‘The Bad Batch’ season three kicks it up to a 99

By Janie Walenda

Within the past several years, whatever focus the Star Wars franchise may have possessed has been on the period of time after the rise of the Empire and before the events of “A New Hope.” Past successes like “Rebels” and “Rogue One” led to newer projects like “Kenobi” and “Andor,” as well as the follow-up to “The Clone Wars,” “The Bad Batch.” Together these stories paint a picture of the rise of the Empire and its totalitarian grip on the galaxy. As a successor to “The Clone Wars,” it’s only natural that “The Bad Batch” explores this theme along with the fate of the Clones after Order 66, and its focus has never been stronger than in the first half of its third and final season.

While much of “The Bad Batch’s” runtime up to this point has focused on following the titular characters, whether it sees them uncovering dark conspiracies or pod racing, the first half of the third season sees the show homing in on the tragedy of the clones and what happens to them between “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope.”  The first two episodes of the season, as well as the recent developments in episodes six and seven, highlight how disposable the clones are to the Empire, and just how desperate their condition is.

The most exciting part of season three, at least for me, is seeing the fruition of Crosshair’s character arc. As someone who sat down on May 4, 2021, and decided that Crosshair was my favorite of the main characters for next to no reason, the last two seasons of television were very hard for me. But season three is taking the crumbs of Crosshair’s storylines from the past seasons and has weaved them together into a compelling character arc. Watching him fully realize the manipulation of the Empire and come to care for and protect Omega is incredibly fulfilling after his separation in the previous seasons.

With all those praises in mind, however, Crosshair is just one example of the show’s underrated strength: the willingness to upend the status quo. Crosshair spending most of two seasons away from the Batch makes his return feel far more earned than if they reunited at the end of season one. Tech’s sacrifice, while par for the course in a final season, was far more unexpected in a season two finale. Not only did this loss alter the group for this last season, but it also emphasized exactly how little plot armor these characters have. Nothing in “The Bad Batch” can be taken for granted or assumed to be sacred.

While Omega’s imprisonment was resolved fairly quickly, having the first two episodes of season three focused exclusively on her and Crosshair – and just how isolating their months in captivity were – highlighted how much she’s grown as a character. Her optimism is no longer naivete but hope, and she’s gone from the stereotypical “annoying” kid character to someone who holds her own in the Batch without her importance feeling forced.

One other aspect that’s become impossible to ignore is just how gorgeous the animation is this season. In every aspect, from character models to scenery, lighting to shot composition, the style of the show is phenomenal. There are shots in every episode that almost become my new laptop screensaver, and it’s abundantly clear how much care was put into this final season.

As a semi-professional soundtrack and score nerd, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the work of Kevin Kiner on this series. He’s scored all the Star Wars animated shows, making him a Star Wars icon in his own right, and it shows. In particular, I loved the way this score brought back motifs of past soundtracks for emotional impact. For example, the score of the Bad Batch’s reunion scene in episode four incorporated several of the character’s individual themes from across the show, and the conversation between Rex and Wolffe in episode seven utilized the clone theme to heart-wrenching effect.

While I understand there are  many viewers who lost interest in the series after one too many side-quest episodes, I cannot recommend picking it up again enough. “The Bad Batch” season three is an elevation of everything there was to love from the first two seasons and an improvement on everything that was holding the series back.

“The Bad Batch” airs new episodes weekly on Disney+ 

Janie Walenda is a junior Global Business major and an A&E editor for Cedars. She is overly passionate about animation, film scores, caffeine and weirdly enough Dracula. 

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm

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