Welcome to The Bad Batch Explained, our weekly column dedicated to those rough and tumble Clone Wars leftovers and their march through a bold, new galaxy far, far away. In this entry, we’re charging into Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 8 (“Reunion”) and exploring The Clone Wars history surrounding a particularly nasty/groovy bounty hunter. So yes, there are spoilers here.
That’s how they get ya. You’re too busy looking at the sniper on the hill; you miss the gunfighter squatting in your starship. For weeks, we’ve waited for Crosshair’s return in Star Wars: The Bad Batch, and just as he does, the fastest gun in the galaxy drops in for a last-minute duel. Cad Bane has sauntered his way back into the franchise, and he’s the right amount of chaos to shake things up now that the series has crossed the halfway mark.
Hunter and the rest of Clone Force 99 barely escape with their lives on Bracca, the junkyard planet. After the Scrapper Guild rats out their location, the Empire doesn’t send a paltry squad to wrangle the deserters. Nope. Admiral Rampart unleashes a full platoon, and he instructs Crosshair to take no prisoners. With his inhibitor chip still firmly rooted in his noggin, the former Bad Batcher complies with extreme prejudice.
So, while Crosshair has no concern firing a blaster into the brainpan of old friends, Hunter cannot bring himself to do the same. Clone Force 99 bob and weave throughout the Jedi Cruiser, avoiding clone-on-clone violence for as long as they can. And they succeed. Kinda.
As they’re sneaking through the Jedi Cruiser’s engine, Crosshair lights the monster up. The engine roars to life. Clone Force 99 is on the verge of incineration. They carefully place charges alongside its interior walls and crack the engine in half. Crosshair gets a face full of propulsion and will never look the same. The next time we see him, Crosshair will have an extra bit of scar-tissue motivation (and maybe even a rad new helmet) to fuel his antagonism.
But he’s a problem for another day. Cad Bane is Clone Force 99’s main concern now. The bounty hunter ambushes the ambushers. After slaughtering the Imperial soldiers hiding in Hunter’s shuttle, Cad Bane steps from the shadows and presents few options. The traitors can either hand over the child Omega, or they can die with their face in the dirt.
Hunter ain’t no slouch with a pistol. He elects to square off, and for a second it appears to be the worst decision he’s ever made. Cade Bane draws and apparently puts a hole in Hunter’s chest. The good soldier goes down and the kid is collected by the bounty killer. Thankfully, the laser blast hits Hunter’s chest plate and not his actual sternum. He’ll live to fight another day and, hopefully, track the mercenary and retrieve their youngest member.
Cad Bane has wandered around the Star Wars franchise ever since The Clone Wars Season 2 premiere, “Holocron Heist.” With Jango Fett’s execution during Attack of the Clones‘ climax, a massive void formed in the bounty hunter market. Boba was barely a teenager (and cats like Dengar and Bossk could only sell so many toys). Bane became the go-to rogue agent that would appear whenever a change of pace was required. Anakin and Ahsoka couldn’t run from Battle Droids in every episode.
The bounty hunter was an immediate fan favorite. He belonged to the Duros race, those funky little green men stand-ins you see for a split second during the original cantina scene. However, his outfit and demeanor were one hundred percent inspired by The Man with No Name…well, maybe not the Clint Eastwood character, but his frenemy Angel Eyes as played by Lee Van Cleef in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Where Angel Eyes delighted in disguising himself as a Union Soldier, Cad Bane pulled off the same scheme with Clone Trooper duds. Both killers appreciate the wide-brimmed hat so they can make dramatic glares on the drop of a dime. And the two mastered the slow seep of language, where words can bend into sinister threats with the flick of a syllable.
Bane’s attraction rests in his utter dismissal of Jedi cool. The wizards do nothing for him, and he’s put several in the ground despite their magic powers. As Han Solo once said, “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.” Cad Bane proved this to be the case time and time again in The Clone Wars.
Always next to Bane is the trusty Techno-service droid Todo 360. The little bot rarely gets respect from his master, but like R2-D2, he always has the right tool at the right moment. His greatest gift is his presence. As a chatterbox, often he’s the only one who can get Bane to pipe up. The bounty hunter needs a droid to steer him away from isolation and insanity.
We haven’t seen Bane since The Clone Wars Season 4 episode “Crisis on Naboo.” Back then, he took a job from Count Dooku. His mission was to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine, but Obi-Wan Kenobi beat Bane at his own game, disguising himself as the ruthless assassin Rako Hardeen. Bane swore revenge on Kenobi, but outside of a few references in Star Wars: Rebels and an appearance in the Darth Maul comic book, we haven’t heard a peep from Bane until now.
Cad Bane is the perfect supporting player for The Bad Batch. The entire series revolves around gray areas. Clone Force 99 is trying to play outside the skirmish. They’re free of the Empire, but they’re also not ready to jump back into the field alongside a burgeoning rebellion. Hunter has made his crew his priority. Cad Bane cares only for numero uno.
Clone Force 99’s pursuit of Cad Bane will help Hunter prioritize his values. He’s not the Bad; he’s not Lee Van Cleef. Hunter has Clint Eastwood’s Blondie in his heart, and if Blondie was the Good, then there’s certainly hope for Hunter to fill that Spaghetti Western role. Does that make Crosshair the Ugly? After kissing that Jedi Cruiser propulsion blast, he’s certainly going to have the face to match the name.
Larger questions still loom over Cad Bane’s role. Why did the Kaminoans hire him to fetch Omega? What is their endgame regarding Omega’s genetics? We’re racing toward answers, and they’ll also push Clone Force 99 to solidify their moral standing. In Star Wars there are no sidelines.