By George William for @sw_holocron
Hearing Tom Kane’s booming voice introduce us to “The Bad Batch” was all we needed to get us prepared for and invested in the seventh and final season of The Clone Wars. This first episode of the season felt different than premiere episodes for previous seasons of The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars Resistance, and The Mandalorian in that this episode was first seen with unfinished animation almost four years ago when it debuted at Star Wars Celebration and was soon thereafter released on starwars.com. Regardless of the extent to which the plot, character dynamics and mechanics of the episode were previously known to people who viewed the unfinished episode years ago, “The Bad Batch” was a thrilling, well crafted, intelligent installment of The Clone Wars.
From a technical standpoint, the episode is visually stunning. Every season of The Clone Wars progressively improved in regards to the animation and this season is no exception. The updated animations look incredibly detailed and smooth, a far cry from the imagery of the original Clone Wars film released back in 2008. While The Clone Wars as a show overall often leans a little too heavily into action, perhaps spending too much time in some action sequences, this episode balances intelligent story telling with engaging action that takes a different approach than some previous episodes. The build up to the action takes a slower pace at times and the music often cuts out in order to build tension with silence and subsequent warfare. This is best demonstrated near the end of the episode when Clone Force 99 and the other troopers raid the Cyber Center and the ‘camera’ continually tracks the action from the moment they enter the complex deep into the battle. Beyond the action, as demonstrated by some of the more recent trailers we’ve seen for this season, the character designs are once again really impressive. The detail rendered onto Rex’s face when he speaks to Cody about Echo or when Anakin asks Rex if he’s not telling him something, and countless other moments in the show are a huge improvement of already great looking previous seasons of the show.
The episode excels, however, in its character moments. The brotherly dynamic between Rex and Cody, Rex’s mourning of his old squad, and the combative attitudes of the different clone squads are all highlights in this episode. One of the best things to come out of The Clone Wars overall are how it has made clone troopers actual characters, rather than mindless soldiers blindly following orders. This is a pattern that began in the very first episode of the first season of The Clone Wars and has continued ever since. It has always been a strength of the show, to highlight the clones’ reactions to the war, their unique personalities, relationships with the Jedi and others, etc. This episode provides us with some of the best clone interactions of the show yet and something we’re looking forward to seeing more over the next several episodes in this arc.
Without spoiling the ending of the episode for those who haven’t seen the 2015 unfinished version of the episode or this newly released version yet, the way in which the episode ends is a really intriguing cliffhanger moving forward. I don’t have many substantial complaints about this episode overall. If I’m nitpicking, I would say that it’s a shame that this season is only 12 episodes and 4 of those will be stories we’ve already covered with the unfinished versions released previously, especially given the fact that these episodes are only 22 minutes long approximately and are released weekly. This isn’t to say these episodes can’t still surprise us – “The Bad Batch” changes things up slightly, in particular the scene at the beginning in which Rex talks to Cody about Echo. But, either way, it makes me eager to see more of the new stories we haven’t seen yet, in particular the ones that breach into events covered in Revenge of the Sith as teased in the trailer. Overall though, it’s nice to welcome back The Clone Wars for a final season. Season Five did not naturally conclude and, even though Season Six was great at trying to wrap up many plot lines, it’ll be nice to have the rest of the Clone Wars fully fleshed out in order to conclude lingering plot and character arcs and seamlessly lead up to Revenge of the Sith and the fall of the Jedi. Looking forward to the next installment of this amazing show that is The Clone Wars and, if it’s anything like this premiere, we’ll be more than happy.