Spinning off from Star Wars: The Clone Wars comes Dave Filoni’s new animated series, The Bad Batch. Read on for my thoughts about Season 1.
I’m late on this one, I know… I watched the show as it came out but kept putting this review off. Anyway– here it is. Enjoy!
The Clone Wars are over; the Separatist movement and Jedi Order are crushed; and the first Galactic Empire is on the rise. With the Republic no more, what use is there for its Grand Army? As it turns out: plenty. One war may be ended but another is on the horizon.
Resistance movements have already sprung up in opposition to Emperor Palpatine’s rule, and they must be put down before gaining traction. Good soldiers follow orders, but what are men of conscience to do when they’re asked to commit atrocities? Find out yourself when you watch the show…
Up front I want to say: you’ll get more out of The Bad Batch if you’ve seen The Clone Wars and Rebels (but more of the former). If you’re a Star Wars fan who somehow hasn’t watched either of those shows yet, wait no longer. Start instantly! Their best story arcs are better than 80% of the movies… How does The Bad Batch stack up on its own merits though? Pretty good, I’d say.
The post- Revenge of the Sith, pre- A New Hope era is one of the most fascinating and criminally under-explored time periods in the Star Wars canon. I love to see how the Empire tightens its grip on the galaxy, and how seeds of rebellion slip through their fingers to grow later. Witnessing the slow transformation of Clone Troopers into Storm Troopers and why that happened was also exciting (it’s actually a huge plot point, and quite compelling).
Let’s talk about the man, the myth, the legend himself for a moment: Dee Bradley Baker. This man carries The Bad Batch on his shoulders, voicing almost ALL the main characters. It’s still shocking to me how, even though all these Clones are essentially copies of one person and have the same voice, Baker imbues each of them with distinctive personalities. They all have different energies and mannerisms. The Bad Batch might be his finest work in Star Wars!
So who are The Bad Batch and what are they all about? Well, Clone Force 99 is an experimental unit with biological augmentations (and a penchant for individualistic thinking). Hunter is a good tracker/ leader, Crosshair is a sniper, Wrecker is the muscle/ explosives expert, Tech is the resident genius, and Echo can interface with technology.
The series also introduces a new member to the core team: Omega (Michelle Ang). She stands apart from the others for multiple reasons: Namely, she’s the first female clone of Jango Fett, she ages in real time like Boba (so she’s only a child), and she’s never left Kamino. Her augmentation appears to be keen strategy sense.
The Bad Batch is well established by the end of the pilot episode. Their camaraderie and teamwork feel earned, even though we barely know them. And it’s somewhat refreshing that, since they’re so familiar with each other already, there’s little conflict within the team itself (though that little becomes MAJOR).
Omega’s induction to the team throws a wrench in their well oiled dynamic. Yet she serves an important function, as we learn about The Bad Batch’s ideals through her. Omega also exposes the team’s vulnerabilities and helps them evolve from stock soldier types to nuanced characters.
Pairing kids up with established teams/ solo heroes seems to be creator Dave Filoni’s MO… First he did it with Ashoka in The Clone Wars, then Ezra in Rebels, Grogu in The Mandalorian, and finally Omega here. I wonder if there’s gonna be a kid in The Book of Boba Fett as well?
The Bad Batch features loads of cameos from throughout the Star Wars franchise. Was it a bit fan-servicey? Oh yeah. But it was the good kind! Certain characters showing up made sense in context. And even if the writers could have technically created new people for those roles, I prefer to see old characters continue their stories (especially minor ones). Previous knowledge of certain personalities helped my investment in the show and made plots more meaningful– notably the “Devil’s Deal” arc.
This series featured many great action sequences! Its simple formula kept scenes engaging: oftentimes problems would pop up and be solved by quick thinking, only for the solution to cause more problems, and so on. You also feel the danger because our heroes aren’t invincible like in The Mandalorian. They can occasionally take damage and lose advantages to the bad guys. Oh yeah– the animation was excellent too (in action and in general). Camera-work is fluid and cinematic during combat, and the environments look amazing.
An intriguing element of the series is its Kaminoan-focused mystery subplot. They seem to be planning… something in the wake of the Republic’s demise. The Bad Batch sprinkles breadcrumbs of this plot throughout the season. I appreciated spending more time in Kaminoan culture, learning more about their politics and ideologies.
One last (non-spoiler) reaction: The ending to this season was epic! I believe my jaw hit the floor. And I thought to myself: “Oh NO THEY DIDN’T!” Suffice it to say the series committed a heinous act I wasn’t expecting… If you told me this happened in advance, I might have been upset, but seeing it play out was awesome.
Onto some of my negative opinions now: The Bad Batch started strongly but its story felt thin after a few episodes. All the installments were decent adventure stories, yet many felt like filler. And not even the good kind of “filler”, which really just means “stand-alone adventures unrelated to the main story”; but the actual kind of “filler”, where the writers seemed to drag out the season between their best ideas.
My number one gripe with The Bad Batch: it needed more character moments/ conversations. I liked the main characters but there was a weak emotional core to the series and, therefore, a weak emotional investment on my part. All the guys had touching relationships with Omega (especially Hunter and Wrecker)– though I wish they’d had more heart-to-hearts with each other.
Speaking of Omega– her character’s formula got a bit annoying after the first few episodes. The team kept making her stay at the ship, long after she’d proved herself combat capable. I understood why they went this route at first (they wanted to make Clone Force 99 seem caring towards the little girl) but it was just ridiculous by the end.
Also, the plot of this season is too reminiscent of The Mandalorian. Stop me if this sounds familiar: badass guy(s), raised from birth in the art of combat, have their lifestyle upended when they’re forced to care for a child with special abilities. At least Omega has the potential for more of a character arc than Grogu. It’s essentially the same setup though.
And lastly: I didn’t like that Tech and Echo’s characters were shortchanged. There wasn’t an episode all year where either of them featured in a story arc (correct me if I’m wrong). That said: I understand why Echo played a supporting role in season 1. We’d seen his character’s story play out on The Clone Wars and the writers wanted to let the new guys shine. But they had no excuse for Tech… Hopefully The Bad Batch will use Tech and Echo more in Season 2.
The Bad Batch is a fun, if sometimes repetitive, trip to the Star Wars universe. And it’s definitely Worth a Watch.
What’s your most anticipated Star Wars show? What did you think of The Bad Batch? Please share your thoughts in the comments (no spoilers please). If you have any ideas for future articles, or any questions, let me know. Also be sure to Like this article on Facebook and share if you enjoyed!
Till next time,
REVIEW METRIC: Don’t bother; If you’re bored; Worth a watch; Pretty darn good; Must see; Watch it A.S.A.P.