Star Wars: The Bad Batch has adopted Rebels’ approach to serialization

Star Wars: The Bad Batch, “Cornered,” now streaming on Disney+! Photo: Disney+
Star Wars: The Bad Batch, “Cornered,” now streaming on Disney+! Photo: Disney+ /

In 2014, the first major onscreen Star Wars product since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm (excluding Seasons 5-6 of The Clone Wars, which were written beforehand) debuted to minor fanfare. It was called Star Wars Rebels, and it adopted a different approach to storytelling than that of its predecessor.

For one, it was not an anthology and did not devote an arbitrary number of episodes to (relatively) unconnected story arcs from week to week. Instead, it would tell an ongoing story featuring a constant main cast of characters, with half a dozen subplots that it would shift in and out of within the span of individual episodes. That style seems to be what The Bad Batch is employing as well.

Has Star Wars Rebels inspired The Bad Batch?

Like Rebels, the main cast of The Bad Batch is a small group of differentiated individuals who appear in every (or at least nearly every) episode, such that most matters to some degree, or are otherwise filler.

This is also the likely explanation for the season’s 16-episode length, longer than any other Disney+ original Star Wars season to this point. The season’s length gives the characters time to breathe, and also time for the season to spin its wheels, basking in the galaxy’s world-building and characters.

If the five episodes so far were any indication to go by, it feels like the writers wrote self-contained stories, and then looked for excuses to slot them into the ongoing story, while simultaneously adding a hook to make them feel meaningful.

The Bad Batch writers have also learned a lesson from the second season of The Mandalorian: always look for opportunities to turn episode stories into a continuity reference.

Every single episode so far has had some sort of call-back to a character (or, in the most recent episode’s case, rancor) that hardcore fans like myself would recognize from movies and TV shows. From Saw Gerrera to Cut Lawquane to Fennec Shand to the rancor Luke fought in Return of the Jedi, the galaxy sure seems like a small place.

Still, one of the better aspects of this structure is that it always feels like the show is moving forward. Unlike The Clone Wars, where audience members would have to wait weeks and weeks before one of the main characters did something substantive (like the middle stretch of season 5!), every member of The Bad Batch (except Crosshair, which is another story) appears in every episode, and almost always has something interesting to do.

So it’s not all great, but it’s not all bad either.

Next. The Bad Batch: 9 theories on who put a bounty on Omega and why. dark

The Bad Batch is currently airing on Disney+.