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How The Bad Batch Illustrates Disney’s Mishandling of Star Wars

No more rescue missions!

After countless rescue missions, The Bad Batch can’t save Disney from their redundant writing. Adding another mantlepiece to Star Wars’ wall of disappointment, The Bad Batch is precisely why causal fans can’t get into the cartoon shows. The similarities in The Bad Batch’s writing to Rebels, The Mandalorian, and the sequel trilogy are even worse than the bulk of the Clone Wars‘ filler material. Almost every chapter is the same structure—rescue missions. Endless rescue missions that copy Princess Leia’s extraction from the Death Star. The structure’s the same. Our heroes sneak into an enemy base. They disguise themselves as the bad guys, but then the fall into the garbage. In the darkness our heroes narrowly escape death from a scary monster. After they escape from the pit the enemy discovers them. With no options left, everyone must shoot their way out.

What made the Clone Wars work was its ability to flesh out its characters between the laser fights. The politics are interesting since there’s real stakes involved. For instance, Obi-Wan’s ex-girlfriend was the duchess of Mandalor. Satine’s failure to turn her home into a pacifist state followed by her death from the hands of Darth Maul was the type of substance that made the Clone Wars seem like an actual conflict with casualties. 

The Clones themselves were given personalities thanks to Dee Bradley Baker’s superhuman level of talent. Dave Filoni’s writing in the later seasons provided the Clones some moral conundrums relating to their very existence. It was a magnificent feat of craftsmanship that made the events in Attack of The Clones compelling. That’s not an easy task to do. 

Choose a class

Group photo of The Bad Batch
You’ll never get to really know any of them that well.

The Bad Batch is more preoccupied with shootouts than fixating on silly things like emotion. Each team member is more like a selectable class from Battlefront II instead of feeling like fully rounded characters. Hunter is the Rambo-looking squad leader. Echo’s entire backstory is told in the Clone Wars never to be further explored in The Bad Batch. Wrecker is the heavy. Tech is the brains, and Crosshair is the sniper. 

Aside from Hunter being an honorable man, what do we know about him? What’s more to Tech other than his intelligence? Is there any substance to Wrecker besides being a big dumb gentle giant? Crosshair’s motivation at the end of the show comes out of nowhere. If I don’t understand why Crosshair is opportunistic then I don’t really care. Whatever Crosshair’s motivation is—let alone any of the characters—was left somewhere in the writers room. Like the sequel trilogy, The Bad Batch is another property of Star Wars that’s half conceived. 

Have you heard of the tragedy of Michael Ardnt, the screenwriter? Ardnt is an Academy Award winner for Little Miss Sunshine and nominated once more forToy Story 3. His talent landed him the offer to write Episode VII. Given that it would have taken him two years to complete the screenplay for it, Disney decided to fire Ardnt, replacing him with J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan. The two had to begin fresh with only six months to complete the script. Immediately when Rey discovers the Millennium Falcon, it’s clear that Ardnt’s work takes a backseat to Abrams’s rushed nostalgia-fest, placing character development in the trash compactor. 

Running towards a deadline

Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) board the Millennium Falcon
The moment the sequel trilogy falls apart

The sequel era of films consists of conflicting stories that always feature infiltration missions. The Force Awakens has the stealth mission on Star Killer Base. For the The Last Jedi it was the casino plot. Lastly, The Rise of Skywalker had to find the spy within an imperial ship. Season 2 of The Mandalorian has close to four Imperial sneaking operations. Rogue One involved its entire plot around an intrusion assignment. 

Aside from The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars‘ final season, Disney’s insistence on deadlines has hijacked Star Wars’ ability to dissect its characters. If The Book of Boba Fett is being made right before Season 3 of The Mandalorian, I’m concerned that Kathleen Kennedy is muscling Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni to hurry it up on both projects. How many of those shows will have more rescue missions made out of rushed creative judgement? 

The necessity for another Clone Wars cartoon is as narratively appealing as another CSI spinoff. The story ended in what may be Star Wars’ most ambitious, emotionally compelling climax since The Empire Strikes Back. Hiding itself within a veil of false advertising, Disney introduced The Bad Batch as an epilogue to The Clone Wars. 

The grand 75-minute entrance was a promising start. The Clone Wars are finally over. Order 66 triggered the Clones to kill the Jedi like cattle—the very friends they’ve known and loved, butchered by laser fire with no hesitation. Every Clone carried out their duty but the Bad Batch. Their inhibitor chips aren’t functional. Like telling Raymond Shaw to play a deck of cards, the words “execute order 66” flips the switch on in every other Clone’s head.

The mighty orphans

Omega and The Bad Batch family shot
Enough family to make Vin Diesel blush.

Being born a little different ties into Star Wars’ universal theme of family. The Bad Batch are genetically defective clones cast as outcasts amongst their brethren. Failure to carry out Order 66 certainly didn’t help with their popularity. Going about the galaxy as mercenaries they’re joined by Omega, a young female clone who’s perhaps far more advanced than them. Probably because her brother is Boba Fett. Together they form a bond stronger than blood.

The hero orphans fad will never die. From Spider-Man to Luke Skywalker the protagonist is adopted. The Bad Batch are clones who never had a family so they make one of their own. Ezra Bridger is waiting for his parents who’ll likely never return to him. As fate would have it Ezra stumbles upon a ship with a group of Rebels who take him in as one of their own. Anakin Skywalker forms a mentor bond with Obi-Wan Kenobi who later mentors his son Luke who discovers a brief father figure in Yoda. Rey’s lineage is the mystery behind the curtain throughout the sequels. Can we please stop with the orphan thing? There are kids who can have normal childhoods that can also be heroes. Like Luke, writers should make their own path. Or at least deliver upon some of their setups.

Missed Opportunities

Grand Moff Tarking standing aboard a starship with two clone troopers beside him.
Give me more Tarkin!

Grand Moff Tarkin speaks of cancelling the Clone army. The reasons he gives aren’t clear other than cost effectiveness. When has money ever been an issue for the Empire? They practically print credits. There must be more to replacing a race of billions of Boba Fetts other than financials. I want to see the payoff for that plot thread, which was the entirety of the first episode’s plot. Where is that story?

The only payoff to any of the setups from the pilot is the destruction of Kamino towards the end of the season. When the two-part ending arrived, I expected more than a simple “wait until next season” setup when we could have an incredible story told in one go. Why ruin so many chances to create a remarkable tale? That question is no secret. More seasons mean more tuned, paying subscribers. But why not be more like Marvel?

WandaVision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and Loki act more as miniseries rather than shows. Each episode is an essential piece to a grander plot and are wildly different stylistically. What If…? is a cartoon show that takes pride in its episodic structure. If Star Wars wants to be episodic then stick to projects like Star Wars Visions. Don’t make ads for The Bad Batch leading me to believe it’s a 16 chapter continuation of The Clone Wars. If it is then it certainly carries the CW‘s traits from its first two seasons. 

The difference between the business and creative ends of The Bad Batch reflects the process of the Clone Wars. At first, CW was rushed through the door with a terrible movie and two lackluster seasons that didn’t build upon anything except for introducing Ahsoka Tano. When Dave Filoni was given time to write out his ideas, for Season 3 forward, magic was made. I believe there’s real talent to The Bad Batch  that’s being held back by Mickey’s gloves. 

When The Bad Batch’s story is complete, it may be a roller coaster of a finale. However, there may also be two more years of pointless episodes during the interim. At such time, I’ll enjoy viewing only the critical chapters while skipping the rest from now on. I hope all the upcoming Star Wars shows don’t continue to follow the same approach. 

Written by Mike Crowley

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  1. Last year we binge-watched all of Star Wars on Disney+ in order of continuity. We had never seen the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons and had heard great things about them. It was a long journey of binge-watching before we finally made it to the end, as much as I loved the Clone Wars and Rebels shows, by the time they ended I was glad to be out of that time period of Star Wars continuity. That period of time before the original trilogy seemed extremely well worn and exhausted by this point.
    When Disney released the Bad Batch, yet another cartoon series taking place in the pre-original trilogy timeline and featuring the Clones, we were just too burnt out to watch it, and I was frustrated that there was now even more material to add to that already bloated era. The idea of going back to that era did not excite us at all, and we still haven’t even considered watching it yet. Maybe one day, but a review like this does not give me a lot of encouragement to start it up.

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