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Palpatine’s Plan Required Fanatics, Not Clones

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As The Bad Batch proves, the nature of Palpatine’s rise to power makes clear why he eventually had to replace clone troopers with stormtroopers.

The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 2, Episode 3, “The Solitary Clone,” now streaming on Disney+.

Emperor Palpatine is the Star Wars galaxy’s supreme embodiment of evil. The Machiavellian Sith Lord precisely engineered his rise to power from humble senator to Galactic Emperor, manufacturing war, discontent and patriotic fervor to steadily build his power base. Of course, as Emperor, his authoritarian hold on absolute power relies heavily on the might of his military. During the Clone Wars, Palpatine oversaw the creation of the Grand Army of the Republic. This impressive military force consisted purely of clones, trained from birth and genetically engineered for war. In the days of the Empire, he would replace the clones with stormtroopers. The benefit of stormtroopers may not be immediately obvious, but The Bad Batch is making Palpatine’s reasoning clear.

At first glance, the decision to replace clone troopers with stormtroopers doesn’t make much sense. Stormtroopers appear blatantly inferior to their highly-skilled clone counterparts. However, the very nature of Palpatine’s grand plan to seize power and the manner in which he manipulated the galaxy reveals exactly why he eventually phased out the clones in favor of regular human recruits. In Palpatine’s eyes, everyone in his employ was merely a tool to be used to further his political goals and that included his militia. Just as the Republic’s clone army had helped foster support for the Clone Wars, recruiting regular galactic citizens into the Stormtrooper Corps helped Palpatine cultivate pro-Imperial sentiment.

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Clones Fought a War, But Stormtroopers Built an Empire

TK Trooper The Bad Batch

The third episode of The Bad Batch Season 2, “The Solitary Clone,” briefly features a pair of clones discussing the Empire’s Defense Recruitment Bill, speaking fearfully of its implications for their future. Although it sounds like the Bill has faced difficulty in gaining the approval of the Imperial Senate, the moment makes it clear the Empire was looking to replace clone troopers following the end of the Clone Wars. Season 1 of The Bad Batch introduced some of the Empire’s first non-clone recruits and the second season has made the difference between them and the clone troopers even more evident.

Clones were bred to be loyal to the Republic and to fight against a hostile force. In the age of the Empire, both the Republic and that hostile force have gone and clones are starting to question the Empire. However, Palpatine spent years carefully persuading the galaxy of the need for security and order, which he eventually offered in the form of the Empire. Clones were a vital component in bringing the galaxy to this point. With the clone army, Palpatine could convince the Senate that the Republic was capable of fighting a war and doing it without endangering citizens on the front lines. However, with the Empire in place, Palpatine needed enforcers who would encourage patriotic fanaticism more than he needed perfect soldiers.

Had Palpatine maintained a clone military once the Empire was in place, he would likely have inspired even greater rebellion than he already faced. The clones were created to be soldiers — they never lived amongst the citizens of the galaxy, but rather were created purely to serve the Republic, or later, the Empire. However, stormtroopers started off as civilians who then chose to serve their Emperor in the Imperial armed forces. Their very nature was a statement of support for the Empire and would encourage more civilians to fall in line and follow their example, cutting off rebellion at its root.

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Palpatine’s Problems With Clones

Emperor Palpatine Star Wars Revenge of the Sith

Like everyone surrounding Palpatine — from Darth Maul to Jar Jar Binks — the clones had a particular purpose to serve in his grand plan to seize unlimited power. Once the Grand Army of the Republic had done its part, the Clone Wars had concluded, and the Senate was ready to greet the formation of the Empire with thunderous applause, the clone troopers’ days were numbered. Palpatine needed strong, capable soldiers when he had an all-out galactic war to fight and an entire Jedi Order to slaughter. Beyond that point, with the war officially over and the Jedi all but extinct, Palpatine needed enforcers more than he needed true soldiers.

Stormtroopers served as more of a military police force than an actual army. Throughout the Star Wars films and series such as The Bad Batch, the Empire’s troops are seen patrolling planets and enforcing Imperial law. They serve as the embodiment of Palpatine’s authoritarian rule, bringing the Emperor’s will into the streets of every system in the galaxy. Abandoning clones allowed Palpatine to boost his military’s numbers, so he could achieve such omnipresence. Allowing the entire galaxy to constantly see those citizens who had chosen to serve the Empire as stormtroopers was yet another careful propaganda move from Palpatine, reinforcing the idea that everyone should welcome his new Empire.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch streams Wednesdays on Disney+.

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