The Bad Batch: Tipping Point Thoughts

“Tipping Point” starts mid-battle and does not let up on the tension. As many suspected, we check in with Echo in this episode on a mission with Commander Gregor to rescue Clones aboard an Imperial ship. The transport is taking Howser (from the Ryloth arc in season one) and other Clones to a secret location. Before Echo and Clones Fireball and Nemec board, an Imperial officer orders a Clone commando to delete the databanks on the ship.

The officer ends up biting down on a electrocution pill before the Clones can get any information, but Echo retrieves some encrypted data. Meeting with Senator Chuchi back on Coruscant, Echo tells them that he will try and find where they were taking Howser and that he knows just the Clone to decrypt the data.

A Scientist I Have Use For, Not A Politician

Doctor Hemlock is even framed differently in shots than other Star Wars villains. Very angular and Hitchcokian | credit Lucasfilm

Thankfully we do not have a carbon copy Imperial officer villain from Rampart. Rampart was a great antagonist in his own right, but he was a politician. And, as he told Lama Su, scientists are more useful than politicians. The aptly named Doctor Hemlock is more sinister, and I hope he meets a much more horrible end than Rampart. And that is all kudos to the animators and the voice acting of Jimmi Simpson. He’s disturbing and unsettling, and there is a sense of genuine danger for the central characters. 

We learn a couple more things about Doctor Hemlock in this episode. First, he is not a by-the-book Imperial and commends Crosshair for killing his superior officer, saying it showed initiative. He is a wildcard, expelled from the Republic’s science division for unorthodox experiments. And he has a direct line to Grand Moff Tarkin. More Clones are turning against the Empire, which started with Howser in season one, and Hemlock advocates sending the wayward Clones to Tantiss. For what, we do not know. And we may not find out this season, although I suspect his experiments could be a cliffhanger reveal. 

My first thought is some mind control or reprogramming. Remember the assassin Clone with his number wiped who called himself a “believer?” That is one of the loose threads this season that might be connected with Hemlock. 

But for now, Hemlock’s primary goal is to get Omega and force Nala Se to work on what I imagine is cloning technology that will ultimately lead to Palpatine returning (somehow) in The Rise of Skywalker

The Traveling Soldier

Echo’s mission brings him to Pabu in a bittersweet reunion | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

With Echo’s return and reconnecting with the team, we learn that he and Rex have built a network of Clones outside and inside the Empire. Hunter asks Echo if he thinks they can defeat the Empire, to which Echo replies that it is not about that:

“It’s about fighting for our brothers.” 

Echo has always had more of a connection to the rest of the Clones, joining the Bad Batch from the 501st after the team rescued him on Skako Minor.

And that push and pull between settling down somewhere on Imperial radar versus being in the thick of a rebellion has been one of the series’ conflicts. Several times this season alone, others have challenged the Bad Batch with how they see themselves: as soldiers and nothing more. Phee tells Hunter and Tech that Omega is a child and should have friends (similar to Romar on Serenno). When asked if they have considered staying on Pabu permanently, Hunter tells Mayor Shep that for soldiers, “putting down roots is an occupational hazard.” But Hunter also does not have an answer when Shep asks him if a soldier is all he is. 

The conversation is at the root of the endgame for the Bad Batch. At some point, this series will end, and, as I have mentioned before, Omega’s story will probably continue. I am less confident that the rest of the group’s story will continue. The main reason is that Omega would be an easier transition to live-action. Although we have already seen Clones in live-action, played by Temuera Morrison, we have not seen multiple Clones without their helmets since the Prequel Trilogy. Rex is a possibility in the Ahsoka series. But we will unlikely see the Bad Batch, played by Morrison, in live-action (although the Hot Toys have a great take on how they would look).  

So this leaves their story to either continue or end in animation. As an animation lover, seeing more series following other characters from The Clone Wars or The Bad Batch would be fantastic and allow more Clones to show up for Dee Bradley Baker to voice. However, due to real-world challenges for Disney, Lucasfilm will probably focus on live-action and theatrical for the next few years.

Hopefully, Lucasfilm will announce at least two more seasons of The Bad Batch at Star Wars Celebration 2023, and we can not think about the endgame for a bit longer. 

There is Something About Emerie Karr

Emerie Karr was given a lot of screen time this episode. Where will that lead in the finale? | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

There is another mystery over this episode and continuing into the finale: the identity/importance of Emerie Karr. The scientist assisting Doctor Hemlock is the focus of many camera shots, mainly reacting to Hemlock’s disregard for Clone autonomy. Why have we focused so much on this character, even without that much dialogue? 

She appears sympathetic towards Crosshair and acknowledges him by his name instead of his number. Karr also inadvertently helps Crosshair escape to send a message to the Bad Batch. This could be intentional to try and lure Omega to them (which is what is likely to happen), but all signs point to Karr trying to protect Crosshair. 

And then there is the talent behind Karr, Keisha Castle-Hughes (the second youngest person nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for The Whale Rider) voices the character. Castle-Hughes is also Māori like Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett, the genetic father of all Clones) and from New Zealand like Morrison and Michelle Ang (Omega). It is a particular choice to make this one scientist from the same region as two major Clone characters without that connection being meaningful.  

It is also hard to believe that you get Castle-Hughes to voice a character not essential to the developing story. So the question is, HOW important is Karr? Is she another Clone? Part of me hopes they never answer that question—at least not this season.

There is an eerie sense that this season will have a dark ending. Maybe that will be Crosshair’s death (or the death of another Bad Batch member) or just the capture of Omega. The title is apt- we are at a tipping point for many of these characters. And many outside factors could influence the outcome: Cid, Phee, Benni, Gungi, the people of Pabu, and Rex. 

The Clone Wars never shied away from a somber ending to a season (or series finale. However, the stakes feel higher because The Bad Batch focuses on a smaller group of people, most of whom we have no clue if they survive these events. And if the two-part finale sticks the landing, this season could be on par with the best Star Wars offers across all mediums.