By Janie Walenda
Every Star Wars fan can pinpoint which piece of Star Wars media is “theirs.” For a lot of people who grew up in the last 2000s, it’s “The Clone Wars.” For a more recent generation, it might be “Rebels.” Going further back, you have fans who have defended the prequel trilogy since day one, or those who grew up on the Old Republic video games. That’s the magic of Star Wars. There is an era, a character and a storyline for everyone. For me, my Star Wars is “The Bad Batch.”
Part of this is due to timing and circumstance. I watched the first episode of season one of “The Bad Batch” in my living room with my brothers. As the first season ran, we watched it together every week, often time in a new location as we were in the process of moving. This was the last full season of any television show I got to watch with my brothers before leaving for college. It has a very special place in my heart as the one constant throughout a summer of transition.
The nature of the show’s structure also makes it endearing. While there are issues with long seasons, I much prefer “The Bad Batch’s” 16-episode seasons, rather than a six-episode season like“Kenobi.” Longer seasons embrace and enhance the benefits of television, whereas short seasons tend to rush the plot, leaving little room for character development and feeling more like a bloated movie.
The biggest problem most people have with “The Bad Batch” is the apparent abundance of filler episodes. While there is a specific definition and history to the term “filler episodes,” most people apply it to any TV episode that does not appear to move the overarching plot along. Filler episodes originated in the world of anime, and refer to episodes added only to take up space and to keep the anime from outpacing the manga it’s based on.
I will acknowledge that “The Bad Batch” doesn’t establish overarching plot lines well. Especially in season one, there is a real problem in the rarity of multi-episode arcs or a lack of a final goal the whole season builds toward. This is still a problem in season two, but I believe this season has been better at connecting threads and building toward the final episode. That being said, I don’t think “The Bad Batch” has a huge problem with filler episodes. Even in episodes where the plot is isolated to that episode, the show consistently uses these episodes to build up character development.
A good example is season two episode four, “Faster.” The plot of the episode is pod racing. However, it highlights Tech’s skillset, pushes his character forward, establishes Omega’s loyalty and foreshadows Cid’s betrayal. This isn’t necessarily the best episode of the series, but it isn’t an unnecessary filler episode either.
The best episodes of season two are the Empire-focused episodes. I may be a bit biased in saying so, as these episodes tended to be focused on Crosshair, who remains my favorite character. But thanks to the return of Commander Cody in “The Solitary Clone,” the tragic beauty of “The Outpost,” and the darkness of “Tipping Point,” I believe I’m justified in saying that every episode featuring Crosshair was excellent.
The high point of season two, and the show as a whole, is the two-episode arc “The Clone Conspiracy” and “Truth and Consequences.” Not only does it the show strongest tie-in with “The Clone Wars” with the return of Rex and Senator Chuchi, but it provides the clearest picture of the desperate state of the clones and the rise of the Imperial Stormtroopers. Maybe it’s just my childhood fear coming into play, but Emperor Palpatine’s entrance into the Senate and his twisting of events to further his agenda still sends chills down my spine and is one of the definitive moments of the show.
The series ends by channeling “Empire Strikes Back,” leaving the Bad Batch scattered, wounded and permanently missing one of its members. With the next season confirmed to be its last, it’s apparent that “The Bad Batch” will not reach the longevity of “The Clone Wars” or even “Rebels.” But this doesn’t mean that “The Bad Batch” has not accomplished its purpose. Not only does it explore the world of clones after Order 66, but it contributes to the eternal theme of Star Wars: hope. There are always people who will fight to protect others, and there is always hope for a better future. The story of the clones throughout Star Wars is a tragic one. “The Clone Wars” depicts the consistent death and loss of clones, and as the show went on those losses became more and more personal. “The Bad Batch” continues to show this loss, but also shows the hope of clones. They can find family, and they can find purpose beyond war. Whether or not they can find a happy ending will be seen in the next season.
I was a Star Wars fan long before “The Bad Batch.” However, whether it was the long-running nature of the show, the circumstances behind the first season or just my affinity for tragic storylines, “The Bad Batch” is what got me hooked on the franchise. I can’t honestly say it’s the best Star Wars television show or even my favorite. But it’s the show that made me love Star Wars.
“The Bad Batch” is streaming on Disney+
Janie Walenda is a sophomore Global Business major and the A&E editor for Cedars. She is passionate about musicals, animation and cold brew.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm