The Clone Wars Season 7: The Bad Batch builds on the show’s strengths

The Clone Wars Season 7 premiere introduced us to The Bad Batch. The animated series continues to prove that its clone characters are the show’s strength.

The final season of The Clone Wars kicked off with a clone-centric episode by introducing us to the Bad Batch. The animated series continues to prove its strength lies with the nuanced relationships and characterizations of its clone characters.

“We are not a bunch of unthinking droids. We are Men,” Fives shouts before his firing squad on Umbara.

“I like to think I made a choice. A choice to not kill for a living,” Cut Lawquane tells Rex before Rex explains that he too has a name.

These intimate exchanges between characters formed the backbone of the show. The complicated and developing character arcs around the Clones — not the Jedi — helped make the show a wild success. The introduction of the Bad Batch in the season 7 premiere continued to build on this foundation — that the clones are not just genetic replicas of one man, but individuals with minds and hearts of their own. These clones are capable of forming compelling connections to both each other and the audience.

We have spent time with so many clones we forget the detail that’s included in the title of the show. They’re clones. We forget due to the terrific writing and amazing voice work from Dee Bradley Baker. Instead, we can identify clones, not just by their appearance quirks, but by their personality — their character.

This was something that we didn’t get enough of in Revenge of the Sith due to the film’s frantic pacing. The Clone Wars fills in the blanks.

The Kaminoans explained to Obi-Wan the Clones would be vastly superior to droids — mostly due to their ability to think. They also explained they were genetically engineered to be obedient and less independent than Jango Fett. The Clone Wars spent six seasons navigating these two seemingly contradicting points whereas the prequel trilogy had neither the time nor interest to do so.

The show developed Cody into more than just a traitor and introduced us to Rex, Fives, Echo, Waxer, Boil, and countless other clone characters. We learned sharing identical DNA didn’t mean identical personalities. Each clone was capable of carrying their own episodes. Growing attached to these characters makes Order 66 an even bigger blaster bolt through the heart.

In hindsight, Rex’s rhetoric of individualism and free will was somewhat misguided— they were programmed to do bidding just like the droid army.

Season 7’s premiere expanded the roster of interesting clone characters. Now we have The Bad Batch — four mutant clones who each have their own gifts and personalities. The episode was mostly Jedi-less, focusing on Rex’s squad and their mission to infiltrate a Separatist data center to retrieve information.

We get plenty of conflicting personalities between Rex’s men and The Bad Batch who tend to improvise. It’s not surprising they end up having to work together. It’s a little more surprising each of these new clones is sure to resonate with viewers as more of their history is revealed. The cool and collected Hunter. The hulking and brash Wrecker. The talkative and hyper-intelligent Tech. The quiet and deadly Crosshairs.

Each adds to a new personality to a beloved roster of clones while developing their own relationships with previously established characters. Of course, the episode cliffhanger was Rex’s revelation of Echo’s potential survival.

The big reveal counts on Echo’s survival carrying a significant amount of emotional weight. It certainly does for Rex. Every season of The Clone Wars built on one another in establishing the clones as characters we could care about. But it goes beyond each clone on an individual level.

The strength of the show was in the relationships. Relationships with each other, the Jedi, and their artificial existence.  Echo might not have been a particularly memorable clone on his own, but his significance was tied to his connection to his fellow soldiers. He became an ARC trooper with Fives. He “died” trying to help Rex, Fives and the rest of the team could escape the Citadel. These details allow the plot revelation from “The Bad Batch” to be effective.

The season premiere continued to develop Rex and the rest of the clones as worthy characters, not just plot devices. We will undoubtedly see more development from Rex as he deals with Order 66 and his re-connection with Ahsoka. Star Wars has always centered around relationships between characters.

The Clone Wars proved you don’t have to be a Jedi to be a compelling character. You don’t even need to have your own genetic template.

Next: The Clone Wars S7 E1 Review

New episodes of The Clone Wars Season 7 premiere Friday on Disney+.

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