Star Wars: The Bad Batch returns for its third and final season today, and the debut episodes mention “M-Count” and “Project Necromancer.” These are not new concepts, but they’re not usually front and center of the Star Wars narrative. Thus even longtime Star Wars fans may not be familiar with them. But now, Star Wars: The Bad Batch may have provided the key that unlocks how it connects with Star Wars: The Mandalorian, and how those shows lead into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, forming the backbone of one overarching narrative focused on Emperor Palpatine’s death and resurrection that involves Omega and Grogu.

So let’s talk about M-Count and Project Necromancer. Then, we’ll consider how Project Necromancer ties various Star Wars stories together.

What is M-Count in Star Wars?

M-count touches on a controversial idea introduced 25 years ago, in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: midi-chlorians, microscopic lifeforms that dwell within all living organisms. Midi-chlorians are a conduit for the Force, a necessary link that allows certain “Force-sensitive” beings to commune with and manipulate the Force.

M-count is a measurement of the number of midi-chlorians an individual carries within them. High M-count correlates to being powerful in the Force. Anakin Skywalker, “the Chosen One,” had the highest M-count ever recorded at 20,000 when Qui-Gon Jinn tested his blood on Tatooine in The Phantom Menace.

M-count comes up in the first few episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch‘s final season. It seems the work being done by Doctor Hemlock at Mount Tantiss involves figuring out to create clones that have the same M-count as the original person they’re clones of, and that’s key to Project Necromancer.

What is Project Necromancer in Star Wars?

Project Necromancer is still largely shrouded in mystery. It was first mentioned in The Mandalorian, when Captain Gilad Pellaeon brought it up during a meeting of the Shadow Council, noting that Commandant Brendol Hux was continuing his work on the project. Thrawn’s return to the galaxy, according to Pellaeon, will provide Hux with enough time to complete Project Necromancer.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 3’s third episode sees Emperor Palpatine taking a personal interest in Project Necromancer, which he says is crucial to the longevity of the Empire. Maintaining M-count across clones is vital to the project, and Palpatine tells Hemlock the Empire’s resources are entirely at this disposal in pursuing that goal.

How does Project Necromancer tie Star Wars together?

While no one has stated frankly what Project Necromancer is, it isn’t hard to conceive a solid theory, especially given the name. The obvious answer is that Project Necromancer’s goal is to provide Emperor Palpatine with clones he can transfer his consciousness into after death, thus making him functionally immortal. When Palpatine talks about Project Necromancer being vital to the longevity of the Empire, he’s talking about his lifespan.

What does the timeline of Project Necromancer look like? It seems to start after the fall of Kamino, with Hemlock setting up his operation in Mount Tantiss (a key location from the original Thrawn trilogy). There, he forces Nala Se to help him study the clone troopers they’ve captured in search of a way to prevent M-count degradation in the cloning process. Nala Se keeps hidden that she already has seen this in a clone. Omega’s sample shows no sign of M-count degradation. Once Hemlock learns of this, Omega graduates from being an expendable hostage used to force Nala Se’s cooperation to an indispensable resource for Hemlock’s work. Omega’s escape from Mount Tantiss at the end of Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 3, Episode 3 likely sets up a pursuit that will continue for the remainder of the season.

While we don’t know what becomes of Omega or Hemlock yet, we know something about Project Necromancer’s future. Project Necromancer isn’t complete when Darth Vader kills the Emperor in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, or else there’d be no reason for Commandant Hux to continue working on it at the time of The Mandalorian.

Then there’s Doctor Pershing’s work on Grogu. The Imperial Remnant’s desire to capture Grogu, a Force-sensitive Jedi youngling with a high M-count, is likely tied to the continued pursuit of M-count degradation-free cloning. There’s even some territorial sparring over the Child during that Shadow Council meeting where Hux’s work is mentioned. It seems Moff Gideon went rogue when he took Grogu for himself and used the Child as the basis for his work on the Dark Troopers and enhanced clones of himself.

With Gideon and his work finished, it seems the Imperial Remnant returns to its original plan: bring back Thrawn so he can keep the New Republic busy long enough to complete Project Necromancer and bring the Emperor back. The plan eventually success, with Palpatine’s return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Whether that’s the result of Project Necromancer as headed by Hux, or work being done by the Sith Eternal on Exegol, or a combination of both is unknown.

In a way, this plot echoes two stories from Star Wars Legends. In the original Thrawn trilogy, Thrawn deployed plans to keep the New Republic on the backfoot while he pursued technology hidden in Mount Tantiss, using that tech to create a new clone army. In the Star Wars: Dark Empire comics, the Emperor returned from the grave in a clone body. Combine those two throughlines, and you’ve got the same basic trajectory of the post-Return of the Jedi canon meta-narrative.

Star Wars: The Bad Season 3’s first three episodes are streaming now on Disney+. Future episodes debut weekly on Wednesdays on Disney+.



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