On Star Wars Day – May 4, “The Bad Batch” made its phenomenal debut on the Disney+ streaming platform. It was only fitting that the show made its debut on Star Wars Day, especially since this episode was one of new beginnings for everyone’s favorite
Warning: Contains Spoilers
I felt that Dave Feloni made the 75-minute episode titled “Aftermath” as a kickoff for the ominous future that is in store for Clone Force 99, aka the titular squad, the Bad Batch. We see this when the familiar and heroic “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” logo burns and transitions into the gritted and beaten “The Bad Batch” logo. This symbolizes the ending of the Clone Wars, a conflict between the Clone Troopers of the Grand Army of the Galactic Republic and the Seperatist Droid Army. It also symbolizes the ominous future that is in store for the galaxy and Clone Force 99.
“Aftermath” begins with the usual monologue by Admiral Yularen, that kicks off an episode of “The Clone Wars.” The monologue which is like a WWII announcement, is hopeful.The Jedi Knights, the guardians of the peace and Galactic Republic and their Clone Troopers are finally sending the Seperatist Droid Army reeling to retreat. Victory is in the hands of the Republic.
The first part of “Aftermath” takes place on the planet Kaller and the Clone Troopers, led by Jedi Master Depa Billaba, are fighting a tough battle against the Separatists droids.However, hope comes in the form of Billaba’s young Jedi Padawan Caleb Dume (the future Kanan Jarrus from “Star Wars Rebels”).
Dume assures his Jedi Master and Clone Commander that reinforcements are on their way but it is only in the form of five Clone Troopers. Fearing annihilation, the Clone Commander tells the Jedi Master that they’re done but Dume assures the skeptical trooper that these clones are different.
The B1 battle droids are ambushed by Clone Force 99, aka the Bad Batch, lead by Hunter (a Clone Trooper with heightened senses), Wrecker (a muscular and burly Clone Trooper who loves to wreck droids with child-like glee), Tech (an intelligent Clone Trooper who is gifted with technology), Echo (a former regular Clone Trooper who became augmented with droid parts and a computer brain after being captured by the Separatists; similar to Darth Vader, as Tech mentioned, Echo is more machine than man), and Crosshair (an cold and calculated Clone Trooper who is a sharp shooter).
Clone Force 99 is a unit of Clone Commandos who have mutations that enhance their abilities. Their squad was named after 99, a clone who, due to his deformities, was reduced to doing maintenance work in the barracks on the raining planet of Kamino. Despite his disabilities, 99 still saw himself as much of a soldier as his Clone brothers who were all cloned from bounty hunter Jango Fett (the “father” of bounty hunter Boba Fett). 99 died heroically trying to help his fellow Clones when their home was invaded by the Droid Army led by Sith assassin Assaj Ventress.
The squad made its debut in the first episode of the seventh and final season of the “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” The episode shares the informal name of the squad which was instrumental in helping the Clone Captain Rex turn the tide of battle by rescuing his fellow clone brother Echo from the Separatists. Echo was being used as a human computer to determine the Clone Army’s military tactics.
The hero’s journey of Hunter and his fellow brothers begins when the newly self-appointed Emperor Palpatine executes Order 66. And it is this scene that ignites so many transitions and character development. When the clones murder Jedi Master Depa Billaba before Padawan Caleb Dume’s eyes, the young Jedi is visibly shaken and horrified. And Feloni makes sure that you feel that because we know that like almost all the Jedi, Caleb and Depa have fought alongside these men for years during the Clone Wars.
When we see Depa murdered by the clones, this is when we see the innocent padawan begin his transformation into the hardened Jedi survivor and Rebel Kanan Jarrus. Hunter tries to reason with grieving Caleb since he is just as confused and shaken. However, the Jedi escapes.
It’s noted that the death of Depa Billaba shown in “The Bad Batch” is different from the “Star Wars: Kanan.” In the “Kanan” comic, the Order 66 scene is more detailed as Kanan fights the clones along his master who eventually tells him to run, like she did in the show but she also tells him that she will be right behind him. It is also noted in the comic that while the Order 66 happens on Kaller, it is during the night while the episode shows it happening during daytime.
In addition to Caleb’s transition, we also begin to see the transition of Crosshair from a rule breaking non-conformist clone trooper to an exemplary stormtrooper. An example of this is when he shoots at the fleeing Caleb while Hunter tries his best to talk Caleb down and make sense of what happened.
Another example of this is when Crosshair, without question or reasoning, tries to assassinate the refugees which Admiral (Soon-to-be Grand Moff) Tarkin deems them as Sepratist insurgents.
Tarkin sends Clone Force 99 to test their loyalty and it is Crosshair who passes that test. Arguably, I have to say Feloni made Crosshair as the first Imperial Stormtrooper and a dark and warped version of Captain Rex. Like Rex being fiercely loyal to the Galactic Republic and being selfless, Crosshair is staunchly loyal to the Galactic Empire and selfish, with the mantra that “good soldiers follow orders.’
What reminded me of this parallel between the two clones is the scene where Jedi Ahsoka Tano has Rex’s inhibitor chip removed in the second to the final episode of the “Clone Wars.” If you watched that episode, you would know the scene where with the help of Jedi Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex has his inhibitor chip removed from his head. The scene where Tarkin orders the Kaminoan to intensify Crosshair’s inhibitor chip to make him a more loyal soldier serves as a foil to that scene.To echo Dr. Abraham Erskine’s words from “Captain America: The First Avenger:” like Captain Rex, Crosshair is a good soldier but unlike the beloved Clone captain, he is not a good man. He has unwittingly become a puppet to hunt down his own brothers that he once fought alongside.
As opposed to Crosshair, we learn that Hunter is seen as more open-minded and receptive as Captain Rex and as effective of a soldier as Crosshair. But the one trait that Hunter possesses that both Rex and Crosshair do not is that he is a non-conformist. He doesn’t follow the rules to the letter like a good soldier. He is as unorthodox as his genetic makeup. And he doesn’t care what the other “normal” clones or anyone else (like Tarkin) think of him and his fellow brothers.
And that is why Wrecker, Tech, Echo, and the female clone Omega look up to him as a leader and, in a sense, an older brother. Hunter reminds me of Damian Lewis’ portrayal of Major Dick Winters in HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” which centers around Easy Company, a paratrooper unit under the 101st Airborne during World War II. Like Winters, Hunter was an effective leader who had faith in the soldiers who served under him. We see this when he is leading the Batch to defeat the combat droids during the training sequence initiated by Tarkin.
In addition to Hunter, Omega is another interesting character who I knew was somehow a clone herself. She is also a part of the five “unnatural” clones along with Hunter and his brothers. She looks like she could be Boba Fett’s sister since they have similar features and upbringings.
Both Omega and Boba almost look identical and share the same accent, both clones were raised on Kamino like their brothers, and both are able to hold their own in a fight. However, I feel that while Boba Fett is obviously cold-blooded and ruthless, Omega seems to be nurturing and empathetic. We see this when she starts bonding with Hunter and the Batch when she first meets them.
More of this is seen when she stands up the Batch in the cafeteria by throwing her food tray at the regular clone making fun of them, warning Hunter about Tarkin having a vendetta against him, and helping the Batch escape Kamino. Another thing that makes Omega so remarkable and an example of her being empathetic is that she even tried to talk Crosshair out of selling out to the Empire by telling him that she understands that he is angry. I feel that she saw Crosshair as not just a clone trooper but a brother in need of help to make sense of the hell that was unfolding.
Feloni adding the effects of Order 66 are what helps the show transition from the Galactic Republic to the Galactic Empire. When the Batch returns to their home planet of Kamino, we see that all the clones have convened on the planet including the Coruscanti Guard and shocktroopers.
Like the death of Depa, Feloni makes sure that we feel all sorts of emotions during the scene when we see two clones carting off a covered body of a Jedi on a gurney. We also see a lightsaber hilt drop from the covered body which indicates that the clones have killed another Jedi.
I enjoyed how Feloni also made the story have a transitioning of the Clone Wars era to the Galactic Empire era. I felt that this was analogous to the movie “Star Wars: Rogue One” being the kickoff to the Original Star Wars Trilogy starting with “A New Hope.” The scene with Saw Guererra alluded to this when he mentioned a civil war about to begin.We witness Tarkin alluding to the phasing out of the Clone Troopers to regularly enlisted Imperial Stormtroopers from various planets across the galaxy which shows the Kaminoians are feeling the changes also.
At the end of the episode, we see the Bad Batch starting to distance themselves from the Empire and the past after they escape from Kamino. I feel that Omega shares our childhood awe of seeing the vastness of space and the familiar blue light of lightspeed for the first time. It is a start of a new beginning for her and the Bad Batch as they head to the planet designated as “J19.” Hunter claims to “know a guy.” Who is this guy? And how is he, or perhaps she, going to help our heroic clones while one of their own hunts them down?
“Star Wars :The Bad Batch” can be watched on Disney+..