Friday , March 1 2024

TV Review: Disney+’s ‘The Bad Batch’ – Filling in the ‘Star Wars’ Blanks

* This review contains spoilers for the episodes 1-3. 

The Bad Batch is the new animated series found on Disney+, which has released three of this season’s 16 episodes – a new episode is released every Friday in the wee hours of the morning. This necessitates young fans of the show like my son to restlessly suffer through the school day waiting to see the next episode. We dealt with this watching The Mandalorian, so we’re pretty much used to the deal by now. 

The Bad Batch comes from Lucasfilm Animation and Dave Filoni is at the helm, good news for Star Wars fans who see him – and Mandalorian partner in crime Jon Favreau – as the saviors of the Lucas franchise. Filoni also helmed The Clone Wars, which is one of the best Star Wars productions since the original trilogy.  

Happily, TBB retains the superior animation from TCW rather than the inferior one used in Star Wars Rebels and the abysmal one employed in Star Wars Resistance. The visual quality of the episodes is stunning, with the characters seemingly coming alive, while panoramas and space scenes are just glowingly brilliant.

This brings us to the story, with which head writer Jennifer Corbett and supervising director Brad Rau have been scoring major points. The Bad Batch is a group of experimental clones that – depending on who is observing them – are either highly skilled or a bunch of misfits.

We first got to see them in the last episodes of season seven of TCW, and they made such an impression that they got their own series. The first episode starts at the very end of Revenge of the Sith, meaning it’s 19 years before A New Hope. What we are getting to see is an unexplored time as the republic transitions into the Empire, filling in the blanks along the way. 

Caught in the middle of this messy time is our group (all voiced by the incredibly talented Dee Bradley Baker) as they see their fellow clones mowing down the Jedi. We get a brief glimpse of Caleb Dume (again voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr.) as a young padawan who sees his master Depa Billaba (Archie Panjabi) cut down by the clones – which would explain the adult Caleb’s reluctance to trust the clones when he first meets them in Rebels

The Batch, realizing that they are the only ones not getting Order 66 (except Crosshair who gets some of the message), rush back to Kamino – where there is the facility that creates the clones – to save young Omega (the wonderful Michelle Ang) from the seemingly out of control clones. Omega is saved and becomes part of the group, and over the course of three episodes she also proves herself useful to them.

Omega sort of reminds me of Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) from Rebels interacting with the crew of The Ghost. Ezra has more of connection to them because he is a Jedi, which links him to Caleb/Kanaan who becomes his master. Still, Ezra is initially out of place and needs to earn his place with the crew, and we are seeing a similar thing happening with Omega.

The Batch also catches the eye of Admiral Tarkin (a terrific Stephen Stanton), who is looking to shut down the clone factory due to the exorbitant cost of running the facility. Another Star Wars blank is filled in here as we have never been told the real reason why the Empire transitioned from a clone army to conscript stormtroopers. 

Tarkin puts the Batch to the test in episode two, and they pass admirably (pun intended). Tarkin is torn as he weighs their impressive performance against incredible odds and the promises of Vice Admiral Rampart (Noshir Dalal) that conscripts will serve the Empire better. Tarkin decides the conscripts need a test and sends them on a mission led by clone Crosshair, whose inhibitor chip has been enhanced by Tarkin, making the former Batch member more sinister.

The clones all had an inhibitor chip implanted in their brains under the direction of then Chancellor and now Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) to facilitate his Order 66 to turn on and kill the Jedi. Crosshair is more violent and angry than the other clones, who have now seemingly lost their individual personalities making it easier for them to follow orders. The chips in the rest of the Batch must have malfunctioned due to the experimentation done on them.

The conscript mission is to find and capture or kill rebellion leader Saw Gerrera (Andrew Kishino), but it goes horribly awry. When they realize they have only come upon innocent civilians awaiting transport from the war zone, Crosshair insists that the conscripts kill them all. One conscript objects, and Crosshair promptly kills him. He directs the others to kill the civilians, and they reluctantly comply. Here is another fill in the blank – how the Empire became evil in the process of tightening control on so many planets.

In episode three the group is stranded on a moon after their ship is damaged in battle. The capacitor they need to repair the ship is stolen by an Ordo Moon Dragon (a new Star Wars creature), and Hunter and Omega go to retrieve it while Tec and Echo try to repair the rest of the ship. Hunter is knocked out by the creature, but Omega uses pluck and wit to get the part away from the creature and saves the day. 

As the ship takes off Wrecker (the abnormally large and strong one) reveals that he has made Omega her own room in a corner of the ship. Omega is thrilled with her new space, and as the Batch looks on she is glowing with happiness. She is one of the group now. 

TBB is easy to dismiss as a “kids’ show,” but it has content that all Star Wars fans will appreciate. I hope that it will continue to fill in the blanks for us, and there are so many possibilities for appearances of beloved characters that exist in this time fame – Yoda, Lando, Han, Darth Vader and more – and, as Filoni has proved on The Mandalorian, he is not hesitant to bring back fan faves if it helps tell or enhance the story.

The first three episodes of TBB have been incredible. The story lines have been terrific thus far, and remember Filoni is guiding this journey. I highly recommend that it is one you should take. 

About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His new novel, 'Unicorn: A Love Story,' is available as an e-book and in print.

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