Warning! This post contains SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Bad Batch season 2, episode 14
Star Wars is currently wasting its newest villain, though perhaps there’s still hope for a stronger future. Introduced in Star Wars: The Bad Batch season 2, Doctor Royce Hemlock is a foreboding and sinister new Imperial leader actively working to bring about the demise of any surviving clones following the Clone Wars and the rise of the Empire. However, the character deserves to be seen in a Star Wars project with more viewers (and in live-action).
Voiced by Westworld and It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia star Jimmi Simpson, Royce Hemlock is the chief scientist in charge of the Empire’s clandestine Advanced Science Division. Operating out of a secret Imperial black site, Hemlock presents a calm analytical persona with a brutal sadistic streak. Having major ties to several other important characters and events in the Star Wars canon, Hemlock has already proven he needs to have a future beyond The Bad Batch.
Who Is Doctor Hemlock? The Bad Batch’s New Star Wars Villain Explained
A scientist who was expelled from the Republic Science Corps for his “unauthorized and unorthodox experiments”, Royce Hemlock was apparently reinstated once the Empire came to power and formed the secret Advanced Science Division. Operating out of a facility with zero records or data on its existence, Hemlock was in charge of several ongoing experiments such as the cloning of the deceased Zillo Beast who attacked Coruscant during the Clone Wars, desired by Emperor Palpatine due to its potential to be weaponized. However, Hemlock seemingly took great pleasure in experimenting on rogue clones who’d been questioning their loyalty to the Empire.
In The Bad Batch season 2, episode 14, Hemlock wants Crosshair to give up where Clone Force 99 might be located as the clone sniper was a member of their squad before he chose to remain loyal to the Empire, a perspective that’s since changed. Quietly relishing in the torture Crosshair endures, Hemlock swiftly makes it clear he’s an Imperial who shouldn’t be trifled with. Crosshair’s escape is foiled after he’s knocked unconscious by a toxin released in the room he was trapped in. However, Hemlock walks into the room freely, revealing he’s developed an immunity to the toxin (an appropriate detail given he’s been named after a poisonous toxin).
Hemlock Sets Up Future Villains (Like Thrawn and Palpatine’s Resurrection)
It’s important to note that Hemlock has ties to a handful of other villains. Firstly, The Bad Batch reveals that Hemlock reports directly to Grand Moff Tarkin, alluding to his plans to remove the Empire’s “clone problems” which is of great interest. It’s been confirmed that the Empire sought complete control over advancements in cloning following the destruction of Kamino. To that end, several of Hemlock’s clone engineers wear the same symbol on their uniforms as Doctor Pershing from The Mandalorian, who was tasked with running experiments on the child Grogu – viewed as setup for Palpatine’s resurrection in the sequel trilogy era.
Additionally, Hemlock’s secret Imperial facility is held within Mount Tantiss located on the planet Weyland. This is generally viewed as setup for Grand Admiral Thrawn, expected to be the main villain of The Mandalorian era; Mount Tantiss is lifted from Timothy Zahn’s “Thrawn Trilogy,” where it served as the Grand Admiral’s base of operations. The odds are strong that Hemlock’s facility could become a major location in live-action Star Wars going forward.
Hemlock Deserves A Live-Action Star Wars Debut (But Where?)
Unfortunately, The Bad Batch hasn’t had the strongest reception compared to other shows. Viewership has likely become even lower thanks to The Mandalorian season 3 which has been releasing new episodes at the same time. Regardless, Doctor Hemlock has become one of the show’s strongest elements and the character should absolutely receive a live-action debut in Star Wars’ future (hopefully played by Simpson). To that end, a Disney+ TV show set in the same era of the Empire, such as Andor season 2, would be perfect for the villain. Hopefully it won’t be long before Doctor Hemlock transitions from animation to live-action.
Episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch release Wednesdays on Disney+.