Where are the clones? It’s an important question in the Star Wars canon, as the clone troopers of the prequels give way to the stormtroopers of the original trilogy. In its premiere episode, the new Star Wars Disney+ series The Bad Batch offers up a very big new slice of canonical information about that very question.
Spoilers for the Bad Batch premiere ahead.
Attack on the Clones — Everybody knows that without the Grand Army of the Republic, Emperor Palpatine would have never been able to execute Order 66 and swipe control of the galaxy away from the Jedi Order. And yet, it appears that one of the first things Palpatine did after he turned the Republic into the Empire was figure out how to get rid of the clones who faithfully executed his orders so perfectly.
Thanks to an appearance from Tarkin early in the debut episode of The Bad Batch, “Aftermath,” we now know more about how and why the Empire decided to do the big switch from “clone” to “human” stormtroopers. In “Aftermath,” we see Tarkin visit the famous cloning center on Kamino. His job? To figure out whether or not the clones are worth all the time and trouble.
In many ways, he’s already made up his mind.
Early in the episode, Tarkin states that the production of clones on Kamino is “a service conscripted soldiers could provide at half the cost.” The leader of the cloners pushes back at Tarkin, saying, “The skill level of our clones is far superior to that of any recruited body.”
The meta-textual joke might reference the famous idea that stormtroopers in the classic trilogy are terrible shots. Because we know the Empire switches from clones to human troopers, this comment sort of telegraphs out that result ahead of time.
Embedded in this Bad Batch conversation is something even more interesting, however: Tarkin revealing the switch from clones to conscripted soldiers is a matter of cash on hand.
“I would say definitely there's a financial side to the Empire,” producer Brad Rue tells Inverse about the scene. “As we get into this era, it's not overnight that we have a Death Star blowing up Alderaan. And honestly, it's not overnight that you have an army of stormtroopers. So, we've had a lot of fun dealing with the clones.”
Of course, there’s the not insignificant matter of Tarkin’s personal feelings toward the clones.
“The idea that Tarkin also doesn’t like Clones? Sure,” says Rue. “He’s not a nice guy. And we do get into that a little bit. Some of his ulterior motives and agendas, it’s all part of it.”
So, the next time you’re trying to settle a debate between Star Wars friends as to why the Empire switched from Clones to Stormtroopers you can say this: Tarkin had some shady reasons for not liking clones, and also was trying to save money to build the Death Star.
You could also tell those friends to watch The Bad Batch. Because as this season is getting going, even bigger revelations are coming. The first episode of The Bad Batch is filled with a ton of Easter eggs, cameos, and references to satisfy even the most casual Star Wars fan. From an unexpected visit from the Jedi previously known as Caleb Dume to a drop-in from Saw Gerrera, The Bad Batch delivers on its promise to be the connective tissue of the Star Wars canon that we never knew we needed.
“For the timeline, we know there are things we can’t go near,” head Bad Batch writer Jennifer Corbett tells Inverse. “Content is out there in different forms, but on screen, we’ve never really explored the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Republic.”
That exploration is officially underway.
The Bad Batch’s first episode is streaming on Disney+ now. New episodes drop on Fridays.