May the 5th marked the beginning of The Bad Batch, the new animated show that follows the oddball collection of clones known as Batch 99. The 70-minute premiere establishes a “big bad” for the season, introduces a new intriguing character, and grapples with the tragic fall of the Republic.
The show begins just moments before the execution of Order 66. Jedi Master Depa Billaba and Clone Commander Grey pinned down by battle droids and tanks. Young apprentice Caleb Dume arrives bringing back-up—and the Bad Batch is on the scene, taking out the Separatists with unorthodox (but effective) methods. The victory is short-lived, however, as Commander Grey steps away and receives the fateful transmission from Palpatine. Depa holds off the clones and tells Caleb to escape. The Bad Batch, oblivious to Order 66, tries to round him up and get him to safety, but he flees; Hunter allows him to escape, but lies and tells Crosshair he’s dead.
(Note: This is a departure from the events portrayed in the Kanan comic series released a few years ago. There has been no word from LFL on why the changes were made, or which should be considered canon.)
The Bad Batch returns to Kamino to a changed world. Nearly all the clones have Stormtrooper armor, and none seem to have qualms about killing their Jedi generals. Tech assumes it’s because of the reg’s programming; they themselves are probably immune, because of the aberrations in their DNA (and the damage Echo sustained on Skako Minor) (we get a fun echo of Kenobi’s line from RotJ—Echo is more machine than man). The army gathers to watch Palpatine announce the beginning of the Empire from Coruscant, and while the mass of “regs” cheer, the Bad Batch looks uneasy.
The Batch meets Omega, a preteen girl who works as Nala Se’s medical assistant—and she admires Batch 99 (she’s also later revealed to be an enhanced clone). They also meet Admiral Tarkin, who is on Kamino to end clone production on Palpatine’s orders. After Omega and the BB cause a fight in the mess hall, Tarkin requests to see them in action in the battle simulator. He is impressed by their battle tactics, but worries about their loyalty. He sends them on a mission to suppress insurgents on Onderon.
The boys get there and discover the insurgents aren’t battle droids, they’re humans—children and old Republic officers, innocents—led by Saw Gerrera. The Batch stands down, but Crosshair insists they follow orders. Looks like Crosshair isn’t exactly immune to programming. Hunter shoots down an Imperial probe droid, which had been spying on them, and realizes Kamino isn’t safe, thanks in part to Omega’s warning about Tarkin. The boys decide they need to rescue her from the planet and run from the Empire.
After some mishaps, the Batch rescues Omega and makes their escape—but not before Crosshair is turned against them. The only one affected by Order 66, Tarkin amps up his inhibitor chip and completes his mind control. This was built up throughout the episode, but it still hurts.
It’s a straightforward premiere that sets up the season’s conflict nicely. Some were disappointed in how quickly Crosshair turned. However, I don’t mind cutting to the chase. Hopefully, this makes room for an arc where Crosshair slowly fights his programming and returns to the Bad Batch. Others also think that within the first two episodes, the transition from the Republic to the Empire happens too quickly, but remember—old Sheevy has been planning this for years. He had this plan, this organization, ready to go.
Omega being a clone isn’t necessarily a surprise, but who exactly is her…donor? Was she created from bits of the Bad Batch? Or perhaps a Force user? She showed hints of what could be Force sensitivity throughout the episode—an inherent mistrust of Tarkin, the feeling that Kamino wasn’t safe, knowing what Crosshair was going to do and knowing it wasn’t his fault—but she could just be particularly perceptive. This early in the show, anything is possible.
Before this premiere, I wasn’t invested in the Bad Batch. They were just characters from a Clone Wars arc. Now, as we dive deeper into their camaraderie, their brotherhood—as we watch them navigate the loss of their purpose, of their Republic—I’m sold. Because, yes, they were ostracised by the regs even before Order 66, but they fought for the Republic and the Jedi. Will they go looking for survivors? Could we see others, like Cal Kestis or Cere Junda? Or maybe the Batch will team up with Saw and his followers.
There are many paths this show can take, and I’m eager to see what choices they make.
In the next episode, the Bad Batch goes to visit some old friends in Sector J-19.