The Bad Batch Delves Into The Clone Conspiracy And Evolution Of The Empire

Spoilers for "The Bad Batch" season 2, episodes 7 and 8 — "The Clone Conspiracy" and "Truth and Consequences" follow.

The Bad Batch takes a break from the story in "The Clone Conspiracy," the first half of these two episodes as the conspiracy unfolds. Admiral Rampart is on Coruscant garnering support for a new Defense Recruitment Bill that will phase out the clone army and replace it with their conscripted force of Stormtroopers. Standing in his way are a number of Senators, but mainly Riyo Chuchi, a Pantoran from Orto Plutonia. As she looks to better represent the clones and their interests in the legislation, she discovers a conspiracy. A clone named Slip tells her that Kamino wasn't destroyed in a cataclysmic storm as Admiral Rampart claims, but was instead destroyed by him. Knowledge of this would derail Rampart's plans and the legislation, so the clones with knowledge of this are systematically assassinated. As Senator Chuchi continues her investigation, her life is in danger as well. Thankfully, Captain Rex arrives in just the nick of time and rescues her from an assassin. When they capture the assassin, they realize he's a clone, but have no other information about him. And instead of telling them anything, this anonymous clone opts to die by suicide instead.

Chuchi and Rex need evidence to stop the vote and implicate Rampart and they know just where to turn.

As the second episode, "Truth and Consequences," begins, Rex reaches out to the Bad Batch and asks them for a very risky favor. He needs them to come to Coruscant, lead a daring, covert mission into Admiral Rampart's dry-docked ship, and steal the incriminating data from it. They're able to get the data and get it to Senators Organa and Chuchi, but it turns out this was all part of the Emperor's master plan. The vote for the Imperial Defense Recruitment Bill is not only not derailed, but gets more support than ever because of the culpability of the clones who followed Rampart's orders.

It feels like a defeat, but Senator Chuchi vows to continue advocating for the clones. The Bad Batch departs back to Ord Mantell, but there's a tearful goodbye as Echo decides he needs to stay with Captain Rex to help him in his work against the Empire.

Who is Senator Chuchi?

Senator Chuchi is a familiar face for folks who have been watching "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" for a while. She first appeared in the season one episode "Trespass," which seemed to draw inspiration from the John Wayne/Henry Fonda film "Fort Apache." As a young Pantoran Senator, Chuchi is embroiled in political conflict with the Chairman of Pantora and "ruler" of the moon of Pantora. She realized he was using the Clone Wars to leverage his own personal glory and helped foil him. She's always been a pragmatic leader and constantly worked to better the lives of all citizens in the galaxy. She fought against measures like the Enhanced Privacy Invasion Bill, which was essentially a "Star Wars" version of the PATRIOT Act.

Though she was a friend of Ahsoka Tano's, Chuchi was also tapped to serve on the jury in Ahsoka Tano's trial. This is her first appearance on "The Bad Batch" and little is known about her future. But based on her portrayal here, it seems as though she will stop at nothing in order to fight for what is right in the galaxy. Even if it is at odds with the Emperor.

Palpatine's machinations

A lingering question that many folks have in this era of "Star Wars" and leading all the way up through "Andor" and "Star Wars Rebels," is why Palpatine allowed the Senate to continue after his creation of the Empire. When there were senators like Bail Organa and Mon Mothma angling against him, why would he allow them to have any power left in the galaxy? I think this pair of episodes answers that question beautifully and the answer is simple: Palpatine is a master of manipulation.

Like the Rex and the Bad Batch say in the episode, he's many steps ahead of them and he's redesigned the game so it's entirely his. When he shows up at the end of the story  — voice by Ian McDiarmid, no less — he has found a way to turn his liabilities into assets and the divided nature of the vote to phase out the clones into a popular consensus. He's so good at these manipulations and watching him swoop in to declare victory at the end was nothing short of excellent.

He truly is the phantom menace and it's no wonder he found a way to return again and again.

Details to watch out for

There are a lot of cool things across these two episodes to keep your eye out for.

The Imperial Senate is a hotbed of cameos and hints about the state of the galaxy across both episodes as they debate Admiral Rampart's Imperial Defense Recruitment Bill. At the start, representatives of the Banking Clan are pushing for it and are supported by a Gossam Senator. I don't know if this Senator is Shu Mai — the head of the Commerce Guild in "Attack of the Clones" — or another Gossam representing someone else, but it's fitting that two organizations that backed the Separatists are leading the opposition in the Senate for this.

As for Senators fighting against this bill, the first to speak out is Senator Pamlo. Fans will recognize her from "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" as one of the Senators at the briefing where Jyn pleads her case to attack Scarif. In the show, the role is reprised by her live-action actor, Sharon Duncan-Brewster.

Another Senator spotted in the second episode of this arc is an Aqualish, dressed in an orange shirt and blue pants exactly like the original Kenner Toy that was sold under the name of Walrus Man.

More details

Though there's no sign of Mon Mothma in these episodes, Bail Organa returns and is in the middle of all of the spycraft to drive the episode forward. One interesting moment is when he makes contact with Senator Chuchi in the Coruscant Underworld using a droid named R2-C4. This droid is colored a lot like a droid we've seen before and bears the same name. Fans of "Star Wars Resistance" might remember that Kazudo Xiono's droid is a blue and yellow astromech named R2-C4. Is this the same droid? It seems like a definite possibility and a fun nod to fans of that underrated and too-short-lived "Star Wars" show.

Another thing to keep an eye out for is the garage where Rex and Chuchi take their mysterious assassin. This is the garage owned by the Martez sisters that Ahsoka sought refuge in during the last season of "The Clone Wars." The Martez sisters popped up in the first season of "The Bad Batch" as agents working with Captain Rex.

When Senator Chuchi needs eyewitnesses to help build her case against Admiral Rampart while she waits for concrete proof from the Bad Batch, she goes to the former Kaminoan senator Halle Burtoni. This disgraced senator was booted from office for profiting from her position. It is not any coincidence that her name is similar to Halliburton, the company former Vice President Dick Cheney used to line his own pockets with the real-life Iraq Wars.

The last nod I enjoyed came from Bail Organa. He tells Senator Chuchi to "follow the money," and in the context of a game of political corruption and intrigue, it echoes Deep Throat's advice to Carl Woodward as he sought to bring down Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Don't let anyone ever tell you "Star Wars" isn't political.

The final accounting

This pair of episodes is a slight departure from "The Bad Batch" formula to focus on the senate and political intrigue of the galaxy, but they're showing us the moving parts of Palpatine's new Empire in fascinating ways, as well as the fate of the clones. In a show about clones, seeing the transition from a clone army to a volunteer army is particularly fascinating.

This pair of episodes culminate in two really great emotional moments. The first is the holo of Tipoca City being bombarded by Rampart's men, writ large in the senate for all to see. It was breathtaking that their plan to get the information worked, but it was also frustrating to Palpatine so quickly spin the tragedy he ordered back to his advantage. There's a lot to be said about how deftly he's able to manipulate the galaxy, but it's nice to see it in action. And that holo-footage of Kamino is nothing short of haunting. But nothing in the galaxy will change — at least, not for a very long time. It's enough to make one feel hopeless.

The other emotional note in this episode that was done very well was Echo's departure from the team. Watching Omega get choked up about it as she salutes him and gives him a curt "Yes, sir" to follow his orders to take care of the rest of the team is much more emotional than I'd thought this show capable of.

Though some might see these two episodes as a departure, especially since the Bad Batch doesn't even appear in the first episode, these stories are really working to test the Bad Batch and their involvement in the wider conflict. They can't keep ignoring it. It was smart to release these two episodes on the same day, too, so folks got at least some Bad Batch action — and the action was incredible. Their infiltration of the ship had echoes of "The A-Team" and was incredibly well animated. Coruscant at night just looks terrific.

I'm excited for more of the season and, as much as I love the Bad Batch, I wouldn't mind more of these Batchless episodes. They remind me a lot of what I loved about "The Clone Wars."

New episodes of "The Bad Batch" air on Wednesdays on Disney+.