WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS TO THE NEW DISNEY+ SHOW, THE BAD BATCH. DO NOT READ FORWARD IF YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT SPOILERS
For Christmas in 1997, my mother got me (then age 14) a copy of the Star Wars trilogy on VHS. At the time, I had never seen a Star Wars movie, nor did I have any idea what the movies were about. My parents were not Star Wars geeks, nor were any of my siblings who were born during that era. All I knew was that anyone who watched these movies was a huge dork. I thought at the time that my mom got me potentially one of the worst gifts in Christmas history. Little did we know, that she was about to ignite a fire of fandom for George Lucas’ universe.
Over the next 8 hours, I watched every minute of the original trilogy. The next day, I repeated the feat. In fact, I likely watched all of the original movies at least 10 times before the end of Christmas break. I wanted more. The good news for me (or bad news, after we saw it) was that the Prequels had already been announced, and Episode I was coming out just around the corner. I’ve subsequently seen every Star Wars movie released since (except Episode III), on opening day. Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012 ignited a new fury of Star Wars development, including two additional Prequel movies (Solo and Rogue One), as well as a Sequel Trilogy in Episodes VII, VIII, and IX. Later, with the announcement of Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, the studio began production on the live-action show The Mandalorian.
Included in the Star Wars Universe of movies and entertainment is the animation stories told through The Clone Wars and Rebels, both considered “prequel” stories as they occurred before Episode IV. The Clone Wars ran for 7 seasons, covering the adventures of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker during the period between Episodes II and III, while Rebels covered the time between Episodes III and IV, following Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus, and the crew of the Ghost. Both were fantastically scripted, presented, and beautifully animated (particularly the 6 years-delayed final season of The Clone Wars). The Clone Wars also brought us characters like Ahsoka Tano, padawan (apprentice) to Anakin Skywalker, who has since shown up in Rebels, Episode IX, and The Mandalorian.
When Disney announced after the end of The Clone Wars, that it was developing a new show, based upon characters from The Clone Wars, I was initially skeptical. I knew that skepticism was not well placed, as I was initially skeptical about Rebels, before getting sucked into the show’s amazing and deep storyline. Additionally, the new show, The Bad Batch, was going to be produced by the same genius who brought us The Clone Wars, Rebels, and The Mandalorian, Dave Filoni. Filoni’s time at Lucasfilm started more than a decade ago, when George Lucas tapped him to develop The Clone Wars.
The new series, The Bad Batch, premiered on Disney+ on (you guessed it) May the 4th (“Star Wars Day”), and while I obviously was looking forward to watching it, I certainly was prepared for the long haul — figuring the series would take a few episodes to get into. I was immediately blown away by the story, the animation, and the unadulterated fan cat-nip that had both me and my son coming unglued.
First, the series is built as a sequel to The Clone Wars, not just in style and animation but also in presentation, complete with the narration done by a voice that calls back World War II news featurettes.
The show opens literally minutes before Order 66, when Emperor Palpatine triggered implanted chips in the brains of clone troops, that turned them against their Jedi compatriots. Immediately, the production quality is noticed. This show isn’t just entertaining, it is beautiful to watch — as the animation is absolutely breathtaking.
As the scene unfolds, Jedi Master Depa Billaba (voiced by The Good Wife‘s Archie Panjabi), is pinned down in her position with her clone troops, as the advancing droid army rains down ordinance. Suddenly, sliding down the hill, comes her young padawan bringing with him the reinforcements necessary to beat back the Separatists. The young Jedi then states his name: Caleb Dume.
My son and I both turned to face each other with looks of utter amazement, as we both recognized the name as the original name of Kanan Jarrus of Rebels (and also voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr.). Less than two minutes into the show (which ran an hour and twelve minutes), and we already had our Clone Wars and Rebels tie, showing us exactly where we were in the timeline. Tragically, a few minutes later, the familiar voice of the Emperor crackles over the radios announcing Order 66, causing the clone troops to turn against Master Billaba and the young Dume.
“Defective” clones (thus the Bad Batch) from Clone Force 99 (to whom we were introduced in The Clone Wars), which lack the chips in their brain that triggers the Order 66 response, attempt to save Dume, who lacking trust, flees into the forest.
Throughout the show, we are given little treats of appearances by our favorites from The Clone Wars, Rebels, and the movies, including appearances from Saw Gerrera (portrayed by Forest Whitaker in Rogue One) and Admiral Tarkin, the R-rolling bad-bad who met his fate on the Death Star at the end of A New Hope. We are also introduced to new characters, including a young clone named Omega, who despite being female, looks and sounds like the other young clones to which we have previously been introduced. The young Omega is recruited to join the clones as they try to unwind the events following Order 66. Omega displays talents that her other clone brethren do not display, leading some to believe that she may be force-sensitive. The show was action, start to finish, but didn’t go light on the story, weaving in the most intricate of details from Star Wars lore.
I was wildly impressed with the show, surprised by the content and length, and absolutely blown away by the animation. As I said before, beyond being entertaining, the show is beautiful to watch. If you were reticent to watch it, you shouldn’t be and if you missed some of the parts, go back and watch it again. Even after my third viewing, I was still finding things I missed the first time. An absolute must-watch for any Star Wars fan.
Watch the trailer here: