Star Wars is finally addressing one of those long-debated aspects of the franchise: why are Stormtroopers so bad at their job? It's become a major staple of the franchise to mock Stormtroopers for their lack of aim and generally bad battle tactics; well, in the latest episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, we get an actual examination of why the Empire's Stormtroopers were such a downgrade from the Republic's Clone trooper army. And in doing so, Bad Batch also helps to fill in the gaps of explanation in the Empire's transition from the Clone Soldiers of the Republic to the Stormtroopers of the Star Wars Original Trilogy era.
Warning - Star Wars: The Bad Batch SPOILERS Follow!
In Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 14, "War-Mantle" the elite clone soldiers of Clone Force 99 being contacted by Captain Rex, who tasks them with rescuing a fellow clone soldier who has been trying to escape from the Empire. When the Bad Batch gets to the Outer Rim planet of Daro, they find that it is in fact a secret Empire base where the clone soldier is being held. The team splits up, with Hunter, Tech, and Echo infiltrating the base.
The infiltration squad eventually rescues Gregor, the clone trooper who has been a pivotal supporting character in both the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series. Gregor (with his mad laugh) was last seen at a battle on Abafar at a Separatist Mining colony, where he apparently sacrificed himself to cover his allies' escape. The Empire had apparently kept Gregor (and other clone commandos) in holding and given them new purpose: training the various orphans, runaways, or desperate recruits the Empire pulls from across the galaxy to become Stormtroopers.
The Bad Batch Episode 14 uses Gregor and Clone Force 99's escape from the Imperial base on Daro to deliver a winking answer to fans about why Stormtroopers are such a downgrade from clone troopers.
As Gregor explains, the people who are recruited or enlist to become Stormtroopers lack the natural skill and conviction as clones created for the purpose of battle - there's just a limitless supply of them to throw at an enemy. However, there's also a more tactical reason why Stormtroopers can never be as good as their predecessors: they don't know as much!
Clone Force 99 is quick to point out to Gregor that training his own replacements was a great way to make himself (and all clone troopers) obsolete. Gregor has a laugh at that, revealing that he realized the threat - which is why he wasn't stupid enough to teach the Empire everything they needed to truly make Stormtroopers an elite military force.
This episode of The Bad Batch is a prime example of the fun combination of canon backfill and new mythology that the series is weaving together. "War-Mantle" takes a debate from Star Wars fan chat threads and actually gives it life as a chapter of the franchise. Aside from bridging the gap between the clone trooper and Stormtrooper era of Star Wars, this episode also fills in a gap in Gregor's story, helping how he went from presumed death in Clone Wars to be an old man living in seclusion with Rex by the time of Rebels.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch streams new episodes Fridays on Disney+.