After months of anticipation, the new Star Wars show The Bad Batch is finally here. And, it has a chilling albeit not surprising opening scene: the execution of Order 66.
The premiere episode, titled “Aftermath,” opens with the narrator recapping some of the events we previously saw in The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith, confirming that The Bad Batch occurs at the same time as the very end of the Clone Wars and the beginnings of the Galactic Empire. Then, the show zooms in on the planet Kaller, where Jedi Master Depa Billaba and her padawan Caleb Dume are leading clone troopers in snuffing out the last of the Separatist stronghold.
Diehard Star Wars fans will recognize this scene and these characters from several places — specifically the Star Wars: Kanan comic series that ran in 2015 and 2016. And Rebels fans, of course, will know that Caleb Dume becomes Kanan Jarrus in the later animated series, still fighting the Empire almost two decades later.
How The Bad Batch changes how Caleb Dume escaped Order 66
Those who’ve read the Kanan comics know that Caleb escaped Order 66 but that his master Depa Billaba did not. However, the premiere of The Bad Batch makes some big changes as to how Caleb was able to get away from the clone troopers trying to kill him.
In the comics, Caleb, Depa and troopers Grey and Styles are relaxing and chatting around a campfire following their defeat of Separatist forces on Kaller. Commander Grey steps away to receive a comm and watches a holo of Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine commanding him to “execute Order 66.” The order activates Grey’s and Styles’ inhibitor chip and they kill Depa. The master Jedi was able to hold off the clones so her padawan could escape.
While there are some small differences between the comic scene and The Bad Batch scene — like it happening during the day, Depa Billaba’s lightsaber color and Styles’ armor — the changes seen in The Bad Batch essentially make the Kanan Order 66 scene no longer canon.
Instead of being hours after the victory over the Separatists and the end of the Clone Wars, Order 66 happens mere moments after Caleb Dume arrives with the Bad Batch as reinforcements. The series shifts the focus from Caleb and Depa’s close relationship with Grey and Styles to the confusion of the Bad Batch at the order to execute all of the Jedi.
Depa still holds off Grey, Styles and other troopers so that Caleb could get away, but The Bad Batch shows him being followed by Clone Force 99, who are seemingly not compelled to obey Order 66. Caleb eventually escapes for good after Hunter lets him go.
While these changes might not bother some fans, others may find it irksome that a new Star Wars television series retcons a crucial scene from a short but beloved comic series. Star Wars has not yet confirmed if the Kanan comics Order 66 scene is no longer canon.