We are now 2 weeks on from the airing of the series 1 finale of The Bad Batch, and it’s odd to say but I haven’t quite been able to get some niggling thoughts about the series, so thought I would look back at it as a whole, almost as an overall review of the highs and lows of the season, which can hopefully then be worked on for season 2.
Let’s start with the 3 overwhelming positives.
Animation has come a long way since the early days of The Clone Wars, just look at the difference between seasons 1 and 7. And yet for The Bad Batch, it felt like the quality took anther massive step forward. While there are legitimate questions about how light skinned the clones were, the animation was absolutely fantastic. You just have to look at the finale, which had fire, water and smoke to highlight the quality, while we were also treated to effects like characters emerging through clouds and individual dirt particles, while the lighting in some of the darker episodes really helped to create an atmosphere but also scale.
Similarly, the score for the series was incredible. The Kiners always do great work on the Star Wars series, but this felt like another step forward in quality, with some wonderful new tracks and themes that hit in the moment. But what they then did that made things even better as the way they took music from the movies and used it at appropriate moments throughout the season to give us that little tinge of familiarity, most notably for me when they used motifs from the Death Star scenes of A New Hope as the team made their way through the Imperial facility on Daro. I sincerely hope that the Kiners get a shot at scoring a live action series or movie soon.
And finally, I need to praise the voicework, something that I definitely didn’t do enough in my reviews. Dee Bradley Baker kills it voicing all the male clones again, and when you consider how often he is just having a conversation with himself but continues to make every clone sound unique. Meanwhile, Michelle Ang does a wonderful job as Omega, and does a great job of making us feel her emotions. I certainly felt my heart breaking hearing her anguish at the team leaving Hunter behind on Daro. Meanwhile, the wider supporting cast all did a great job, and it was great to get Ming-Na Wen coming from live action to animation to continue the role of Fennec Shand and the returning Freddie Prinze Jr and Vanessa Marshall as Caleb Dume and Hera Syndulla respectively.
However while there was plenty of good, I also couldn’t help have some issues with the season.
And first up is that for a show title The Bad Batch it often felt like the titular characters did not get the development they should have. While Crosshair was written perfectly in the premiere, I felt that things were lacking after, with he and his unit going missing for episodes and then suddenly appearing to change their motivations, highlighted by Crosshair’s tracking down of the Bad Batch which consisted of him doing nothing and waiting for other Imperials to capture him, and his unit suddenly losing trust in him in the 2-part finale with no prior warning. Hunter meanwhile continually left Omega on the ship while supposedly “learning” how to be a protector. Wrecker had a few episodes of teasing his chip activating before it finally did, but no real development as a character, Tech may as well have been called “Mr Exposition” and Echo may as well have been a droid. What really hurt was that often it felt like the Bad Batch were an excuse to just bring through a slideshow of familiar characters, with almost every episode giving us a cameo (or starring role) of someone we knew, often to the detriment of the main characters. While it was great to see some old favourites, I would have much rather lost a couple of these for the sake of developing out main guys.
That wasn’t my only issue with the writing though, as there were a number of story beats that don’t seem to make sense. Lets start by looking at Fennec. We now the Kaminoans hired Bounty Hunters to get Omega, but Nala Se hired Fennec to protect Omega. Was this always the case, as Fennec goes out of her way to steal her from the Bad Batch in her debut, but then when she returns is told that Omega can remain with the Bad Batch? Was Fennec originally hired by Lama Su then bought out by Nala Se? Why did only Fennec and Cad Bane try, and nobody at all after the pair fought? And why did they want Omega? One discussion between Lama Su and Nala Se suggested that they needed her for the next phase of their operation, which would convince the Empire to continue relying on them, but the reason for this is never explained, beyond Omega being an unaltered (other than the fact that she’s female) clone of Jango Fett. We also find out that The Bad Batch not just know Cut Lawquane but know hat he is hiding on Saleucami due to being a deserter, so how did they come across him if he’s meant to be so good at staying off the radar (the reason they go to see him in this show)? Considering that’s 2 separate sets of clones that have found Cut, he should surely have moved on! It may be that some of these questions are answered going forwards, but it really felt like these story beats were being dropped in favour of just throwing in another cameo.
One other issue that I found through the season was that the show appeared to be struggling to figure out its tone. We had some dark moments, like the first episode with Crosshair’s unit, which saw them execute civilians and Crosshair execute one of his own, but then appeared to largely shy away from ding too dark again, which I feel hurt the show. The death of Lama Su is a perfect example as it is only heavily implied rather than actively shown, which would have been a great moment to remind how dark the Empire has become. Meanwhile Orn Free Taa gets sot in the head but apparently survives, despite his body looking very dead. Order 66 was handled with class, as was Wrecker’s turn when the chip activated, highlighting the dark tones without going too far, but too often it felt like the show held back from it’s potential as it did not set clear what age range this story was for.
And so we reach my final issue, which was the way this show played fast and loose with established canon. As effective as the Order 66 scene was in the premiere, I was taken out of it by knowing that this was overwriting a comic series that had been out for years, all for the fun cameo of Freddie Prinze Jr returning as Caleb Dume. There are so many known Jedi whose ends are not yet decided that could have been used here, but the arrogance that series can overwrite books and comics (Cut Lawquane and family leaving Saleucami appears to go against the novel Aftermath) after we were promised that all stories would be canonneeds to stop now!
If this sounds very negative, it’s not wholly meant to be. The show was good, but failed to live up to the promise of the premiere. There is a good show in here somewhere, and hopefully addressing a few of the issues I’ve discussed would go a long way to improving the series in season 2.
What did you think of season 1?
Thanks for reading. Good soldiers follow orders….