Ever since an eager Luke Skywalker breathlessly asked Obi-Wan Kenobi about fighting in the Clone Wars in a throwaway line from Star Wars: A New Hope, the clone army has been an integral part of Star Wars lore. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones gave fans their first look at how and why the clone army exists and the Clone Wars began, but it wasn’t until Dave Filoni’s animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars film followed by the Clone Wars series that the clones themselves began to emerge as characters.
Wow, you really can’t explain that without using the word “clone” way too much. What does clone mean again?
Each of the Bad Batch’s group scenes is so dynamic that it’s astounding to think that they’re all basically one guy talking to himself in a sound booth.
Star Wars did well to establish a few fan-favorite clones comparatively early on — the mysterious Boba Fett from the original trilogy was retconned into being a clone and the animated spinoffs gave the world cherished heroes like Rex and his squad. If there is a limit to how many clones a franchise can support before things get really weird, Star Wars may have been approaching it, but The Bad Batch is a fun, sideways look at what happens when individuals rise from a legion of science fiction sameness.
The eponymous Bad Batch first appeared as side characters in The Clone Wars, but these characters are more than strong enough to carry their own show. Each member of this team, considered elite and experimental in the days of the Republic, was engineered by the Kaminoans to have special skills that make them different from the standard issue stormtrooper. Hunter has enhanced senses, Tech is a material genius, Crosshair is a perfect sharpshooter, Wrecker has superhuman strength, and Echo is a “regular” clone whose inclusion in the unit is explained in The Clone Wars.
Every member of the Bad Batch, as well as the other clones in the series, are voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, who does an incredible job creating disparate and recognizable characters who share identical DNA. Crosshair’s sneery sarcasm is completely different from Wrecker’s good-natured lunkhead vibe, and Tech is a quintessential nerd while Echo is a competent worrier. Each of the Bad Batch’s group scenes is so dynamic and driven that it’s astounding to think that they’re all basically one guy talking to himself in a sound booth.
Without spoiling too much, The Bad Batch begins with the execution of Order 66, and while the iconic Jedi massacre is approaching “watching Batman’s parents die” levels of ubiquity in Star Wars, The Bad Watch offers a unique perspective by showing the immediate emotional aftermath of the order on the clones themselves. Most of the “regular” clones accept the 1984-esque change from Republic to Empire, but the Bad Batch have the neural leeway to actually question Palpatine’s heel turn as it happens. As servants of the Republic, the Bad Batch were an elite killing team happy to carry out their orders, but their ability to refuse to kill Jedi makes them a liability and traitors to the Galactic Empire.
From there, The Bad Batch takes on similar traits of other Star Wars animated shows, including a young apprentice who’s full of wonder and longs to explore the galaxy, a crappy spaceship that nonetheless is home, and cameos from big players in the live action movies. The 70-minute premiere is entertaining as a glimpse of things to come and the characters are compelling enough to want to know what happens next to this new, other batch of Kaminoan clones in the Star Wars universe.
The Bad Batch is streaming on Disney+.