With "Bounty Lost," 'Star Wars: The Bad Batch' Reminds Us That Omega is the True MVP
This article contains spoilers for the Star Wars: The Bad Batch episode “Bounty Lost.”
After a stormy “Reunion,” Crosshair gets backdropped again, literally this time, as his Bad Batch brothers (Dee Bradley Baker) fly after Cad Bane’s (Corey Burton) ship to free Omega (Michelle Ang). If Hunter isn’t a match for Cad, who else can square off with the gunslinging veteran but a rising rookie bounty hunter by the name of Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen)?
Directed by Brad Rau and Nathaniel Villanueva and written by Matt Michnovetz, “Bounty Lost” may boast a square-off between two fan-favorite bounty hunters, but it’s Omega who commands charge of the episode’s emotional core.
Cad heads toward the fog-cloaked Bora Vio, which contains an abandoned clone facility, to make the trade with the Kaminoans scientists. This will turn out to be the site of his showdown with Fennec and a clue to the Kaminoans’ intention for Omega.
Omega can’t fool Cad, but at least the latter entrusts his dim-witted droid assistant Todo 360 (Seth Green), who’s still reeling after Hunter shot his leg off, to look after her. Todo operates as an obvious kid-appeal sidekick, out of place in Cad Bane’s circle. For such a competent badass, why does the old bounty hunter keep that only-occasionally-useful Todo around? Perhaps being so heartless that a kid can exploit Cad’s lapse in oversight on his minion is the point of it all. Having Todo be a bodyguard gives Omega an easy way out to tempt him to open her cell so she can fix him, although she gets to put her mechanic-medic skills to use. Just when you think Omega is going to wield compassion and empathy to coax Todo into allying with her, she knocks him unconscious to retrieve her comm link and manages to flee into the fog of Bora Vio.
The Bad Batchers finally — duh — surmise the Kaminoan clone scientists desire Omega for nefarious reasons. But Nala Se’s (Gwendoline Yeo) and Lama Su’s (Bob Bergen) respective bounty hunters are squaring against their clients’ clashing interests. Lama Su intends to terminate Omega after using her, while Nala Se, Fennec’s direct employer, is secretly not so keen on the idea. (Is her desire for Omega’s safety out of a personal affection and/or to staunch more expansive guilt in how clones are treated?) This stages an action predicament between the two hunters. Fennec’s natural cunning is on display. She doesn’t ambush Cad first like a reckless bounty hunter would, but she holds Cad’s payment as hostage to grind his gears and trade for Omega.
The episode delivers a few revelations, starting with an important one according to Tech’s analysis: Omega has “pure [unaltered] first generation” DNA material of Jango Fett. It also doesn’t come as a surprise for Star Wars viewers that Tech namedrops the currently MIA Boba Fett, addressed as an “Alpha” to the “Omega”, when he acknowledges that Boba is the only other known unaltered clone with pure first generation Jango Fett DNA. Much like Boba, Omega is not given (forced) into an age-accelerated lifespan. Disregarding Boba’s veteran status in the animated franchise, there’s little time to meditate on this new knowledge that another “pure unaltered DNAed” clone exists in the galaxy.
(How reg clones and the Bad Batchers deeply feel about the concept of clones not bred into age-accelerated soldierhood yields loads of story potential that shouldn’t be just reserved for internal monologues in tie-in novels.)
It is the emotional realization for Omega that hits like a ton of bricks. The possibility of the scientists experimenting on her has already been conveyed to the audience earlier in the season, but witnessing Omega absorbing the imagery and the weight of her possible fate is no less upsetting. It’s demonstrated by her dull silence in a chillingly low-lit abandoned lab as she gazes upon pickled would-be clones in grime-encrusted clone vats. The worst-case scenario dawns on her, accentuated by Kevin Kiner’s darker reprise of Omega’s theme: she’s one capture away from having her free will stolen and then discarded like the experiments.
This is essentially the first episode where Omega is totally alone. Her fears of being abandoned froth to the surface. She pouts when Cad tells her no one will come for her. Fennec echoes the terror as well, dropping yet another piece of advice to the child, “The only person you can rely on is yourself.” (Fennec existed as a cool but non-dimensional supporting player on The Mandalorian, but her manner of preaching insight to her young target here informs her worldview and enriches the character.)
There’s rarely a central onscreen animated Star Wars player like Omega who grapples with evil and moral ambiguity in the galaxy on an existential level as deeply personal as she does. Young Ahsoka Tano underwent wound-digging psychological and personal coming-of-age in Clone Wars to the point of questioning the institution that raised her, but Omega’s struggle is rooted in a unique identity crisis. She is a sentient literally engineered into the galaxy, and the violation of her well-being had already begun at her experiment-based conception like other clones. She’s baffled that her “value” is associated with experimental use — and discarding — in contrast to the unconditional love of the Bad Batch.
Although “Bounty Lost” ends on a bright note with Omega being reunited with her Batcher brothers, dark possibilities linger and the stakes are higher. Yes, Hunter can swear to protect their charge as long as they can. But Fennec’s advice could be foreshadowing. Omega has to live in fear that she’ll have to fend for herself someday.
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