Lucasfilm’s The Bad Batch is a new animated Star Wars series following on from the end of The Clone Wars. It follows six augmented clones, five soldiers and a young girl, dealing with the rise of the Empire. As the clones become aware of their circumstances they are forced to flee their home, losing contact with one of their own.
The series’ main characters were previously introduced in The Clone Wars, though it quickly and effectively updates the audience without losing the momentum of the story with exposition. Similarly, the first episode, which premiered on May 4, quickly established when the show takes place within the universe.
By exploring the beginning of the empire, Disney is addressing an era that has never been explored in TV or film, further differentiating itself from other Star Wars media by focusing on clones instead of Jedi. The Bad Batch explores themes of found family and rebellion against a corrupt state without shying away from darker implications.
The characters have interesting dynamics, with conflict from the first episode to drive investment and speculation. Though viewers may initially be put off by stereotypical character archetypes, they are quickly fleshed out, with fun and engaging dialogue that rarely feels blunt or redundant.
The series uses 3D computer animation, matching The Clone Wars style, which was designed to reflect a painted texture. With help from CGCG, an animation studio that worked on The Clone Wars, the action is fluid with attention grabbing direction. The painted style of the characters and background is further highlighted with beautiful lighting to emphasise depth naturally and thematically. The main character designs are similarly unique, though other clones appear generic, which furthers thematic ideas around the conformity of the Empire.
The voice acting is similarly outstanding. Though five of the main characters are voiced by one actor, Dee Bradley Baker makes each distinct and interesting. Excellent performances from supporting actors keeps the series fresh, as seen with Archie Panjabi’s performance as Depa Billaba in the premiere, chilling the audience with her death scene. The music score similarly sets the tone and smoothly adjusts the atmosphere throughout.
With only small issues, the series so far is fun and engaging for both a younger and more general audience as well as long-time fans. Its characterisation being the strongest pull for a newer audience, while the additions of new lore and the mystery surrounding new characters gives long time fans a new take on the ever expanding Star Wars universe.