REVIEW: ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars,’ Season 7, Episode 1 – “The Bad Batch”

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The Bad Batch

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is back with the premiere of season 7, the final and last season of this amazing show. Episode one, “The Bad Batch,” jumps us right back into the Clone Wars with the Republic on the losing side for the battle over Anaxes. Captain Rex and Commander Cody (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) address Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and Mace Windu (Terrence ‘T.C.’ Carson) about the possible reason why the Republic is doing so poorly. They believe that the droids are using an algorithm to learn and even predict Rex’s battle strategies. Given that Rex is one of the top strategists in the Republic’s army, they need to bite this in the bud and quickly. Commander Cody enlists an odd group of soldiers who go by the name of the Bad Batch. They’re a group of defective clones that have stuck around because of their desirable mutations. With the Bad Batch in tow, Rex leads an infiltration mission into an enemy base to destroy the algorithm.

With the long hiatus between season 6 and 7, “The Bad Batch” jumps us right back into the fray. This episode doesn’t feel new; there’s nothing different about this episode from the ones before it. This familiarity stems from the fact that we see the same algorithm used as previous episodes, with “The Bad Batch” beginning with an inspirational quote that summates the moral of the episode, and a quick synopsis from a narrator about the current events leading up to the episode’s start. This formula has been apparent since the beginning of the series in Season 1.  The decision to stick with it after the near six-year gap between season 6 and 7 makes this season feel like any other. It just feels right. This formula is also an effective one. It allows anyone to jump into the episodes with little knowledge of previous episodes. This is great since it’s been 6 years since some viewers may have watched the last season.

With the release of the new season approaching, I rewatched the previous seasons to refresh my memories of past events in the series. I’m glad I did because there are a few easter eggs for avid fans to look out for. So, although this is an episode that requires very little knowledge of past seasons to enjoy, fans of the show will get a kick out of the fun easter eggs such as the probable reason why the Bad Batch is Squad 99. It’s most likely a throwback to another episode featuring clone 99, a malformed clone who, although deemed unfit for service, helped stave off the invasion of Kamino and became a hero in the eyes of his fellow clones.

This episode follows the men-on-a-mission trope. It definitely has an A-Team and The Expendables feel to it, especially with Hunter’s (the leader of the Bad Batch) 80s hairdo. The media that follow this trope tend to be rather ridiculous, and it’s a bit of what put me off at the beginning of this episode. Along with this, Wrecker (the muscle of the Bad Batch) is loud and abrasive and the overall team comes off as arrogant at the start. However, despite this, the Bad Batch grew on me as the episode progressed. Their personalities fleshed out as the episode advanced and their team bond was endearing. On top of this, the creative team justified the team’s arrogance by showing us just how skilled Squad 99 really is. Given this, there are some pretty stellar fight scenes in this episode.

The Bad Batch

The animation is similar to past seasons which also helps viewers forget about the 6-year gap between seasons. However, after going through previous seasons, I could appreciate how much the animation has changed from season 1 to season 6. The animation became more emotive, with both more eloquent facial expressions and body language. The fight scenes, and movement in general, became more dynamic and fluid over the seasons. I’m glad to say that “The Bad Batch” only furthers these positive changes, showing off with its great fight choreography and emotionally heavy scenes.

The fact that season 7 begins with an episode featuring the clones is a great one. This is one of the few episodes in the entire series that is almost entirely from the clones’ perspective without any Jedi presence. The Clone Wars is well-known for its work on humanizing the clones, something the movies failed to do. They express their individuality by having different hairstyles, customizing their armor, giving themselves names despite being referred to by a number, and, although voiced by the same person, having slightly different cadence and word choice that delineate one individual clone from another. Baker is a great voice actor and I’m always astounded by the work he does in differentiating one clone from another just based on voice alone. This episode is no different and pushes that envelope even further.

The Bad Batch is a perfect example of how the show explores the humanity of the clones. They’re an odd bunch and, despite others treating them differently because of this fact, they accept and celebrate their oddity. The Bad Batch not only act differently from regular clones, but they look different-from their facial features to their armor. Their armor is similar enough to the classic clone armor that they can be identified as clones, but it is unique enough to separate their squad from others and even from each other. They even fight differently, utilizing very unique and sometimes absurd strategies to get the job done. It’s these differences that set them apart from regular clones and speak of their humanity.

Although I found their arrogance and attitudes abrasive at first, the Bad Batch grew on me through the episode. As they worked with Rex and his regular clones, an understanding blossomed. By accepting their differences, they learned to work together and become a better team. Although the ending excelled in this way, it left off on an agonizing cliffhanger. I’m excited to see what all this season has to offer.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is available exclusively on Disney+ now.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 1
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Although I found their arrogance and attitudes abrasive at first, the Bad Batch grew on me through the episode. As they worked with Rex and his regular clones, an understanding blossomed; by accepting their differences, they learned to work together and become a better team.