DISCLAIMER: This post contains serious spoilers for the season finale of The Bad Batch season 2 finale. Read at your own risk. But if you or someone you love needs a bit of support after that last episode, read on and please share!
The Batch lost one of their own this week, and I think it’s safe to say the fandom is NOT okay. Social media has been full of people staggering with broken hearts, a great many of whom don’t know what to do with themselves. After all, this was just a fictional character, right? It’s completely irrational to have a broken heart or to cry real tears over a pretend person—an animated one at that—right? Well, I am here to tell you that your feelings are COMPLETELY LEGITIMATE.
That’s right. I don’t care what your friends say. I don’t care what that rando on Twitter or Tumblr says. Your feelings are real, and they matter. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what gender you are, or whether you are neurotypical or neurodivergent. Your feelings about this are 100% legitimate because you, my friend, are a human being who grieves when they lose something. And we DID lose something. We lost my favorite character, in fact.
The fact that a fictional character made us cry is a testament to the age-old, very human storytelling tradition. Stories have been making people cry since the first that was told. A well-crafted story is designed to do just that. People cry at the movies all the time. They cry at the opera and while reading books. Why not while watching The Bad Batch too? Especially since Filoni and the rest of the show makers have spent the entire last season creating a situation where we have gotten to know Tech better with every week, where we started to understand all his idiosyncrasies and even identified with him. His loyalty to his brothers and his gentle kindness toward Omega. His level-headedness and ability to stay calm and logical in a crisis. And his courage and ability to jump in to rescue his teammates without hesitation. (Hello, when Omega fell into darkness in the cave and he just kriffing jumped in after her without even knowing where the bottom of the abyss was?)
He helped me understand my own neurodiversity better, and it felt so good to have representation on the screen. You’d better believe I had BIG feelings during this week’s episode, no matter how many times I watched it. And I know I’m not the only one who is hurting. I have heard from middle-aged men who cried. But I have seen a lot of young people as well, who feel confused about their reactions to the show, and who are asking for validation or understanding. “Can someone who is over 25 tell me they are crying, too?” has been a common post on social media.
The answer is yes. Yes, it is absolutely OK and normal for you to feel this way. The Bad Batch this season has been phenomenally done, and the best artwork should always make you feel something. Who is to judge which art “deserves” to be cried about? But sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with these big feelings we have. Even though people say distraction is the best way, for a lot of people it’s not an option with the way our minds work. I’ve made a list of some things that I have learned over my 46 years of life as a neurodivergent person who tends to fall in love with Star Wars characters and has had to face my fair share of people who feel the need to shame my passion for things or who don’t understand how I can feel so strongly for imaginary people. Here are a few ways to cope with these big feelings:
- Talk to other fans. This has helped me a LOT over the past couple of days. Seeing that other people were affected by Tech’s fall as I was really made me feel like I wasn’t alone. Even if you don’t want to talk, sometimes just seeing other people posting their reactions can help a lot.
- Talk to a friend or loved one you trust. This person doesn’t even need to be a part of the fandom you are. Not everyone will understand your exact situation, but sometimes we can put something into a context they might get. Maybe start with, “Have you ever watched a movie or show that made you cry and feel sad for a long time after? That happened to me this week. I just really feel like I need to talk about it to someone.”
- If someone makes fun of you or shames you, walk away. Even if it’s a friend or someone you like, don’t hang around for a conversation you know will make you feel worse. If you need to say something, try to politely end things like, “OK, sorry, I didn’t realize you had that opinion,” or “I didn’t realize this wasn’t your thing.” If it’s someone just being a total jerk, as hard as it is sometimes, just walk away, block them on social media, or change the subject by mentioning their favorite show just to get the subject off of you. You aren’t going to change their mind, and when you are already hurting, it never does well to get into fights about it.
- Create a quote board. What were your character’s favorite quotes? I know one of my favorite Tech quotes was from the very beginning of The Bad Batch: “We’re more deviant than defective.” You can make a literal bulletin board, keep them in a notebook, or in a document on your computer. If you feel like sharing, you could post them on social media.
- Create an image board. I love Pinterest for this reason, but also, I admit that I do decorate my notebook, for which I, as a 46-year-old, have been made fun of, but hey, guess what? It makes me happy. A folder on your computer or phone works just as well, though!
- How would YOU have written the story? Write out the version of the story you want to see. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad—no one has to see it but you. I’ve found this can help immensely, and I’ve done it many times, for many characters. What are some of your theories? Is this character really dead? (I have an upcoming article about this very thing… stay tuned!)
- Create a playlist. What songs remind you of your favorite character? They can be serious or cheesy, and the lyrics might not even have anything to do with the situation. Again, this is about how the song makes you feel, and it’s just for you. No one else has to hear your list.
- Start the series over and relive the great moments. Go back and remember what made you fall in love with this character to begin with. And there is no rule that says you have to watch that episode again.
- Write a letter to your character. Tell them how you feel. Again, no one else has to see it, but sometimes getting it out of your head and onto paper can help you feel better. This is between you and them.
- Try some fan art. I am not an artist. No one wants to see that. But maybe trying to capture one of your favorite moments can inspire you to give it a try. You’re probably better than I am! And art isn’t just drawing. Maybe you can make memes, or make a video edit. It all counts!
BONUS: OK, this, I admit, is pretty immature. But often it makes me feel better while I’m venting to make up bad names for a character I blame for my character’s loss. Like I said, it’s juvenile but can be oh-so-funny. And Force knows, I have some feelings about Saw Gerrara, Cid, and Doctor Hemlock right now…
To get serious for a moment: If your feelings and thoughts start getting dark, and you feel like you might be in a dangerous situation or might hurt yourself, there is a number you can call to talk to someone who can help. 988 will connect you to professionals at any time of the day who will not judge you, who will not be shocked or surprised by anything you say, and who will not shame you for anything. These are safe people you can turn to for help if you are afraid you might hurt yourself. You are not and do not have to be alone.
I hope you or someone you care about feels better after trying out a couple of things on this list. It’s hard, it really is, to lose someone you care about. When a character is as well-done as Tech was, they can truly feel like a real person in some ways, and we can feel attached to them. Those feelings are valid, and instead of feeling embarrassed or confused about them, take them for what they are: admiration for an excellent piece of work about a person you wish could be real. Take time to process your feelings and find some healthy outlets for them, and ask for help if you need it. Feelings are big and can be scary, but you are definitely not alone in experiencing them.