Star Wars: The Bad Batch debuts on May The 4th, and it really is the best gift a Star Wars fan can hope for. When we last left Star Wars animation, The Clone Wars was given its proper send-off last summer. that run of episodes introduced us to The Bad Batch- Hunter, Crosshairs, Wrecker, and Tech. This experimental unit, Clone Force 99, are experts in a variety of battle skills, and a force to be reckoned with in the Republic. They gained a fifth member when they joined the mission to rescue Echo on Anaxes, and befriended Captain Rex while doing so. This is where we pick up in the new series, shortly after.
The Bad Batch Is Star Wars At Its Best
We open on a few familiar characters, one of which had me shout out in glee (Don't worry, no spoilers here). The first ten minutes is some of the best storytelling in Star Wars animation to this day. I have one problem with it, and it's a doozy, but we will discuss that another time. Even as I scratched my head, my jaw was dropped watching the gorgeous animation in front of me. And it starts with The Bad Batch themselves. The design on their armor and distinct looks for each character instantly give them a ton of personality and depth. As each is reintroduced to us, we know who they are and what they are all about just from their mannerisms and body language, not to mention the little personal touches each has given their armor. Stellar work by the animation team there.
Once we leave that first mission, we see a familiar address from a certain galactic ruler that took on new meaning, and we get our first glimpse of Grand Moff Tarkin. He is not in the episode a ton, but his presence gives huge weight to the scenes he appears in. Seems the Galactic Empire might not have a use for the clones, spooking the Kamino folk who profit off their creation. Amid all this uncertainty, we meet a new character named Omega, who takes a special liking to Hunter and the team. From there, we get into some pretty spoiler-heavy stuff. Suffice to say, things don't go all sunshine and rainbows for our Bad Batch.
This episode, written by Jennifer Corbett and directed by Brad Rau, could not set us up for the series any better. At 72 minutes, I wish the world had been different, I would have loved to have seen this released to theaters like The Clone Wars debut was years ago. There is an epic feel to the goings-on, and it feels like we are watching something really special as minutes tick by, which they do at a fast pace. The story grabs you and doesn't really give you a chance to get your bearings as each event transpires. Too much Star Wars content lately has felt like event storytelling, where the quiet scenes are there just to get you to the next battles or lightsaber duel. Not so here, the quiet moments feel intimate and deeply emotional. That is a tribute to the exceptional voice work of Dee Bradley Baker, who has the honor of voicing all five of our main cast here. The amount of personality and individual characteristics he gives each clone will have you marveling at just how special and talented he is. Ditto the rest of the cast, who I won't list here because, well spoilers.
A special shout-out as well to Kevin Kiner. None of this would feel right without his brilliant scoring. Subtle where it needs to be, manic in the right places, and just very powerful. His music always leaves a mark on you when you watch Star Wars animated series, and The Bad Batch is no exception.
This kick-off to The Bad Batch is top-notch, a real step forward for Star Wars animation. There is something for everyone here, young and old, hardcore fan and someone who may be just jumping in. Aside from one issue, I could not have had a better time with this debut. I am already in love with a few of these characters, and I cannot wait to spend the next few weeks with them.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch S01E01 is currently airing on Disney+, with new episodes airing Fridays.