Now the first series of The Bad Batch is over, I feel compelled to write about it. I mean, I wouldn’t feel right moving into doing episodic reviews of Rebels without having covered this show first.
The Bad Batch is the latest new Star Wars show from Disney and made as a direct sequel to the long running Clone Wars series that I recently concluded reviewing every episode of. While none of the main characters from Clone Wars return for this series, the show deals with the continuing themes of the nature of the clones, their choices and their place in the galaxy.
Especially now the Republic has been replaced with a very different Galactic Empire.
The series stars Bradly Dee Baker as the entirety of the titular Bad Batch; a collection of clones with beneficial genetic defects that allow them to operate as a small, hyper effective combat unit during the closing days of the Clone Wars. We were first introduced to the Bad Batch during the first four episodes of the seventh and final season.
The team is lead by Hunter who possesses superhuman tracking skills, the rest of the team are Tech; a clone with enhanced intelligence, Wrecker; who possesses strength beyond the scope of a normal human and Crosshair; a sniper with incredible sharpshooting abilities. Along with them, is Echo; a regular reoccurring clone from the original series who was captured and turned into a cyborg through Techno Union experimentation.
In hindsight, now the series is over, I feel like it was one of peaks and valleys. It both begins and ends incredibly strongly, with a mixture of good to uneven episodes littering the middle.
The series begins with the 75 minute premier episode “Aftermath”, which details Clone Force 99’s actions during the events of Order 66. Upon returning to Kamino they witness the swift changes brought about by arrival of the Empire and meet a fellow “defective clone” named Omega.
It’s a fantastic short movie that concludes with the team making the choice to rescue Omega and abandon Kamino and the Empire, with the sole exception of Crosshair, who seemingly is the only one being affected by his inhibitor chip that compels him to follow the Empire’s orders.
I feel like that first episode is an incredibly strong start to the series. Showing us just how strong the bond between the members of Clone Force 99 are, even when compared to the “regular” clones of the army who generally treat them as defective and outcasts.
It also does a great job endearing both them and the audience to Omega, the child clone who starts the show borderline obnoxious, feeling like she is filling the role of the token kid character that generally makes things worse through their actions. However, as the series goes on she becomes a much more important part of their family. Becoming the heart and conscious of the group who have, until now, simply followed orders.
As the series forges on, the Clones find themselves bouncing from planet to planet. Avoiding the other Clones who are hunting them as traitors, as well as the bounty hunters who are being paid by the Kaminoians to retrieve Omega.
Peaks and Valleys
As I said, the show is one of peaks and valleys. After a few episodes, the series settles into a groove with the Bad Batch working for a Trandosian information broker called Cid out of Ord Mantell. From here is sometimes feels like is becomes a tour of recognisable characters, which is one of the aspects of modern Star Wars that I don’t generally like.
While seeing characters you recognise is fun, the fact that this small pool of characters always seem to keep popping up and crossing over with one another in this span of decades makes the galaxy seem very small. It’s something old Expanded Universe did, but there was such a side span of content that is happening seemed much less frequent.
I like the Martez sisters, Cad Bane and Fennic Shand, but seeing them all pop up in quick succession and getting what feels like a totally unnecessary origin to Jabba the Hutt’s Rancor and a cameo from Hera Syndulla who later appears in Rebels all feels like this neat little cross marketing solution rather than a piece of organic world building and story telling. And these are the aspects of the series that I wasn’t as in love with.
Additionally, I feel like the development of the individual clones of the team was hit and miss. Hunter gets the most development by far, being the one who learns the most from having to both take care of and learn to trust Omega as she insists on tagging along on every mission. Wrecker is also a lot of fun as the big dumb guy with the heart of gold.
Tech ends up feelings like expositional resource combined with the guy whose just there to comes up with all the solutions that don’t involve shooting or blowing something up. He’s a character for the writer’s continence more than a genuine person at times. Echo… really seems like the most extraneous character there. It generally feels like the writers don’t know what to do with him and ends up coming across part everyman and part a poor man’s Tech.
The real emotional core of the series are Hunter and Omega as the series developers their father/daughter style relationship and Hunter coming to realise what it means to be a person, rather than simply a solider. Which are amongst the strongest aspects of the series.
The other aspect that really spoke to me: The Star Wars nerd, is the ongoing B-plot that develops throughout the course of the series, showing the steady changes in the galaxy that change it from the one of the Republic to that of the Empire. There has never been much coverage of the Star Wars universe directly following the events of Revenge of the Sith, so seeing how the Empire quickly start phasing out clones as well as how they quickly put the boot down on more independent world really works the aspects of the franchise I enjoy the most.
All coming to a head in the fantastic two part series finale in which the Bad Batch one again come in direct contact with Crosshair and we witness the final fate of Tipoca City on Kamino in typical Imperial fashion. It’s a big piece of spectacle that feels really impactful, especially off the back of watching seven seasons of Clone Wars. One that’s comparable to the destruction of Jedha’s capital during Rogue One.
When the Bad Batch was good, it was very good. Even the episodes I didn’t like as much, the ones that felt like they were pandering to the fandom had some good character moments and set pieces throughout them. The episodes involving the Pikes felt like the only episode I really couldn’t enjoy, otherwise the series was really good for any Star Wars fan, both beginning and ending super well.
So much so that it kind of helps me forget the series doesn’t really make good on what is the biggest mystery presented throughout the course of the entire series: What’s the truth behind Omega. By the time the series is over, it hasn’t really given us a clue as to Omega’s true nature. Which irked me a little, but that might come from my impatience more than anything else.
What’s with Omega?
It was never vital to the series to reveal what’s going on with Omega, but a teasing clue would have been nice. The show itself simply presents her as another genetically unaltered clone of Jango Fett, making her exactly like Boba. Oh, except for the fact that Omega appears to be female.
Maybe she is exactly that; the first attempt at Boba and her stated defect that links her to Clone Force 99 is the fact that her Y Chromosome didn’t take and she ended up female. But the fact that she herself seems to know a lot more than she let’s on at times, coupled with the desperate lengths the Kaminoians go to in their attempts to retrieve her behind the Empire’s back. It all makes me think that there is something more going on with her, that maybe she isn’t a clone of Jango at all.
After come time to digest the series though, the mystery surrounding her not getting resolved feels like less and less of an issue. With a second season a certainty, it’s for the best to leave some lingering story threads.
I really enjoyed the Bad Batch. Seeing just how good the technology is to create these series now super impressive. Plus, we’ve got another series on our hands that is basically devoid of Jedi and the force at all. Which continues to move Star Wars back into a place of mystifying the Jedi again, as they were during the times of the original trilogy.
Which is an entire other post I’m currently working on.
So yeah, Bad Batch is good. It introduces some more new elements to the franchise while also giving us some great context and an expanded look at the past events we knew about but never really saw ourselves.
…Guess that means it’s time for me to finally watch Rebels.