Dave Filoni is often revered by of Star Wars, and for good reason. He helmed the excellent Star Wars the Clone Wars; Rebels is OK too and his work on the Mandalorian is well done. So, it is no surprise that The Bad Batch, the latest Star Wars animation project looks like it will be another hit (Warning: spoilers ahead)
The first episode – titled Aftermath – has an excellent opening. Seeing the Clone Wars style narration and parts of Revenge of the Sith was amazing, nostalgic yes but it helps set the scene. The animation looks as amazing as ever, using the style they developed for Clone Wars Season Seven. The sound design and music are excellent placed too.
The first scene was a pure treat as well. Not only does it help introduce the Bad Batch characters for those who haven’t seen the Clone Wars (Hunter, Echo, Tech, Wrecker and Crosshair), but it also is another take of Order 66 with a familiar Jedi, Caleb Dume and his master. This is a neat tie in to both Rebels and the Clone Wars, and helps seed Crosshairs love of following orders to the letter. Seeing the Clone Army get put on the back foot as well helps with the idea that Palpatine was intentionally holding the Separatists back from claiming victory.
The Bad Batch travel to Kamino to find out what is happening. Kamino however was by far the best location of the episode. The training facility action helped show Tarkin’s ruthless side, and it was great to see the transitional technology that was being used. Hopefully there will be more of this in the series, as it helps show that the transition from Republic to Empire. Kamino as a planet is also great, and the darker weather compared to previous visits help set the darker tone of the era.
Tarkin’s arrival to inspect the clones is great. The empire phases the clones out, and it is fitting of Tarkin to deliver this harsh blow to the Kaminoans. Them being slowly side lined is great and to see the Prime Minister get more and more frustrated with the Empire is a great development, possibly paving the way for a canon interpretation of a clone rebellion on Kamino. However, it is also good to see them get frustrated for the wrong reasons, as the Kaminoans regularly treat the clones as if they are “their property” and not as people. Hopefully this thread will be brought back again.
While the sequence on Onderon was good, and seeing Saw Gerrera again was as well, unless he is touched upon again it felt like a detour to where the episode was placed. While the Empire’s atrocities needed to be shown to the Bad Batch, it might have been better served if this was on Kamino. Legacy characters are good, and there will likely be more, however Saw’s felt more forced than Tarkin’s or Kanan’s. It did however do a great job of fuelling the debate between Crosshair and Hunter.
Crosshair’s betrayal was not surprising. Not that it needed to be. It was seeded well throughout the episode, in the first sequence and on Onderon. However, the inhibitor chip being intensified to further mind wipe him was somewhat disappointing. It was clear the chip had an influence on him from the start, but he was able to exercise some moral autonomy and argue his point. Having mind control as the sole reason for his betrayal removes any moral debate that could have been had throughout the show about following orders. However, it would be wrong to say he doesn’t make for a terrifying antagonist and his armour and helmet do look very good.
The other members of the squad do get some character work too. Hunter is positioned against Crosshair on when to or not to follow orders. Tech and Wrecker have a good argument over if someone is programmed to do something, or if it is of their own free will. Given Crosshair’s mind control both points are bound to come up again. Both these ideas fit well with the overall theme of the show too.
Overall, this episode does a great job marking the tone and world of the show, what it will explore and our primary antagonist. Kamino was the standout location of the episode, with not only the training sequence but the discussions surrounding what was going on were great. Hopefully the other episodes are as good if not better.
The Bad Batch is available to stream on Disney+
By Kieran Burt
Feature image: Starwars.com