Series Review: Star Wars The Bad Batch
Star Wars: The Bad Batch
Created by Dave Filloni
Streaming on Disney+ 05.04
The Mandalorian has brought Star Wars to episodic television in a live-action form, and more spinoffs are on the way. There’s some reason to question whether it’s worth keeping going with animation, especially after Star Wars: Resistance proved to be a short-lived series that didn’t seem to inspire many diehard fans. But the latest incarnation, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, is here and may well prove to be the best of the bunch.
The titular characters in Star Wars: The Bad Batch were first introduced in the final season of The Clone Wars, an elite and experimental unit of clone troopers who vary genetically from their brothers in the Clone Army. Each possess a singular exceptional skill that makes them extraordinarily effective soldiers and a formidable crew. There’s Hunter, the leader of the group, who looks like Rambo played by Jay Silverheels, who is an expert tracker who can find his way anywhere by sensing electromagnetic frequencies; Crosshair, the sniper; Echo, a cybernetically altered half-droid, half clone; Tech (the Egon/Donatello of the group); and Wrecker, who is basically Mr. T with a bit of the Hulk thrown in. All are voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, an amazing actor familiar to fans of The Clone Wars for his portrayal of the entire Clone Army, among others.
The pilot episode begins during the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, as the clone army is ordered to execute Order 66. The “Bad Batch,” not being equipped with the inhibitor chip, is unaware of the order and does not take part in the extermination of the Jedi. When the massacre is over, the clones return to Kamino to the news of the newly established Galactic Empire, but Hunter and his men have a bad feeling about this, especially after Admiral Tarkin (nicely voiced by Stephen Stanton) shows up to meet with the Kaminoans and begins questioning the use of clone troops going forward.
Without giving any spoilers, it’s pretty obvious that our scrappy group doesn’t stay with the Empire, and the 72-minute runtime indeed feels a lot like the setup for a Star Wars–meets–The A-Team action/adventure series, and it’s quite entertaining. The early days of the empire are a great setting for a suspenseful, exciting show, and the “enhanced abilities” angle adds a touch of a superhero vibe without overplaying it. One of the major strengths here is that The Bad Batch combines the tense, dark tone and animation style of Clone Wars with the more focused, character-oriented storytelling of Star Wars: Rebels. It also promises to fill in some of the gaps and provide more detail regarding the transition from into the Empire as we know it in the original trilogy.
The main characters are likable if a bit broadly drawn, and they are likely to become more fully developed as the series progresses. This is definitely aimed at a specific fanbase, and if you liked Rebels, there’s a moment you are going to love here. But I do feel that if you’re a Star Wars fan who just ignores the cartoons, this would be a great place to start giving them a chance. If it keeps up the quality level from where it starts out, Star Wars: The Bad Batch promises to be an absolute blast. And for those of us hopeless geeks who have been stressing out for days about whether to make Death Star Pizza and Buffalo X-Wings or just a rotisserie Porg for dinner on this most sacred of days—and who are, somehow, mysteriously single—it’s a wonderful gift. May the 4th Be With You! –Patrick Gibbs