‘The Bad Batch’ lands on Disney+, expanding its Star Wars catalog

Sterling Lazarus

After the acquisition of Star Wars by Disney in 2012 and the subsequent cancellation of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” back in 2013, it seemed like that would be the end of its run on television, much to the dismay of many fans. However, after its one-season renewal back in 2018, “The Clone Wars” lives on in its spinoff series, “The Bad Batch,” on a fresh and exciting, albeit, less epic scale. 

“The Clone Wars” was an anthology series that followed Jedi, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, in addition to the clone troopers that serve under them, as they battle against the Separatist droid army. The portrayal of the clone troopers as interesting, nuanced individuals was something missing in their robotic portrayal in the Star Wars prequels. 

“The Bad Batch” kicked off with a 70-minute premiere, followed by 20-30 minute episodes in the weeks after. “The Bad Batch” takes place immediately after the end of “The Clone Wars” and follows the Bad Batch: Hunter, Wrecker, Crosshair, Tech and Echo, who are genetically modified clones with special skills to make them more proficient in combat. Due to its focused nature on a small group of characters, the loose structure of “The Clone Wars” is subverted, and instead “The Bad Batch” tells its story chronologically. In “The Bad Batch,” the showrunners build plot lines that will presumably extend through most of the season. In doing so, the story feels much more cohesive and easy to follow. 

Admiral Tarkin disembarks from his spacecraft on Kamino surrounded by Clone Troopers. (Courtesy of Disney+.)

However, because “The Bad Batch” tells its story on a smaller scale, it misses out on some of the epicness brought by the large conflicts inherent in “The Clone Wars.” The first episode begins with the Bad Batch attempting to find their place in the changing galaxy as Emperor Palpatine seizes control and begins building his galactic Empire. The galaxy feels much smaller, which contradicts the underlying plotline of a massive, galactic power grab by the newly formed Empire. Many of these new changes are explored, but the conversion of the Republic into the Empire feels more like a collection of local events, rather than something sweeping the whole galaxy. 

Understanding this galaxy wide conflict relies on previous knowledge from the “The Clone Wars,” and “The Bad Batch” is much more interested in continuing story threads laid out by its parent show than it is in easing newcomers into the series. However, the show at least takes the time it needs to establish its characters to the audience. 

The first episode follows the Bad Batch on their home world of Kamino, unsure of their new role in the Empire and, by the end of the episode, on the run after disobeying orders. In their escape from Kamino, they end up bringing a young girl clone named Omega with them. The relationship between the Bad Batch and Omega is the driving force behind the next three episodes, as they try to take care of her in the limited ways they know how. This relationship, especially between the leader of the group, Hunter, and Omega, is touching and a good reminder of what makes “Star Wars” stories work so well. It shows that family, whether it be a biological family, like Luke and Leia in the original trilogy, or an adopted family, like Din Djarin and Baby Yoda in the Mandalorian, creates close connections that help humanize a galaxy incredibly different from our own. 

While the show does a thorough job exploring its main characters, some side characters feel like cheap additions for fan service. The show opens with the inclusion of Kanan Jarrus, a Jedi featured in “Star Wars: Rebels,” another Lucasfilm Animation show. As a long-term fan of Star Wars, it can be exciting to see recurring characters, but it doesn’t work here in the same way that it might in the Marvel Universe. Having the same characters appear in different time periods and locations all the time makes the “Star Wars” universe feel small. 

All of the technical aspects of the show are exceptional. From the incredible voice talents of Dee Bradley Baker, who voices all five main characters, to the beautiful animation style the show uses, it’s clear that Lucasfilm Animation has come a long way since the rough start of “The Clone Wars.” 

“The Bad Batch” is a fun watch for casual viewers, and a thoughtful continuation of a beloved show for longtime fans. As of May 28, five of the total 16 episodes have been released on Disney+.