It took some waiting, but The Bad Batch is back, and just as good (or maybe even better?) as ever. The current Star Wars animated show began with the premise of being a follow-up to the classic The Clone Wars, and, so far, has done it beautifully. After its first year set the tone for the show as a more bleak take on the galaxy far, far away, the new season continues that trend, perfectly in line with the rise of the Empire after the end of the Clone Wars.
It’s also brought us back together with tons of beloved characters from that bygone era, which brings us to this week’s episode. “The Solitary Clone” is focused on the return of Crosshair (Dee Bradley Baker) after being left for dead in Kamino by the very same Empire he swore to fight for. But who steals the spotlight is really CC-2224, better known as Commander Cody. His appearance was maybe the most anticipated in this season of The Bad Batch, since we had already gotten Captain Rex in Season 1. Cody also has a history in Star Wars going beyond The Clone Wars, and all of that is addressed in a very subtle way in “The Solitary Clone”.
Who Is Commander Cody?
Cody’s significance comes from the fact that he’s the only clone whose history could be understood by just watching the movies of the Prequel Trilogy of Star Wars. In Attack of the Clones, we follow the whole conspiracy that results in the conflict known as the Clone Wars. It starts with the sudden assassination attempt on Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) as she leads the Galactic Senate’s efforts against militarizing the Republic due to a separatist crisis.
Up to that point in the current franchise canon, the Republic had never had a military of its own, and the Senate was divided between a faction supporting the creation of an army and another against it. As the plot thickens, the investigation around Senator Amidala’s assassination attempt leads Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) to the planet Kamino, on the trail of a bounty hunter named Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison). What he found, though, was much more alarming: former Jedi Master and now leader of the Confederacy of Independent Systems (CIS), Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) orchestrated the creation of the much-discussed Republic Army, based on the plans of Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas, and using Fett as the genetic host. A while after that, the Battle of Geonosis takes place and, thus, began the Clone Wars.
The bulk of the conflict is show in The Clone Wars (not to be confused with the equally awesome Genndy Tartakovski micro-series of the same name), but, in the movies, the conflict is only depicted in Revenge of the Sith, and its very end. During these years of war, Obi-Wan Kenobi was promoted to General, along with most of the other Jedi in the Order. He led the 212th Attack Battalion, whose Commander was none other than Cody. The movie shows the comradery between Kenobi and Cody, but it’s the animated series that really fleshes out just how close they really were. So when Order 66 is issued and Cody blasts Kenobi off a sinkhole in Utapau, it’s heartbreaking on so many levels, as it depicts the lengths Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) went to ensure the extinction of the Jedi and the Republic.
Cody Still Can Be Redeemed Even After Order 66
The heartbreak goes on after Revenge of the Sith, though. One of the topics that “The Solitary Clone” addresses is precisely Cody’s view of the newly-risen Empire, which begins very similar to Crosshair’s. By pairing them, the episode explores the shifting of the clones’ mentality as well as the Empire’s. They are no longer cards in the Empire’s fold and, thus, are all of them solitary and alone.
Both are clinging to it by telling themselves that “good soldiers follow orders”, and that now it’s the Empire giving them, while many of their brothers have left the military after realizing the New Order doesn’t really care for them, like, for example, Clone Force 99, Crosshair’s old squad.
Still, they are such efficient and specialized soldiers, the Empire can’t help but rely on them for specific missions, such as the one on Desix. The New Order tries to enforce their own appointed governor to the former Separatist planet, which uses former CIS military equipment in its defense, including B1 and B2 Battledroids, Droidekas, tanks, and the full catalog of obsolete antiques. Facing the Empire, they are grossly overpowered, but the stormtroopers aren’t fully trained yet, so another set of antiques is deployed to secure Desix: the clones.
The action sequences in this episode are breathtaking, and the team-up between Cody and Crosshair works as good in terms of action as they do in terms of story. A particularly heartbreaking moment is when he tries to negotiate Tawni Ames’ (Tasia Valenza) surrender and Governor Grotton’s (Max Mittelman) safe delivery to the Empire. He never gave that chance to Obi-Wan, even after years of fighting side by side through multiple arcs of The Clone Wars. His approach to the situation is a testament to the influence the Jedi had on the clones, opting to avoid spilling blood if possible. Ultimately, that’s how he realizes the Empire is not who he should be fighting for, and later opts for desertion.
He is successful in convincing Ames, but Grotton orders her execution nonetheless. Cody refuses to carry it out, but Crosshair follows the order and does the deed. Afterward, they talk back on Coruscant and reflect on what makes them different from Battledroids. “We make our own decisions”, says Cody, clearly reminiscing about his past actions, most likely the ones in Utapau. Shortly after, he deserts the Empire and goes AWOL, as Crosshair is left behind once again.
Where Will Cody Go Next?
The purpose of The Bad Batch has always been to fill the gap between the phasing out of the Republic clone army and the rise of the Imperial stormtroopers. How that happened was for decades this has been a question the fans longed for an answer to, and now we’re seeing it play out.
The Empire is gradually leaving the clones to their own luck until there are only a few, enough to make them go away rather quietly, it seems. Once they started to question their actions after Order 66 and the Great Jedi Purge, the Empire realized that conscripted soldiers would be a far more efficient way of perpetuating its power. Fanaticism and brainwashing are always the best way to keep hold of a military, and that’s what they are doing with the Stormtrooper program.
On the clones’ side, there are more and more of them who either desert or continue to cling to an Empire that couldn’t care less for them. A breaking point in this relationship is soon to come, and Cody has apparently chosen his side. In Season 1, we already saw one of his brothers, Captain Rex, leading an effort to contact and rescue clones that were abandoning the Empire, and he wasn’t the only one. A seemingly rebellious group of clones is starting to take shape, and, in the long run, we know a civil war is bound to take place, too. Hopefully, Cody will follow the right orders, this time.