Coinciding with Star Wars Day, May the 4th 2021, Disney + is debuting their latest series in the Star Wars universe with a direct follow up to their wildly successful animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. And I do mean direct follow up as this series Star Wars: The Bad Batch, begins immediately where the previous ended. Spinning off the mainly Jedi-led Clone Wars series, Bad Batch switches its focus to the fan-favorite Clone Force 99, aka “The Bad Batch” of the title, to serve as the follow-up since the Clone Wars have actually ended. And we are now moving into the period of time where the Empire gathers its strength before the events in A New Hope.
The special 70-minute premiere episode entitled “Aftermath” shows us exactly what the Bad Batch (all voiced by Dee Bradley Baker – they are clones after all) were doing once the foul Order 66 was declared, as well how that order affected the actions of Jedi General Depa Billaba (Archie Panjabi) and her Padawan Caleb Dume (Freddie Prinze Jr). Returning back to Kamino, Hunter and his team, Wrecker, Tech, Echo, and Crosshair, discover that many things have changed and the outcasts feel even further out of place. And thanks to the intrusion of their soon to be newest member – child medical trainee clone and new character Omega (Michelle Ang), they find out that Admiral Tarkin (Stephen Stanton) has been sent to evaluate all the clones, leading them down a path that will forever alter their timeline.
Creator/Showrunner Dave Filoni continues to prove that he has more knowledge and understanding of what makes Star Wars special than perhaps almost anyone not named Lucas, the only exception being the Mandalorian team, as he infuses The Bad Batch with the correct amount of fun, adventure and Easter eggs that Star Wars fans should be thrilled. Yet through all this he never falls off the cliff of total fan service that hampers the J.J. Abrams film attempts, because The Bad Batch makes sure that the main focus always remains on setting up, outlining, and delivering a story within each episode while also laying the groundwork for the series as a whole.
And despite being more than twice the length of the regular series episodes, (Episode 2- which was also available to reviewers- is a more Clone Wars-esque 27 minute tale of the Bad Batch catching up with some old friends and deciding on their next steps that feels a lot like a Mandalorian side mission), the premiere moves along at a zippy pace that never drags.
Starting with a 70-minute premiere also proves apt due to the scale of setting up the story going forward. Without delving into spoilers too much, the episode has a fair amount of story-building and exposition to work its way through considering the placement of the events of the show within the Star Wars timeline. Trying to build this over the course of a few episodes would have been hard without feeling clunky and uneven. However, this extended format works incredibly well. The animation style will be familiar with anyone who has watched Clone Wars as they don’t change the look of the show. But for most fans and the sake of continuity I’m sure, that lack of change will be more relief for most.
The Bad Batch themselves prove to be capable characters to center a show around. And that dynamic works even better with the intriguing inclusion of Omega. Ang voices Omega with the tender combination of wisdom beyond her years and the naivete that living your whole life inside a base on an all-water planet would entail (which is one of the subjects explored in episode 2). She’s an intriguing character to watch. Because right from the very beginning, the showrunners let you know that there’s definitely much more to Omega than meets the eye.
So Star Wars fans now have yet another spinoff property to fully enjoy with Star Wars: The Bad Batch. Fans can expect the same level of detail as Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but with a new group of would-be heroes and their tales in a pre-Luke era as the Galactic Empire forms around them. And with new episodes every Friday (episode 2 drops Friday, May 7th) the story will spill out over the course of the summer.
- Rated: G
- Genre: Animated, Sci-Fi
- Release Date: 5/04/2021
- Directed by: Saul Ruiz. Nathaniel Villanueva, Steward Lee
- Starring: Andrew Kishino, Archie Panjabi, Dee Bradley Baker, Freddie Prinze Jr, Gwendoline Yeo, Michelle Ang, Stephen Stanton
- Produced by: Alex Spotswood, Andy Tsao, Athena Portillo, Brad Rao, Carrie Back, Daisy Fang, Dave Filoni, Ivan C Shih, Jennifer Corbett, Josh Rimes, Sareana Sun
- Written by: Dave Filoni, George Lucas, Jennifer Corbett, Matt Michnovetz
- Studio: Disney/Lucasfilm