In “Return to Kamino,” Crosshair gloats over Hunter, refusing to tell him where he’s being taken. Meanwhile, Tech gets the ship up and running. The Batch can see that Hunter is no longer on Daro, and Omega insists that they rescue him. Crosshair delivers Hunter to Admiral Rampart, who is eager to get the rest of the Batch. Omega gives Tech coordinates for a secret landing platform on Kamino that takes them deep underwater within a tube system. Omega tells the guys that this tube leads to Nala Se’s office, unlike the others, which run throughout all of Kamino. The Batch arrives at a lab where Omega tells the others their mutations were artificially enhanced. There, they encounter AZI-3, who informs Omega of what happened to the Kaminoans and regular clones. An alarm is triggered, alerting Crosshair to the presence of his former brothers and Hunter’s rescue party. The guys decide to split up because Crosshair is only after them and not Omega. They walk right into Crosshair, who’s waiting for them. Echo sends Omega a signal to return to the ship, but she decides to mount a rescue of her own. Crosshair shoots his men who refuse to stand down, and pleads with Hunter to join the Empire. Omega activates training droids who descend on the Batch. This inadvertently forces Crosshair to work with his brothers to survive. Admiral Rampart evacuates Kamino, and Grand Moff Tarkin gives him permission to fire on the planet with the Batch still on it. Crosshair reveals that his chip was removed already, but doesn’t say when. Hunter stuns him, and the Batch leaves with Crosshair in tow as the Empire opens fire on Kamino.
“Return to Kamino” embodies everything I love about The Bad Batch and much of what makes Star Wars great as a whole. The episode is punctuated with fast-paced, gritty combat sequences as well as softer character moments. “Return to Kamino” is far and away the best episode for Crosshair as of yet, giving us a good idea of why he’s been hunting his brothers for the Empire. I’m shocked to learn that he no longer has an inhibitor chip, and I can’t help wondering if he’s lying (or if the Empire made him think this is the case). Why would they allow one of their soldiers to remove his chip? Earlier in the season, we even saw Tarkin monitoring Crosshair in some type of chamber, which seemed to be enhancing his chip. However, it would also be weird to lie or fake out such a major plot point so close to the end of the season. Only time can tell. I was also quite surprised when Crosshair shot his soldiers and asked Hunter and the boys to join the Empire. First, I was surprised that Crosshair would protect him from the troops in this state, then I was again caught off guard by his offer to Hunter. It seems pretty obvious that none of the others have any interest in serving the Empire, and after what just happened, I can’t believe Crosshair thinks he’s still a valued member of the army. Killing his own men to protect the guys he’s supposed to be eliminating is probably a firing offense.
Of course, we as the audience know it doesn’t matter once Rampart says to “let the clones die together,” but Crosshair doesn’t know that. I also loved Crosshair’s little monologue that he gives Hunter after killing the Stormtroopers. He reminded me of Maul in the Siege of Mandalore, in that there’s a lot of truth to what he says. Loyalty to the Republic means nothing in the new, Imperial world, and he’s also right that the Batch is superior to the regular clones in some ways. This, again, means nothing given Rampart’s plans, but the irony just adds to the drama. I’m very interested in seeing what happens with Crosshair going forward, and I’m glad that Hunter decided not to make the mistake of leaving his brother behind again. I like that Crosshair feels just as betrayed as they do; after all, they did leave him for dead. Regardless of the circumstances, anybody would be a little hurt after something like that. It was also great and a little sad to see Crosshair fight alongside his brothers for one last time(?). I liked that Omega was wrong this time; she released the training droids after the Troopers were already dead. That was a little funny.
I’ve really loved the subplot with Crosshair, the Imperials, and the Kaminoans. This storyline is pretty definitively capped off by the assassination of Lama Su and the destruction of the Kaminoan facilities. I won’t say I’m disappointed because this played out the only way it could have, but I will miss this aspect of the show. This is where a lot of the tension came from, the uneasiness of a new government (even if it’s not really new). They again lean into Omega’s mysterious connection to Nala Se in “Return to Kamino.” When helping Tech, Wrecker, and Echo infiltrate Kamino via Nala Se’s office, Omega gets emotional talking about her. I expect we’ll learn more about this next season. Personally, I strongly suspect a mother-daughter type bond. It’s weird since Nala Se doesn’t seem any more compassionate or loving than the other Kaminoans, but she did help her escape. Nala Se even hired Fennec Shand to fight Cad Bane off Omega and her protectors/makeshift family.
I also liked the reveal that Omega and the Batch were intentionally genetically engineered to promote their unique traits. This has been hinted at before, but Clone Force 99 is officially far from a batch of defective clones. I have to wonder if they’ll be able to delve into Kamino and the secrecy surrounding its operations in future seasons. I’ve loved this stuff, but now that the labs are destroyed, it would be hard to continue exploring what has been one of the show’s most exciting aspects. The final, eerie shots of the empty Kaminoan facilities are beautiful and also shockingly sad. Kamino was never a good place either in intention or results, but the bare cloning pods and silent hallways are a deeply unsettling sight. The Clones were one of the best parts of The Clone Wars and remain interesting and sympathetic in The Bad Batch. As such, it’s depressing to see what becomes of the only place they’ve ever called home. You also have to wonder what happened to the preexisting clones who were shuttled “off-world.”
“Return to Kamino” is an excellent episode and has me on pins and needles for the next one. The characters and their dialogue are just on fire in this episode. This is the best this animation style has ever looked, especially in the empty, sterile shots of Kamino and the eventual explosions when Admiral Rampart ends the Kaminoan experiment. I can’t wait for next week’s episode and to see where the show goes from here.