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Two characters have been long overdue for a rematch on Star Wars: The Bad Batch. Hunter and Crosshair, former brothers-in-arms, were quickly put on opposite sides of the escalating galactic conflict. Hunter is out for his brothers, but Crosshair is buying into whatever propaganda the Empire decides to sell him that day.
It's always a pack of lies, but he's a true believer. Now he needs his former squad to believe it all too. Hunter spends most of the latest episode with him (after being captured in the previous one) and they try, they really try, to get through to one another. The Empire, using other ways to get through to people, decides to blow stuff up.
***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be spoilers for Episode 15 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch. If you haven't seen it yet, turn away now.***
Hunter, Crosshair, the Batch (all voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) and Omega (Michelle Ang) all return to Kamino in this episode, which is likely why it is titled "Return to Kamino." Crosshair lets them know where he's taking Hunter, and even though they know it's a trap, Omega and the Batch go anyway.
The Empire doesn't really care about what's happening here. "If his plan fails, none of them will be a problem any longer," Admiral Rampart (Noshir Dalal) says early on. Hunter notes that there aren't any clones, droids, or Kaminoans in the hallways of Tipoca City. There are only TKs.
Who knows what Rampart thought Crosshair was really up to. It's of little consequence, because they have Kaminoan scientist Nala Se, and now they also have the entirety of the Kaminoan cloning technology in their arsenal. They don't need this rain-soaked platform city in the sea.
Crosshair gives Hunter the big sell over and over, coming dangerously close to asking him to buy into a timeshare. Hunter tries to talk sense, saying the Empire is going to phase out clones, but Crosshair's only response to that is, "Not the ones that matter."
The Batch doesn't leave their brothers behind, but Crosshair was an exception and he's not over it. Hunter reminds him that Crosshair was trying to, you know, kill them, but that doesn't compute. Crosshair maintains that he did not have a choice.
The rest of the Batch eventually gets to Nala Se's secret lab, and Omega points out that this is not only where she was created, but it was where the Batch was created as well. "Your mutations were enhanced in this room," she says. "Experimental Unit 99 began right here. I was there."
All that's left is droid AZ (Ben Diskin) who has been hiding. Eventually, they discover that Crosshair is holding Hunter in the main training room, and they decide to use the platform entrance as a surprise. Omega is left behind once again so she can get back to the ship and comm Rex in case of trouble. Of course there's trouble, and of course that's not at all what she does.
On the way to the Batch's big reunion, Hunter continues his unguided and unsupervised Crosshair therapy, enlightening him as to all of the shady kriff that the Empire is up to out in the galaxy. He's had a front-row seat for it. Crosshair says he doesn't see the bigger picture, but an exasperated Hunter tells him he's being used. This is the truth, and he starts to go into details about Crosshair's inhibitor chip when alarms cut him off.
They wind up in the training room, and the other members of the Batch come up through the floor as they'd planned. They're immediately held at blaster point by Crosshair and his "elite" squad of conscripts. Why did he go through all of the trouble to get them here? "If I wanted you dead, you would be," he says. "Not that it wouldn't be justified. You betrayed everything we stood for. And for what? The Republic?"
"We're loyal to each other, not some Empire," Hunter counters, and that's when Crosshair throws a pity party: "You weren't loyal to me. I was one of you. You may have forgotten, but I haven't. And it's why I'm going to give you what you never gave me: a chance."
As Omega ignores the orders she was given and prepares to activate droids to go up into the training room and cause havoc, Crosshair mentions that living with fugitive clones who are in constant danger maybe isn't the best life for her. He uses this as a springboard to launch into the part of his timeshare pitch that he's practiced the most.
"You want to protect the kid, then let her go," he says. "Stop pretending to be something you're not, Hunter. 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. Think of all we could do, together. We were brothers once. We can be again."
He has uncuffed Hunter, and the rest of the Batch notice Crosshair's classic blaster bolt reflective pads on the walls. Hunter asks him why they should trust him, and Crosshair orders his ES conscript team to stand down. They refuse, so he takes one shot, which bounces off of the pads that were set, and his entire ES team (save one) is dead.
"Does that answer your question?" he asks. Not really, but it was definitely a moment. "You all are meant for more than drifting through the galaxy. It's time to stop running. Join the Empire, and you will have purpose again."
It's an Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader pitch, and it's quite sad. As much kark as we give Crosshair every week, we feel for him here. We don't want to, but we do. He warns Hunter not to make the same mistake twice, to not become his enemy. Hunter's only response is, "We never were."
With either the worst or best timing ever, out come the horde of droids that Omega activated. Hunter and Crosshair almost start fighting each other, but then something beautiful happens. Crosshair works with the Batch to fight off the droids, and for one scene, Clone Force 99 is whole once more. They are in perfect sync. Their missing piece is back, their theme blasts through the score, and it is glorious.
The one remaining conscript comms Rampart and tells him that Crosshair has lost control over whatever he was trying to do. Rampart doesn't care. They have everything they need, and on one of three destroyers in the air above the city, he gets Tarkin (Stephen Stanton) on the holo. He says that Rampart may fire when ready.
The Batch defeats the droids, and it's Hunter's turn to pitch Crosshair. Forget the Empire, he implores. "This isn't you. It's your inhibitor chip. We can help you."
He's wrong about that, it turns out. Crosshair has had his chip out for a while. "This is who I am," he says, before Hunter stuns him. They don't leave him behind this time, they take him along as they try to escape the base. We see shots of an empty mess hall and an empty cloning room. Rampart opens fire, the Batch is trapped, and a large section of the city goes crashing into the ocean.
The episode ends there, and it is strangely emotional. Seeing the empty halls and clone barracks in Tipoca City made us remember why we were ever attached to this place. It wasn't because of the scheming Kaminoans, it was because of the brotherhood of noble clones who grew and trained here. Now there's only empty chairs at empty tables, and by the time the destruction starts, some eyes may be teary.
This very well may be who Crosshair is, or who he thinks he is, but what is he going to think when he realizes the Empire fired on the city knowing full well that he was still inside of it? He doesn't like being left behind, and one of the Empire's unofficial mottos is, "leave everyone behind, who cares."
He believes in the Empire, but those beliefs are nothing more than a metal stilt city built on sand. There's no foundation, and there's no brotherhood. His only hope are his former brothers, who just lost the only home they've ever known.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch will stream its season finale on Disney+ next Friday, and will return in 2022 for Season 2.