Star Wars Foreshadows the Emperor's Return

Someone, Palpatine returned, and the new episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch foreshadows that event. SPOILERS follow for the Star Wars: The Bad Batch episode "Metamorphosis." This week's episode of The Bad Batch introduces a new villain, the imperial scientist Dr. Royce Hemlock. Hemlock previously worked with the Kaminoan scientist Lama Su, who is now a prisoner at the Imperial science facility atop Mount Tantiss on Wayland. Hemlock arrives and visits his old associate because the Empire still needs her cloning expertise. Lama Su resists his offers as she has little incentive to work willingly with those who destroyed her homeworld.

In a loaded line, Hemlock makes Lama Su's situation clear. He tells her that her work will continue but will serve the Emperor's purpose.

Imperial Cloning

Star Wars: The Bad Batch's first season marked the end of the prequel era with the destruction of Kamino. However, Kamino's fall didn't end cloning in the Star Wars universe. Instead, it put the power to clone firmly in the hands of the Empire and no one else.

When Hemlock talks about the Emperor's purpose, he could mean several things. Perhaps he's talking about shoring up Imperial military forces or continuing work like the Zillo Beast experiments. Most likely, it foreshadows Palpatine's clones, which sets the stage for the entire Star Wars sequel trilogy.

Palpatine, clones, strand-casts, and Rey

Palpatine returns in a clone body in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It seems likely that Kaminoan cloning science, extracted from Lama Su, was integral to that body's creation.

But it goes beyond that. One of Palpatine's early failures was his strand-cast son, whose escape from Exegol (with some unwitting assistance from Darth Vader) the Star Wars novel Shadow of the Sith details. That strand-cast would go on to father Rey, who would become one-half of the Force dyad that Palpatine desperately wanted to control. In this episode of The Bad Batch, that one line, in this way, foreshadows the entire plot of the sequel saga.

When does Star Wars: The Bad Batch debut new episodes?

Given the criticisms of The Rise of Skywalker, one might argue that this foreshadowing should have occurred in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Regardless, one of the benefits of working in a franchise that is telling stories in multiple eras is that you can retroactively add these clues, and Star Wars certainly takes advantage of that in this episode.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 2 debuts new episodes on Wednesdays on Disney+. The show's entire first season is already streaming on Disney+.