Sequelling Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a tall order, but The Bad Batch has made a solid start in the latest adventure from Dave Filoni’s team at Lucasfilm. This new show arrives after a solid introduction in Clone Wars Season 7, in which a four-episode arc brought the audience a badass squad of mutated soldiers breaking a prisoner-of-war out from behind enemy lines.
The squad consists of Hunter (leader with enhanced senses); Wrecker (physical strength and size enhancements); Tech (advanced intelligence); Crosshair (sharp-shooter) and Echo (cyborg enhancements).
Dee Bradley-Baker will likely spend much of his time on the production talking to himself in the same voice for a half-hour at a time, as he plays every main character in the show. Meanwhile, beloved characters from previous productions such as Captain Rex (Dee Bradley-Baker), Grand-Moff Tarkin (Stephen Stanton) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) will feature through Season 1.
Fans of this show’s predecessor will need no introduction to this show, but new viewers will need a little information to get up to speed. Just watch out for mild spoilers throughout this piece.
The Bad Batch is available to stream on Disney+, with episodes arriving every Friday at midnight.
Story – New World Order
A galactic war has just ended, and now the galaxy is entering a dictatorship in the clutches of Emperor Palpatine, the evil Sith Lord with the greatest powers in the universe. He played both sides of a war and creates an army of clones in which he places inhibitor chips to obey his command when the time arrives. Palpatine executes Order 66, leading the clone army to turn on their Jedi generals without hesitation.
Clone Force 99 or ‘The Bad Batch’ are a squad of mutated clones whose inhibitor chips were damaged due to their mutations. They remain conscious of their actions and what is going on around them and therefore can make their own decisions. For more information on the characters and backstory, you can check out this piece on the incredible potential of The Bad Batch.
The beginning of the episode takes place on the planet Kaller, where the Republic clone army is in battle with The Separatist’s battle droids with the support of Jedi Knight Depa Billaba and her apprentice Caleb Dume as well as Clone Force 99. Order 66 arrives and the Jedi teacher is killed while her Padawan makes a run for it. The strong relationship between Jedi and soldier is clearly shown before the inhibitor chips are activated and the clones are suddenly not themselves. This is a really important part of Order 66 in Star Wars, with The Clone Wars series adding a more detailed relationship between the clones and Jedi. This is something that the prequel films rushed over, resulting in a lacklustre emotional twist.
Hunter allows the Jedi Padawan to escape, much to Crisshair’s dismay as he wants to follow orders. Building rivalry among the group is something that is really required in this story to help set the characters apart, and this is done quite well here as it continues throughout the episode.
A new character is introduced, Omega, likely the only female developed by the Kamino cloners for The Republic. She clearly looks up to the batch for being the stand-outs in an army of men who look exactly the same, much like her. This character seems to have a lot of potential with the purpose of her creation a mystery, fuelling theories of her being a clone with Palpatine’s DNA. It is well-known from The Mandalorian that he is experimenting with cloning force powers at this time.
By the end, we see a big difference between the clones that are under the control of The Empire and those who are lucky enough to not be brainwashed. It’s a good emotional hook for Clone Wars fans who have grown attached to the clone characters of the show, but for newbies, it might not mean much. This is a very solid start in terms of story. Nothing special about the direction of the plot, but it’s difficult to do that in a pilot episode that has so much to do in order to get the story rolling. Overall, it definitely keeps the audience interested and will keep people interested for the next episode.
Characters & Performances – One guy in a room
As previously mentioned, Dee Bradley-Baker plays all clones in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Rebels and now The Bad Batch. As usual, his performances are very good, he obviously has to make the differences in each character clear despite each of them being clones.
Hunter is clearly forthright and a strong leader, his voice is quite similar to any clone but DBB gives it a bit more ‘oompf’ to hit it home. He’s clearly a true leader in an older-brotherly way, not only to his squad but also with Omega.
Wrecker is a character that I personally have a distaste for, due to what is arguably a weak character with the ‘big tough guy with a soft side’ cliche. Whether you like it or not, the performance for his character is exactly what it says on the box. Clearly a man of brute force and a lot of energy usually expressed through aggression. He has a moment where he is distressed when he can’t find his teddy and Omega finds it and gives it to him. We see a soft side that is sweet but isn’t a huge development.
Echo is somewhat quiet in this episode, but there was a scene that showed a richer development that can be built on. While in the medical bay on Kamino, Echo wakes up while undergoing a scan. He panics and quickly smashes the machine away from him, showing a big story in a short scene. Echo’s time as a prisoner of war was scarring, and something that he cannot escape from. His cyborg enhancements are as much of a curse as they are a useful tool. This is very interesting and hopefully, this moment is built upon more and the show goes on.
Tech is another quite simple one. His character is more articulate and his accent leans toward a posh English accent from the New Zealand accent of the rest of the clones. Hopefully, we’ll get a deep character development with Tech very soon, but there were a couple of moments where Tech acknowledged his superintelligence. Arrogance could be a trait that The Empire can exploit; Crosshair’s chip clearly added a desire to lead and take control with following orders being his motive to do so. Perhaps Tech could also be influenced in this way.
Crosshair is also well performed; his husky voice clearly tells the story of his mentality. A quiet guy who is quite independent despite being with his squad all his life. He shows little to no emotion, only frustration. There is plenty more to come from his character now that he is facing off against his brothers, but there still isn’t much more to say about him at this point.
Omega is voiced by Michelle Ang who does an excellent job in playing a curious girl who doesn’t fit in, desperate to find her place. We’ve seen this before in characters like Finn and Rey from the sequel trilogy as well as Luke and Anakin in the original and prequel films. They feel trapped and clearly have something special. They don’t belong and are more powerful or skilled than they know.
This has led to theories that Omega could be force sensitive, comparing her hairstyle to Palpatine’s hair in The Clone Wars. From the storyline of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker and The Mandalorian, we know that he has been experimenting with cloning; this could be the case with Omega. Others believe that she has an amalgamation of all of The Bad Batch’s abilities, with Tech confirming that she is the fifth and final mutated clone when reminding the audience that Echo is a regular clone.
Pacing – Keeping things rolling
The pacing of The Bad Batch episode one is nicely done. The bumper 75-minute episode has a lot to tell in what is a transformative time in the Star Wars universe. Pacing can be broken down into one simple sentence: if you start to get bored, it’s probably because the pacing is bad.
‘Aftermath’ is never boring, but not perfect. It seemed quite obvious from the first act onward that someone was going to turn. They tease it a few times though and keeps the question rolling until the final battle. Reintroducing previous characters like Tarkin and Saw Gerrera also helps keep the fans excited and engaged. Those who are not big fans will have likely been a little confused or indifferent on seeing these characters.
Omega is a driving force in the episode’s pacing, as the audience tries to piece together any sliver of evidence available to answer the question of who she is. The pilot spent a decent amount of time on Omega and didn’t give us much, though her shining moments like in the final battle have sparked theories that will keep the Star Wars fandom occupied for a while.
The ending keeps the audience hooked as The Bad Batch explores the new equilibrium.
Editing – Nice and simple
The way that a piece of media is edited is conjunctive to how the pacing is set. If there are moments of the media that are jarring, visually confusing or take a sharp turn from the subject matter, it is very possible that the editing has its part to play.
But in The Bad Batch, there is no need to worry. There really has never been a big problem with the editing of Dave Filoni’s Star Wars productions. Things are smooth and keep you engaged. Engaging an audience really comes from keeping it as simple as possible and not distracting the audience with something out of the blue; like a bad cut or other poor pieces of editing. This is why A New Hope is so engaging and the prequel films are less so.
The Bad Batch keeps it simple and smooth and the only thing that will take you out of the episode is all the questions that come to mind as the plot rolls along.
Cinematography & Sound – Pro Production
This is another similar situation to editing. These guys are seasoned professionals who know what they’re doing. Over the course of a feature-length film and seven seasons of The Clone Wars, Dave Filoni’s team has developed the animation quality ten-fold. The detail is great and the dynamic movement of each character is really satisfying to watch.
Episode II: Attack of the Clones brought the introduction of Kamino where all clones would be created. In that film, the buildings are white and pristine whereas much of the time spent on Kamino in The Bad Batch is very grey and gritty, which sets the tone very nicely. It is a time of grey areas, difficult situations and decisions. There is practically no winning in this situation for Clone Force 99.
The sound is spot-on, there was nothing special in this one in terms of sound production but you’ll certainly enjoy the textbook sound, dialogue and music in this episode.