The first season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch ends not with the Batch themselves but with Kaminoan cloner Nala Se, now a captive of the Empire, landing on an unknown planet and given an intriguing welcome. Greeted by an imperial scientist wearing familiar clothing, we learn that the Empire has big things planned for Nala Se and her talents, seemingly not only teasing the second season of the animated show but the its connections with the greater saga. I feel it’s not the quite the strong hook the writers thought it would be given the proximity to the emotional cliffhanger of Crosshair’s decision, and the fact we already knew the Empire had plans from Nala Se when they captured her two episodes prior. But it does pose fascinating questions regarding what these plans are and how they could link to some greater mysteries of the canon. So just what does the Empire have planned for Nala Se?
The Likely Answer:
The detail that has got everyone talking is that the imperial scientist who greets Nala Se is wearing the same uniform as Dr. Pershing from The Mandalorian, the cloner in charge of taking and trying to replicate Grogu’s blood. This is not a coincidence and no doubt the creators want us to make this connection. Whatever this mysterious, Midichlorian-obsessed project is about is still a mystery to us and maybe the answers could be explained concurrently on two different shows at different points in the timeline, the beginning of the project and the end. When compared to the Kaminoans, Pershing and his fellow human cloners seem to be much less scientifically capable, maybe explaining why they still haven’t gotten their project to work over 25 years later.
Nala Se seems to have some morality given she’s helped protect Omega twice in the show and I could see her potentially sabotaging the project. I doubt she herself is still around by the time of The Mandalorian and instead that her story will likely end in The Bad Batch, and not well if I had to guess. I know many have linked Gideon’s project with Snoke and Palpatine’s return but until we get confirmation, I’m treating them as separate (I’ll get to them later) and that Gideon is working on his own plan. I see him as an Indiana Jones villain, seeking a great power he doesn’t understand, and when he ultimately gets his hands on it, it kills him.
A Possible Answer:
Despite the transition to stormtroopers, I don’t think the show is forgetting about the clones anytime soon. Many are still in service and have been shipped off Kamino to an unknown location. Few of these surviving millions are still around by the time of the original trilogy so what happens to them? I could see Nala Se being brought onboard to deal with the clone problem by either altering their DNA further to try and make them still relevant to the Empire, or create a fast way to destroy them. Characters like Howzer have shown that the inhibitor chips can wear off and Nala could be tasked with strengthening their effect before its too late and a full-scale clone uprising occurs. Whatever the plan, I think Nala will choose the side of the clones and could even help their rebellion take place.
An Unlikely Answer:
Somehow Palpatine returned. Dark science, cloning, secrets only the Sith knew. Of the three brief explanations for Palpatine’s return given in The Rise of Skywalker, it’s cloning that proved the most difficult. There’s plenty of dark science and secrets on Exogol but, as we found out in supplementary material, the cultists had trouble successfully cloning a strong, force-sensitive body for their master. Their mistakes led to Palpatine’s ‘son’, and therefore Rey, and Snoke was possibly a failed clone who was put to a different use as Palpatine’s proxy. Palpatine had created his soul-transference backup plan long before his death and it makes sense for him to use Nala Se to try and create some clone bodies to keep on ice until they are needed. She clearly won’t complete the work but she can begin it.
I don’t think they’ll use The Bad Batch to explain everything surrounding Palpatine’s return but I could see them hinting at it. Maybe it’s just one project at the facility, known only to a select few. I’d love to greater explore Exogol, the Sith cultists, and their Frankenstein-esque technology, but I’m not sure The Bad Batch is the best place to do it. Of course, all the cloning shenanigans in recent canon could be connected. Nala Se’s work could the first step, Pershing’s work the next in The Mandalorian, and that goes on to inform Palpatine’s return and the birth of Snoke. Rampart and Tarkin may have thought twice about destroying Kamino if they knew the struggle the Empire would have with mastering their science. Their overconfidence was their weakness.
A ’Never Going to Happen but Wouldn’t it be Cool’ Answer:
The Zillo Beast! At the end of the Zillo Beast two-parter of The Clone Wars, after the eponymous Godzilla-like creature had gone on its Coruscant rampage and been killed, Palpatine quietly requests for it to be cloned for some nefarious purpose – maybe for its lightsaber-resistant scales. This is quite clearly set up for a future story but so far there’s been nothing. It’s never mentioned again. Like many, I love the Zillo Beast episodes and have been waiting 11 years now for a follow-up. It’s almost become a running joke in the fandom about how it’ll never be touched on again. So how cool would it be for Nala Se to work with Dr. Boll on the cloning of the creature. Not as a main project but as a side experiment at the same facility. It could be Chekhov’s Zillo Beast – set up at the beginning of the season before paying off at the end when the Bad Batch or Se herself free it to help destroy the base or as a distraction.
Or, get this, the Empire could want Nala Se for something else entirely. Something totally new that is impossible to guess right now. Wouldn’t that be great and expand the galaxy further? I’m sure the answer will be one of the possibilities I’ve described above, or a mixture of them, but I would love a totally new mystery that stops the animated shows from being the place where Star Wars answers questions created elsewhere in the canon.
What do you think the Empire wants with Nala Se in The Bad Batch? Let me know in the comments or discuss TV, movies and video games with me on Twitter @kylebrrtt.