Star Wars: The Bad Batch TV Review
Disclaimer: Spoiler-free review based on the 70-minute premiere only.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch descended onto Disney+ with a special episode celebrating "May the Fourth," reintroducing the characters first seen in the show's backdoor pilot in last year's final season of The Clone Wars. With Star Wars legacy Dave Filoni at the helm once more, the show has rancor-sized shoes to fill, considering it's the highly anticipated spin-off to one of the most beloved animated shows of all time. In terms of how it stacks up, it's a bit of a mixed bag.
To nobody's surprise, the strongest asset this show has, apart from the rich lore, is Dee Bradley Baker, a LucasFilm veteran who has portrayed every Clone Trooper in Star Wars animation to date. He gives each member of the Bad Batch a distinct personality, despite having the same basic voice. Regardless, most of the core members of the group, save for Hunter and Tech, feel a bit flat, present only to provide comic relief and seemingly nothing more. Fan-favorite character Echo felt especially underutilized, serving to spout exposition. Considering his previous arc ended with him seeing the Bad Batch as a place he could fit in, it would have been nice to hear some mention of the aftermath of that. Luckily, as this is only the first of a 16 episode series, the writers get a pass for choosing to focus on setting up the story instead of jumping right into developing their characters.
New to the group is Omega, the first-ever female Clone Trooper. She acts as somewhat of a self-insert for the viewer and sticks out like a sore thumb in comparison to the rest of the cast. The concept of a female Clone is quite unique and should absolutely be explored further, but as of now seems to be wasted potential featuring no development and oddly uncanny animation. In this world of death and destruction, Omega feels like a constant reminder that The Bad Batch is in fact, a kid's show, which isn't inherently a problem but may prove to be off-putting to some.
Apart from the aforementioned issue with Omega, the animation, while nothing new, looks nearly flawless. The polished, inspired art style of the final season of The Clone Wars makes a grandiose return here, providing some wallpaper-worthy shots that look downright gorgeous.
As far as the story is concerned, it was surprisingly impressive. The stunning opening act sets up the story perfectly and lets the audience know that it's entering into a previously unexplored time period in the Star Wars universe. Following Order 66, we see the Clone Army from the perspective of a ragtag group of Clone Troopers unaffected by the command. The Imperial invasion is quick and unexpected, and Hunter finds himself to be the only one questioning what exactly went down. Clocking in with a 70-minute runtime, there wasn't a moment where it felt like it was dragging, due in part to the well-placed, rhythmic action sequences. The first half of the episode reads like something out of a mystery and relies heavily on the use of dramatic irony to create tension and suspense in the Clone Facility on Kamino.
As expected from a Star Wars property, Kevin Kiner's score adds to the impact and makes this small journey feel like a proper galactic adventure. The only thing that takes away from that, ironically, is the adventure itself. The largest issue with Disney-era Star Wars is the dependence on fan service. In this vast galaxy, familiar faces consistently seem to show up, making the entire universe feel small and compact. It gives the viewer the feeling that LucasFilm doesn't have enough trust in their storytellers to portray completely standalone stories when that was what created the magic of the original trilogy in the first place. It's not an issue that ruins the entire show, but it certainly takes away from the scale of it.