Tensions are running high in the latest episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, as our favourite group of misfit clones have to balance making money with keeping a low profile. With a number of close calls that nearly had Omega returning to the hands of the Empire, it’s clear that Hunter and co. are feeling antsy about taking their charge out on more missions. But the situation gets resolved in a wonderful way that happens to involve Star Wars’ version of space chess.
To recap: The clones are still on the run from their former employer. A couple episodes ago, the group made headway in detaching themselves from their previous masters by undergoing a surgery that removed a chip in their brains. The chip, we are told, is capable of controlling them even from afar. No good! And so our merry band of tough dudes heads to a location introduced in Star Wars: Fallen Order, just barely managing to get away. While ultimately the clones got what they wanted, the mission proved traumatic for everyone involved. Not only did the clones have to fight against a former member of the squad, but Omega nearly gets killed by Wrecker, her best friend.
While Omega obviously forgives Wrecker, the ordeal is only the start of the group’s troubles. Immediately afterward, Omega gets kidnapped by a bounty hunter who intends to bring her back to the Kaminoans. Except the Kaminoans are split on what they want to do with Omega, with one wanting to retrieve her for termination, and the other hoping to keep her safe and sound. And so poor Omega finds herself targeted by a second bounty hunter who is tasked with curtailing the first one.
The clones do manage to retrieve Omega, but by this point, Hunter has grown weary of the danger facing his adoptive daughter. By episode 10, which released this July 2nd, Hunter decides that it is no longer a good idea to take Omega out on missions, especially not in locales swarming with Stormtroopers. Though Omega is unhappy about it, the clones leave her at the arcade that they’ve been using as a base.
The saloon is owned by Cid, who promises to take care of her while the clones go out in the mission. While Cid is grouchy and doesn’t want to deal with Omega, she agrees to do it because it’s the only way to ensure the clones can do the job and pay the immense debt that they owe her. Omega, of course, is miserable: Up until now, despite being just a kid, she’s been a key part of the team. Usually she’s out there kicking arse and shooting space arrows — but now she’s stuck inside scrubbing countertops. That sucks!
Since the show’s introduction of the base, I’ve been fascinated by the visible arcade machines glowing in the background. What sorts of games might the people in Star Wars enjoy, I wondered? To my eternal delight, S1E10 finally makes use of that setting. While we don’t get to see any new games, we do sometimes see folks playing that holographic version of chess that was introduced in the original trilogy. Known as holochess (or Dejarik to Star Wars nerds), the game’s rules are never fully explained in the movies. We do, however, see enough to get the general gist that it is a two-player strategy game in which a number of aliens are moved on a board, each one having its own hit points, attack, and movement patterns.
Space chess, basically. And wouldn’t you know it, Omega is a killer at strategy. While watching Cid play against other patrons, Omega critiques Cid’s play style, warning her that her intended move is not a good idea. Cid doesn’t listen, and ends up getting his piece killed. That’s when the gears start turning in her head. If Omega is a genius at the game, can she use her wits to hustle other players into forking over money?
The answer, dear reader, is yes. Omega, ever the sharp lass, negotiates with Cid about getting a 60 per cent cut of the earnings. And then they play against unsuspecting competitors, allowing Omega not only to make some cash, but to pay back the giant debt accrued by the clones. That rules! I’m heartened that the show takes care in showing that, regardless of her physical ability or age, Omega is not actually helpless. She’s smart, she’s resourceful, and she’s a tactical genius.
While she’s always a help during missions, the forays also push her out of her comfort zone. Sure, she’s been genetically engineered to have enhancements, but she’s not a trained soldier like Wrecker and the rest of her adoptive dads. She does indeed grow more capable as the show goes own, but it’s also cool that The Bad Batch finds a way to let Omega shine on her own terms. That it happens to involve a fictional game is icing on the cake. Turns out, you can still have epic gamer moments in space.