Review: ‘Star Wars: Bad Batch’

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Will Jackson, Managing Editor

“Star Wars: The Bad Batch” is an animated television series released on Disney+. Premiering May 4, 2021 it serves as a sequel to the acclaimed “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” television show. The series follows a squad of special forces clone troopers in the immediate aftermath of “Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” and the formation of the Galactic Empire. 

Firstly, the show’s computer-generated animation is absolutely beautiful. There is realistic shadow and background detail, and everything is shaded realistically. Lucasfilm’s animation has come a long way since the wooden models seen in the early seasons of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” 

The pilot episode has a few neat things I thought nicely set up “The Bad Batch”  a worthy successor to “The Clone Wars.” It starts with the old Clone Wars logo burning away to reveal the new “Bad Batch” logo, and then the story begins with a battle between Republic and Separatist forces. One thing I liked was the brief return of  battle droids as a source of comedic relief. During “The Clone Wars” early seasons, the clumsy behaviour and incompetent antics of battle droids was the source of a lot of the show’s humor and using it here was a nice call-back. 

There were several small details that fit within preexisting continuity and helped firmly place the story in the “Star Wars” timeline. The two Jedi seen targeted for execution in the pilot are Depa Billaba, who appeared as a background character in “The Phantom Menace,” and her apprentice Kanan Jarrus, a protagonist in the show “Star Wars Rebels,” while the names of their clone officers are taken from a tie-in comic book. The implementation of the anti-Jedi protocol Order 66 via control chips implanted in the clone soldiers’ brains is a plot point set up by season six of “The Clone Wars,” while a few characters from its second season make an appearance in the second episode. Saw Gerrara, an insurgent featured in “The Clone Wars”’ fifth season and the 2016 film “Rogue One,” and Fennec Shand, an assassin from the live-action show “The Mandalorian,” both made prominent appearances as well.

The show explores the transition from Republic to Empire and the surrounding period. The pilot episode shows the stricter and colder atmosphere of the new Empire and its willingness to get its hands dirty when the protagonists are sent to attack a camp they are told harbors dangerous insurgents, when in actuality it contains dissidents and civilian refugees. The following episode shows Imperial officials implementing a draconian new ID system and database to track the galaxy’s citizens.

The show introduces Omega, a young female clone the protagonists rescue from a government facility before they go rogue. Omega had never left the lab prior to escaping it, and much of the show revolves around her interacting with the galaxy for the first time. The pilot episode ends with her amazed expression as the heroes’ shuttle jumps into lightspeed, with the whirling blue lights of the hypertunnel reflected in her eyes. To me, this mirrors the reaction many have when exposed to “Star Wars” for the first time.