The Big Picture

  • The third season of
    The Bad Batch
    has taken a much darker turn with its storytelling.
  • Omega faces imprisonment and all of the uneasy elements of a child in captivity.
  • The series delves deeper into Palpatine’s cloning schemes.



Season 2 of The Bad Batch left audiences with a lot of lingering questions, and fortunately, the first half of Season 3 will answer most of them. The premiere picks up shortly after the end of Season 2, with Omega (Michelle Ang) adjusting to life within the clutches of the Empire, beneath the watchful gaze of Dr. Emerie Karr (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and Dr. Hemlock (Jimmi Simpson). While Crosshair (Dee Bradley Baker) is at the cloning facility with Omega, they’re both kept apart and isolated from the camaraderie they’re both familiar with.


From the onset of the season, the tone is markedly different from the upbeat adventures that Omega embarked on with Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, and Echo in the previous seasons. Tech’s untimely death in Season 2 isn’t directly addressed, but his absence is felt throughout the first eight episodes, building onto the sense of loss that fills every corner of Omega’s isolation. At long last, The Bad Batch is acknowledging the weighty reality of the Empire’s oppressive rule over the galaxy. This is no longer a coming-of-age story for Omega, but rather a fight for survival in the face of steep adversity.

The first two seasons of The Bad Batch suffered quite a bit due to tonal inconsistencies. After each exceptional episode, there would be a handful of middling “monster of the week” style episodes which derailed the momentum. While The Clone Wars could afford to wander away from the central, overarching plotlines, The Bad Batch doesn’t have the benefit of 22-episode seasons or characters that are developed and fully formed in ancillary material. But with Season 3, The Bad Batch seems to have finally reached maturation and zeroed in on the tragedy of this era in the galaxy. The episodes are tighter and more focused on reaching the endgame. What that endgame is remains to be seen, but if the first eight episodes are any indication, the series has saved the best for last.


Star Wars: The Bad Batch

The ‘Bad Batch’ of elite and experimental clones make their way through an ever-changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone Wars.

Release Date
May 4, 2021

Creator
Jennifer Corbett, Dave Filoni

Seasons
3

Studio
Disney+

Franchise
Star Wars


How Does ‘The Bad Batch’ Season 3 Connect to ‘The Mandalorian’?

Ultimately, The Bad Batch is designed to be a children’s show, much in the same way that The Clone Wars appealed to the children who grew up with the prequel series. But those children have now grown up, and they’re the millennials and Gen Xers watching The Bad Batch who are curious to see the fates of characters first introduced in 2008 (Echo and Rex) and 2015 (Clone Force 99). The series may not be as poignant as Andor, but there are elements of Season 3 that fit neatly beside this grittier and darker side to the galaxy.


The first handful of episodes utilize some impressive literary devices to explore the circular nature of the machine we call imperialism and—to some extent—there are shades of Marxist philosophies masked beneath the kid-friendly gossamer of Star Wars. With a series focused on the clones and, specifically, the “defective” clones that stand apart from their brothers, The Bad Batch has a natural ability to pick at the ideas of uniformity. We see that to some extent with Omega’s imprisonment and the Empire’s attempt to strip her of her sense of identity. The clones are the purest example of the commodification of the body in-world, considering they’re designed to be good, controllable soldiers, and this ideology is examined throughout Crosshair’s arc.


By design, The Bad Batch has always been about the clones, but Season 2 really highlighted how the series may actually be trying to bridge the gap between the cloning technology introduced in The Phantom Menace and how the Empire commandeered it off-screen to bring back Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker. To an extent, the cloning subplot that has been interwoven through this new era of Star Wars still feels rather contrived. But at least The Bad Batch seems to be making amends for the rather hamfisted cloning revelations in The Mandalorian, which just underscored why the Empire will never succeed at gaining the upper hand long-term.

With only the first eight episodes to judge, it’s hard to tell where exactly The Bad Batch is heading with the cloning subplot. There are a handful of revelations sprinkled throughout which seem to suggest that we might see the advent of Palpatine’s more successful cloning attempts—namely, his clone son Dathan—but there might not be enough time to satisfactorily wrap up the Batchers’ plot and patch together the Palpatine of it all. Given where The Bad Batch spends the majority of the first half of the season and some of its exposition, there is also a chance that we could even see Grogu in the back half, though that’s probably as unlikely as Dathan, barring time constraints. If anything, The Bad Batch will spark a healthy debate about M-counts again, which is exactly what everyone has been dying to do as The Phantom Menace’s 25th anniversary looms on the horizon.


Can ‘The Bad Batch’ Season 3 Fix Star Wars’ Redemption Problem?

The Bad Batch has faced continued scrutiny for its accidental colorism and the perpetuation of less-than-favorable tropes where the “defective” clones are concerned. Much of this stems from the fact that all the clones—including the Bad Batch—are made from Jango Fett’s (TemueraMorrison) genetic makeup, which means they should resemble the Māori actor who originated the role. Dee Bradley Baker, who is not Māori, has voiced all the clones since the start of The Clone Wars. Season 2 made strides to walk away from the stereotypes that masqueraded as personalities for the likes of Wrecker, Hunter, Crosshair, and Tech, and Season 3 builds on a lot of that goodwill by continuing to flesh them out into fully realized characters. Better yet, there are new clones introduced in the final season who are voiced by Māori performers, making it clear, at least, that the valid criticism was heard loud and clear.


If the series follows through with some of the narrative arcs being established across the first eight episodes, it also has the potential to rebuild a lot of faith that fans have lost in the franchise over the last few years. While Star Wars has tipped its toes into the notion of restorative justice in novels, such as Alphabet Squadron, live-action (and animation) has been more reluctant to explore all the shades of redemption. In The Bad Batch, it’s not necessarily a redemption that’s playing out (as a brainwashed character doesn’t need to be redeemed in the same sense as a true villain) but the thematic imagery of redemption, rebirth, and acceptance, in all forms, is there. This builds upon a lot of the foundations that Season 2 laid, which brings hope that it will be seen through to its conclusion. Paired with some of the other characters who get to encounter similar ideological quandaries and personal revelations, The Bad Batch Season 3 serves up some truly delicious fodder for fans of The Clone Wars clones.


Star Wars The Bad Batch TV Show Poster

Star Wars: The Bad Batch

REVIEW

While it’s an open question of how it will resolve itself, ‘The Bad Batch’ Season 3 is shaping up to be a strong end for the Star Wars series.

Pros

  • Season 3 takes a darker turn, allowing the series to really explore the tragedy of this era in the galaxy.
  • Omega has matured a lot since Season 1, making her a more compelling lead.
  • This season features some beautiful design choices that match neatly with the literary devices being used.
  • The Kiner Brothers’ music delivers an impeccable score, once again.
Cons

  • Lingering questions about Palpatine’s cloning plans put a burden on the core character’s stories.
  • This season could’ve been stronger if the previous seasons had been as tight as Season 3.
  • The series still carries the baggage of the colorism issue, despite it improving upon the criticism.

The final season of The Bad Batch premieres on Disney+ on February 21 in the U.S.

Watch on Disney+

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