I can see the argument that every time a Jedi survives Order 66, it takes away from the “specialness” of Luke Skywalker. But Star Wars was peak “Chosen One” trope, and modern storytelling has tried to democratize heroism. It is why the possibility of a Rey Nobody was more exciting than Rey Palpatine. The franchise slightly retconned the reason why only Luke (and Leia) could save the galaxy was that they were the children of Anakin Skywalker; therefore, the only ones who could reach what part of their father was still inside Darth Vader.
By the time Vader walks into the Coruscant temple in Revenge of the Sith, he has lost his humanity, murdering Padawans and Younglings. What was only alluded to in Episode III was expanded on in Obi-Wan Kenobi. In The Bad Batch episode “Tribe,” we meet another surviving Youngling of Order 66: Gungi. But we have also already seen this young Wookiee.
Return of the Wookiee Youngling
We first met Gungi in The Clone Wars season five arc that was meant to be a spinoff of the popular series. In the arc, we meet a group of Younglings making the journey to find a kyber crystal and build their lightsabers. Unfortunately, the Jedi-in-training run into pirates and have to take a detour to rescue Ahsoka Tano. I wrote about this arc in Whatever Happened To…Katooni? Katooni was another Youngling in the arc that had a closer connection to the pirate Hondo Onaka but admitted that Imperials likely killed her during Order 66.
Now here is Gungi, who finds himself on Vanguard Axis, the home of what appears to be a droid syndicate. The Vanguard Axis droids are about to hand Gungi over to someone who paid a nice sum for the Wookiee. When Omega finds him getting tased, she helps free him and escape with the rest of the Batch. We get why a young Jedi would fear clones (a reminder for those with shorter memories) and a promise to return the Wookiee to his homeworld of Kashyyyk.
It is nice that there is no reluctance to help Gungi from the team as they recognize their role in what happened to the Jedi. But the adventure (and danger) for everyone is just beginning.
Gungi is another child for Omega to interact with and relate to (after Hera last season), and Gungi’s lack of childhood contrasts Omega’s in interesting ways. Omega is a clone who never left her homeworld, while Gungi was taken from his as a pup and has no memory of Kashyyyk. But both have been thrust into a war with barely time to be kids. The two share a quiet moment of prayer with a Kashyyyk tree while Hunter and Yanna look on, wondering about the future but focusing on the present.
Looking toward the future, I hope this is the last time we see Gungi. Sometimes things in canon do not have to return. However, because Gungi is a Wookie and their life expectancy is such that he could be alive during The Sequel Trilogy, he is another former Jedi waiting in the wings to reappear. Then there is also the mystery of who knows about Gungi and was willing to pay the Vanguard syndicate a lot of credits for him.
Overall, while I do appreciate that there are more survivors of Order 66 in the galaxy (it is not realistic that even Vader and Palpatine could completely irradicate them), Lucasfilm should be careful returning to this well too often.
Conflicts Bigger than the Empire
When Black Krrsantan made his first appearance in The Book of Boba Fett, there was a scene where he stared down a bunch of Trandoshans in a nightclub before ripping the arms off of one. Some people watching were confused why the Wookiee would attack the group unprovoked. It was another example of asking viewers of live-action Star Wars to catch up with the animated viewers. Great for writers capitalizing on the blind spot for fans, publishing articles about blood feuds, and a quick education.
But the Wookiee/Trandoshan rivalry extends beyond canon into Legends. It has taken this long to explore this history in canon; however, it is still surface level (i.e., Trandoshans = bad, Wookiees = good).
When Gungi and the Batch arrive on Kashyyyk, they rescue a Wookiee from a group of Trandoshans with Imperial tanks under the orders of Commander Venomor. The Wookiee brings them to their tribe under the leadership of Yanna, who accepts Gungi.
But Gungi revealed himself to the Trandoshans and used his lightsaber, which Clone troopers recognize and want to alert the Empire. Venomor says that the Trandoshans will find the Wookiee Jedi first and offers 100 Wookiee pelts to the one who captures him. The hatred clouds Venomor’s judgment, and he should let the Empire deal with it, but that hatred has defined Trandoshans in Star Wars. They are great natural hunters, ideal for bounty hunting, and are always villainous. Even Cid falls into the territory of an antagonist. Star Wars has proven capable of showing more nuance in civil wars between cultures but, for whatever reason, has chosen to keep Trandoshans in one camp.
The only exception is Frisk from story mode in Star Wars Squadrons. Even though he is an NPC, his relationship with Grace is one of the story’s highlights and why the character is ranked high in my character rankings post.
So good Trandoshans exist in Star Wars, and it would be nice to see them more. Until then, we have a one-sided conflict built on the history of Trandoshans exploiting Kashyyyk and Wookiees and easily swayed by an absurd amount of Wookiee pelts. Commander Venomor’s fate is quite memorable (and disturbing for Star Wars) and further demonstrates Trandoshan’s lack of respect for nature.
“Tribe” is mostly Omega and Hunter episodes before what looks to be two Crosshair episodes. If last season was a Middle-Grade approach to Omega’s arc with her figuring out her place within the clones, this would be the YA season. Omega is learning where she fits in within the galaxy. Speaking of publishing, it is curious that there is no The Bad Batch comic or novel companion other than a poorly produced Graphic novel retelling of “Bounty Lost.” The series deserves better-quality companion stories if these characters are going to play a more significant part in canon moving forward.