The Clone Wars is back! The show that was cancelled after 5 and a half seasons returns on Disney + to get the ending it deserved. I was a huge fan of the show, so safe to say I’m thrilled that we finally get to see these episodes.
After really enjoying writing my episode reviews for The Mandalorian and Resistance, I couldn’t wait to do the same again for this final season of The Clone Wars. The reviews will take on the same format: an overview of the plot (so be aware, there will be spoilers!), my review of the show, then a few “Moments in canon” – references that link to other media and the galaxy as a whole.
I have been looking forward to this show so much, so there was no way that I wasn’t going to watch this as soon as I could. Unfortunately, living in the UK, Disney+ is still not available here yet, so I’ve had to channel my inner Hondo Ohnaka to see this! Today, we’ll be looking at Episode 1: “The Bad Batch”
The Republic are losing the fight for Anaxes, with the Separatists, under the command of Admiral Trench, having recently captured the production facility for the Republic’s battle fleet. At the Republic base, Mace and Anakin are joined by Cody and Rex, who have a theory as to why the Separatists are having so much success. Rex explains how the Separatists use analytics to predict Republic tactics, meaning that repeated use of the same tactic limits its effectiveness. As a result, the Republic varies it’s tactics, but the specific success on Anaxes is that the Separatists have learned Rex’s own personal strategy. Cody proposes taking a squad behind enemy lines into the Separatist Cyber Center to steal any intel the Separatists have. Noticing Rex appear to be holding back, Anakin asks if there is anything else, but Rex says that is all.
“My concern is that Rex is one of our best. If the droids can learn to defeat him, we may all be vulnerable.
In the barracks, Cody finds Rex reminiscing, looking at a picture of them with Fives and Kix. Rex tells Cody that he didn’t tell the Jedi everything – He thinks that Echo is still alive, as the strategies the Separatists are using come from battle plans he and Echo thought up together.Cody is skeptical, but still willing to take Rex with him. Cody, Rex, Jesse and Kix go to meet up with the group coming with them: Clone Force 99, an experimental unit of 4 defective clones – Hunter, Wrecker, Crosshair and Tech – with desirable mutations.
As the group make their way towards the target, their LAAT is shot down by droids. The group get out of the downed LAAT, but Cody is seriously injured and trapped in the wreckage. Wrecker uses his increased strength to lift the LAAT off Cody and Kix begins to treat him. A squad of droids approach the crash site, but Clone Force 99 take them out. The clones continue on foot towards the Cyber Center. After they leave, a second group of droids arrives and contacts Admiral Trench as the Tactical droid notes that what they have seen does not match any known strategy.
“That blast gave away our position.”
“Heh. I thought getting shot down gave away our position.”
As night comes in, Rex tells the group that Cody cannot continue and that he has arranged for him to be extracted. Kix will stay with him while Rex, Jesse and Clone Force 99 will continue with the mission. Tensions between the clones of the 501ˢᵗ and Clone Force 99 come to a head as Crosshair questions Rex’s suitability for leadership, but Hunter gets his clones to stand down and work with the 501ˢᵗ. The remaining clones work together to take down an outpost on the way to the Cyber Center, and Tech intercepts a message announcing the upcoming arrival of heavy droid reinforcements. The group moves on to the Cyber Center.
While Rex, Jesse and Crosshair engage the droid security force outside the front of the Cyber Center, Hunter, Wrecker and Tech infiltrate the Cyber Center from the rear, taking control of the command centre. Hunter and Wrecker join Jesse to defend against the incoming droid reinforcements, Crosshair goes to find a vehicle for the group to get away in and Rex joins Tech in the command centre, giving him a copy of the algorithm to search for anything similar on the Separatist computers. Tech finds something, but rather than being on the memory banks, it’s a signal being broadcast from Skako Minor. Tech manages to dig in further and bring up an audio signal, which sounds human. At Rex’s instruction, Tech sends a transmission asking for the person’s identity, to which they get the reply “CT-1409”, leaving Rex stunned.
“That number, captain. What did it mean?”
“‘CT-1409’. That was Echo’s number. He’s alive.”
The Separatist forces have pushed Hunter’s group back into the command center, where Rex and Tech join them. The group all pull back together and leave in the speeder Crosshair has found. Trench hears from the droids that the clones accessed the signal from Skako Minor.
On the way back to the Republic base, Tech asks Rex about the number, which Rex reveals was Echo’s identification number, all-but confirming that Echo is alive.
Wow, what an episode! If all of the episodes are the same level as this, then I’m going to be very happy!
“So what squad are we taking in?”
“Clone Force 99.”
The animation looked fantastic and a huge step forward from previously, and the show really benefitted from that, especially in such an action-heavy episode. Large numbers of character models could be onscreen at one time all doing slightly different actions to make it feel more realistic, while the tracking shots were fantastic, notably the one flying into the Republic base at the start of the episode and the infiltration of the command center.
I absolutely love the dynamics of the group. Crosshair is immediately my favourite of the Bad Batch due to his silent but deadly attitude, while Wrecker feels like Hardcase x1000. I also really liked how Jesse and Kix’s loyalties to Rex and the Bad Batch’s attitude towards “Regs”, but how working together and beginning to appreciate each other’s abilities starts to bring the whole group together, even in Cody’s absence. It did take me a moment to fully compute that Kix was part of the group though, due to his hair being grown out rather than the very individual shaved hair style that he had in the previous seasons. Trench also looked incredible in the new animation and I am so glad that he was involved as he has such a striking appearance and is also one of the better villains tactically – he’s certainly one of my favourite Separatist officers.
“Fives… Echo… before that, Hevy. So many troopers… gone.”
I have already seen the Bad Batch unfinished story reels, so there wasn’t much to shock me in these episodes, although there were some changes in the first act of the episode that I quickly picked up on that made me pay extra attention as I realised I couldn’t assume that this was just the story reels I had seen now completed and beefed up a little.
In terms of the story, I probably would have loved it if this was the first I had seen of the story, but I did find it a little odd that they changed Rex’s theory relating to the algorithm from the previous version. Previously, Rex explained about the algorithm in the original briefing, as his theory was that Echo had it on him when killed on the Citadel. I liked that as it led to more of a shock when hearing the human voice identify itself with Echo’s number. However, I must say that I really enjoyed the poignancy of the scene in the barracks between Rex and Cody, with the war really beginning to take its toll on Rex. I just really hope that Rex’s reluctance to divulge the information to the Jedi gets a continuation or payoff in the upcoming episodes as it currently feels a little out of place.
Going forward, I’ really looking forward to seeing how the story develops and how much it is changed from the unfinished episodes. Clone-centric episodes are always among my favourites and Rex is one of my favourite characters in all of Star Wars, so I will be looking forward to next Friday!
“So why haven’t I heard of this squad?”
“Experimental Unit Clone Force 99. They’re defective clones with, uh… desirable mutations.”
“99, eh? Nice touch.”
“They call themselves ‘The Bad Batch'”
My final thoughts on the episode:
- I love how with the new animation, the character models were updated to bring Anakin and Mace’s appearances in line with Revenge of the Sith
- I like the decision to use the “Bad Batch” arc despite it not really feeling like the beginning of a conclusion to the show, as the ability to reference characters from the earlier series like Echo and 99 was a great way to tie this new series back to the previous series
Moments in Canon
- Clone Force 99 is named after the defective clone 99, a maintenance clone who gave his life in the defence of Kamino
- Though this is the first time we have seen Anaxes in The Clone Wars, it appeared in the Rebels season 1 episode “Out of Darkness”. By that time, the planet has been destroyed and is now a series of asteroids. In “Out of Darkness”, Sabine and Hera visit this Republic base as part of a supply run.
- That same episode of Rebels has Sabine and Hera attacked by Fyrnocks, which can actually be seen in the background during the scene where the Bad Batch and 501ˢᵗ clash
What did you think of the episode?
Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you.