The Star Wars fanbase is one that is as dedicated as they are divided. For the longest time, fans have looked to the galaxy far, far away as a source of endless possibility within an enthralling space fantasy world. After Disney’s sequel trilogy though, some fans (including us) felt like this wide amazing franchise was growing ever more insular. As if every notable character was borne out of some incestuous Palpatine-Skywalker family tree. We felt especially that way after “Rise of Skywalker”. Recently, however, Disney seems to be making more of an effort to tell genuinely innovative stories outside of the pre-existing Skywalker saga.
On Disney+ services, fans can catch up on the bounty hunter antics of “The Mandalorian” and finally find some closure with the final season “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”. Things got even wilder when Disney announced a whole slew of new shows and films set within the Star Wars universe coming our way. And the first series to be released in this new lineup is a follow-up to the excellent animated series, “Star Wars: Clone Wars” by Dave Filoni. Instead this time, it isn’t jumping between multiple perspectives of the Clone Wars. No, Filoni’s “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” is locked squarely on a motley gang of mutant clones and their adventures across the galaxy.
We had the chance to catch the first two episodes of the series and we’ve got to say that it seems like the franchise is heading in the right direction!
Throughout the prequel trilogy, we know that Palpatine had commissioned a Clone Army modelled after the genetic template of one Jango Fett. The greatest bounty hunter in the galaxy at the time. Every Clone Trooper was made exactly the same in the warrior’s image. Throughout the “Clone Wars” series we’ve gotten a chance to see these troopers develop personalities and grow as characters. In a way every trooper is a little different. Then, there’s Clone Force 99 or “The Bad Batch”. A group of mutated Clone Troopers who have unique skills and abilities. Essentially, think of them as the Suicide Squad of the Clone Army. They don’t play by the rules and they don’t follow orders. With the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire, it’s time for these misfits to raise some hell!
The 70-minute premiere of “Bad Batch” drops us straight into the action. Picking up right after the execution of Order 66 by Palpatine. Unlike the regular clones, these soldiers weren’t forced to murder the Jedi on sight via Inhibitor Chip. Which presents a very interesting dilemma in which these lovable rogues who once fought alongside the Jedi must now side with the Empire. The premise of these independent Clone Troopers becoming disillusioned with the new regime over time before rebelling against the Empire is an intriguing one. Imagine the slow agony of these soldiers realising the horrors of serving their new dark masters.
Unfortunately, that premise is brought to its natural conclusion with barely enough time to develop any real controversy. Which is a shame seeing that “Clone Wars” took its time in methodically weaving a tapestry of camaraderie and treachery between the Clone Troopers and the Jedi. Don’t expect to hear the gritty and cynical monologues found in the campaign of 2005’s “Star Wars: Battlefront II”. It’s all fairly fun and light-hearted, but boy is there a lot of fun to be had here!
In spite of some of the predictable elements of the series’ first episode, there’s still plenty of exciting new developments coming our way. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that the Bad Batch will have a rather uncomfortable future reunion. The writing and banter between the five soldiers are still as sharp as Hunter’s knife. Newcomers and old-school fans will quickly form a bond with the team. We’re still on the fence with the latest addition to the gang, a young clone girl named Omega. Her relationship with the Bad Batch can feel a little rushed at times, seeing that she almost immediately joins up with the crew.
The second episode of the series, though, more than makes up for its predecessor’s pacing flaw. It pumps the brakes on the high-flying blaster shoot-outs for a more intimate and character-driven episode. There’s a very clear family arc that the series is trying to establish and we’re all for it.
None of this would have been made possible without insane talent of voice actor Dee Bradley Baker. He is quite literally the voice of the show! The man gave vocal performances for every single Clone Trooper in “Clone Wars” and continues to do so in “Bad Batch”. It never ceases to amaze how he manages to add these small ticks, pitch changes and cadences to every single character he voices. His work is doubly admirable in “Bad Batch” seeing that each member of the gang has a very unique voice of their own. From Hunter’s tempered tone to Crosshair’s low whispers to Wrecker’s bombastic laughs, he’s managed to bring them all to life. Take a bow Baker!
As far as the visuals go, “The Bad Batch” knows how to put on a bloody good firefight. In spite of the series’ restraint on violence, there’s this gratifying kinetic energy to the way the action is animated on screen. Seeing Clone Force 99 employ believable strategies and formations in their attacks lends an air of gravity to every battle. Sadly missing from the first two episodes though are the jaw-dropping fight choreography of seeing the Jedi and Sith in action. Hopefully, we’ll get to see some version of this in future episodes.
“Star Wars: The Bad Batch” is quickly proving to be a worthy successor to the “Clone Wars” series. It has all the charm and fun that we’ve come to expect from its animated kin. In time, it will too prove its equal in narrative and thematic depth. Till then, we’re more than happy to keep watching. If you grew up playing “Star Wars: Republic Commando”, you will definitely get a kick out of seeing Clone Force 99 in action. At last, we have a clone-centred series within the Star Wars universe!
So what did you think of “The Bad Batch”? Are you glad that these unsung heroes are finally being given time in the limelight? Or are you itching for more lightsaber battles? Be sure to let us know in the comments down below!
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Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 1 & 2 Review
“Star Wars: The Bad Batch” is quickly proving to be a worthy successor to the “Clone Wars” series. It has all the charm and fun that we’ve come to expect from its animated kin. In time, it will too prove its equal in narrative and thematic depth. Till then, we’re more than happy to keep watching.
- "Star Wars: The Bad Batch" Episode 1 & 2 Review