‘The Bad Batch’ is the eighth season of ‘Clone Wars’ we didn’t ask for
Star Wars: Clone Wars was a fantastic show that defied all expectations when it aired on the Cartoon Network from 2008. Despite its shaky start as a terrifying motion picture released in 2007, the TV series' deep characterization and serialized storytelling showed audiences what happened between The Phantom Menace and the Attack of the Clones. The show ran until 2013 when it was "shut down" after Disney acquired Lucasfilm and all of its properties. Then another season ran on Netflix. Last year, the penultimate season made its debut on Disney + and it seemed like the show was finally resting ... until The Bad Batch debuted this week.
On its surface, The Bad Batch is supposed to be a different show than its predecessor, with new characters and in a previously invisible era of Star Wars history: the rise of the empire. While Rebels showed us the formation of the Rebel Alliance and served as the forerunner of Rogue One and A New Hope, The Bad Batch bridges the gap between Revenge of the Sith and these later works. Which is a nice destination. As I said earlier, one of the main strengths of Star Wars is its deep lore and willingness to expand its universe.
The Bad Batch doesn't represent a major departure from Clone Wars, however, starting with the characters: the five title soldiers were featured in the first arc of the final season of Clone Wars a while ago. This is the final season that aired last year. (Editor's Note: These four episodes were originally made available in unfinished form on StarWars.com.) And to thank The Bad Batch, you didn't have to watch these episodes to understand who the characters are or what they represent : The first episode of the new series does a good job introducing them and their mission.
But it's still not a show for a Star Wars newbie: neophytes still need to know what a clone soldier is, who the separatists are, and ... pretty much everything in Revenge of the Sith between Emperor Palpatine and the Jedi happened. It's still a show based on prior knowledge rather than just basics like "The Jedi have magical powers and there are spaceships." It is assumed that you are familiar with the seven previous seasons.
Yes, you should probably check out Clone Wars before watching Bad Batch. It's a show for fans of Clone Wars. It even uses the same dated CG animation style as this show, as opposed to Rebels and Resistance, which both changed the art style (the latter more than the former). Yes, The Bad Batch is clearly intended to be a spin-off of Clone Wars, as the parent show's logo is burned away to reveal the new title and the first episode opens with a newsreel narrative by Tom Kane. But it's also the first Star Wars animated series to debut on Disney +, which would make it a natural point jump for new fans. You won't feel too happy finding that it builds on seven seasons of previous stories. I watched Clone Wars and still went to Wookieepedia to look for specific characters or episodes. I figured maybe I should watch all seven seasons of the old show again.
And I'm not sure if I particularly want to do this. I watched the cartoon when it was on the Cartoon Network, re-watched it on Netflix before I started the new season, and I made my peace with it that it was over. Then there was suddenly a new season on Disney + last year because while the Netflix season was supposed to tie things together, it wasn't. While this seventh season at least tried to show us where Ahsoka Tano and Rex ended up, The Bad Batch is only hinting that we aren't done with the Clone Wars era, and maybe never will be.
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