REVIEW: ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch,’ Episode 1 – “Aftermath”

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Bad Batch Episode 1 - But Why Tho?Star Wars: The Bad Batch is an animated series created by Dave Filoni, who also serves as an executive producer alongside showrunner Jennifer Corbett. Spinning out of the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the first episode “Aftermath” follows Clone Force 99—nicknamed “The Bad Batch” for their genetic aberrations—in the last days of the Clone Wars. Following the rise of the Galactic Empire, the Bad Batch struggles to acclimate to a new order for the galaxy. Things are compounded by the arrival of a girl named Omega, who forms a bond with the Batch.

Though The Bad Batch takes place after The Clone Wars, viewers can watch the former series without much knowledge of the latter. And The Bad Batch feels like its own unique series. All the audience needs to know is that the Batch is an elite fighting unit and that the series takes place in between Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope. However, there are nods to The Clone Wars and other Star Wars properties through the episode to elate fans and enforce the series’ tone.

That tone is slightly darker than Clone Wars or Rebels, as this show deals with the formation of the Empire and the struggle the Batch is going through. Corbett and Filoni’s script explores what happens when the Clone Wars ended: what do soldiers who were bred to fight do when the fight ends? This leads to conflict between Hunter and Crosshair, two of Bad Batch’s members. Corbett and Filoni also explore several unanswered questions during the 70-minute runtime, including why the Batch didn’t follow Order 66 and why the Empire transitioned to using human stormtroopers instead of clones.

The Batch itself is composed of five different members: taciturn leader Hunter, brainy hacker Tech, super-strong yet childish Wrecker, sniper Crosshair, and half clone/half-machine Echo. Dee Bradley Baker voices all five of the clones and gives them all their own distinct voices. Tech speaks in a slow measured tone, while Wrecker is immensely boisterous. It’s a testament to Baker’s talent as a voice actor that he can pull off five different voices and infuse each one with its own unique personality. Voice acting is not as easy as it sounds; performers have to express a wide range of emotions using only their voice and Baker is a key example of the heights one can reach in this profession.

Baker isn’t the only performer giving his all to the role. Stephen Stanton voices Admiral Tarkin, delivering a strong impression of the late Peter Cushing. Michelle Ang is also a scene-stealer as Omega. However, I’m not sure what to make of the bond between Omega and the Batch. It feels like Filoni and Corbett are aiming to capture the same dynamic that fueled Din Djarin and Grogu’s adventures in The Mandalorian, and it could work, but we’re only one episode in, so I don’t know if lightning has struck twice yet.

Directors Steward Lee, Saul Ruiz, and Nathaniel Villanueva deliver on the action front, opening “Aftermath” with a pulse-pounding action sequence. The Bad Batch move as a unit, using their various skills to decimate legions of battle droids; Wrecker utilizes his brute strength, while Crosshair picks off battle droids one by one, and Tech, Hunter, and Echo engage in close combat with the droids. Other action sequences include a training exercise and a daring escape respectively, which are well-staged and will have viewers on the edge of their seats.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch explores the rise of the Empire, upending the lives of its titular characters in the process. Fans who enjoyed Star Wars: The Clone WarsStar Wars Rebels, or Star Wars in general will definitely want to watch this series. With one bond broken and another forged in “Aftermath,” the Bad Batch is now headed into parts unknown for a new adventure, and from the sizzle reel, it looks as if they’ll encounter multiple known Star Wars characters in future episodes.

New episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch will be available to stream Fridays on Disney+.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Episode 1 - "Aftermath"
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Star Wars: The Bad Batch explores the rise of the Empire, upending the lives of its titular characters in the process. Fans who enjoyed Star Wars: The Clone WarsStar Wars Rebels, or Star Wars in general will definitely want to watch this series. With one bond broken and another forged in “Aftermath,” the Bad Batch is now headed into parts unknown for a new adventure, and from the sizzle reel, it looks as if they’ll encounter multiple known Star Wars characters in future episodes.