Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers for the Star Wars franchise series Clone Wars, Rebels, and The Bad Batch. Enter at your own risk!
The Sad Batch–I mean, Bad Batch–viewers got a shock with this week’s season two finale when our favorite group of misfit clones lost one of their own. Yet, after watching the episode a couple times and remembering some things from Star Wars’ past, I think there is cause to have some hope that we haven’t seen the last of a fan favorite character. One reason is something I’m going to call “Chekhov’s Goggles” after a famous writing rule from Anton Chekhov. But first, here are a few other reasons we can cling to hope without feeling delusional.
1. The rest of the Bad Batch is okay after falling. Yes, they didn’t seem to fall quite so far, and they were inside the train car so had a modicum of protection, but the fact that all of them literally walked away from that crash has me believing that it’s possible Tech might have been able to survive the fall as well. One of my favorite things about Tech is his level-headedness in catastrophe. Part of the train fell with him, as well, and it is technically possible for him to have clung onto it, allowing it to absorb some of the impact of his landing. He’s a resourceful kriffer, and I refuse to believe he didn’t have some element of a plan, despite his resignation to sacrifice himself.
2. Remember when Hunter fell off that mountain last season? There were a few things to break his fall, but the planet Tech fell on was conveniently covered with clouds, so we don’t know what was under him. Heck, they couldn’t even see the enemy ships approaching. All I’m saying is that if Hunter fell off a mountain and walked away, Tech might have at least survived.
3. We didn’t see a body. This is a classic Star Wars tactic, which has been used time and again. Think about the characters who have died. In Star Wars Rebels, Kanan Jarrus sacrifices himself to save Hera Syndulla, and dies in a fiery blast. This was not in a season finale, and there was just no doubt that he died–though he did become one with the Force, and so of course, there was still a connection. Throughout the rest of the season (and series), the characters dealt with mourning him in their personal ways. But this was not a cliffhanger situation. He very clearly died. The same is with another of my favorite clones during season six of The Clone Wars, Fives, whose death I found just as heartbreaking. We see him die, we see the aftermath. His death story arc was at the beginning of a season, not the end. Both of these characters had very real, clear, story-based reasons for their deaths that were set up in advance. We don’t see this with Tech. For me, I feel like this is a perfect plot-device to bring us into season three, and I have ideas as to what might happen next.
4. Sometimes, they come back. Star Wars characters don’t have to be buried in the “Pet Sematary” to make reappearances. Maul was cut in half, as was Admiral Trench. Anakin was…well, what DIDN’T happen to Anakin? General Grievous had his whole body replaced with cybernetics before we even met him. Echo and Gregor both were caught in explosions and were left for dead. And have you seen the shape Saw Gerrera was in at the beginning of Rogue One? But all of these folks survived, albeit some in better shape than others. They have the technology. They can rebuild…especially when our good friend Doctor Hemlock is involved. Speaking of which…
5. Bodies don’t just disappear. And Doctor Royce Hemlock is not going to let the opportunity to study a genetically modified clone slip through his fingers, alive or dead. Remember, the Empire is built on lies–they have driven this through our heads over and over, and so why should this be any different? Hemlock would not have given up the hunt for Tech until he found him. Tech’s goggles wouldn’t have just fallen off his head, either. He’s been wearing those things for years, they have staying power (much to some fans’ dismay). Where Tech’s goggles were, there was Tech, too, especially with his helmet on. There is, however, one thought I had. It’s possible Tech managed to somehow get away from his crash site, leaving his broken goggles behind, because, well, they were broken. Tech might have found a way to hide from Hemlock and the Empire, but this doesn’t hold water well, because an injured Tech in an unfamiliar environment would not have stood a very good chance against an Imperial search party. And remember, we also had Tarkin’s backing behind the search, because he wants to question the Bad Batch as to their involvement in the explosions at the summit. There was a lot of interest in finding Tech. Hemlock would not have been happy with just finding goggles.
6. Listen to what Cid says carefully. As angry as many of us are with Cid, we still need to consider her words well. Writers don’t have their characters just say anything. Every word is planned. She doesn’t say, “I needed money and I was mad at you guys, so I gave the Empire a call.” She says the heat was on, and that the boys brought the Empire to her. She had to do something to survive. I mean, we’ve seen what the Empire does when people don’t cooperate. As angry as her actions made me, I have to admit that it’s a tough choice for her. Be tortured to death or betray your friends. She could have chosen differently, but the fact still remains that somehow the Empire knew to go to her. How did they figure this out? Crosshair didn’t know where they were, so he couldn’t have leaked that info. It’s possible that Riot Racer Tech attracted some attention and they made a connection between him and Cid. Or…they found Tech’s datapad or got Tech himself to say something about her. Regardless, we know Cid helps the Empire’s opposition all the time–the Bad Batch has gone on many missions for her for that purpose. I feel like we haven’t seen the last of Cid’s involvement here. And I think Hemlock has more of Tech than he’s letting on, enough for him to be able to find Cid.
7. What the Emperor wants is impossible…or is it? We pretty much know that the Emperor wants Hemlock and his team to create cloning technology so he can be resurrected after death in some way. We’ve seen that this is something important to him. If Hemlock found Tech, even if Tech was dead, he would take him back to his lab. What better test subject for resurrection is there than a dead clone that would serve them well alive for other experiments? I admit, this one feels a bit far-fetched, but the possibility exists. Look at all the other poor schmucks in the green tanks in Hemlock’s lab at the end of the episode, when Omega finds Crosshair. I’m not discounting any possibility. Plus, look what the Separatists did with Echo: They made him work for them from a stasis tank. The Empire wouldn’t want Tech’s brains to go to waste. There is a reason the writers chose to have this happen to Tech and not another character. I think it’s a real possibility Hemlock wants to use his mind for their ends somehow. It’s in their best interest to keep him alive.
8. Chekhov’s goggles. And finally, we come to what I’m calling Chekhov’s goggles. Russian author Anton Chekhov gave advice to playwrights over the years, and one of those bits was that every element of a story must be used for something at some point in the story. Every bit of dialogue, every piece of setting, all of it must be vital for good, tight writing. His famous example was that if a writer shows a gun in act one of a play, it must be used by act three. When Hemlock drops those goggles onto the floor in front of Hunter in the season finale, he says they are all they could salvage of Tech. Why not just have Hemlock say, “Yeah, your friend is dead, don’t let it happen to the rest of you?” Because the goggles have a story goal. We see Hunter looking them at the end of the episode. At some point, when the grief isn’t so sharp, perhaps, one of the Batch is going to remember Hunter’s words…
9. Tech’s recording light was ON when he fell. “He records everything. It’s a hobby.” Hunter explains Tech’s affinity for recording everything in The Clone Wars season 7 episode when they need to call the Keeradacks to help with Echo’s rescue. Tech plays a sound that he’d previously recorded to get the winged creatures to bring them to safety. It’s a very real possibility that Chekhov’s goggles–I mean, Tech’s goggles–have a recording of what happened to him when he fell. Why would he change his habits, even at the end? We know Tech is the King of Consistency. Hemlock might not have known this, but Hunter, Echo, and Wrecker do. We were even reminded of this in the Pabu episode, when Wrecker says he’s full. Tech says he recorded the date and time of the momentous occasion. We know Tech–he wasn’t joking. He meant it literally. At the very least, this recording could help the others find where Omega and Crosshair are. But I think it will also reveal that Tech did not, indeed, die in his fall. Echo is going to remember to check the goggles eventually.
10. Tech could be a missing piece in the escape from Hemlock’s base. Omega will want to escape the base, but will need help. Crosshair is in rough shape, and I believe he has resigned himself to his fate at Hemlock’s hands. If his brothers are safe, he doesn’t care what happens to himself. He’s shown this. And what does he have outside the base? He doesn’t believe his brothers trust him or would ever want him back. If Tech is actually there, though, and he and Omega discover this, there is an impetus for them to escape. Crosshair will want to help his brother, and really I think with this added element, he’ll want to help Omega, too. Think about it–this also feeds into the “why Tech?” question. Tech was the most outspoken about saving Crosshair, repeatedly. This is why the writers chose him to fall. If the others discover Tech is alive via the goggles or something else, this will cement their determination to raid the base as well. Not only will they want to save all the rest of the clones, but they don’t want Tech in the hands of the Empire for strategic reasons.
All of this, I understand, sounds pretty conspiracy-theory laden or like I am clinging to hope. I’m not going to lie, I really want Tech to be alive, and so yes, I am not above looking for any shred of possibility there is. But logically, I think we have some pretty good reasons to think Tech stood a chance. And wouldn’t Tech want us to think about this logically and methodically?