The much-beloved Star Wars: The Clone Wars may have ended last year in a fit of artistic mastery and sadness, but fans of that series can take solace: There is another. May the 4th 2020 saw the end of one beloved Star Wars animated series. May the 4th 2021 will see a new one begin.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch is coming, and it's not a series about some cookies that came out of the oven salty and burned. The new spin-off picks up right where The Clone Wars ended, and will continue the adventures and travails of a special group of Clones fans have already met.
The titular Bad Batch was introduced in the first four episodes of The Clone Wars Season 7, but now they are front and center. They're no longer an augment to the story. Instead, this new series is a story told from their point of view. Who are they exactly? Let's refresh our memories before we dive back in. The cavalry has arrived.
The entire squad, as well as every Clone that you will hear in the series, is of course voiced by the man who made us stop worrying and love the Clones in the first place: the great Dee Bradley Baker. Commander Cody's summation of the squad is as follows: "Experimental Clone Force 99. They're defective Clones with, uh, desirable mutations."
The notion of defective Clones first came up in Season 3 of The Clone Wars, in the episodes "Clone Cadets" and "ARC Troopers." We heard Domino Squad get dunked on for possibly being defective, with the phrase "Bad Batch" being used. We also met a deformed Clone named 99, who turned out to be anything but. 99 served as a janitor on Kamino (the Kaminoans let nothing go to waste) and showed a great amount of wisdom and empathy before he died saving his brothers. There was nothing defective about his heart.
Clone Force 99 takes their name from him, as they are all "defective" Clones as well. The difference here is that their "defects" came hand in hand with genetic mutations. They don't look or act like regular Clones, and each one of them has a particular set of skills.
Their leader is Hunter, a Clone who had his senses greatly enhanced. He is a great tracker, and he can also sense electromagnetic signals. He mostly looks like regular clones (who this group refer to as "regs") aside from his face, which is either covered in war paint or a birthmark. He wears a bandana, he has lovely flowing hair, he's proficient with knives, and he wears the symbol of a skull. The entire squad bears the same mark.
For muscle, the group depends on Wrecker. His name is most apt because he's huge and tends to come into any situation like a wrecking ball. He loves to smash things with his bare hands, and he also loves blowing things up. He's been known to shout "boom" on more than one occasion, but he also has a childlike sweet side. He's a gentle giant, but he's a gentle giant who could crush your head if he wanted to. One of those.
All of the squad's technical needs are seen to by Tech, a Clone with enhanced mental abilities who probably got an impossible 23,000 on the galactic SATs. He wears both glasses and a visor and is proficient with any kind of computer system you can find, but he's not merely a smart guy who has to hide when trouble goes down. He's great with a blaster and can hold his own in a fight, even if he's working out complex algorithms at the same time. Multitasking is not an official attribute of his, but he's fantastic at it. Zoom meetings would be a snap for him.
Need some long-range sniping? The gang has Crosshair, a soft-spoken Clone who lets his rifle do the talking for that. He has enhanced vision, which naturally comes into play when he's picking off targets from a distance. While loyal to the squad and his brothers, he's the most mysterious member of the Batch, and his habit of chewing on a toothpick only adds to his mystique. We saw him pull off shots in The Clone Wars that would put Clint Eastwood on his butt.
We have a great leader, a tank, the brains, and the "what's that sound, oh no I'm dead" sharpshooter — but the squad has one other member.
Former ARC Trooper Echo is now on the team, and though he was not born defective or enhanced, he has been through it. Originally introduced as a part of Domino Squad in The Clone Wars Season 1 classic "Rookies," we thought we saw the end of him during Season 3's Citadel arc. We thought this because we saw him get blown up.
Not so fast! Season 7 revealed he wasn't dead but was captured by the Separatists and, you guessed it, experimented on. Anakin Skywalker and the Bad Batch rescued Echo, officially the last member of Domino Squad left standing. (RIP Fives, we love you.)
Because of the accidents, experiments, and torture that he's been through, Echo now has a computer jack on one arm and many other mechanical enhancements. By the time The Bad Batch starts, he's an official member of the squad. He's more than earned it.
How will these special Clones (with attitude for days, for days) react when Order 66 — the event that basically wiped the Jedi off the face of the galaxy — gets triggered? Will the programming kick in, or will they resist it? Do they even have that programming within them, or did the Kaminoans decide not to bother?
Here's hoping that none of them get triggered, because Order 66 is bad enough without them. Inviting these guys to the death parade would be a rough thing to watch, but… perhaps that's the point. The emotional roller coaster of The Clone Wars will undoubtedly carry on in The Bad Batch.
Don't give in, boys. We need you. All of you.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch premieres on May 4 on Disney+. Good soldiers follow orders.