Star Wars The Clone Wars The Bad Batch Review

After a six-year hiatus and an open-ended conclusion, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is finally back and has a new home on Disney+ for its seventh and final season. Rather than the whole season getting released at once like the previous season, called “The Lost Missions,” which was dropped on Netflix in 2014, Clone Wars is doing weekly releases starting with “The Bad Batch”, the first episode in a new arc.

The clone soldier Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker) reports that the Separatists enemies are predicting their tactics. He announces to his Jedi General that he’s infiltrating a Separatist base to investigate the situation. He doesn’t tell his Jedi General one thing though: he has a theory that the Separatists are procuring their information from a surviving clone brother by the name of Echo, who supposedly perished back in “The Citadel.” Along with Commander Cody, he enlists the assistance of a four-crew team of clones “with desirable mutations”, clones that didn’t come out with standardized physicality and possess abilities deemed useful on the battlefield. The team includes the leader Hunter, the brawny Wrecker, the nerdy bespectacled Tech, and the strong-and-silent type Crosshair.

Created by Dave Filoni and inspired by the 2003 proto-canon Genndy Tartakovsky hand-drawn Clone Wars, the prequel era-set Clone Wars was initially quite distinctive in the Star Wars animated realm for its grit. The series had a rocky start back in 2008, but gained a slow and steady fanbase as quality rose. Releasing a series of anthologized arcs taking place within the same war, Clone Wars took advantage of the television format to unravel the idiosyncrasies of familiar characters like Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda while expanding on background characters like the clones and fleshing out a grimy space fantasy world trapped in ceaseless war and politics that were left untouched by the movies.

When compared to the previous Clone Wars episodes, which was the “finale” at the time, this season 7 premiere is a big technical step up. The CGI-renderings are slicker and more polished – on a technical level, the show has grown significantly. In the days where Clone Wars wasn’t expecting a revival, fans who watched the quasi-rendered version back in “Unfinished Tales: Clone Wars” panel at the 2015 Star Wars Celebration (which are online) know most of the beats of this final product, but fortunately, there is noticeable evolution in the script, especially in Rex’s emotional odyssey for autonomous thinking highlighted by the new element of him burrowing his personal theory—and his sorrow as well. Rex’s secretiveness about his theory about Echo’s survival underlines his long-term burgeoning independence from his military and birth conditioning.  

Baker, once again, does the heavy-duty of voicing all the clones, accentuating each with personality and individual existence despite their identical appearance and voices. The Clone storylines were always the strongest when any clone character dealt with the existentialism of being bred into expendability, whether they’re conscious of it or not, and this premiere doubles down on that. As for the Bad Batch themselves, they pop as if they exist in their own spin-off universe somewhere, needing more fleshing-out as of now.

This first episode of an arc offers little more than some pulpy action, a slickly staged action sequence, and an enticing cliffhanger. “The Bad Batch” is not a spectacular comeback, all things considered, but it’s good to be back in the world. The clones, as well as Baker’s vocal performance, anchor this episode. But so far, they deserve more…and I look forward to it. 

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