In the age of Star Wars’ Rebellion, deciding whether or not to rise up against the Empire is often seen as a clear-cut decision: will you be a hero, or will you shy away from a duty all good people should aspire to? But in The Bad Batch’s exploration of the Empire’s earliest days, choosing why to fight or not becomes an important question of family.
“Cut and Run” explores the decision over whether or not to fight, as the name implies, with a connection to The Bad Batch’s predecessor, The Clone Wars. The titular cut is none other than Cut Lawquane, the clone deserter who appeared in an episode of Clone Wars’ second season. After their flight from Kamino in the season premiere and with Crosshair’s shadow lingering over them, Hunter brings Omega and what’s left of the Batch to Cut and Saleucami to try and gather themselves and figure out their next steps. Alas, as with most places ravaged by the shadow of the Clone War, Saleucami is already home to a heavy Republic—now Imperial—presence, and Hunter’s plans quickly become less about Cut offering the Batch information and supplies, but more of a rescue. Not only do the Batch need to get off-world sharpish, in a regime that tolerates deserters much, much more harshly than the Grand Army of the Republic did, but the rise of the Empire has also now put men like Cut and his family in more danger than they’d bargained for.
Cut is a fascinating thread for Bad Batch to pull on so quickly as a connection to the previous series, even more so than the surprising links “Aftermath” made to the wider canon earlier this week. Not because it’s interested in fannish questions—like, say, Cut’s inhibitor chip (a concept “Cut and Run” is so disinterested in compared to emotional ties that it leaves it off the table entirely)—but because, even if you were unfamiliar with his history, presenting him draws immediate parallels to the Batch, Hunter in particular. Here are our heroes of the tale: two men, two clones, disillusioned with the duty that was once their singular purpose. Now, having exercised their free wills, they put aside that duty after realizing it no longer aligns with their moral cores. Further still: in a time of chaos, they both now have a family to protect, that didn’t get a say in signing up for Star Wars’ ceaseless conflict of good and evil, of rebellion and ruling orders.
Truly, this episode really solidifies that Hunter has become a father figure to Omega, even if not so much by choice but out of a moral duty to protect her the second Kamino became an unsafe haven. It’s his choice to bring them to Cut after all, under the pretense of needing to learn how to stay off their former allies’ radar. And although the episode itself doesn’t interrogate it specifically, it’s hard not to wonder if that is just an excuse (what elite task force doesn’t know how to go on long-term undercover missions?), to both his fellow squadmates and the innocent Omega. So, if not to hunker down with Cut, why are the Batch here? Hunter isn’t on Saleucami for parenting tips, either. Even before the Batch is recruited by Cut and his wife to acquire the Imperial-mandated Chain Codes they need to legally transport their family off-world, it becomes clear that Hunter’s primary drive here is to keep Omega safe—and not in his own care, but with a man he already knows and trusts can look after a family away from the watchful eyes of the former Republic.
Although it’s clear to us, it’s not clear to Omega until the operation to sneak through the Imperial-occupied spaceport and forge chain codes for the Lawquanes that Hunter wants to leave her behind. His decision isn’t one of a particular animus, as he explains to Cut’s wife Suu when he firsts asks the couple to take Omega with them off-world. “It’s what she needs” is his reply when she asks if this is what Hunter wants. But it reads to us that Hunter—faced with an unfamiliar scenario onto the already debilitatingly unfamiliar one of being a renegade—is making the decision with the mind that he’s, in a way, scared to reckon with the responsibility of his sudden parentage. The consideration that this is what Omega herself would want is not on his mind, at first. Nor is the possibility that, as good as his intentions are, uprooting Omega out of the last grasp of familiarity she has from her sheltered life on Kamino and putting her in the hands of the Lawuanes—who are wonderful, but incredibly alien to her—could be just as destabilizing to the child as being with the Batch.
Hunter’s made the decision to fight already and made the decision that Omega cannot fight with them for her, which he sees as an act of love. But it denies her the choice to be with the family that she has found, and in a franchise like Star Wars—where the families our heroes make for themselves is the most powerful unifying force in the cosmos—it’s a decision that, no matter how strongly Hunter feels in the moment, he cannot possibly overcome. That, and Omega is more like the Batch than Hunter knows. When she finds out the plan while it’s underway—and it inevitably goes sideways when the Batch is spotted trying to break their shuttle out of Imperial clamps—Omega makes a decision of her own. After the Lawquanes safely get off-world for (hopefully) a life of peace, she promptly makes her way back to the Batch, joining them as they fight off the Imperial forces at the spaceport to make their escape.
On a solemn trip through hyperspace afterward, she confronts Hunter, apologizing for putting herself in harm’s way, but also making it clear that the choice to stay was hers to make, not his. Their connection—beyond as “defect” clones, as people put in the situation they have been by the Empire—is more than one of circumstance now, but of a found family. It’s a link that cannot easily be so discarded, no matter how good Hunter’s intentions were. But it’s equally clear that in a changing galaxy, going forward that link will be tested, and the Batch and Omega alike have a lot more to learn about themselves, and each other before it can be pushed to its limits in the tales ahead.
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