"It's like deja vu all over again." After almost six years of waiting, the seventh season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars finally premiered on Disney+ with "The Bad Batch." It is absolutely amazing to see Commander Cody (Dee Bradley Baker) and Captain Rex in action once again. However, the premier episode looks very familiar to dedicated fans.
In fact, the entire first arc of The Clone Wars seventh season, also entitled "The Bad Batch," was released in a very raw form in April 2015. But, just like Clone Force 99 themselves, "The Bad Batch" includes some major upgrades. Scenes were added, the script is fleshed out, and the animation is up to modern standards. Most importantly, it feels like The Clones Wars picked up right where they left off.
Fully animated MAJOR SPOILERS below…
When Star Wars: The Clone Wars was unexpectedly cancelled after its sixth season, Dave Filoni and the writers were already working on the show's seventh season.As a gift to heartbroken fans, Filoni and the Lucasfilm wizards behind the curtain pulled off some Star Wars magic. They surprised fans at Star Wars Celebration 2015 in Anaheim by screening a very rough cut of the seventh season's first arc, "The Bad Batch." Unfortunately, it also showed everyone what they had lost when The Clone Wars ended.
Ever since Filoni announced at San Diego Comic-Con in 2018 that Star Wars: The Clone Wars would return for one final season, we have all waited anxiously. However, rather than a mind blowing, canon blasting, retcon of a first episode, The Clone Wars picked up right where it left off. The team at Lucasfilm Animation knows that clone-centric storylines are some of the show's best. So, they started off the new seventh season with the four episode "The Bad Batch" story arc. Using much of the original story and dialogue, the plot centers around the relationships between the clone troopers.
"The Bad Batch" has been upgraded. When it was originally screened, the episodes looked like something your little brother created on his ipad. The new, improved episode has all of the hallmarks of a season premier. It introduces new characters, the Bad Batch AKA Clone Force 99.
The four genetically enhanced clone troopers include Hunter, who has increased senses; Wrecker who has increased strength; Tech who has increased computer abilities; and Crosshair, who has specialized sniper abilities. These troopers are different, they don't play by the rules, and they don't mix well with the "regs"(regular troopers). But when the separatists start predicting Rex's moves before he even makes them, the unpredictable Bad Batch are exactly what Rex needs.
Incredibly faithful to the original story arc, the new "The Bad Batch" improves only the depth of the characters and the quality of the animation. The episode highlights the physical and emotional toll the lengthy Clone Wars have taken on everyone. Anakin (Matt Lanter) and Master Windu (Terrence 'T.C.' Carson) are tired.
They don't know if the Republic will win against the separatists. Cody and Rex are exhausted, continuing to risk their lives while mourning the many brothers they have lost. Even worse, the information the Separatists are using against the clones might have come from one of their own. Thought lost at the Citadel, Echo is the only possible source of the separatist's new algorithm.
In other words, this is The Clone Wars we remember: the horrors of war, the many reasons for betrayal, the small stories that make up the larger galactic tragedy. Rather than try and be something new and different, "The Bad Batch" is everything fans love about the series.
Watching the season seven premier was like coming home. It was warm, comfortable, and everything was exactly where we left it. However, at some point "The Bad Batch" arc will end and The Clone Wars will once again be swimming in uncharted waters. I can only hope those episodes are everything we have been waiting for.
The Clone Wars Season 7 Episode 2 will be available Friday February 28 on Disney+.