Warriors to the End – Review of “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” Season One, Episode One “Aftermath”

Star Wars: The Bad Batch Poster Art. Source

These reviews were originally only available on my now-defunct Buy Me A Coffee and Patreon sites. I’m posting them here for anyone who loves Star Wars as much as I do.

When I sat down during the Covid-19 quarantine to watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars, I didn’t anticipate how much I would grow to enjoy the series, particularly the final season. Dave Filoni managed to craft a heartrending story that led up to the moment Order 66 is announced in Revenge of the Sith and the immediate aftermath. One series of episodes from that final season introduced The Bad Batch, a group of genetically modified clone troopers with unusual and distinct personalities. The group of characters proved to be so popular that they were given their own series, which is set during the same time period as the end of The Clone Wars.

Spoilers ahead, so don’t read if you haven’t watched yet.

The first episode, titled “Aftermath”, puts Clone Force 99 in the center of the ending of The Clone Wars. Hunter, Wrecker, Crosshair, Tech, and Echo form the squad and they are brought in to rescue Jedi Master Depa Billaba and her apprentice, Caleb Dume (aka Kannan Jarrus from Star Wars: Rebels). The first battle shows off each of the troopers’ skills excellently. Dee Bradley Baker returns to voice the clones and he manages to make each one distinctive and memorable through his inflections, accents, and tone of voice.

The Batch find themselves in the middle of Order 66 and witness the murder of Jedi Master Depa Billaba. All but one member of the Batch is unaffected by the neural implant that compels them to obey Palpatine’s order to eliminate the Jedi. For anyone who watched this same scenario play out in the final episodes of The Clone Wars, it is harrowing to watch the clones fight alongside their Jedi General one moment and then gun them down the next. We then get to see Palpatine’s reorganization of the Republic in to the Empire through Clone Force 99’s eyes and what they see is unsettling.

Jennifer Corbett’s best traits as a writer and storyteller is bringing the full force of emotional weight to the characters he’s placing in these difficult circumstances. The Batch are not known for following orders directly, so we can see them struggle with the decision to obey the Empire’s new mandates, which includes gunning down civilian targets because they are considered “insurgents”. The morality of the orders being handed down is front and center, with everyone but Crosshair questioning them (due to Crosshair’s genetic controls forcing him to want to obey the Empire’s orders). For students of history, the parallels between Palpatine’s Empire and Nazi Germany were always visible. Here, as the Empire is entering its first growing pains, we see why it is important for soldiers to sometimes question the orders they’re given and whether or not their conscience can allow them to live with what they are doing.

The newest addition to the Batch is Omega, a child clone that is also mutated like the Batch members. Her role is yet undefined, as is the nature of her mutations. For example, Hunter’s mutation is enhanced senses, making him an ideal tracker. Crosshair’s exceptional vision makes him a deadly sniper. Tech’s genius-level intellect makes him excellent with machines as well as languages, military tactics, and information-gathering. Wrecker is built like an anvil and hits about as hard as one would if it was dropped on you. Echo is a regular clone trooper with cybernetic enhancements, making him the odd one out of the bunch. There is much more to Omega’s story and I’m intrigued to see where it goes. Normally, I’m not fond of child characters but given what Filoni was able to accomplish with Ahsoka Tano, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt with Omega.

The story beats used in this episode are pitch-perfect, moving from one bad situation to the next in order to get the Batch on the wrong side of the Empire. The fall of Crosshair is tragic in the same way the fates of the other clones is tragic: the inhibitor chip implanted in them prevents them from questioning orders they would normally not have obeyed. From a storytelling standpoint, though, it makes perfect sense to have one of the Batch become the primary antagonist for the lead characters. When Crosshair finally catches up with his squad mates, the question becomes can they bring Crosshair back and correct what’s been done to him or will they have to make the fatal decision to kill their brother. I’m looking forward to seeing how this series plays out and await the next installment.

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