Of Batches Bad

Between The Mandalorian and Marvel’s offerings of WandaVision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and Loki, it feels like there’s been a steady shift of those Big Movie Franchises shifting to tv over the past year-and-a-half, ever since that one Star Wars movie that I don’t talk about came out. It’s a little surreal to tune in to a week’s episode of The Mandalorian and realize I’m finally watching a live-action Star Wars tv show, perhaps not the very one that George Lucas had wanted to make in 2005 and was in development hell for years, but a live-action Star Wars tv show all the same. It’s cool.

Less interesting to me, when it was announced, was The Bad Batch. I enjoyed the twelve episodes of Clone Wars put out last year, with its final four episodes (that took place concurrent to Revenge of The Sith) definitely being a high water mark for the show as a whole (alongside the renowned Mortis arc). The four episodes that focused on the Bad Batch were fine enough, I guess, though they felt like less hardcore versions of the Republic Commandos from the old Expanded Universe. But hey, more Star Wars is almost always a good thing in my book, and I’m certainly not going to complain.

The Bad Batch is an immediate sequel series to The Clone Wars and takes place right after the fall of the Republic, which is honestly a really interesting time period. We’re seeing galactic upheaval, as the Clone Wars come to a very abrupt end and the Republic reforms into the Galactic Empire. There’s gonna be unrest, there’s gonna be people adapting to change, and, most relevant to The Clone Wars, there’s gonna be the move from Clone Troopers to Storm Troopers.

Following the Bad Batch — an elite group of Clone Troopers gone rogue and on the run from their former commanders — should make for riveting television. What happens when the thing you spent so long fighting for becomes your enemy? How do you survive when the people you once fought alongside are now trying to kill you?

Frustratingly, The Bad Batch doesn’t really dwell on those questions too much in its early episodes. After the pilot, the focus lies on the group on the run, as they try and find safe haven from the Empire trying to hunt them down. There’s the added wrinkle of Omega, another clone who the Kaminoan cloners clearly want, but any reason as to why she’s special is kept hidden until last week’s. I suppose I wanted to know why I was following this group of people; sure, they’re badass and stuff, but they aren’t offering much of a viewpoint on the political sea change brought about by Palpatine’s ascension to Emperor.

There’s a part of me that thinks that maybe I’m not watching the show right, that perhaps the idea is to like this scrappy ragtag team and not think too much about the bigger world. Maybe I’m still too impressed with the finale of The Clone Wars that any continuation that’s not that thread can’t measure up. But I’m also not given much to latch onto in the early episodes. Consider The Mandalorian. The end of the first episode sees Mando finding his bounty: The Child. Right off the bat, after a dope hour of Star Wars bounty hunting, we’re given a swerve that is a baby Yoda. To someone familiar with the canon, this is huge: any info around Yoda’s species has been quite deliberately kept very secret and unspoken, introducing another is a Big Deal. To someone who’s not: Hey, that fifty-year-old bounty’s a cute baby! Wisely, The Mandalorian gives us something else at the end of its second episode, where we see that the Child can use the Force. Then and there is something Interesting to latch onto: a rare (and adorable) child that also has Jedi powers. The Bad Batch kept me waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

The last three episodes, though, have certainly picked up the pace. We got a bit of Order 66 stuff, then a really cool episode that finally let us know why Omega is important (though maybe not quite why that importance is important), and this week getting more into the whole Republic/Empire shift. 

Maybe The Bad Batch will give me more of what I want as we go into its last few episodes, or maybe it’ll stay as it is, and you know what, that’s okay. I don’t have to like everything, just as the hook of the Child in The Mandalorian may not have worked for someone else. I know people who find the Batch themselves all the hook they need, and hey, more power to them. I’m still not gonna complain about more Star Wars, and you know I want nothing more than The Bad Batch to get even better.

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