The first episode of the 2020 revival of Star Wars: The Clone Wars launched Clone Force 99, a squad of elite clone commandos with experimental mutations that made them stand out among the many clone warriors created to defend the Galactic Republic from the Confederacy of Independent Systems. While The Clone Wars wrapped up its plotlines and its titular battle between the Jedi and the Separatists led by Count Dooku and General Grievous in its ultimate season, the unit nicknamed The Bad Batch supplied a possibility to proceed The Clone Wars’ deal with the lives of troopers in a galaxy gripped by seemingly infinite warfare.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch, which premieres on Disney Plus on May 4 (aka “Star Wars Day,” as a result of “May the 4th be with you”), picks up virtually precisely the place The Clone Wars ended, with the execution of Order 66 activating control-chip implants that drive the clone troopers to activate their Jedi leaders. The members of the Bad Batch are largely unaffected, as a result of their distinctive natures, leaving them to query whether or not the destruction of the Jedi Order is justified. As the brand new Galactic Empire begins solidifying its management, the squad begins difficult orders and bucking Imperial management.
The present might probably make a variety of extremely related commentary about troopers combating in unjust wars for an more and more authoritarian state, however the first two episodes of The Bad Batch are principally centered on attempting to make a present a few group of grim, closely armed veterans really feel kid-friendly. The pilot introduces Omega (Michelle Ang), a mysterious, precocious younger lady raised within the cloning facility on the planet Kamino. Omega shortly types a bond with the Bad Batch’s chief Hunter (voiced, like all the clone troopers by the wildly gifted Dee Bradley Baker) and winds up working off with the squad to successfully function his adopted daughter and sidekick.
Hopefully, that is simply the newest manifestation of a sample that’s stretched throughout the Star Wars animated exhibits helmed by Dave Filoni. While The Clone Wars turned a classy sequence that delivered war-movie motion, launched beloved new characters, and supplied sturdy improvement for the prequels’ heroes and villains, it began out with a way more juvenile tone, identical to Bad Batch.
Anakin Skywalker’s padawan Ahsoka Tano begins The Clone Wars as a 14-year-old who’s simply been despatched out into the sector, and he or she acts as a relatable stand-in for the viewers, letting them study concerning the nature of the galactic battle from the identical perspective as youthful viewers. Many of the first-season episodes contain fairly cutesy plots, like Anakin looking for R2-D2, or Jar Jar Binks being mistaken for a Jedi. The sequence didn’t actually hit its stride till season 2, when the workforce started delivering standout episodes just like the epic motion of “Landing at Point Rain,” or the deeply private drama of “The Deserter.”
Star Wars Rebels, which Filoni co-created with Simon Kinberg and Carrie Beck, went via the same development. In the primary season, the solid of primarily teen characters principally interact in foolish hijinks and conflicts with one-note villains. But by season 2, Rebels started drawing on a few of The Clone Wars’ greatest characters, whereas additionally considerably creating its major solid. It went on to inform difficult tales about sacrifice, the burdens of management, and located household, whereas offering the primary onscreen look of one of the important villains in Star Wars canon.
Omega’s presence is comprehensible in that Filoni and head author Jennifer Corbett may need had a tough time promoting a present in 2021 and not using a single feminine protagonist. They additionally may need thought a cute sidekick would work effectively given the recognition of Grogu, aka Baby Yoda, in The Mandalorian.
But a non-verbal alien serves a really completely different function than a human tween. Grogu’s hijinks are alternately cute and horrifying, and he periodically makes use of his Force powers to alter the course of a struggle, however he doesn’t actively demand the highlight in the identical manner Omega does firstly of The Bad Batch. She’s additionally seemingly a Force consumer who will function a sequence McGuffin, probably pushing Hunter and the remainder of the Bad Batch to guard her simply as violently as Din Djarin fights for his younger cost on The Mandalorian. But Corbett appears to be bending over backward within the first two episodes to make sure Omega isn’t simply adopted by the squad, however accepted as a helpful member of the workforce. Her moments to shine come on the expense of the prevailing characters, who must make dumb errors so she will bail them out.
It’s significantly irritating that Corbett and Filoni felt the necessity to jam Omega into the present given how inaccessible the remainder of the present is to youngsters, and even informal Star Wars followers. While the heroes of the Bad Batch largely fall into broad Five-Man Band archetypes, the present is deeply invested within the lore of the earlier animated sequence. It’s crammed with callbacks, references, and cameos that obtain virtually no rationalization. It’s actually laborious to think about new, younger viewers being shortly wooed by a sequence that appears to imagine that anybody tuning in has already watched 11 seasons of The Clone Wars and Rebels.
But the lore and characters established in The Clone Wars are additionally featured in The Mandalorian, they usually’ll get further life in Filoni’s Ahsoka Tano sequence. Perhaps these exhibits, and never The Bad Batch, would be the true successors to The Clone Wars. Yet if the trajectory of previous sequence can predict something, it’s seemingly too early to write down The Bad Batch off. Omega will develop up, and the present will seemingly develop together with her.
Episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch can be launched weekly on Fridays on Disney Plus, beginning May 7.