Review: ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ is off to an exciting start

In case you aren’t in the know, the Star Wars universe has seen some excellent storytelling in the last several years. Most of it, though, hasn’t been from movies or the much-lauded show about not-Boba Fett and Baby Yoda, but rather in the form of an animated universe clone troopers. The Bad Batch, the latest animated series from Disney+ and creator Dave Filoni, continues to prove that Star Wars is at its best on TV.

Set immediately after chancellor Palpatine gives order 66, has his clone troopers massacre the Jedi, and declares the first galactic empire, The Bad Batch follows clone force 99, an elite squad of clone commandos. These clones have a twist though, each of them is somehow abnormal in a way that makes them more unique and effective as a fighter as well as more difficult to control: one has heightened senses, one is super strong, one is super intelligent, and so on.

When order 66 is given, they are able to resist and end up on the run along with a young female clone whose purpose is a mystery.

If all this sounds a little familiar, it should: they’re a ragtag band of heroes on the run from the evil empire. It’s the same template as Star Wars: Rebels, except one voice actor, the excellent Dee Bradley Baker, is responsible for 99% of the characters. None of this is a complaint, though; a small team of underdogs taking on an enormous evil empire is literally what Star Wars is.

The first two episodes –titled Aftermath and Cut and Run respectively, waste no time setting up our heroes for a moral conflict, internal strife, daddy issues, and connections with the more expansive animated Star Wars universe. None of these connections is so deep that you couldn’t jump into this series without having watched either Rebels or, in particular, Clone Wars, but to be clear: it would certainly help if you had.

Star Wars is a franchise that is inherently made for children, and in the last decade, the team behind these animated series has proven that time and time again. The Bad Batch, like Clone Wars and Rebels before it, has plenty to offer fans of all ages, but I am a little jealous of the kids that get to grow up with these series.

The Bad Batch episodes 1 and 2 are available now on Disney+. The remaining fourteen episodes will be available weekly, on Fridays.