Out of the mass number of clones, the army once ordered by the republic under the secrecy of Chancellor Palpatine, the theory of having a small, contained group of genetically mutated clones is intriguing to the entire existence of the army. And rightly so, The Bad Batch also known as Clone Force 99 stands out like a sore thumb comparatively against the substantial army they call brothers. Cut from the same cloth but given special and unique abilities your everyday clone doesn’t have. From making a one-time cameo appearance in The Clone Wars series to headlining their own front and center, The Bad Batch continue to be a focal point among those that share the same face and body build.
The voice however is still the key difference among the batch, along with the specialized abilities. Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Echo and Crosshairs (Dee Bradley Baker) are all tweaked to give the unique batch of clones more differences in their subtilties. Their heightened superhero like abilities encompass the names – Hunter, the leader of the group can track, hunt and can easily sense his surroundings, Wrecker is the muscle yet is the biggest teddy bear, Tech is the genius of the group, Echo was experimented on in The Clone Wars and joined the group using his mechanical arm and brain, and Crosshairs has pinpoint accuracy when it comes to weapons.
Each member compliments the next, rounding out into one deadly killing machine. After season 1, the group both lost a valuable member and gained one. The one they lost was Crosshairs to the empire, his inhibitor chip never malfunctioned during order 66 and therefore he chose to follow orders instead of fight along side his specially abled brothers. The member the group gained was Omega (Michelle Ang), an unmodified replicant of Jango Fett, who all clones resemble and quickly Omega fit right in, filling the Crosshair sized hole the group was suddenly missing.
Season 1 ended with the destruction of Kamino and the Bad Batch looking for refuge away from the eyes of the empire. Season 2 begins with a heist and follows the batch on a journey beyond being just soldiers. Halfway through the 16-episode season, one of the subplots follows the dismissal of the clone army, essentially retiring them and trading up for different soldiers to take their place as storm troopers. All happening pre-creation of the death star, one of the topics centers around clone rights. Star Wars in general has always looked at clones as second-rate citizens and droids even further down the food chain.
Out of the many different themes that make up the galaxy far far away, the notion of clone retirement and life beyond the paper-thin armor is one of the most intriguing ideas that The Bad Batch and creator Dave Filoni can explore. His era of Star Wars begins with the clone war, all of which can be credited that follows into the sequel trilogy. He gives the theme of citizenship, identity, and individuality poignancy when it comes to these carbon copy characters. But there is only so much a clone can do which is where senators come in to play. Taking the clones side and being the sole voice against an imperialistic Senate is Riyo Chuchi (Jennifer Hale), securing a pension for all clones across the galaxy while simultaneously showing open signs of rebellion against the empire, something that not many would do during this time.
Filoni takes these sensitive topics and gives it a Star Wars make over without being too heavy handed – the underlying issues are the same ones we deal with on a daily basis just multiplied by entire galaxy. Only a couple episodes are given the full treatment however, the thought of Clone Force 99 settling down and putting their lives of fighting aside sticks with the group through to the finale. Starting over becomes a lingering thought for the group as the season progresses into the back half.
Continuing from season one, season 2 features the same hard-lined character design that has since softened up considerably since The Clone Wars film and follow-up series. Each clone in the batch has their own style from Hunter’s signature bandana and 80’s Rambo inspired look to Echo’s stark white skin, Wreckers bulldozer physique, Crosshairs raspy voice, and Tech’s inability to read social cues and inventor goggles.
Since being first introduced this group has become self-sustaining with their contrasting differences – as I mentioned their unique abilities perfectly compliment one another. Where what clone lacks in development, another one makes up for it. They don’t need much outside of occasional job or two given by Cid (Rhea Perlman) that rarely goes smoothly for the most part. Outside of the clone designs, the landscapes are immaculate, bringing out the best animation of the series and the galaxy as a whole. Finally, new planets are explored with different ecosystems and species getting their time in the spotlight. See what happens with you stop going to Tatooine?
As the two prominent voices for the series, Dee Bradley Baker continues to impress with the variations he gives to each clone. They have different personalities that Baker places emphasis on. Out of the sea of carbon copies, Baker makes even the similarities sound unique. In fact, several key clones including Commander Cody and Rex make a welcomed appearance but still do not sound nor give the impression that they are all the same. As Omega, Michelle Ang becomes the moral compass for the show replacing the duties the Jedi once had. Though smaller in stature compared to the rest of her brothers, Omega’s voice stands out and the life beyond fighting and mercenary work is a life Omega needs.
A 16-episode season seems to be the perfect balance for The Bad Batch. There are a few throwaway episodes that don’t add to the overall direction however, the path becomes clearer during the back half where the series is heading toward seems to be right on track. Season 2 ends with a cliffhanger almost guaranteeing a season 3 is on the way with fates hanging in the balance which is where Star Wars thrives. The Bad Batch has found comfort in its core team. As they have become a family with one another, the family is beginning to extend outward to others you would never think a clone would associate with. With Dave Filoni focusing more on his Ahsoka series than season 2, his imprint on the series remains, The Bad Batch are in good hands.
Created By: Dave Filoni
Episodes Directed By: Steward Lee, Nathaniel Villanueva, Saul Ruiz, & Brad Rau
Music By: Kevin Kiner
Starring: Dee Bradley Baker & Michelle Ang
Where to Watch: Disney Plus
Release Date: January 4, 2023
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
Based On: Star Wars by George Lucas