The 1hr+ premier of Disney+’s new series, Star Wars: The Bad Batch finally made its debut today. Which is May 4th, aka “Star Wars day” and I hate it, bc every wannabe big-bang-theory-watching faux scifi geek out there starts throwing around “may the 4th be with you” with a big shit eating herpy-derp grin…
..wait where was I? Right. The Bad Batch.
So Clone Wars mastermind Dave Filoni brings his vision to this spinoff of The Clone Wars. Look, here’s the deal. I was dragged kicking and screaming into this disney-canonized animated Star Wars world. I wasn’t a fan based on first impressions, and I have to say…
I was wrong.
It took me a while to reconcile the “cartoon characters” and their sometimes cartoony animated actions against the absolutely killer effects shots, score, story, and observable respect for the source material. I mean, some of these “effects” shots are almost indistinguishable from the “real” thing. You know what I mean. It’s not until a lanky, disproportionate cartoon character jumps out of a ship that you realize “oh shit, this is a cartoon….” It took me a while to “get on board” with this. But I’m on board.
The first episode, “Aftermath” puts us right in the thick of battle during the Clone Wars with Clone Force 99. The Star Wars Universe’s answer to the Dirty Dozen. Only its slightly less than half a dozen… but whatever. The “Clone Force 99” moniker is even a throwback to “Force 10 from Navarone” among other classic war movies.
Also of note is that they’re continuing the opening narration which (for me) much like “The Clone Wars” makes this feel even more like an old movie-theater serial than it should
And in this “bad batch” (A name given to this squad shortly after their intro) you’ve got “Hunter”, the group leader; “Echo”, a “reg” who is now more machine than man (lot of that going around in this world); “Wrecker” who’s name basically gives his primary role away; “Tech”, the brains of the group; and “Crosshair”, the sniper and soon-to-be problem member of the group.
Aftermath takes place during the infamous “Order 66” moment and shortly thereafter. As the rest of the clones start to carry out their nefarious “order,” the group manages to save a lone Jedi Padawan, Caleb, even though Crosshair is getting conflicting thoughts about this whole mess. Part of him is still trying to follow orders like he’s been programmed to….
They get back to Kamino, and find out about the whole “Empire” debacle, and none other than Admiral Tarkin has come to “evaluate” the situation with the clones. He’s convinced that conscription is the way to go, that the clones are old news, and proceeds to put the Batch to the test.
He sends them on a mission to “exterminate some insurgents” and instead they find themselves facing a young Saw Gerrera and a group of civilians trying to escape the new Imperial menace. Of course they don’t exterminate them. Of course.
Also here on Kamino is a young girl, “Omega”, who is obviously a clone (my theory later) and she latches onto the group and eventually tags along with them.
Crosshair gets “turned” by Tarkin (a move I suspect will get reversed at some point) and in the end, the remaining members of CF99 along with Omega flee into the unknown.
The big takeaways from this pilot episode: The Bad Batch are now enemies of the new Empire, not on great terms with Gerrera, a small child in tow, one of their own gunning for them, and an entire season ahead of them.
Sounds like the perfect setup to me.
As for Omega, my theory is this: This is one of the early Palpatine clones. There, I said it. I mean, look at the kid’s hair FFS. I saw that hair and immediately went “yup that’s Palpatine’s hair cut right there….” I mean sure she’s got the same kiwi accent as the rest of the clones, but I tell you this is just a part of the puzzle that leads us to the end of Episode IX. Even the name, “Omega” which is almost synonymous with “end” kind of gives it away.
I grew to trust Dave and his vision during “The Clone Wars” and I have no reason not to going forward with this. I am going to do a weekly roundup of each episode of this (hey I am a Star Wars junkie first and foremost) so just deal with it.
Yeah its corny and overly cartoony in places, sometimes even cringey, but the non-cringey parts more than make up for it. And Kevin Kiner’s score, omg, he manages to evoke the same tone as the prequel trilogy, without outright copying anything, yet referencing parts and themes just enough to make you go “wait I’ve heard this…” It’s pretty cool actually. Its the final piece in the “feels like Star Wars” puzzle.
As with any series, I’m not going to give a rating until I’ve seen the entire season. But so far, so good.