worthy of the season's penultimate episode, it turns out Crosshair isn't being controlled by his inhibitor chip at all, which creates an unexpected but welcome complication for the character's potential redemption arc.
"Return to Kamino" kicks off with Crosshair taking a captive Hunter to, well, Kamino, all while the rest of Clone Force 99 hurries to repair their ship and rescue their de facto leader. (Wrecker mentions leaving Gregor
with an unhappy Cid, which sounds like the setup for a fun sitcom-y episode. Alas, there's no time for such shenanigans.) Tech and the others track Hunter through his comms device, knowing all too well they're being led into a trap. In the meantime, Admiral Rampart greets Hunter on Kamino, telling him, “The destruction your squad caused on Ryloth got my attention.” He also discreetly tells a member of Crosshair's squad to alert him if things go south.
Underwater Tube on Kamino in Star Wars: The Bad Batch
Upon reaching Kamino, Omega directs the others to a secret landing pad in Tipoca City, which requires them to fly dangerously close to the planet's watery surface before it activates. Thankfully, all goes well and the gang sneaks into the city's main platform through an underwater transport system ("Kaminoans keep a lot of secrets," Echo notes), leading them to Nala Se's private research laboratory
. As Omega explains, this is also where Nala Se created her and enhanced Clone Force 99's genetic mutations, much to the others' surprise. Sadly, anyone hoping to learn more about Nala Se's secrets is out of luck, as Echo discovers the lab's central files are missing. Moreover, as the gang learns from the medical droid AZ, who was hiding in the lab, the Empire has kept busy de-activating droids, forcing key Kaminoan personnel off-world, and reassigning the clone troopers to other planets, save for Crosshair.
Elsewhere, Hunter tries to get through to Crosshair upon realizing the Empire is decommissioning Kamino's cloning facility, telling him it's only a matter of time before the Empire starts phasing clones out. "Not the ones that matter,” Crosshair replies, quietly chastising Hunter and the others for leaving him behind on Kamino. Hunter points out Crosshair tried to kill them, and they had no choice. “And I did?” Crosshair fires back. Unabated, Hunter argues the Empire is wrong for occupying planets and silencing anyone who stands against them, insisting they're using and controlling Crosshair through his inhibitor chip.
Meanwhile, Wrecker, Tech, and Echo track Hunter's comms to the central cloning platform, with Omega remaining in Nala Se's lab in case the mission goes sideways. Passing by a squad of TK troopers
, they continue to follow the signal from Hunter’s comms, which Tech deduces is in the training room. Realizing it's a trap and Crosshair is waiting for them, they try to sneak in through the room's lift and not the main entrance. Unfortunately, Crosshair knows his old team too well and surrounds them with his soldiers before ordering them to throw down their weapons, which they do after Hunter nods. “See? Following orders isn’t so difficult,” Crosshair mocks them.
Tech and Echo in Star Wars: The Bad Batch 'Return to Kamino'
Quietly, Echo signals Omega and AZ to retreat to the Havoc Maurader. Omega, of course, wants to help them and begins activating the droids in the training room before one of Crosshair's soldiers finds her. Crosshair accuses Hunter of betraying everything they stood for out of some misguided loyalty to his vision of the Republic. “We’re loyal to each other, not some Empire,” Hunter retorts. Not impressed, Crosshair says that he will give Hunter the "chance" he never got from him and orders that Omega be taken off-world for her own safety. He then rebukes Hunter for pretending he's something he’s not. “We’re not like the regs. We never have been. We’re superior. The Empire can’t protect the galaxy without strength. This is what we were made for," he adds.
Removing Hunter's handcuffs, Crosshair orders his squad to stand down. When they refuse, he kills nearly all of them with a single blaster shot before telling Hunter and the gang to join the Empire, lest they make the mistake of becoming his enemy a second time. As one of the remaining members of Crosshair's team flees, they contact Rampart, telling him Crosshair lost control of the situation. In response, Rampart orders them to pull the remaining troopers out and “Let the clones die together.” At the same time, AZ helps Omega escape and the pair successfully activate the training droids in the training room... or, rather, every training droid in the training room.
After briefly teaming up to blast the training droids to pieces, Hunter, Tech, and Echo hold Crosshair at gunpoint, begging him to forget the Empire and allow them to remove his inhibitor chip. This is when Crosshair finally drops the bombshell foreshadowed throughout the episode: he had his chip removed "a long time ago" and insists this is who he truly is. Left with little other option, Hunter stuns Crosshair and has Wrecker carry him as they flee the city, though not before apologizing to Omega after he told her she would never have to return to Kamino. (“You’d do the same for me,” Omega assures him.) We're then treated to a brief montage of a now-abandoned Tipoca City as Rampart, acting on Grand Moff Tarkin's orders
, has his ships fire upon the cloning facilities. This also prevents Clone Force 99 from reaching the underwater transport, leaving their fates to be resolved in the season finale.