The latest episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch marks the end of an era

The first part of the Star Wars: The Bad Batch finale is exciting, suspenseful, and ends on one of the best cliffhangers in recent Star Wars history.

The penultimate episode of the first season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch is here, and it’s a big one! “Return to Kamino,” the first part of the two-part finale, begins where last week left off: after being captured by Crosshair, Hunter is taken to — you guessed it — Kamino. Crosshair sets up an elaborate trap for the rest of the Bad Batch, while Omega and the others use a secret passage into Tipoca City.

While there have been great episodes in the series along the way, none of the one-off episodes captured the promise of the ongoing conflict between Crosshair and Clone Force 99. We knew this would be a tense episode after last week ended with an epic stare-down between Crosshair and Hunter. Crosshair’s bitterness toward his former squad leader is palpable, and the fact that we weren’t sure what his plans were made these scenes much more suspenseful.

The episode switches things up toward the end as Crosshair pulls a Darth Vader and asks Clone Force 99 to join him on the dark side. He even executes most of his squad to show Hunter and the others that he means serious business. It was great to see the squad fighting together again, the real twist came when Crosshair revealed he didn’t have his inhibitor chip anymore. He truly has crossed over to the dark side, and it will be interesting to see if his brothers will coax him back to the light in the finale or in season 2.

Star Wars shows, specifically those created by Dave Filoni, have been trying to show us more of the Empire’s perspective on things. We saw it earlier in this series when one of Crosshair’s recruits said that the Empire did more for him than the Republic ever did.  Now, we see where Crosshair is at when he explains how true peace in the galaxy cannot be achieved without the Empire’s strength and resources. I love this kind of perspective switching and hope they continue to develop it in the second season.

We also see a great dynamic between the team as they work to rescue their leader. Omega gets emotional when she returns to the cloning facility, and Echo and Wrecker comfort her. We get another bombshell reveal when Omega reveals that she was there to oversee the creation of Clone Force 99, which makes her older than her brothers. It seems that Nala Se and the other Kaminoans had plans for Omega and the Batch, but we still aren’t sure what they were. We might not get to see Nala Se in the finale next week, but hopefully this question is answered eventually.

Speaking of Kaminoans, we don’t see any of them or the “regs” on Tipoca City, as it’s pretty much abandoned aside from a few Stormtroopers. Some clones have been transported off-world to training facilities, like Gregor, but we aren’t sure about other defective clones like Howzer. And what about the group of young clones that Nala Se had transported off Kamino last week? Even this close to the end of the season, Filoni and crew can’t help but add in more mystery and keep fans wanting more.

The episode ends on one of the best cliffhangers in recent Star Wars memory. Rampart orders the destruction of Tipoca City while Clone Force 99 is trying to escape. Before Rampart opens fire, we see shots of the empty mess halls and armories that were once filled with clone troopers. Watching the city be destroyed signifies the end of an era.

The finale has a lot of loose ends to tie up. Of course, they’ll save some threads for the next season, but I’m eager to see how the Batch deals with Rampart and convince Crosshair to cross back over to the light. “Return to Kamino” was an exciting, action-packed ride that perfectly sets up the climax for the first season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch.

Grade: A

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