After the brilliant conclusion of The Clone Wars a couple of months ago, we all knew that an announcement for the next animated Star Wars show was incoming, but what it ended up being was a complete surprise. Rumours surrounding a Star Wars: Rebels sequel series have been percolating for some time but instead a pseudo-sequel series to The Clone Wars was announced, entitled Star Wars: The Bad Batch. The press release reads:
The series follows the elite and experimental clones of the Bad Batch (first introduced in The Clone Wars) as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War. Members of Bad Batch — a unique squad of clones who vary genetically from their brothers in the Clone Army — each possess a singular exceptional skill, which makes them extraordinarily effective soldiers and a formidable crew. In the post-Clone War era, they will take on daring mercenary missions as they struggle to stay afloat and find new purpose.
Suddenly the structure of The Clone Wars’ final season makes more sense, with the opening arc featuring the Bad Batch clearly being a backdoor pilot for their own series, now with Echo added to their ranks. My initial reaction to the news was one of indifference, no doubt spawning from my disappointment that it wasn’t the Rebels sequel series I expected. While I enjoyed the Bad Batch and their storyline in season 7, the members of Clone Force 99 are little more than 80’s action movie stereotypes that I’m tentative about being strong enough to helm their own show. While that fear remains, the more I think about the series, the more potential I see.
Considering the time period and cast of characters, The Bad Batch could be seen as a continuation of The Clone Wars. Considering the huge expectations such a statement creates, is that something Lucasfilm want to embrace, or will the show immediately want to chart its own path? Will it grow apart from The Clone Wars over time or create a new tone and feeling immediately? While the latter opinion would be wise, I think it comes down to whether or not the series picks up immediately after the Clone Wars. A small time jump may be the best move in creating a new identity for the show but I can’t help but want to see the Bad Batch’s perspective of Order 66.
It could be interesting to have Order 66 take place in the series premiere after witnessing that event in the finale of The Clone Wars. It made for a perfect ending to the previous animated series but by keeping it for the very end we didn’t get to see the aftermath of one of the saga’s most dramatic events from a clone’s perspective. The Bad Batch could offer that and show us what Clone Force 99 were doing on that fateful day. Did they execute the order or – given their individualistic nature – were they targets themselves?
In the movies the clones were little more than CGI grunts. We saw them as the galaxy did: disposable soldiers bred to fight and die. The greatest success of The Clone Wars series was humanising these identical soldiers and create unique and fascinating characters within the ranks of the army. They became individuals, which made it all the more heart-breaking when that individuality was stripped from them when they executed Order 66. The Bad Batch has the potential to continue the story of the clones and see them struggle with their actions and the drastically changed galaxy. They fulfilled their purpose and won the war – in a way – but at what personal cost?
I could see troopers suffering from post-traumatic stress after gunning down Jedi generals they once thought of as friends. After Palpatine’s masterplan succeeds, the clones are useless to him. Without a war the clones are without purpose. They’ve been used and I’d love to see the Bad Batch realise this and rebel against their makers. They could return to Kamino to seek out answers, or maybe save the latest batch of clones who are planned to be exterminated now the war is over. While the Bad Batch are the primary characters, I’d love to see what regular clones are doing after their forced retirement. Maybe some stay in the Empire to train stormtroopers – a lesser type of soldier – while others are killed for questioning orders. While it’s unlikely given the evil of the Empire, maybe a few garrisons are allowed to leave and form their own society on an uninhabited planet, possibly with Commander Cody among them.
The Bad Batch is set in a time of great galactic change. Almost overnight the Republic has become the first Galactic Empire and the Separatist movement has been crushed. The show will allow us to see this transition take place with more detail and insight than the fast-paced ending of Revenge of the Sith ever could. It’s not just clones who have to find their place in this new empire but Republic officers like Yularen and Meebur Gascon. We know Yularen becomes a major figure in the Empire and I’d love to see him take his first steps from becoming a war hero to the ISB colonel who dies on the Death Star. We could see the rise of the Inquisitors too, detailing how fallen Jedi and temple guards, such as Barriss Offee, could become servants of the Dark Side, posing as deadly antagonists to the elite team of clone protagonists. And let’s not forget that the shadow of Vader looms large and an encounter between the Bad Batch and the new Sith Lord could be fascinating considering they previously teamed up back when Vader was Anakin Skywalker in The Clone Wars.
The shift in galactic power is not exclusive to the Empire however, with various criminal syndicates vying for control. It seems as if the Bad Batch will mingle with criminals and bounty hunters as they take on mercenary missions to stay afloat. It’ll be interesting to see whether there’s a moral quandary regarding who they take jobs from. Will the former Republic heroes lower themselves to spice running and assassinations for the biggest mobsters in the galaxy? While I’m always open to more Jabba, I wonder if the series will shine a light on the further rise of Maul’s Criminal Dawn crime syndicate. Did they really make that Dryden Vos character model for just the few seconds of screen time in The Clone Wars? Although, The Bad Batch still needs to be a show unto itself and not just fill in the blanks of Star Wars canon.
Mixing with the criminal element of the galaxy for the first time might bring the Bad Batch face-to-face with another clone who, like them, is unique: Boba Fett. Just conceptually, teaming the Bad Batch up with Boba makes perfect sense and allows for character growth for all involved. Boba was raised by Jango and I’d love to see the Bad Batch ask questions about their collective father to the one clone who knew him. Boba could help the Bad Batch find their place in the galaxy, showing that they can be more than just soldiers taking orders. Boba too could grow and continue on the path he started in The Clone Wars. The biggest casualty of The Clone Wars’ cancellation and truncated revival was not getting the final Boba Fett / Cad Bane story arc and I’d love to see it adapted to include the Bad Batch. There are other legacy characters that could appear like Rex and Ahsoka of course. While I think Rex would fit nicely and the show could explain how he met up with Gregor and Wolffe, I don’t think Ahsoka needs to appear. Her story in this era is told and returning to it could weaken the finale of The Clone Wars.
While the Bad Batch may begin their series as a mercenary group, I think it’s obvious that they’ll eventually find something greater to fight for than just themselves. They’ll discover a new purpose, either forming an early rebel cell or maybe dedicating their lives to protecting their fellow clone brothers who find themselves in a time where half the galaxy has no use for them and the other half hates them. The Bad Batch previously looked down on the other clones, referring to them disparagingly as ‘Regs’, and it’d be great to build off their debut in The Clone Wars and develop the characters past their prejudices. But it’s easy to slip into wild speculation and we need to realise that, for the most part, the show is likely to be the Bad Batch going on fun adventures of the week like the Star Wars version of The A Team. And that’ll be fun, but I hope that The Bad Batch not only draws characters from The Clone Wars but themes and narrative techniques too.
Do you think The Bad Batch has the potential to be the next great Star Wars series? What are your hopes for the show? Let me know in the comments and be sure to geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.