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CHECK : Bad Batch – Season 1, Episode 1, Consequences
The old days are over. You can adapt and survive, or die with your past. The decision is yours.
Today is Star Wars Day, which means it’s time for the launch of the latest Star Wars animated series. The bad party was featured in a 4 episode Clone Wars season 7 storyline. Clone Force 99 consists of four mutant clones with special abilities, plus Echo, who joined them in their last appearance. They derive their name from 99, a mutant clone who rallied his brothers to save his home. The Bad Batch series will follow these unconventional heroes on their journey after the Clone Wars. At first, I didn’t really like the setup of this show, and I wondered why Dave Filoni and company chose the characters from the last season of Clone Wars for their own series. But the trailers, posters and casting announcements do make me want to watch this series. I trust Filoni implicitly when it comes to Star Wars, especially the animation. I’m especially glad to see the legacy of series like Clone Wars and Rebels continue, rather than Lucasfilm producing another series like Resistance. Let’s get to the heart of the matter.
Postmortem begins on the planet Culler, where Jedi Master Depa Billaba and his troops await reinforcements. Their Padawan, Caleb Dume, arrives with Hunter, Crosshair, Echo, Technician, and Destroyer, aka Clone Force 99, aka Bad Party. As Caleb and his new friends move forward, Order 66 is revealed, and Master Billaba’s clones turn on them. At first she asserts herself confidently, but then she orders Caleb to walk away, and soon she is disarmed and shot. The bad part is unaffected by the command, except for the crosshairs, but Caleb flees from it anyway. Hunter tries to convince Caleb that he can help him, but Crosshairs continues to shoot the boy. Caleb jumps over the ravine and escapes. Hunter says the Padawan died in the crossfire, but Crosshairs doesn’t believe him. The argument doesn’t last long, as the boys are called back to the Camino to be evaluated. On the Camino, the boys meet a mysterious girl they adore named Omega. Admiral Tarkin has arrived to assess the clones and needs of the Imperial army to the Emperor. The bad lot performed brilliantly in two training simulations. But Tarquin is unsure of his worth, given his deviant behavior and disregard for orders. He informs the Caminoans that Crosshairs has filed a report that Caleb Duma escaped alive, contradicting the statements of the others. Tarkin sends the boys to Onderon to take out a group of Separatist rebel droids. When they arrive on the scene, however, they find no droids, but human civilians, including children, led by Pila Herrera. Despite Crosshair’s vehement protests, Hunter decides to leave the rebels alone. After Tech discovers that Omega is a modified clone, just like the Bad Party, Hunter decides she’s not safe on Kamino, and they go to her. After the challenge on Onderon, the boys find trouble on the Camino. After a confrontation with the Regs, common clones, they are thrown into a cell… where Omega is also found watching unattended. The crosshair has been modified to increase the effect of the inhibitory chip on selection. The others take the opportunity to escape with an Omega, even though Crosshairs shoots Regs at them.
The Bad Batch wastes no time and packs a lot of story into its 70-minute premiere. You can tell I’m surprised Caleb Dume and Depa Billaba are appearing on this show, and so soon. Caleb Dume is the true identity of Kanan Jarrus, the Jedi who would train Ezra Bridger in the Rebels, though he himself never officially completed his training. Dume and Billaba appeared in miniature in season 7 of The Clone Wars, and their tragic story was described in Rebels. Kanan developed a distrust of clones after he saw his master killed, and also a primal fear that didn’t go away until he had to team up with Rex in the rebels. But seeing him in person and feeling Caleb get punched in the gut is something else entirely, and I’m glad they put that scene in. Keinan is probably my favorite character in Rebels, so I’m looking forward to this important moment in his story. My only problem with this part of the episode is that Freddy Prince Jr. repeats his role. Don’t get me wrong, he was great as Kanan and I’m glad he got the chance to return to Star Wars and bring his character back to life. But Caleb is still a little boy now, and hearing a grown man’s voice talk is personally rather unsettling to me. Caleb also looks a lot paler than Kanan in Rebels, which seems like an odd artistic decision to me. The Clone Wars and Rebels have a very different drawing style, which might explain the differences in the shape of the head and the fact that Caleb has pronounced lips. But the difference in skin tone is a little noticeable, and I’m not quite sure why they did it.
I am also shocked that one of the parties, namely Fadenkreuz, is now the enemy. It’s a brilliant direction for the character, Butch runs into one of his own. This should add a lot of drama to their break with the Empire. With the reticule check, I wonder if they can redeem him in the future and bring him to his old friends and comrades. I also love the disagreements between Crosshairs and Hunter, first about Caleb, then about the rebels on Onderon, and finally about Omega. Clearly, Hunter has a soft spot for children, which neither the retina nor the chip’s influence can understand. Admiral Tarkin is used exceptionally well in Aftermath. He hovers over the team and the clones as a whole and has the absolute power to remove them from their positions and end their lives. You can easily imagine him as the main villain of the series, with a reticule at his side to do his bidding. It’s nice to see Saw Guerrera again, and I liked his line about the people lost in the Clone Wars. You can feel him reminiscing about his sister Stahl, who fell in love with Lux Bonteri and died in the fifth season of the Clone Wars. There are many subtle moments and hints like that in Afterlife, and it’s easy to see that Filoni and crew are excited to tell this story. I’m intrigued by the fact that Omega is a female clone of Django Fett. I can imagine some people having a problem with that, but honestly she’s not much different from Fett and the rest of the bad lot. So far, I like her relationship with Hunter, and I think he can play the role of father when she’s around. It was a small moment, but using an audio clip of Palpatine’s speech from Revenge of the Sith was a brilliant move. This scene is so disturbing, even though we already know what happens next.
The animation of Aftermath is just as good as that of Clone Wars season 7, and I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to enjoy this series a lot more. The scenery is utterly incredible, from the watery world of the Camino to the temperate Kaller and the marshy Anderon. The character animation is also getting better and better. The music in Aftermath is also beautiful. Kevin Keener has outdone himself once again. I particularly enjoyed the obvious Bad Batch theme music, as well as the tune played when they arrived at Onderon. It seems obvious now, but Dee Bradley Baker can do no wrong with clone voices. It’s amazing to think that Baker is struggling with himself in many of these scenes. He voices most of the characters in the show, but it never feels boring or distracting. Each clone is so different, with character, but similar enough to be believable. Andrew Chichino is in good form as Jigsaw Herrera and Michelle Ang is a welcome addition as Omega. But this is Baker’s show, and he stole every scene.
Overall, Aftermath is an excellent episode of the television series. It’s almost a full-length film, and they don’t waste a second of that time, taking the crew to different locations and covering a lot of narrative material. In this premiere, Batch is already better fleshed out than in his Clone Wars episodes, and I can’t wait to see the sequel to his adventures with Omega.
Location – 10
Drama – 8.5
Production planning – 10
Animation/Action – 10
Excellent animation, brilliant character development and a consistent sense of adventure make Aftermath a great debut for The Bad Batch.
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