Happy “May the 4th be with you!” This year, Star Wars fans are celebrating with the release of the latest animated Star Wars canon streaming on Disney+: “Star Wars The Bad Batch.” Thank you, Disney and Lucasfilm.
Review of “Star Wars The Bad Batch” Episode 1: Aftermath
Before we get into the premiere “Star Wars The Bad Batch” review and breakdown, this is your spoiler warning. “Star Wars The Bad Batch” Episode 1: Aftermath is now streaming on Disney+.
Despite the fact that the toxic Star Wars fandom can bicker constantly (and harshly) over the quality, necessity, and success of the prequel and sequel trilogies, this particular segment of a galaxy far, far away seems to be a point of much less disagreement—clones.
In the premiere episode of “Star Wars The Bad Batch” Episode 1: Aftermath, we got 70 minutes of action, heart, a cliffhanger, and so much more. As a Star Wars fan and Clone Wars fan, I'm beyond excited to have a new chapter of Clone fun to watch for the next 14 weeks or so.
And The Bad Batch cast of characters is a great crew that I can't wait to learn more about and get to know better. Read for more detail below, but the animation is superb and the storytelling is as great as you'd expect from a Star Wars property. We're looking forward to learning more about Omega (who we meet in this episode) and seeing how Fennec Shand fits in.
How Does “The Bad Batch” Fit in the Star Wars Timeline?
Set between the events of Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” debuted in 2008 on Cartoon Network and ran for 5 seasons before its abridged 6th season moved to Netflix. Its 7th and final season premiered on Disney + in 2020, and it was near the end of that season where we were introduced to the now fan favorites The Bad Batch.
The Bad Batch—Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Echo, and Crosshair—are a rogue crew of genetically modified elite clones navigating the quickly changing environment as the Republic collapses and the Empire rises. While the original clones were genetic copies of bounty hunter Jango Fett, the Bad Batch were special soldiers named Clone Force 99 (in honor of “defective” clone 99). Think of this ragtag crew as a cross between the “A-Team” and “The Dirty Dozen.”
Each of the 5 possesses his own unique qualities, but they work together as a team:
- Hunter is the leader, a supreme tracker, and dons a red headband
- Wrecker is exceptionally large, the muscle of the group, and loves to blow things up
- Tech is the fast-talking computer genius
- Echo is a regular clone-turned cyborg with superb intel abilities
- Crosshair is the sharpshooter/sniper for the group and has exceptional eyesight
“The Clone Wars” Look and Feel of “Star Wars: The Bad Batch”
“Star Wars: The Bad Batch” is a spiritual successor of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” so it makes sense there would be similarities and synergy.
As far as animation, “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” continues along a more realistic-looking animation path. The animation reminds me of a mix between “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.” The trees look almost real, like a beautiful realistic painting, but combined with the “Rebels”-like characterizations. As the timeline shifts closer to the original trilogy, the Clone Trooper vehicles and equipment have a familiar appearance and styling, but a more muted palette. The Storm Troopers keep their helmets on more often, transitioning into that Imperial look and feel and more black and white.
In true Clone Wars fashion, “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” Episode 1: Aftermath begins with a narrator summarizing what happened so the audience is caught up on what has been happening in the galaxy.
Breakdown “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” Episode 1 Aftermath
The episode begins within days of Order 66 having been enacted. In the midst of this war, one young Padawan returns with backup at General Depa Billaba's request. Confused by the small size of the 5-clone team that's been summoned by the Padawan to help, it's time for the Batch to do what they do best. As the Batch arrives to help defeat the Battle Droids, the other clones receive the command to execute Order 66.
Chaos ensues and clones throughout the galaxy begin eliminating every Jedi in their sights, including Billaba. The Bad Batch is perplexed by a command they don't understand—except for Crosshair. Because he is less defective than the other 4, he still is capable of taking orders, and he is displeased with Hunter's methods. Crosshair insists they follow orders as “good soldiers” do. Hunter is more concerned with what the order means and why the sudden change with all the clones at once.
The young Padawan, Caleb Dume (a name Rebels fans should recognize), runs as he sees his Master betrayed by her Clone Troopers, and jumps over the falls. He makes it across. Hunter sees he is safe but tells Crosshair he does not make it. Crosshair believes Hunter is lying because he looked across as Caleb cleared the jump and not down as if he had fallen.
Once back on Kamino, the Batch realize what's actually happening and now know Chancellor Palpatine has accused all the Jedi of treason and is reorganizing the Republic into the first Galactic Empire for a more “safe and secure society.”
The shift to the Empire means the clone program is under scrutiny. Admiral Tarkin arrives to evaluate the program, especially “experimental Unit 99,” because they are known for their “tendency to vary from standard combat protocol” as well as their “concerning level of disobedience.”
Fast forward to Tarkin's battle simulation for the Bad Batch, which ends in live ammunition since they did so well in the simulated version. Tarkin then sends the team to Alderaan to neutralize a separatist threat—a threat that turns out to be a non-threat to anyone but the Empire (spoiler alert, Tarkin did something shady, are you surprised?).
We also meet a young medical assistant named Omega while the crew is on Kamino. It turns out that Omega is also an experimental clone (voiced by Michelle Ang) and has some kind of special powers (suspected by viewing her behavior, confirmed by producer Brad Rau in our press interview). You can listen to our podcast about that interview here.
Omega reveals to Hunter and the team that Kamino is no longer a safe place for them (the experimental clones, explicitly) and they make a daring escape to an outer rim planet (J-19) to visit an old friend. Not shockingly, if you've been paying attention during the past hour or so, one of their own has turned against them, which will lead to problems down the road.
About “Star Wars: The Bad Batch”
“Star Wars: The Bad Batch” follows the elite and experimental clones of the Bad Batch (first introduced in “The Clone Wars”) as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War. Members of Bad Batch—a unique squad of clones who vary genetically from their brothers in the Clone Army—each possess a singular exceptional skill that makes them extraordinarily effective soldiers and a formidable crew.