“Execute Order 66.” Emperor Palapatine’s (Ian McDiarmid) infamous words have echoed across the galaxy far, far away for many years now, altering the landscape of the films and the trajectory of beloved and not so beloved characters. These words were first uttered in The Revenge of the Sith – as we witness Commander Cody (Temeura Morrison) receive them – but those words have been heard more recently thanks to season seven of The Clone Wars and again in Disney+’s new animated series The Bad Batch. This has given us a whole new understanding of how the order affected everyone, especially the clone soldiers who did the heavy lifting for the republic for years.
In season seven of The Clone Wars we got to see Order 66 from the perspective of Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker – who plays all the clones). I often wondered what happened to Rex when the order was given. Due to the inhibitor chip planted in every clone’s brain, they were immediately changed into automatons that turned on and killed their Jedi generals and pursued the emperor’s commands to create a new empire. Rex momentarily fights the order but then tries to kill Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein).
In the first episode of The Bad Batch, we got to see Order 66 from yet another perspective. The Batch encounters a group of clones that have turned on Jedi Depa Billabi (Archie Panjabi) and her young padawan Caleb Dume (Freddie Prinze Jr.). Caleb, who becomes Kanan Jarrus in Star Wars Rebels, manages to escape and runs from the Batch because he assumes they are bad too.
When we meet Rex in Star Wars Rebels, he and fellow clones Wolfe and Gregor have already had their inhibitor chips removed, but no explanation is given. In season seven of The Clone Wars, we see Rex’s chip removed. He then explains to Ahsoka that he couldn’t stop himself from turning on her.
Now back to the Batch, a specially engineered group of Clones who assume that process altered the effectiveness of the chip. Wrecker has been having terrible headaches. The rest of the group knows about the chips, but then they encounter Rex – arguably the greatest clone of all – who explains that it is imperative to remove the chips ASAP because the chips put them all in danger.
After they find an abandoned medical facility, Tec begins the process of removing Wrecker’s chip, but somehow Wrecker’s chip activates, and he turns on his clone brothers and Omega (Michelle Ang). Wrecker and Omega have developed a close relationship, with the young girl bringing out the rough-edged clone’s soft side. So, after he beats up his brothers, Wrecker turns his attention to Omega and is intent on killing her. Only a stun blast from Rex takes him down.
The group eventually have their chips removed, and there is a moving scene between Wrecker and Omega as he apologizes for what he did when he was out of control. The young girl knows it is not his fault, and they reconcile, and we know that their bond is stronger now.
Order 66 has been completely revisited in this series. We come to understand the devastating effect it had on the clones. We know from The Clone Wars that they were the most important part of the Republic’s fight against the Separatists. We also saw that while they were clones, they grew into distinct personalities with names and idiosyncrasies, and they were mostly all good at heart. But, in a few seconds after getting Order 66, they became killing machines and robotic in following orders. Their individuality was gone.
Series creator and executive producer Dave Filoni continues to give us compelling Star Wars content with The Bad Batch. As the series continues, it is intriguing to hope for more revelations about things that the films did not explain fully or at all. With this series occurring immediately after Revenge of the Sith, we are also witnessing how the republic quickly transitioned into the Empire.
Please do not make a mistake by thinking this animated series is just “for kids only.” While a young audience can enjoy it, there is a strong enough story and solid characters for Star Wars fans of all ages. And, if Filoni keeps up the high quality of the episodes and throwing in delightful Easter eggs, there’s a good chance it will continue to grow in popularity, meaning we will have more seasons of this show to enjoy.
May the Force be with you!