Being the latest brainchild from Star Wars creative legend Dave Filoni, as well as following on from the sublime final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the new show The Bad Batch had a lot to live up to. Let us see if it has, and how the series has been holding up so far.
Warning! This article contains spoilers for The Bad Batch episodes 1 through 8.
When Clone Force 99, also known as the Bad Batch were introduced in the final season of The Clone Wars, I for one was quite excited. Having seen what they could be through animatics released following The Clone Wars’ original cancellation, seeing their arc in that season left me wanting more from them.
That is what is so good about Dave Filoni’s storytelling capability, he always leaves you wanting more.
Taking place from the moment order 66 takes place and in the immediate aftermath, the show focuses on Clone Force 99 and how they navigate life following the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire. Not only do they have to contend with avoiding the empire, but also looking after a young kid and making sure they do not fall to the effects of the inhibitor chips in their heads
I have always been an advocate for stories in the Star Wars universe set during the Dark Times, that being the period of time in between Episodes III and IV of the films. Star Wars Rebels and Jedi: Fallen Order have both done this to great effect, being some of the best that Star Wars has to offer, and the character arc of Kanan Jarrus being possibly my favorite in the whole saga.
With The Bad Batch, Filoni follows the format he set in Rebels, showing us as the viewer a more singular narrative that allows for tighter plot and character development, allowing for a more cohesive show that more easily fits into the saga as a whole.
In many ways, the show is just a season 8 of The Clone Wars. Even the first episode of the show opens just as an episode of The Clone Wars would, with a voiceover to signify the events happening — this one showing the events on Kaller, which as fans will know is where Depa Bilaba and a young Caleb Dume (before he became Kanan) made their last stand. While it was expected that we would see Order 66 again, seeing it through the eyes of the clone Hunter was a fresh way of telling how the order happened, especially considering that the Bad Batch have inhibitor chips themselves, but they themselves do not fall to the effects of the order (at least not at first).
One of the main things that has always mattered about Star Wars, especially the shows, is the relationships between the characters. Written to great effect in the show, even done in such a way that people who have not watched the Bad Batch arc of The Clone Wars do not necessarily need to in order understand the relationship between the members of the Bad Batch. You understand straight away the brotherly air between Hunter, Crosshair, Tech, Wrecker and Echo while, as found out throughout the first episode, Clone Force 99 is not immune to the effects of Order 66 and the inhibitor chips but are instead just less susceptible to them. As Crosshair says, however, “Good soldiers follow orders”
As with any show, there are of course episodes that act more as filler to pad the season than to do anything meaningful to drive the main conflict of the series forward, with the episodes “Replacements” and “Decommissioned” not doing anything major to drive the story forward. While that is fine, of course, as all television shows suffer from this, here it does take you out of the world a bit as those episodes tend to slow the show down.
That being said though, The Bad Batch so far has been enjoyable to watch. A mix of feelings of heartbreak at seeing Order 66 happen again, but also a feeling of happiness and intrigue at seeing not only another clone-heavy show but one with a somewhat ironic story of what it means to find your humanity and individuality when all you’ve ever known is fighting.
Just as the narrative to a story is important, just so are the characters. Sometimes the characters matter even more than the plot. Something that the Star Wars shows have always managed to do incredibly well is develop their characters. Characters such as Din Djarin, Kanan Jarrus, Plo Koon, and even Anakin and Obi-Wan have received such good character development in their respective shows that you come to understand who they are and, in the cases of Anakin and Obi-Wan, why they become the characters we see in Revenge of the Sith and beyond.
For the most part, The Bad Batch does the same with developing its characters. Most of the members of the titular Bad Batch have pretty good development. Hunter, being the de facto protagonist of the show, gets written as the good leader doing what is best for his crew, his brothers. Tech and Echo are written as not only mechanics and smarter characters of the show but are, in my opinion, written to be quite funny comic relief. Even Wrecker, who is the more obvious comic relief and a bit of a meathead, can be found quite sweet and endearing.
My only issue with the development of Clone Force 99 is with Crosshair. In the first episode, he received some truly amazing and heartbreaking development. From starting to fall to the effects of the inhibitor chip to betraying the rest of his team, Crosshair had a lot of exciting development ahead of him. So far though, he has been relegated to nothing more than a two-dimensional villain. He may receive more as the show goes on, but at this point, there is a lot to be desired.
There are other characters — such as Cid, a former Jedi informant — who, in all honesty, are there for not much more so far than to propel the story forward. The cameo appearance from Captain Rex, for example, was a sight to behold and helped Clone Force 99 remove their chips.
One character I really enjoy is Omega. Being the door into the show for younger viewers, Omega has a very childlike innocence that has not yet been squashed due to her upbringing on Kamino. I am intrigued to see where her character goes, especially as Omega is a clone herself and the true fifth member of Clone Force 99.
While there is a lot left to be told in the season, and so far there have been a few stumbles along the way, so far the series has been holding up pretty well, and I am excited to see what the latter half of the season has to offer. It is no final season of The Clone Wars, but at the same time, it is no Star Wars Resistance.