Clone Force 99 lives to fight another day! But, at the end of the Season 1 finale of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, the cloner planet of Kamino is decimated by the Imperial fleet. Just before the episode ends, we also get a clue as to how the legacy of those cloners is connected to the Imperial era. And, in all of that, we may have gotten a huge clue that finally explains what the heck is going on with the Empire in The Mandalorian.
In fact, it’s even possible that The Bad Batch just set up was a specific way to solve one big Baby Yoda mystery in The Mandalorian Season 3.
Spoilers ahead for The Bad Batch Season 1 finale.
In a booth of gaudy space diner, Dexter Jexter leaned in close and told Obi-Wan Kenobi that the Kaminoans were “damn good” cloners. After this scene in Episode II: Attack of the Clones, the idea of replicating exact copies of people using their DNA entered Star Wars canon forever.
But the science of Star Wars clones has always been hazy. Is DNA in that galaxy far away the same as it is in ours? What’s up with cloning someone with midi-chlorians? Do midi-chlorians live in blood cells only or in other cells in the body? How does Star Wars DNA connect with all that?
Seemingly, Star Wars canon both does and doesn’t want you to think about this stuff too hard. And yet, because Imperial cloners were stealing Baby Yoda’s blood in The Mandalorian and Palpatine apparently came back to life thanks to a contingency plan involving clone bodies, it seems like every small puzzle piece about cloning within Star Wars might matter a lot.
Or, at the very least, clarify a few outstanding questions everyone has about both Baby Yoda and Palps.
How The Bad Batch finale changes Star Wars cloning
At the very end of the episode “Kamino is Lost,” we see the Kamoinoan scientist Nala Se being escorted into an Imperial cloning facility. The people working there have the same cloning insignia as Dr. Pershing in The Mandalorian. So, the connection is pretty clear. The Imperial cloners, who operate from 19 ABY (right after Revenge of the Sith) to at least 9 BBY (post-Return of the Jedi), directly enlisted the help of Taun We. In Attack of the Clones, Taun We was around for the creation of Boba Fett, and is revealed in The Bad Batch, helped create Omega, too.
Whether or not Nala Se cooperated after “Kamino is Lost” remains to be seen. But what we do see is that the Empire’s cloning operations were in place almost thirty years before the events of The Mandalorian. Because Grogu was rescued from the Jedi Temple before or during Order 66, it’s possible the cloners are looking for him even during the era of The Bad Batch. (At this point in time he’d be an even babyier Yoda.)
Why does the Empire want Baby Yoda?
In Mandalorian Season 2, we’re told that Moff Gideon only wants Baby Yoda’s blood, which seems to imply that he, and the cloners, want Grogu for some midi-chlorians. That said, in the Mando episode “The Siege,” we see some kind of abandoned Imperial cloning facility. Visually, it’s possible this is the exact same spot we see at the end of “Kamino is Lost.” Only in this era, it’s brand new. (It’s also possible it’s not supposed to be the same spot. The planet Nevarro didn’t seem to have a lot of trees, but then again, things can change over the course of three decades.)
Either way, the connection between the cloners of the prequel-era and the Mando-era is made ironclad with The Bad Batch finale. The tech and expertise to create the Clone Army was reappropriated by the Empire for different secret projects. And, we know that one of those projects eventually involved Baby Yoda.
The Bad Batch and Palpatine’s long con
Assuming Palpatine was planning his Rise of Skywalker clone-body contingency plan for a long time, it’s now conceivable that he only financed the cloning tech from Kamino with the intention of stealing it much later. We don’t see any Kaminoans working on Palps’ body in The Rise of Skywalker, but that’s not super-surprising. The larger theory here is that the existence of a Mando-era cloner in the Bad Batch suggests Palpatine was putting certain clone-tech pieces into place long before anyone was aware of what was really going on. It’s also possible this Imperial cloner who greets Taun We in “Kamino is Lost” has no idea what the endgame actually is.
We know that, somehow, Palpatine returned. And what The Bad Batch finale did, subtly, is connect that deathly resurrection to the world-building of The Mandalorian. Now, all that needs to happen is for Mando Season 3 to bring it all home.
The Bad Batch Season 1 is streaming right on Disney+.