If there’s one thing Star Wars fans love more than Star Wars, it’s complaining about Star Wars. Whether it’s the special editions, the prequels, the sequel trilogy, comic books, spin-off novels, etc., there is always some form of groaning emerging from one of fandom’s most rabid fanbases. Surprisingly, there has been one rather consistent element of recent Star Wars lore that doesn’t inspire the kind of backlash that has become common place – the animated Star Wars series overseen by Dave Filoni. Between The Clone Wars and Rebels, Filoni has shepherded thrilling adventures taking place in previously unseen corner of that galaxy far, far away, introducing new fan favorite characters and adding new depth to old favorites. Filoni is back with his latest series, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, and its another winning expansion of Star Wars lore from Filoni and company.
Introduced in the final season of The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch, aka Clone Force 99, is an elite team of clone troopers who have a variety of mutations that give them special skills. They’re led by Hunter, who has enhanced senses. Then there’s Wrecker, obviously a force of brute strength; the mechanically revived Echo; the super intelligent and crafty Tech; and the lethal sharpshooter Crosshair. All of these characters are voiced by Dee Bradley Baker.
The Bad Batch opens as the Clone Wars are coming to an end. The newly christened Emperor Palpatine has just issued Order 66, resulting in the clones turning on their Jedi partners, slaughtering them en masse. However, due to their genetic mutations the members of the Bad Batch aren’t under the spell of the programming wired within the psyches of the clones. Amidst the confusion, Hunter doesn’t carry out the order to kill a young padawan who escapes. Hunter’s inability or refusal to carry out the unjust orders creates a rift between him and Crosshair, with the sniper feeling that his leader abdicated his duty as a soldier.
The squadron of mutated clone troopers return to the cloning facility on Kamino, but their home base feels different. Their clone brethren is standoffish and rude. But they do make an unexpected friend in the plucky little girl Omega (voiced by Michelle Ang), who origins and purpose are shrouded in mystery. The clone facility on Kamino is set to be inspected by Admiral Tarkin (voiced by Stephen Stanton) on behalf of the new Galactic Empire. Tarkin is wary of the clones, and is especially wary of the Bad Batch despite their various talents.
Like previous Lucasfilm animated shows, The Bad Batch is another marvel of design and animation. The action is consistently thrilling, delivering just what Star Wars fans want and consistently pushing the characters and story forward. But it’s not just hollow eye candy. The Bad Batch is expanding the mythology of Star Wars in some really fascinating ways. Most of all, it’s giving us a real look at the transformation that occurred in the galaxy upon the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire. And yet The Bad Batch isn’t a show that’s burdened by the mythology. Simply put, a die-hard fan who has been inhaling every bit of Star Wars content since May 1977 and a 6-year-old who never watch The Clone Wars will be able to enjoy The Bad Batch from start to finish.
One reason that The Bad Batch works for fans of all ages is that it quickly and clearly establishes its characters and their unique traits before throwing them into a rapidly changing world around them. While there are some mysteries that loom over the first two episodes of The Bad Batch, the show isn’t interested in creating mysterious plot point to fuel online speculation. Instead it’s building upon what we already know about that world and expanding in a way that honors the vast legacy of Star Wars but still dares to take some storytelling chances.
If you loved what Dave Filoni did with The Clone Wars and Rebels, you’re going to love The Bad Batch. I’m already in love with these characters and I’m so fascinated by the possibilities that could find their way into the show’s first season. One complaint I’ve had about Star Wars for a while is that just too much of the stories are focused on one family, the Skywalkers. The Bad Batch really has a chance to break that mold and give us more characters that aren’t important because of their bloodline, that have to make daring choices about good and evil without the help of a laser sword. There is a vast universe of stories in the worlds of Star Wars, and far too often we’ve seen the same variation. I’ve enlisted with The Bad Batch because these are instantly memorable characters that will guide us through previously unseen corners of that vast and fantastical galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch
Full of memorable characters and eye-popping action, Dave Filoni has another animated hit on his resume with Star Wars: The Bad Batch, which boldly expands the Star Wars universe that will appeal to fans young and old.