2. The Bad Batch are some bad boys
Connecting with the individual clone personalities throughout the show has been one of the best parts of The Clone Wars, from Captain Rex and Commander Cody to Fives, Heavy and Echo. With all due respect to all of those characters, none have been quite as much fun as Squad 99.
Nicknamed the “Bad Batch” among the Grand Army of the Republic, these four clones had defects that ended up being positive for their fighting ability. In many ways they look different from their compatriots, and in equally many ways they act a lot different too.
They swoop their way into the show, coming in hot for a landing that sends everyone scattering out of the way. Their distinct sizes and armor make them immediately distinguishable in a way other clones simply aren’t, no matter the iconography. Their unique personalities also shone through, from the aggressive giant Wrecker to the reserved and acerbic Crosshair.
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The foursome immediately calls to mind other “bad boy” groups such as DC Comics’ Suicide Squad, elite warriors with outspoken personalities willing to toe the line — or step completely over it. Tensions are initially high between the “regs” — Squad 99’s name for standard, non-defective clones — but eventually respect is grown and both types of clone warriors work together to complete the mission.
Most of the show’s highlights come courtesy of Wrecker. Soon after we meet him he is lifting the wreckage of a Republic gunship off the ground, flipping it over and coolly carrying a fellow clone away. He says “Boom” just before it explodes behind him. Later he arrives in a droid control room mere seconds after the rest of the squad, and quips “Is it over already? Aww, man!”
One of the best action sequences takes place in a valley where a few squads of droids is advancing on the clones. Wrecker lifts a piece of the destroyed gunship and holds it aloft in front of the four-person squad. They run complex and practiced maneuvers — with “Tech” calling out precise launch angles, sergeant Hunter tossing ion grenades and Crosshair shooting them at the exact moment for maximum damage — all while Wrecker holds this piece of metal up as a shield.
This squad is better than anyone we have seen outside of Jedi, and that excellence leads to some adrenaline-pumping action sequences. When things slow down their banter and personas make for engaging interactions. In short the “Bad Batch” is very good for those of us watching.
1. The action sequences were incredible
While most of the voice actors are the same, the show itself did get a minor facelift. More developed animation technologies allowed the show to keep the same look while making some characters sharper and more detailed.
That improved animation truly comes through during the action sequences, when each movement is crisp and trackable. The “shooting” for this episode focused on fast-paced camera angles during combat. Because most of the action came in closer quarters than large battlefield set pieces, the way the camera followed our heroes gave the entire episode the feeling of a special ops video game or movie; it was an incredible directorial choice.
We mentioned earlier in this piece a great sequence when Squad 99 advances on a droid army and devastates many from behind the shelter of a sheet of metal. Later int hat battle they spin out of cover and take on the remainders of the droids, including a pair of spider droids. Hunter and Wrecker both take on the spiders, and the camera follows over their shoulders for the killing blows.
Later the reduced group of six soldiers assaults a droid outpost. While Wrecker cleans up at the base of the tower, the other members ride the lift up to the control room at the top. The cinematography is exquisite as we watch the clones carve up the droids, with each soldier dispatching droids in their unique ways. The way Hunter uses his vibro-knife to take out droids is brash, brutal and awesome.
There are many things to love about this premier episode, and we cannot cover all of them here. The score is quintessential Star Wars, the setting on the planet Anaxes is creative and beautiful, and the plot itself is exciting and sets the stage for a great story arc. We also get a few moments with one of the best villains in Star Wars, Admiral Trench.
Yet in the end the most visceral takeaway from watching this episode is that it was a lot of fun. For an episode that features Jedi for all of 30 seconds this is an instant classic and one that deserves being rewatched many times over the next week in anticipation of episode two, and another 20-plus minutes with the boys from the Bad Batch.
Stream The Clone Wars on Disney+.