One of the interesting aspects of the prequel trilogy is the way that it normalized highly improbable coincidences in Star Wars. It recontextualizes the opening of A New Hope so that, in the words of Auralnauts’ rendition of Kylo Ren:
“The very first thing that happened in this story is that my grandfather chased down a ship that coincidentally had his long-daughter on it (my mother), and they ended up directly over a planet with his long-lost son on it, as well as his old long-lost master. And then his long-lost robot that he built himself as a child stole his plans and crash-landed on that planet, before randomly running into his long-lost son.”
After the prequel films ended their run, other stories in the franchise would take their turn at improbable coincidence, often in the form of guest appearances from unrelated characters. The main cast of Rebels just happened to come across Lando Calrissian, just as Ahsoka happened to come by Chewbacca and help him out in The Clone Wars season 3.
In small doses, these character appearances are perfectly fine. Audience members can suspend disbelief and see the welcome return of a beloved fan-favorite for an episode or two before returning to their regularly scheduled programming.
Use it too often, however, and it becomes a crutch. The beauty of a spinoff show is seeing it piggyback off of its predecessor’s worldbuilding while simultaneously forging its own path with its own set of characters.
One of the weaker aspects of The Bad Batch is its tendency to overindulge its referencing of characters from previous shows (and films) in significantly less probable contexts. In “Decommissioned,” the Bad Batch randomly come into contact with the Martez sisters, who were anything but fan-favorites when they debuted last year. That specific episode had the opportunity to establish a new breakout character with his/her own unique motivations but instead chose to be shackled to the past, presumably out of the hopes that it could course-correct on the poor reaction to the Martez sisters in their previous appearance.
Other continuity references seemingly exist for the sake of being continuity references: the rancor in “Rampage” is implied to have been the same rancor from Return of the Jedi, a reveal which doesn’t serve the story of “Rampage” in any way. It almost feels like the writers are just doing this because they like making connections.
I do want to clarify that it’s not all bad, and it’s not all lacking in justification. Cad Bane was established in The Clone Wars as one of the most fearsome bounty hunters in the galaxy, so it makes sense that the Kaminoans would contract him for an emergency situation like the one they were in. It also makes sense that Saw Gerrera would immediately be a target for the Empire after the Clone Wars ended.
The onslaught of guest appearances that serve to reference other material doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon. At the very least, I hope the writers will start to provide more story and in-universe justifications for them.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch is currently airing on Disney+.