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The Bad Batch

Aftermath (The Bad Batch - S01E01) - Animated Series

Series: The Bad Batch

Title: Aftermath

Season: One

Episode: 1

Original Air Date: May 4th, 2021

Runtime: 71 minutes

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

Discuss the latest Chapter! (Discussion)

"It's been days since I've blown something up!" SPOILERS.

A proper Clone Wars sequel?

The Bad Batch is the latest animated show by Dave Filoni. And in the very beginning it is made very clear, that The Bad Batch is something like a proper sequel to The Clone Wars with the old logo burning away and revealing the new logo. The very beginning of the episode is also very reminiscent of old Clone Wars episodes, with a newsreel style narration by Tom Kane (who apparently recorded all of his lines long before he suffered a stroke). And in the very first seconds you already see that at least when it comes to visuals and animation The Bad Batch is very much like Clone Wars season 7. As in, the animation is top notch and the visuals really detailed and amazing. A lot of money went into the production.

The titular Bad Batch

Most viewers (probably all) will of course be familiar with the Bad Batch, since we were first introduced to the characters in season 7 of The Clone Wars. The Bad Batch is one of the last concepts developed by George Lucas for The Clone Wars, and are supposed to be an hommage to 1980s action heroes. And in case someone didn't watch the Clone Wars arc with the Bad Batch the episode wastes no time at all and reintroduces them immediately by showing off their formidable and somewhat unorthodox combat abilities.

Papa Palpatine talking to his army

The episode doesn't waste much time before Order 66 is executed though. Almost immediately after resolving a somewhat hairy situation and helping out Jedi master Depa Billaba and her padawan Caleb Dume aka Kanan Jarrus from Rebels, the standard clones turn on the Jedi. However, the Bad Batch is seemingly unaffected. Their altered DNA has rendered the inhibitor chip more or less useless. I say more or less since it's apparent from the very beginning that while almost all of the Bad Batch are immune to the programming, Crosshair is feeling the effects of the chip in his brain. What follows is a failed rescue attempt by Hunter, as he goes after Caleb aka Kanan. Caleb won't trust the clones, not helped by the fact that Crosshair actually took a shot at him, and manages to slip away. Hunter lies to Crosshair about his escape and says he shot Caleb, so it's established very early on that almost everyone in the Bad Batch has free will and a conscience.

Meet the audience surrogate: Omega

From then on the plot is quite linear and straightforward. As the Bad Batch return to their home base on Kamino they quickly realize that things have changed - a lot. Emperor Palpatine addresses the clones and acuses the Jedi of treason once more. It is on Kamino that we also meet the final main character of the show: a little girl called Omega, who has a lovely Kiwi accent. Omega is a spunky and actually quite cheerful young girl of unknown origin. Unknown until Tech later figures out that Omega is actually a female clone. The show doesn't really beat about the bush here and doesn't keep you guessing. The real mystery is what Omega's actual purpose is. The Kaminoans certainly created her for a reason. Kid characters in shows or movies also watched by adults have a mixed history. Sometimes it doesn't work all that well, Wesley Crusher on Star Trek The Next Generation is a prime example here, and of course there's always little Ani in The Phantom Menace. Fortunately the showrunners made Omega quite sympathetic. She is not mopey, she doesn't mourn her family, she's not emo or has an attitude, actually she is quite cheerful and even excited to be with the Bad Batch in the end. It's apparent Omega is the audience surrogate, and especially made for younger viewers who now have someone to identify with. So far Omega can be considered a good addition to the cast and I commend the showrunners for managing to create a kid character that is not annoying at all.

Meet old friends

The Bad Batch also has a few prominent guest characters. Apart from a few Kaminoans we know from the prequels and Caleb Dume aka Kanan we also meet again Tarkin who is tasked with evaluating the clone army. It's made pretty clear that Tarkin is no fan of the clones and that the Empire will have a conscription army, since clones are too expensive. Tarkin learns about the Bad Batch, puts them to the test, which they pass with flying colors. But Tarkin is still wary, especially since the Bad Batch have non functioning inhibitor chips. So they are sent on a mission to kill separatists.

Meet even more old friends

Only it turns out the separatists are actually refugees, civilians and people who are merely opposed to the new regime. While Crosshair is all about following orders (it is apparent something is wrong with him and that the chip may not be completely inert), Hunter and the rest of the Bad Batch refuse to kill innocent civilians and thus they let Saw Guerrera and his comrades go. Not without being monitored by an Imperial probe droid of course. So now the game is up and Tarkin knows the Bad Batch cannot be trusted.

Crosshair, an enemy against his own will

It is now that Tech tells the other Bad Batch members about Omega being one of them, a clone. Thus they decide that they can't abandon Omega on Kamino and need to rescue her before they make their escape. The rest of the episode is rather straightforward as well. The Bad Batch get imprisoned. Crosshair is found to have a semi-functional inhibitor chip, Tarkin orders an operation that will strenghten the influence of the chip, basically turning Crosshair into a new and formidable enemy of the Bad Batch. We also learn that Omega is quite perceptive and knows what Crosshair is going through, actually comforting him in the prison cell as she feels how the chip is already affecting him. But eventually the Bad Batch make their escape, there is a short standoff between them and Crosshair, but the Bad Batch have help by the Kaminoans who prevent the hangar bay door from closing, so they can escape with their ship. The Kaminoans also decide not to tell the Empire about Omega and to see how things will unfold.

The girl with stars in her eyes

In the final shots of the episode we see an excited Omega who goes into hyperspace for the first time ever. While Hunter has set a course for "J-19", where he says they have a friend. J-19 was featured in the Clone Wars, so expect to see a familiar face next week.

So how is the Bad Batch? It is very much like The Clone Wars in many aspects. Same quality animation, same quality CGI, very detailed set pieces, they cut no corners here. So it feels in many ways like a proper continuation or rather spin-off. The potential issues are the characters though. I was no fan of the Bad Batch in the Clone Wars, they were too stereotypical. Fortunately much of that is no longer an issue. Apart from Wrecker who really is just big and dumb (and they go to town with that) the other Bad Batch members are more nuanced. Especially Hunter is a well fleshed out character. Adding Omega actually helps here, since it adds some new dynamic to the team. It remains to be seen how much Hunter and Omega will mirror the Din Djarin and Grogu dynamic.

Some tragedy is added to the mix as well with Crosshair turning on his old friends not entirely out of his own free will. But the episode is still lighthearted enough to be good family entertainment. We also never see (it is only heavily implied) how the clones gun down Depa Billaba. And later, when the Bad Batch take out a couple of Shocktroopers we see all of them stir to show us they are still alive. So the show is definitely aiming to be kid friendly, providing family entertainment that can be enjoyed by all ages.

The plot is rather straightforward. I feel that especially the training sequence with Tarkin is somewhat superflous though, since it only confirms what was already shown in the first few minutes of the show: that the Bad Batch are formidable soldiers with some rater unorthodox tactics not usually employed by clones. The action sequences are all fun, it's not that, but the training sequence with Tarkin did nothing for the plot really, he could have just sent them on the mission to kill the separatists to begin with to test their allegiance.

A few intriguing mysteries have been set up. most of them revolve around Omega. What exactly are her abilities? She's not only incredibly perceptive, but also good with a blaster, even though she has never fired one before. Does she also have accelerated growth or is she more like Boba? Talking about Boba... is Omega his "sister" then? Meaning, is Omega based on Jango's DNA? And the most important question is: what are the Kaminoans up to? What were their plans for Omega? The next big plot point of the season or maybe even series may be Crosshair's redemption. I have a feeling the Bad Batch will try to free him from the influence of the inhibitor chip.

So there's certainly plenty to look forward to in the season. All in all The Bad Batch is off to a good start. It doesn't quite reach the heights of later Clone Wars episodes, but as far as pilot episodes go Aftermath was pretty good, the Clone Wars had a somewhat bumpy beginning, so chances are the Bad Batch will only get better.

Anyone who enjoyed the Clone Wars should definitely check out the Bad Batch, If you were somewhat wary of the heroes after their appearance in the season 7 arc of the Clone Wars, you should still give the show a chance, since the characters are much more fleshed out this time. Only Wrecker is borderline annoying, since he's a little bit TOO dumb at times. It's all lighthearted, played for laughs, but I feel his routine could get very old very soon, but he's not the focus of the show and he has fewer lines than other clones. Hunter is the main character here and leader of the pack.

One final word about Dee Bradley Baker. Has anyone ever voiced almost each and every main character in an animated show before? Dee still manages to give each clone his own voice, which is quite the achievement. His voice acting is superb and he deserves a lot of recognition.

Added: May 5, 2021
Category: The Bad Batch
Reviewer: Thomas
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