'Star Wars: The Bad Batch' S2 review: Essential viewing for Star Wars fans


'The Bad Batch' has become as much essential viewing as the other animated Star Wars TV shows that came before it. – Photos: Disney+ Hotstar

The demise of the Star Wars universe has been greatly exaggerated. Sure, Disney may have made a few missteps with the ‘sequel trilogy’ and movies like Solo: A Star Wars Story, but their television slate has been solid so far, with most, if not all, adding more to the rich tapestry of tales within the universe.

The Mandalorian was a runaway success, Andor was a brilliantly written grown-up Star Wars tale, and though they were not as well-received, Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book Of Boba Fett also told stories that helped fill in the blanks that the movies left empty.

But before all that, and even before the Mouse House bought over Lucasfilm, we were already getting some pretty good Star Wars shows in the form of animated series such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. And I’m happy to say that Lucasfilm, and especially influential show creator Dave Filoni, has kept this streak going with Star Wars: The Bad Batch, which premiered its second season last week on Disney+ Hotstar.

Since they were introduced in the final season of The Clone Wars, the squad of ‘defective’ but highly effective clone troopers that make up Clone Force 99, a.k.a The Bad Batch, has been quite a revelation. Before them the most recognisable Clones were Captain Rex and Commander Cody, but even they were only distinguishable by the colours of their uniforms most of the time.

Crasb. why did it hve to be crabs.Crasb. why did it hve to be crabs.

The Bad Batch changed all that. The squad comprises five individuals (all voiced by the same guy, the inimitable Dee Bradley Baker), who would never be mistaken for generic clones – Hunter (the leader and a master tracker), Wrecker (the big-hearted muscle of the team), Tech (the, uh, tech guy), Crosshair (the sniper), and Echo (a veteran of the Clone Wars who 'died' and was resurrected as a half human/half cyborg).

And then there’s Omega (voiced by Michelle Ang), a young female clone whom the squad ‘adopts’ in the first season when they are forced to escape the cloning facility on their ‘birth world’ of Kamino, and who eventually becomes a part of the team as well.

Season One was mostly spent on introducing us to the Bad Batch’s team dynamics, how they went from fighting for the Republic to running from the Empire, and the integration of Omega into their ranks.

It ended with the Empire completely destroying the cloning facilities on Kamino, and the Bad Batch barely managing to escape. And despite the squad's willingness to accept his return, Crosshair decides to stick with his decision to continue serving the Empire instead.

The Bad Batch's fishing excursions were quite epic.The Bad Batch's fishing excursions were quite epic.

But it is with Season Two that the show really comes into its own.

Having previewed all bar the final two of this 16-episode season, I can safely say that The Bad Batch has become as much essential viewing as the other Star Wars TV shows that came before it.

Free from the task of having to introduce the squad and establish its bond with Omega, Filoni now uses these characters to tell stories that truly enrich the Star Wars universe as a whole.

Like Andor, which tells the story of the rise of the Rebellion, Season Two of The Bad Batch dives deep into a part of Star Wars lore that we never really thought about in real depth, but one that proves equally essential to the lore of that galaxy far, far away– the fate of the clone troopers.

Filoni deftly navigates the issue by looking at it through two different lenses – the Bad Batch’s ‘outside looking in’ perspective, and Crosshair’s view of how the clones are treated from within the Imperial ranks.

Without giving away too much, let’s just say that you will get a completely different view of the clone troopers and a better understanding of how the Stormtroopers came about after watching this season.

No, we're not part of the Bad Batch, but you can't call us good girls either.No, we're not part of the Bad Batch, but you can't call us good girls either.

Oh, and though it’s not as heavy as Andor, The Bad Batch also finds time to touch on heavier issues like human rights, oppression, and genocide. But it’s not just about the big worldly issues – Season 2 also finds time to fine tune its central characters, adding more depth to the likes of Tech and Crosshair, especially, and playing around with the team’s structure and dynamic in small and big ways alike.

It also continues to expand the Star Wars universe beyond what the Skywalker Saga covered, taking us to more exotic planets to meet new species and characters, and even reintroducing us to some familiar faces as well.

But the show’s best quality is not just telling these wider-reaching stories, but the way it uses the Bad Batch itself to tell them. It doesn’t matter if its a stand-alone tale about them pulling off a job or part of a bigger story – we never lose sight of whole these guys (and girl) are, and you’ll end up really caring about what happens to them (yes, even that grumpy, cynical Crosshair) while also rooting for them to change the galaxy in their own way. And that, for me, is the true spirit of Star Wars.

The first two episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season Two is now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, with new episodes dropping weekly.

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Summary:

More essential 'Star Wars' viewing.

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Star Wars , Disney+ , The Bad Batch

   

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