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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The Bad Batch (The Clone Wars - S07E01) - Animated Series

Series: The Clone Wars

Title: The Bad Batch

Season: Seven

Episode: 1

Original Air Date: February 21, 2020

Runtime: 24 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Embrace others for their differences, for that makes you whole

The battle for Anaxes is not going well for the Republic

The Clone Wars are back! Few people believed there would ever be a new season, but Lucasfilm apparently listened to the fans and decided to bring back The Clone Wars for one final (?) season. Season 7 is not all new, actually it will use pre-existing material. More than two additional seasons worth of dialogue were recorded before Lucasfilm canceled the show after the acquisition by Disney. The way animation works dialogue is recorded first, sometimes months and years in advance and for The Clone Wars there are even several unfinished animatics that combine the recorded dialogue and very rough animation to get a feel for the episode.

The battle for Anaxes in the original animatic

Season 7 will start with the four episode "Bad Batch" arc. The rough animatics were released in 2015, so avid fans of The Clone Wars may have already seen the episodes that air now in their finalized and slightly tweaked version. While the finalized episodes are more or less the same, some tweaks were added, some dialogue was added, but the episodes mostly use the pre-existing dialogue. But all new or not, it's certainly great to see new (kind of) episodes of The Clone Wars. Even though ratings for the show declined over time, none of the other shows that followed could really match the ratings. Rebels did ok at first, but ratings quickly declined. Resistance was largely ignored by fans and had almost non-existing ratings. So The Clone Wars may give fans of animated Star Wars their fix again. And The Clone Wars has one huge advantage over all the other shows: we get to see Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka again, along with fan favorite Captain Rex and of course all the other Jedi and clones.

Captain Rex and Commander Cody have some disturbing news for Mace and Anakin

In "The Bad Batch" the Republic is battling the Separatists on Anaxes, where the Separatists are attacking one of the Republic's most important shipyards and manage to capture it. The battle is not going well and the droid army easily adapts to all the tactics Captain Rex comes up with. Cody and Rex feel that something weird is going on and want to investigate why the Separatists have such an easy time adapting. So it is decided to gather intel from a cyber center behind enemy lines. Later in the barracks Rex voices a suspicion to Cody. He feels that Echo, who has been considered dead for quite a while, may somehow still be alive, since the battle plans the Droid Army so easily counter were originaly developed by Rex and Echo.

Meet the Bad Batch

Cody and Rex then meet the team that is supposed to help them infiltrate the cyber center. The Bad Batch, a team of clones with "desirable mutations", so they are not your run of the mill clones. They all look a bit different, have a different physique and they all have certain special skills. Rex, Cody and the Bad Batch finally head out with a gunship. However, as the team approaches enemy lines the gunship is spotted and shot down by the Droid Army, leaving Condy seriously injured. One of the Bad Batch, "Wrecker", has superior strength and can actually lift the gunship wreckage to free Cody. But Cody is no longer in any fighting condition. After a brief fight with some droids that the Bad Batch easily dispose of it's eventually decided to move on without Cody, one of the other clones, Kix, is left behind.

The cyber center

After some short squabble about Rex' decision that he will lead the team now, the team first captures an outpost and then set their sights on the cyber center. They infiltrate it but trouble is already on the way, the Droid Army sends reenforcements to the cyber center. So Rex and the Bad Batch need to hurry.

Rex and Tech receive a strange transmission

In the cyber center Rex and Bad Batch team member Tech eventially find out that the intel is coming from off world, a planet called Skako Minor. When they inquire who is sending the intel they hear the voice of a clone who repeats one message: "CT-1409" - which is Echo's ID. So it seems Captain Rex' hunch was right. Echo is alive and is somehow coerced into providing the Separatists with tactics and strategy. The team then makes their escape from the cyber center and the next mission target is Skako Minor

The first new episode of The Clone Wars was absolutely a welcome return of old friends. No expenses were spared, I would say the new episodes look even better than the previous episodes. It's several years later now and the tech only gets better. Centering on the clones only fleshes them out even more and humanizes them, which makes the eventual Order 66 only more heartbreaking. Rex has always been a fan favorite and to hint at Echo's survival raises the personal stakes for him. I am not so sure how I feel about the Bad Batch, they look and feel somewhat cartoony, but it's not too distracting. Fortunately the power struggle about who's to lead the team after Cody needs to be left behind is sorted out quickly and Rex and the Bad Batch are not at odds at all and they make for a very effective team. Dee Bradley Baker's voice acting needs to be pointed out, how he manages to give each clone his own voice is impressive. Overall, I would say "The Bad Batch" was a decent episode. Not too much happened, we got a lot of action, several battles with (ineffective) battle droids, but the episode succeeded in raising the stakes and to make things very personal for Rex.

Fans who hoped for more Anakin, Obi-Wan or Ahsoka have to be patient, this episode was centered around the clones. Anakin is a lot more involved in the next episode however.

And one final thing: The Clone Wars season 7 may be the last time we get to see new Lucas Era Star Wars. George Lucas was heavily involved with The Clone Wars, he provided many of the ideas (among other things the return of Darth Maul), so season 7 may be the final time we get to see a version of Star Wars that George Lucas was creatively involved with.

All in all I would rate this episode 3.5 stars. Very solid, very entertaining, with some great character moments for Rex, only the Bad Batch team is bordering on somewhat too cartoony and clich├ęd.

And if you don't care for spoilers you can read Mike's old review of the entire Bad Batch arc, based on the animatics released in 2015. Note, that there are some subtle differences though, some minor tweaks to the story and some changed dialogue, nothing too radical though, the basic story is of course the same. The biggest change is probably the cut dialogue from the briefing scene in the beginning where Rex talks about how Echo knew about the algorithm, instead the new scene in the barracks where Rex talks to Cody about Echo was added. The new scene is better, in my opininon, it's more personal and adds some more depth to Rex.

And if you want to watch the original animatic the new episode is based on: you can find it here on YouTube!

Added: March 1, 2020
Category: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Reviewer: Thomas
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