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STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH gets 7/10 Got 99 Problems and a Clone Ain’t One


Season 1 episodes 1-4

Creators Jennifer Corbett, Dave Filoni
Starring Ming-Na Wen, Dee Bradley Baker, Michelle Ang

Due to their highly individualistic attitude and unconventional way of completing a mission, the experimental clones of Clone Force 99 have become known by another name, that of the Bad Batch. However, when the Clone Wars come to an end, they find themselves at odds with the methods that the newly grown Empire is employing. Soon Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, and Echo (all voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) find themselves deserting their post, and fleeing for their lives, with a new member in tow, that of the newly cloned Omega (Michelle Ang).

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is certainly a direct successor to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, not merely carrying on from where the series ended with the implementation of Order 66, but following that series’ style of computer animation and emphasis on the clone’s storyline. Where it differentiates itself is in a more focused form of storytelling, not concerning itself with multiple characters split over a few episodes’ story arcs, but rather having the focus on the group, with an episodic format, and overall series arc.

And that group is a motley bunch. The individual personalities caused by the Bad Batch’s mutations allows for a more diverse interplay than The Clone Wars had with its characters. Here at least we can see friction within the group, as well as camaraderie. Dee Bradley Baker has managed to bring each of the characters to life, emphasising their different personalities through his voice work. Which is extraordinary, considering the majority of that process has to be a guy sitting alone in a recording studio talking to himself, as he’s voicing all the clones.

Well, with one notable exception, and that is the new character of Omega. At this stage, she is an enigma, her origin and purpose acting as a “mystery box” drawcard, but she also allows younger viewers a point of view character and gives a lighter tone to the show (we’ll circle back to that later). Hopefully, she’ll be able to undergo the same emotional growth as creator Dave Filloni’s (The Clone Wars, Rebels, The Mandalorian) other similar POV characters, as we saw Ahsoka and Ezra mature through the course of their shows.

The Bad Batch also acts as a companion piece to Star Wars: Rebels, a fact that it makes reference to in the very first scene with a prominent cameo from one of The Ghost’s crew. Whereas that show had at its heart the rise of the Rebellion, The Bad Batch covers its Galactic Civil War Era opposite, showing the metamorphosis of the Republic into the Empire. Through their fallen companion of Crosshair, who acts as both antagonist and tragic reminder of the penalty the Bad Batch might face, this show can have a rather dark heart, shifting the tone of the show towards its adult viewers.

After all, in the space of a few episodes the show has gone from a rollicking battle against goofy robotic enemies to a rather effective portrayal of actual war crimes perpetrated against civilians. It’s a well-handled tonal shift, and while not indicative of the overall tone that the show is going for, it’s nice to know that like both its predecessors it can have that emotional range, if it’s required.

It’s still early days for The Bad Batch, and given Filoni’s previous Star Wars creations there’s a lot of room for development. However, so far it’s an enjoyable show that’s both expanding the Star Wars canon while remaining relatively faithful to what has been established previously.

DAVID O’CONNELL

 

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