With no Star Wars movies on the horizon and the apparent flop of The Rise of Skywalker, Disney heavily relied on its flagship streaming platform to bring the space opera franchise off its crutches. While the last episodic entry of the series suffered a maelstrom of polarizing reviews, the same cannot be said for the final salvo of The Clone Wars and The Mandalorian, which is set to enter its third season in December.
Banking on the success of the two aforementioned shows, Disney decided to light the spark on one of the likeable aspects of The Clone Wars’ eighth season: The Bad Batch. This ragtag crew of clone trooper rejects sure made a mark on the show’s fans, resulting in a spinoff of their own.
The question is, did it actually meet our expectations?
Set in the twilight days of the Jedi Order and the Republic, Star Wars: The Bad Batch follows the exploits of Clone Force 99, a small team of expendable clone troopers with strange genetic mutations that set them apart from regular clones. Each member possesses unique capabilities unseen in regular clone troopers. For instance, Wrecker is a brawler, Tech is a technological adept, while Echo is a cybernetic clone.
The show opens with one of the final battles of the Clone Wars as the Bad Batch gets dispatched to support Jedi Knight Depa Billaba and her squad. While the mission is a success, the Jedi gets taken down by her own team of troopers, and this is where the main conflict of the show is sprung into motion.
If you’ve never seen a single episode of The Clone Wars, don’t worry. The Bad Batch has been carefully designed to be friendly towards anyone with an interest in Star Wars. The season’s first episode “Aftermath” is an hour long, to allow plenty of time for all the show’s major players to be introduced. Anyone who’s intimately familiar with the details of the galaxy’s transition from Republic to Empire won’t find any surprises here, but some of the pivotal scenes from the Revenge of the Sith were adapted faithfully and beautifully to forge a strong link to the franchise’s main canon.
The Bad Batch leverages the frenetic action and nuances of Dave Filoni’s previous Star Wars entries, but with several enhancements. The franchise’s approach to animation is always improving, which in this first long episode manifests mostly in impressive snow and a fun depth of field effect. The sharp corners of armor contrast nicely against soft, blurred lights in the out-of-focus backgrounds.
While the plot for the first three episodes is somewhat serviceable, the show draws from the epic scale of The Clone Wars’ series finale and the prequel trilogy which it parallels. Moreover, the broad range of Dee Bradley Baker’s voice acting is truly impressive, and it manifests in the portrayal of Clone Force 99. Each member has their own unique voice quirks and nuances, and you can easily point who’s who even with your eyes closed.
Unfortunately, the moments most important to the show are undercut by repeating information the audience already knows. If you’ve watched The Clone Wars, you probably know about Fives’ discovery of the inhibitor chips and how Ahsoka helped Rex remove his. But moments like the one above sell the fact that the clones would be shocked to learn the truth about their new Empire. Thankfully, it does not prove detrimental as the strong beats of the show outweigh the cons.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch is a promising show complete with thrilling moments, impressive animation, and a strong connection to the main canon. While some moments may seem underwhelming, as long as Filoni takes the show in exciting and unpredictable directions as he did in Rebels, The Bad Batch should go just fine. The first season is slated to run with 16 episodes and is currently on its fifth.
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