The Star Wars franchise and Dave Filoni in particular have had a number of successful animated series. Beginning with Star Wars: The Clone Wars and continuing through Star Wars: Rebels, the animated series fill in gaps between films. There is a large gap in the Star Wars timeline between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, one that has some unanswered questions.
In 2021, Filoni added another animated series to the Galaxy Far, Far Away, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, featuring a squad of clone troopers after the end of the Clone Wars. Dee Bradley Baker returns as the voices of all the clones, including the titular Bad Batch, Hunter, Tech, Crosshair, Wrecker, and Echo. Michelle Ang joins the Batch as Omega. Supporting the Batch are Gewndoline Yeo as Nala Se, Rhea Perlman as Cid, with Noshir Dalal as Vice-Admiral Rampart, Corey Burton as Cad Bane, and Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand[https://psychodrivein.com/lost-in-translation-408-the-book-of-boba-fett/].
The series begins with Order 66, the extermination of the Jedi, being given. Clone Force 99, the Bad Batch themselves, have been called in to reinforce a Jedi Knight, her padawan, and clone infantry against a phalanx of battle droids backed by tanks. The newcomers take a different approach in dealing with the clankers, first dropping a boulder on them, then using non-standard tactics within the midst of the droids. When Order 66 is broadcast, the regular clones turn on the Jedi Knight and her padawan, but Clone Force 99 is unaffected. The Jedi Knight falls, but the padawan escapes, with Hunter following. The chase goes deeper into the forest and ends at a cliff overlooking a river. Hunter tries to reassure the padawan, but Crosshair is following the Order. The padawan escapes.
Clone Force 99 is composed of clones who were mutated in embryo This mutation interferes with the inhibitor chip all clones have to ensure loyalty and programming. The exception is Echo, who suffered injuries in an explosion resulting in replacement of body parts with cybernetic equivalents with additional slicing gear built in. When they return to Kamino, they meet Omega, a young girl who is being mentored by the Kaminoan scientist and creator of the clones, Nala Se.
Omega takes a shine to the Batch, especially Hunter. She also has her own secret; she, too, is a clone of Jango Fett, one with pure DNA, the only other clone to have that other than Boba Fett. Omega also gets along well Wrecker, who has a child-like approach to life. Echo and Tech take time to warm up to the girl, but Hunter takes her in like a daughter.
The change over from Republic to Empire brings into question the worth of having a clone army versus recruited and drafted troops. The latter are cheaper, but require training, while the clones start with experience and keep their edge through additional training and actual wartime experience. Admiral Tarkin is leaning towards draftees; financially cheaper and just as easy to control.
Clone Force 99 escapes Kamino with Omega but without Crosshair. Crosshair reported Hunter’s failure to execute Order 66. As Crosshair remarks, “A good soldier follows orders.” In his eyes, Hunter has stopped being a good soldier. Hunter’s view is that he and Clone Force 99 are loyal to the Republic, not the Empire. As the Batch tries to make a post-war living, they discover just how bad things are getting already under the Empire’s rule. Mandatory citizen codes, travel restrictions, the loss of freedoms, nothing that Hunter believed he was fighting for as part of the Republic’s army.
After running into Captain Rex, the Batch realizes that their inhibitor chips need to be removed. Wrecker’s activates after a head injury, and he barely fights the programming before getting it out. To help make ends meet afterwards, the Batch takes on jobs from Cid, a cantina owner who has shady contacts. She provides a cut of the profits, and takes a liking to the team. This give the Batch a chance to figure out what they want to do and what is important.
The Bad Batch shows that the animation team has improved their skills greatly since the original animated Clone Wars movie. The movement is more fluid, with a few scenes photo-realistic, thanks to the focus on a clone or a stormtrooper inside a building. The writing keeps the action going, with the audience sympathy on the side of Clone Force 99. Dee Bradley Baker spends a lot of screen time talking to himself, and he manages to make each clone recognizable.
The series does answer some questions about what happened to the clones after the war. It also answers the question about the Kaminoans and their ability to create clones. The design of equipment shows the beginning of the change to what was seen in A New Hope. There are a few plot points being set up for Rebels and even The Book of Boba Fett. There’s room for more after the end of the first season, with the Empire growing in might.
The Bad Batch also shows what the Empire’s senior military officers think about the clones. Crosshair’s repetition of “Good soldiers follow orders,” isn’t much different from the battle droids’ “What can you do? Orders are orders.” The clones are disposable. The programming allows for wartime atrocities. Good soldiers follow lawful orders. They don’t shell hospitals or shoot unarmed civilians. However, Imperial stormtroopers aren’t much better. They’re not necessarily programmed; some are True Believers.
The Bad Batch acts as the closing chapter of the Republic, showing what happens after Revenge of the Sith. There is a lot going on, and the series delivers. For an animated series on Disney+, The Bad Batch explores weighty topics and while the series can tiptoe gingerly around some of the ideas, it doesn’t paint a rosy picture of clones living out the rest of their lives in a retirement home. Ultimately, it shows that, while the decision makers wouldn’t agree, the clones aren’t disposable. The series continues the feel from the end of The Clone Wars, with the Empire rising and setting up for Rebels and A New Hope.