Star Wars: The Bad Batch episode 3 saw Willhuff Tarkin don a familiar Imperial insignia – is it a continuity error, or is there a good reason?
Star Wars: The Bad Batch has introduced what appears to be a plot hole around Tarkin and his Imperial role – but it actually fits perfectly with the show’s overarching narrative. Wilhuff Tarkin is one of the greatest villains of the Star Wars franchise. He caught Palpatine’s eye during the Clone Wars, quickly earning the Sith Lord’s respect for his military philosophy. In both the canon and the old Expanded Universe, he is credited for formulating what is called the “Tarkin Doctrine” – the idea the Empire should rule by fear.
In Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Tarkin has been personally responsible for evaluating the performance of the clone trooper program on Kamino, and he clearly isn’t impressed. Granted, Tarkin’s reason for opposing the clones is ironic to say the least; he views them as too expensive, an amusingly hypocritical argument given Tarkin will wind up associated with some of the Empire’s most expensive superweapon projects. Still, Tarkin serves as an interesting antagonist, driving the Empire forward and threatening the continued operation and autonomy of Clone Force 99.
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Attentive viewers may note an apparent continuity error in Star Wars: The Bad Batch episode 3, however. If you look closely at Tarkin’s chest, you’ll notice he’s wearing the same insignia he wore in the movies: six blue squares over three red and three yellow. This would seem to suggest he holds the same rank he held in the first Star Wars film, decades later, and that’s odd because – as per James Luceno’s novel Tarkin – the rank of Grand Moff wouldn’t be established by the Emperor for another five years.
There is, however, an explanation – because the sector governors, or Moffs, shared the same insignia under the Empire. When Tarkin arrived at Kamino in The Bad Batch episode 1, he was serving as an admiral, and consequently still had that insignia; but he seems to have been appointed governor of the Kamino sector, because in episode 3 he’s explicitly referred to as “Governor Tarkin.” Far from a continuity error, this actually serves to highlight just how much attention to detail Lucasfilm Animation has shown.
This Tarkin detail does, however, point to a background problem with Star Wars: The Bad Batch. The show’s stated goal is to explore how Clone Force 99 survived in the Dark Times, between the events of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and the original Star Wars movie. That naturally means it’s in rather a hurry to show the Republic transforming into the same Empire viewers saw in the original trilogy, rather than taking its time exploring how Palpatine corrupted an entire galactic government.
Secondary characters are being transformed into their more recognizable incarnations at speed; Saw Gerrera, as another example, has transitioned straight into an early Rebel leader without any of the character arc seen in James Luceno’s novel Catalyst. And the sector governors are already being established, with Tarkin numbering among them and placed in charge of critical projects. All this is actually rather a shame, because it would be much more interesting to watch the galaxy evolve gradually – but that doesn’t seem to be the story Lucasfilm intend to tell in Star Wars: The Bad Batch.
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