Lucasfilm’s newest animated series, “Star Wars: The Bad Batch,” is not just another “Clone Wars.” This spin-off explores further into a time period that we haven’t seen much of before while adding its own perspective — the transition of power from Republic to Empire.
Arriving on Disney+ on the fan holiday “May the 4th,” 2021, “The Bad Batch” follows Clone Force 99, first introduced in the final season of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” an elite squad of clones who vary genetically from their fellow Clones. Set in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War, the Bad Batch must find their way in a rapidly-changing galaxy as the Empire assumes power.
The first episode, titled “Aftermath,” wastes no time in kicking things off with one of the most traumatic events in Star Wars history, Order 66. Like “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order” before it, we see the actual moment when Emperor Palpatine gives the fateful order, and its immediate effect on the galaxy. Only this time, instead of seeing these events through the lens of a Jedi on the run, we’re thrown into the mix with a ragtag group of clones that are a little too aware that something isn’t quite right.
“Aftermath” clocks in at about 70 minutes, which seems like a bit long in the tooth at first, but only benefits from kicking things off in medias res. The show knows it has a lot of heavy-lifting to do in the exposition, and does so with all the action-packed excitement and political intrigue that fans know from its predecessor.
The animation style is nearly identical to that of “The Clone Wars,” but feels much more polished; every frame is clean and tightly woven together in a way that feels like something beyond animation.
The chemistry between the members of the Bad Batch is charming and fun — especially when you know that Dee Bradley Baker, the voice of the Batch, would record episodes switching from one character to the next, a feat that I still can’t wrap my head around. One relationship I’m excited to see play out is that of Hunter and Omega, a young girl who seems far more important than the show is letting on. There are also a few familiar faces that Star Wars fans will no doubt be excited to see.
As someone who loved the final season of “The Clone Wars,” I am happy to dive back into this animated world, albeit with a new cast of characters. While I will admit that I was initially skeptical about centering an entire series on a group of Clones introduced in an all-too-convenient backdoor pilot, I was quickly won over by the first episode’s end. In the downtime between seasons of “The Mandalorian,” and with no immediate live-action films on the horizon, this Star Wars story is a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.
The first episode of “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” is now streaming exclusively on Disney+. You can check out the trailer for the show below: