This review of the new animated Disney+ series, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, is directed squarely at a certain type of person. Now, look, if you are already into The Clone Wars and Rebels and Star Wars Resistance, then it’s a safe bet you’re already on board for more. But then there are people more like me who, for whatever reason, just never got into those other shows.
And, look, I’ve tried, but The Clone Wars especially is a tough nut to crack. If you ask fans of the show the best way to watch The Clone Wars you get some sort of answer that usually involves being told that the show isn’t very good at first, but then eventually gets better, and, oh yeah, it doesn’t take place in chronological order. I don’t know about you but that explanation has yet to inspire me to dig into The Clone Wars. On top of that, the whole nature of the actual Clone War isn’t very exciting since we already know that the same guy, Palpatine, is controlling both sides. So as you root for the Jedi and the Clones to defeat the Separatists, you’re kind of rooting for the eventual bad guys. Anyway, it’s weird.
And I tried to get into Rebels. I watched most of the first season but eventually let a few episodes pile up and never got back into watching it. I just kind of summed it up as, “not my cup of tea.” So now here comes Star Wars: The Bad Batch, a group of Clones that were introduced during the final season of The Clone Wars who are genetically “off,” in comparison with the other Clones. This makes the group standout fighters but also leaves them immune to Palpatine’s infamous Order 66. As we saw in Revenge of the Sith, once Palpatine gave the Order 66 command, the Clones, without any questions or hesitation, turned against the Jedi. The members of the Bad Batch witness this happen, but thinks it makes absolutely no sense that the Jedi are all of a sudden their enemy. So, The Bad Batch, just in its story structure, becomes something easier to digest than its predecessor series. It’s not about a grand, sprawling, confusing war. It’s about five soldiers trying to figure out why the Jedi were all just murdered.
And as I mentioned earlier, I’m directing this to a specific audience: the audience who hasn’t really watched the prior Star Wars animated shows. Because I, too, was in that boat. But the concept around this series, these soldiers trying to makes heads or tails out of what just happened, I find pretty intriguing.
And here’s something I really like: the villain of the series is Tarkin. I love Tarkin and I always thought he got the short stick. He’s literally the main bad guy in the first Star Wars movie, yet he didn’t even get an action figure. (Power Droid, a character who is in Star Wars for maybe five seconds got an action figure, but not Tarkin. Also, for the record, I have nothing against Power Droid.) Then when the prequels were announced, well hold on to your hats, we’d for sure be getting some new adventures of Tarkin now. If we were going to see younger versions of Palpatine, Darth Vader, and Obi-Wan, well of course we’d see a young Tarkin! He’s the main bad guy from the first movie! Alas. As we now know, Tarkin’s presence in the Prequels is a little cameo at the end of Revenge of the Sith with no dialogue. (And, sure, Tarkin gets some nice scenes in Rogue One but the fact he’s a digitally created character is still just the weirdest thing.)
Well, here, finally, Tarkin is front and center (at least so far) as the main villain driving the plot. Tarkin figures out the Bad Batch is immune to the whole Order 66 plan and isn’t a big fan of them thinking for themselves, which puts the Bad Batch in a tough spot. Tarkin is also in charge of letting the fine people of Kamino (aka the water planet from Attack of the Clones) know that their Clone services are no longer needed and that the newly formed Empire would now be recruiting soldiers the old fashioned way.
Unlike The Clone Wars and, to a point, Rebels, we don’t really know where any of this is headed. What can a small group of soldiers do anyway against the mighty Empire? What are the intricacies of Tarkin and the Empire not using Clone troopers anymore? If you look at the Star Wars timeline this is set in, there’s a lot of open space between Revenge of the Sith and Solo. For the first time, a Star Wars animated show has me hooked, at least so far. And if you’ve never religiously watched one before, The Bad Batch might be a good one to start with.
‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ begins streaming on May 4th via Disney+. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.