Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 1 Review

The Bad Batch came out of nowhere when it was announced last year, taking the team of enhanced clones introduced in the final Clone Wars season and giving them the spotlight. That being said the true highlight of the series to me at least is the setting: immediately after Episode III so we see just how quick and frankly short-sighted the formation of the Empire was in the wake of Order 66. Throw in some classic Dave Filoni call-backs and great character moments and you have a hit! Let’s take a look…

Synopsis:

Returning to Kamino after Order 66 Clone Force 99, otherwise known as the Bad Batch, learn that the war is over and that an Empire has replaced the Republic. Things get more complicated as they meet a young girl, Omega, who is another defective clone…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

“Hey Tech, who’s this?” “It appears to a be a child protagonist, no doubt thrusted upon us now we are the central figures in the a Dave Filoni animated show.” “Ah…. What?”

Right for the get-go we’re thrusted into a nice bit of continuity as we find out (despite what the admittedly good-in-its-own-right comic said) that The Bad Batch were on Kaller where they witness Jedi Master Depa Billaba get betrayed by her own Clone Troops and watch as young Caleb Dume escapes into the forest. Hunter, the leader of the Bad Batch who looks like Rambo, chases after him to help, his chip not having activated the kill order, but Dume manages to escape. Crosshair, the sniper of Bad Batch who sounds so much like Avon from Blake’s 7 that I love him, is seemingly the only one who’s chip made him aggressive towards the Jedi, leaving Wrecker (kind-hearted but stupid muscle of the team), Tech (genius of the team) and Echo (partly cybernetic old regular Clone Trooper who joined them) being in the same boat as Hunter. The team return to Kamino and meet up with a young girl named Omega who wants to join them on their missions, and after a long series of events involving Tarkin wanting to see if Clones were worth keeping around when it would be cheaper to just conscript people instead, she gets her wish. Crosshair feels compelled to follow the Empire, even more so when his chip gets super-charged later, so he fires on The Bad Batch as they make their escape with Omega.

This is then the set up for the rest of the series: The Bad Batch are now alone without a command structure to tell them what to do and being responsible for a girl who lacks their experience but soon shows a natural ability in stealth and combat (with a fizzy purple bow-and-arrow like weapon, can’t have child characters firing guns!), they eventually find a shady underground informant named Cid who starts giving them mercenary work. Meanwhile Crosshair becomes more and more invested in the Empire, gladly killing a group of refugees because “orders are orders”. We also see that the Kaminoans are seeing the writing on the wall in terms of their contract with this new Empire and they have a plan involving Omega, so they try and get her back. Nala Se, the chief cloning scientist, actually sends a bounty hunter (Fennec Shand from The Mandalorian!) after her to keep her safe, which eventually leads to a showdown with classic Clone Wars era bounty hunter Cad Bane, who was hired by other Kamino personnel.

It’s Fennec vs. Cad Bane, or The Mandalorian vs. The Clone Wars!

There are two key multi-episode stories before we get to the finale. One sees Wrecker take one too many hits to the head and has his chip activate, causing him to attack his fellow Bad Batch members and even Omega, whom he shared a very close bond with. With the help of now multi-series spanning clone character Rex, Wrecker and all the Bad Batch get their chips removed. As they try to escape the planet (Bracca, the same junk planet featured in the Jedi: Fallen Order game!) they meet Crosshair, who tries very hard to kill his old crew, showing how far he’d gone, but actually its Crosshair who ends up with some rather nasty burns as his old teammates escape successfully. The second is set on Ryloth where we see a young Hera Syndulla and her astromech Chopper, once again tying into Star Wars Rebels (like Caleb Dume earlier) and see her parents try to accept the Empire before having to resort to rebellion as their daughter becomes enemy number 1. Hera and Omega bond and The Bad Batch help the Twi’lek freedom fighters against the Empire, including Crosshair. During the chaos a generic Clone Trooper named Captain Howzer manages to overcome the chip in his brain and rebel against the Empire himself.

The final three episodes see Hunter get captured after he and The Bad Batch rescue Clone Trooper Gregor (another Rebels character!) from an Imperial base guarded by Clone Commandos that were teaching the first wave of Stormtroopers (called “TK Troopers”). Hunter is taken back to Kamino where Crosshair rightfully grills him over the fact that the Bad Batch “never leaves one of their own behind” and yet he was left behind by them. The Batch arrive but are captured and surrounded, only for Crosshair to kill his own men and then beg his old team to join him in the Empire, showing that while he is fully committed to the cause (he had his chip removed, apparently…) he still wants his old family back. The Batch gives a firm no and then the whole team plus Omega unite to take out some training dummies. Then we see proto-Star Destroyers above the city of Kamino as Imperial Admiral Rampart gives the order for an ariel bombardment. The entire Kamino city is sank into the ocean waves, beautifully scored and shot as it shows how the Clone Wars era is over and the era of the Empire is now here (plus also shows how stupid and arrogant the Empire is given if they’d kept Kamino around they wouldn’t have had the Cloning issues they clearly have in the future…)

The final episode is a long escape sequence as everyone manages to get free from the wreckage of their former home and back to their ship (handily located on a hidden platform away from the city…) They offer Crosshair a place by their side again, but he refuses. We then see Nala Se being introduced to some Imperial cloners (like we see in the Mandalorian) as the final pre-credits tease. Overall it was a very strong series, and it has me genuinely excited to see what comes next, like most of Filoni’s animation work, to be fair…

The Bad:

I wonder why Crosshair decided to brand a crosshair onto his own face… I mean, I doubt it helps aiming!

While I originally rolled my eyes at the insistence that a child character has to be part of the cast of a cartoon (seriously, all my favourite childhood cartoons didn’t have a child as a regular cast member and I enjoyed them plenty!) thankfully Omega ended up being a fun character with an interesting background, but I will say that Hunter being initially unsure of his father-figure role and fighting off bounty hunters going after his surrogate child all felt far too much like The Mandalorian. Thankfully by the mid-point she becomes a member of the team and it’s less focused on, but it was shaky to begin with. While I always love a good bit of continuity I will say for Season 1 there was an awful lot of connections to Rebels, plus a few direct call backs to the Clone Wars and The Mandalorian. All these shows are ran by the same man so I can understand how hard it is to resist, but maybe some of them should’ve been pulled back a bit…

Also much like The Mandalorian some episodes were very throw-away, which may well be fine when you binge watch the series in the future, but at one episode a week was quite noticeable. I think the biggest episode guilty of this was Episode 13, “Infested”, that saw the team on basic fetch quest. Still, much like Clone Wars and Rebels before it, you put up with the lesser single-episode stories because the multiple episode stories are always so good…

Overall Thoughts:

Kamino falls into the ocean waves. Take that, Prequel era!

The Bad Batch fits nicely in between The Clone Wars and Rebels not just in its placement in the timeline but in that it too is full of really great multi-episode stories that not only tell interesting and exciting tales but also make full use of the ever-expanding Star Wars universe. A few less-than-stellar episodes and a few too familiar of a storyline to begin with knocks it down a bit, but it’s still well worth watching, especially the final few episodes.

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