The Bad Batch Just Subtly Redefined Grand Moff Tarkin

What the Empire really needs is one big audit.

British actors Peter Cushing, David Prowse, and American actress Carrie Fisher on the set of Star Wa...
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Job titles in Star Wars are tricky and fluid. Obi-Wan Kenobi is both Master Kenobi and General Kenobi. Emperor Palpatine starts off as Senator Palpatine before becoming Chancellor Palpatine, and he’s also a Dark Lord of the Sith. And although we all forget this one, Grand Moff Tarkin was occasionally referred to as Governor Tarkin.

Before being the guy who runs the Death Star with an iron fist in A New Hope, Tarkin apparently had another crucial job. In The Bad Batch Season 3, we realize that Tarkin’s most important task was keeping the Empire on a tight budget. But the most interesting detail is that the man who kept overspending was also the man running the show: Palpatine.

Earlier in Bad Batch Season 3, Palpatine visited Dr. Hemlock at the top-secret Tantiss Base facility. Palpatine told Hemlock that in order to make Project Necromancer a success, he could have all the resources he wanted. And because of Hemlock’s fixation on replicating midi-chlorians for clone bodies, it’s clear Project Necromancer is all about duplicating bodies for Palpatine’s future use.

Tarkin is busting people for... overspending.


But it turns out not everyone in the Empire is down with Dr. Hemlock’s spending. In Episode 10, “Identity Crisis,” Tarkin contacts Hemlock and confronts him about the resources being allocated to Tantiss. Tarkin wants to know why Hemlock needs “additional funds,” and Hemlock tells him the Emperor gave him a blank check. Tarkin is somewhat pacified by this comeback, but adds, “If this project fails to yield results, it won’t bode well for you, or your operation, Doctor.”

This detail creates a bit of narrative tension unrelated to our heroes. Because we know Tarkin is around in the classic trilogy — and Hemlock apparently isn’t — the mystery of The Bad Batch becomes the question of what happened to Hemlock and Tantiss. Does Hemlock’s work lead to Palpatine’s return in The Rise of Skywalker? Or is the line not so straight?

This conversation isn’t the first time The Bad Batch has brought in Tarkin as the holder of the Imperial pursestrings. In Season 1’s “Aftermath,” Tarkin points out that the Clone Army provides “a service conscripted soldiers could provide at half the cost.” Again, he’s talking about money. Even evil space empires need to balance their books.

Tarkin is happy to take control of the Death Star in Rogue One, mostly for logistical reasons.


Rogue One, set almost two decades after The Bad Batch, gives us further evidence that Tarkin’s primary function is to manage the Imperial budget. What’s the primary reason Tarkin takes over the Death Star project from Krennic? He doesn’t mention money outright, but he does tell Krennic, “The Emperor’s patience with your misadventures will lead to a swift end to the Rebellion.” Krennic’s misadventures, like Dr. Hemlock’s, have cost the Empire a lot of money, which is probably why, in Rogue One, Tarkin takes control of the Death Star away from Krennic.

The role Tarkin plays in The Bad Batch is echoed in Rogue One, but because The Bad Batch takes place right at the beginning of the Empire’s reign, it’s revealing what Tarkin’s essential function was from the beginning. And because of everything that happens in Rogue One, Rebels and A New Hope, it would seem that on some level, Tarkin maintained his role of Imperial penny-pincher right until his last moment of triumph.

The Bad Batch is streaming on Disney+.

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