Happy Star Wars Day! Today is the launch of the newest show from Lucasfilm Animation, The Bad Batch!
The show launched with a 70-minute mini-movie, and I feel totally comfortable saying that it’s the best introduction to any animated Star Wars show we’ve seen. The animation, quality, storytelling, and scope felt much more on par with season and series finales of previous shows, which is very high praise – and it has me even more thrilled for what’s to come. I was super excited for this show, but if anyone had any doubts, I can’t imagine not being hooked after this first episode.
The next episode will drop on Friday, May 7th, and will release weekly on Fridays from there. Let’s dive in to our review of the first episode, “Aftermath,” which makes the transition from The Clone Wars into The Bad Batch – right from the opening logo. Obviously, there will be full spoilers ahead.
The show begins with The Clone Wars logo before fizzling out to The Bad Batch logo, and then we get an opening montage narrated by Tom Kane, just like in The Clone Wars. In this montage we briefly see Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker rescuing Chancellor Palpatine from General Grievous’s forces, and we are told that Grievous has doubled down on some of the fronts in the Outer Rim – including on the planet Kaller, where Jedi Master Depa Billaba leads the fight against Separatist forces. Soon her padawan, Caleb Dume, arrives with reinforcements: the Bad Batch. The five-man squad quickly eliminates the droids and tanks in the way, impressing the Republic forces looking on.
As the Republic prepares to press the offensive, Caleb Dume heads off with the Bad Batch… but Commander Grey and the clones execute Order 66, turning on Billaba. She fends them off while Dume races back to help her, but she orders him to flee before she is killed by the clones. Dume does just that, fleeing into the woods. Hunter and the Bad Batch don’t know what’s happening, but Hunter and Crosshair head into the woods to try to help the kid. They find him, but Crosshair tries to kill Dume. He’s knocked unconscious while Hunter tries to help, but Dume runs away.
We then flash forward to the Bad Batch, in their ship, returning home to Kamino. Crosshair doesn’t believe Hunter’s report of having killed the padawan, and they all quickly realize that things have changed on Kamino. They gather with the other “regs” to hear Palpatine announce that the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire. Before long, Admiral Wilhuff Tarkin arrives, talking with the Kaminoan cloners about how the Empire may no longer have need for the clone army and the cloners’ services.
Meanwhile, a young girl named Omega introduces herself to the Bad Batch, and she obviously knows of them and is very fond of them. This again shows up when she chooses to sit with them in the mess hall. After a “reg” calls them the “Sad Batch,” a giant food fight erupts, which is observed by Tarkin. He puts the Bad Batch to the test in the training facility, and Echo warns the others that Tarkin doesn’t like clones. Sure enough, after the Bad Batch makes quick work of the training droids, Tarkin orders live rounds to be used. Wrecker is injured by this, and the Bad Batch is forced to employ unorthodox tactics to survive.
Because of their tendency to disobey orders, Tarkin questions their ultimate loyalty and sends them on a mission to wipe out insurgents on Onderon. Once there, however, the Bad Batch discovers that the insurgents are actually Saw Gerrera and a band of Republic fighters and refugees. Crosshair wants to follow orders and eliminate them, but Hunter refuses to give the order. They realize that Tarkin lied to them, and discover a probe droid spying on them. It was all a test. Hunter makes the call that they are going to return to Kamino to get Omega.
Upon their return home, however, they are quickly arrested and imprisoned, alongside Omega. The Empire takes Crosshair and, upon testing, discovers that his inhibitor chip is still somewhat functioning. Under Tarkin’s orders, they amplify the chip’s efficacy. In the cell, the rest of the Bad Batch discovers a way out. Wrecker uses his strength to create an opening in the wall large enough for Omega to fit in, and the girl manages to sneak around and deactivate the cell barrier. The Bad Batch heads off to their shuttle, arming up with their gear and preparing to go find Crosshair… but he finds them. Supported by the Coruscant Guard, Crosshair confronts Hunter, and a firefight ensues. Wrecker is again wounded, but they manage to rescue him – thanks to some surprise sharp shooting by Omega.
The Bad Batch escape, setting a course for sector J-19 to visit an old friend, as Omega takes in being in space for the very first time.
This premiere was absolutely fantastic, and it far exceeded my every expectation. There’s a lot of places I could start, so why not just start at the beginning?
The Clone Wars, season 8? I couldn’t imagine a better opening for this show than the one we got. Transitioning from The Clone Wars logo to The Bad Batch logo sent a message, as did the opening montage’s return (I’m guessing that’s a one-off for this opening episode to help tie these two shows together). And then, as I expected, we began the show right before Order 66. We actually got to see a few glimpses of the beginning of Revenge of the Sith in animated form (the rescue of the Chancellor), and then we focus in on the events on Kaller. And if you’re like me, as soon as you heard of Kaller and Depa Billaba, your attention was piqued. Why? Because her apprentice is Caleb Dume, who will later go by the name Kanan Jarrus and serve as one of the protagonists of Star Wars Rebels. We get to see him as a padawan here, and we re-live Order 66 again. And it’s still heartbreaking.
This time, we see it through the eyes of Dume, who watches his master be killed by the clones right in front of his eyes. Some Star Wars fans might be upset because it tells it a little differently than the comic does, but the main elements are the same, and seeing it here was so great that I’m totally fine with it! But it sets the stage for the rest of the episode, because we learn that the Bad Batch doesn’t execute Order 66 (though Crosshair flirts with it, it seems), and that Hunter wants to help this kid. But Dume very understandably doesn’t trust him, so Hunter ultimately is unable to render any aid. Keep this in mind when we later encounter Omega, as Hunter this time sees a kid who maybe he actually can help, and he does.
It was so cool seeing Depa Billaba and Caleb Dume here, and right from the start, it’s clear that the animation looks STUNNING.
The Clone Wars season 7 looked amazing. This show looks even better – and I didn’t think that was possible. Everything in this episode was gorgeous to look at, especially the environments. But so too was the facial expressions, particularly of Omega, and it’s a testament to how far Lucasfilm Animation has come. This is the best-looking project they’ve ever done. It’s truly stunning to see how good it looks.
As we expected, Crosshair does betray the Bad Batch – although it’s a bit more complicated than that. They set it up really well throughout the episode, as we see that Crosshair feels like they must follow orders – which, as others in the squad point out, is strange for the Bad Batch, because they never do. But the answers are later given, and it’s what we grew to suspect as the episode progressed: Crosshair’s inhibitor chip is somewhat functioning. So the Empire takes that and amplifies it, cementing him as following orders and turning against his friends. The fact that they so heavily emphasized the chip (which, by the way, it was a great touch to see the medical droid from the Fives arc again!) suggests to me that they’re wanting to show that Crosshair isn’t in his right mind when doing all of this – which could set up an eventual redemption arc down the road.
But for now, it seems that Crosshair is enemy. And as Hunter notes at the end of the episode, that greatly complicates things for the rest of the squad’s attempt to hide.
Without a doubt the most pleasant surprise of the episode for me was how much I immediately fell in love with Omega. She’s awesome. And there’s some mystery about her, too. We learn that she’s the fifth genetically altered clone (since Echo isn’t one), but we don’t yet know what that means for her. However, there are a few moments where she seems to sense what’s going to happen… leading me to wonder whether she could be Force sensitive? That would obviously be a major bombshell, but if Palpatine is already focused on trying to clone Force sensitive beings, it’s possible. We know that these alterations give the clones special abilities – but we don’t know what that is for Omega.
Regardless, though, she’s awesome. She adores and looks up to the Bad Batch, and that leads to the adorable and humorous moment where she’s trying to mimic Hunter’s motions while in the cell. She joins the Bad Batch and is a major focus in this episode, and she’s fantastic. I’m instantly sold on her as a character and can’t wait to see more.
There’s a ton left that we could talk about, but in short, I found this episode fantastic. I’m thrilled about this new series, was blown away by the premiere, and can’t wait to see more! And with them heading off to Sector J-19, I wonder if we’ll see Cut Lawquane show up on Friday!
My grade: 10/10