‘The Bad Batch’ Review: Pulls Out All the Stops to Achieve ‘Clone Wars’ Sequel Success
As Star Wars series go, The Bad Batch was a significant risk for Disney. Functioning as a direct sequel to the brilliant but less-watched Clone Wars show, it had to also get fans of the feature films and The Mandalorian hooked in order to be a true success. But thanks to a colourful cast of characters, endless cameos, and reliance on tried and tested formulas, it’s been great fun from start to finish.
Following the events of Order 66 and the brutal execution of the Jedi order, a group of genetically modified clones find themselves unaffected by the Empire’s mind control. Together with young and crafty girl Omega, the group, led by the stoic Hunter, band together to fight foes (and sometimes friends) in their attempt to escape, outsmart, and ultimately overthrow the Empire.
The Bad Batch, also known as Clone Force 99, serve as wonderful protagonists. They are a collective of lovable misfits, each with their own specific set of skills and traits. While they might be clones, there’s next to nothing identical about them and the show provides unexpected twists and turns when it comes to their personal character arcs. In fact, one of the series biggest strengths is its ability to surprise.
The plot itself is a leap into the unknown – the transition period between the Republic and the Empire is a part of Star Wars history that has never been explored on-screen before. The stakes of the episodes are often extremely high, both for the characters personally and for the future of the galaxy. The Bad Batch isn’t afraid to show the complete demolition of the world before the Empire, the world that fans had been exposed to in The Clone Wars and the prequel films.
The show is at its best during these earth-shaking episodes that turn everything on its head, but for a short series, there is too much filler for it to be streamlined. The episode count has clearly been deliberately bloated to fit an arbitrary number, but on the upside this allows us to spend some downtime with the new characters, specifically Omega. The only child among Force 99, she is also the only character who has to slowly become a badass, and the time spent with her really allows us to invest in that journey. It helps that Disney has stuck with the successful formula of placing its heroes in the position of semi-fatherhood, which makes both them and Omega instantly endearing.
The Bad Batch connects itself to the wider universe not just with its plot, but through the variety of fan-favourite characters it sprinkles throughout the series. These cameos are extremely varied, from major heroes of the animated and live-action shows (Ming Na Wen‘s Fennec Shand features prominently in the marketing) to beloved Clone Wars villains. Each one comes at the time you’d least expect, and the joy of their appearance is part of what leaves you anticipating every new episode. For the mega-fans, they also tell some rather out-of-the-blue origins tales, like how the Rancor found its way into Jabba’s Palace in time for Return of the Jedi.
Alongside the exciting cameos and lovable heroes, the show has everything you could wish for – drama, action, and surprise twists. The finale sadly did not set up many obvious future plot threads, but this means that the direction season 2 takes will be another of the series many surprises.
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