After ending the Skywalker Saga on a controversial note, Lucasfilm bounced back in 2020. Not only did they bring a true, fitting end to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but also continued the escapades of Din Djarin and Grogu in The Mandalorian Season 2. They hope to maintain that trend on Disney+ this May with Star Wars: The Bad Batch.
Disney has already initiated the marketing push ahead of Tuesday’s premiere on the popular streaming platform. StarWars.com even put together a list of past episodes that fans should watch before diving deeper into the latest adventure.
Star Wars is known for jumping back and forth between projects and not telling a linear narrative, and it’s a daunting task to try and keep up. So, The Direct has assembled a list of everything you need to know before your May the 4th celebration with The Bad Batch, including information from Star Wars: The Bad Batch's press conference featuring voice actor Dee Bradley Baker, head writer Jennifer Corbett, and producer Brad Rau.
WHAT IS THE BAD BATCH?
In the words of Commander Cody, “they’re defective clones with, uh…desirable mutations.” Otherwise known as Clone Force 99, the Bad Batch was an experimental clone squad that fought throughout the Clone War.
Calculated, cunning, atypical — many words can be used to describe this team, but they have proven themselves effective with a 100% success rate. Clone Force 99 does not seek awards or praise. Their motivation is simply the thrill of battle and carrying out the mission successfully.
The inception of the group came from none other than the Maker, George Lucas, but they were officially introduced last year in the first four installments The Clone Wars' seventh season. However, they gained some fame prior to this appearance.
After the abrupt cancellation of the groundbreaking series in 2013, Lucasfilm revealed footage from unfinished future episodes that never released. It was here that audiences got their first look at the Bad Batch. Even so, that four-episode arc is currently the group’s only stamp on canon.
The unit’s titles are in fact callbacks to previous The Clone Wars episodes and characters. The name was referenced in Season 3’s first episode, as frustrated clone cadet Hevy referred to the Domino Squad as “nothing but a bad batch.” The man on the other side of that conversation was 99, a mutated and defective clone who served as a janitor on Kamino.
He had extremely limited physical capabilities, but this did not stop 99 from guiding his brothers in their time of need. During an attack on his homeworld, the dutiful clone gave his life in service of the Republic.
99 represents the distinctive spirit of each clone and the courage and wisdom that can be found in any one of us. He had the heart of a true soldier.
MEMBERS OF THE BAD BATCH
Clone Force 99 initially included four unique clones with specific abilities: Hunter, Tech, Crosshair, and Wrecker.
Hunter is the leader of the pack with superior sensory perception, while Tech (unsurprisingly) is a technological wizard possessing extreme intellect. Crosshair serves as their expert marksman due to his brilliant vision. The brawny Wrecker stands firm as the group’s muscle.
Clone trooper Echo was a former member of the 501st Legion. He was presumed dead during a battle at the Citadel but was actually captured by the Separatists. The Techno Union turned him into a cyborg, using his brain and memories as a way to predict Republic strategies.
He was eventually rescued by the Bad Batch, who was accompanied by Anakin Skywalker and Captain Rex. Echo’s traumatic experiences set him on a new path than the one he was on before. He decided to join the crew by the end of Season 7’s fourth episode titled “Unfinished Business.”
That episode was the last time fans saw the unit, but the state of the galaxy has changed drastically since then...
RISE OF THE GALACTIC EMPIRE
The Clone War is officially over, and the galaxy has been remade. This series is set to show audiences the Bad Batch’s experience with the end of the war, and they will surely get a glimpse of Emperor Palpatine’s new regime.
Last year, spectators witnessed a new perspective on the events in Revenge of the Sith as The Clone Wars concluded. They followed along as Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex dealt with the clone’s involuntary betrayal and aftermath of the infamous Order 66. Where does the galaxy go from here?
Of course, Star Wars fans know where it ends up thanks to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars: A New Hope, and other canon material. But now they will get a firsthand look at how this universe transitions into such a stark period.
Back in December, Disney’s Investor Day Presentation revealed brand new footage of The Bad Batch. The trailer teased Palpatine and the Empire’s presence in the show, as clone troopers fall in line to hear the Emperor’s speech from Episode III.
This was followed by another trailer that offered a deeper look at the dangerous state of the galaxy. Soldiers, mercenaries, bounty hunters, and rebels will all come into play for the Bad Batch. It will be interesting to see how they navigate these muddy waters.
One thing’s for sure: the violent and oppressive Empire is here. They “can either adapt and survive...or die with the past.”
BREAKING DOWN THE PLOT
The plot synopsis of The Bad Batch does not offer much insight into the actual story, but it does give some hints as to the direction and tone.
The official announcement of the show states that the audacious group “will take on daring mercenary missions as they struggle to stay afloat and find new purpose” within this “rapidly changing galaxy.” Executive producer Dave Filoni stated that this spinoff is “very much in the vein of Clone Wars” and continues the legacy established by Lucas.
Producer and writer Jennifer Corbett shared how Filoni's involvement in the series' development was "crucial" given that "these are characters that he's created, and it’s the world that he knows."
Actor Dee Bradley Baker noted how fans of that show could predict where this new series would kick things off. Additionally, Darth Maul voice actor Sam Witwer commented on his excitement for the opening episodes’ exploration of an uncharted area on the Star Wars timeline.
These small details highlight the significance of the time period taking place after the Clone War. They are clearly alluding to Order 66 and the climax of the third prequel film, but how will this affect our protagonists?
This series begins right after Order 66 at "the height of the Clone Troopers doing what they're meant to do, and what they were created for," according to Corbett. Lucasfilm wanted the series to explore "'What happens after the war is over? What happens to clones who all they know, um, is being soldiers?' Especially for the Bad Batch who do things differently as it is with the Republic and how they fit in once it becomes the Empire."
The plot will take a deep dive into the everyday occurences that The Bad Batch faces. As producer Brad Rau puts it, "none of them are really equipped to go out into the world. And how do they, you know, how do they eat? They don't have a mess hall to go to. How do they get their gear fixed? How do they get fuel for their-for their ship?"
Visually, The Bad Batch will "honor the style and legacy" of its predecessor series The Clone Wars, according to Rau. "That being said, the whole team at Lucasfilm and our partners at CGCG, we've just tightened everything up. So the fidelity is tighter. The style is tighter. The rigs are tighter. The way that it's designed is still the legacy of The Clone Wars, but a-um, a little more detail. [A] little bit more focus."
The biggest question surrounding this gritty tale is if the mutated clones have the same inhibitor chips placed inside their brain as their comrades. These organic chips are responsible for making good soldiers follow orders and betray the Jedi.
Echo unquestionably had one because he was no different from any of the other clones. His transformation into a cybernetic being, however, may indicate the loss or destruction of such a device. If the squad did not have them, how will they grapple with the devastating environment around them in the wake of these executions?
A BATCH OF CONFIRMED CHARACTERS
Yes, this show is about Clone Force 99. Nevertheless, a slew of supporting characters are confirmed to appear in this Clone Wars sequel.
The trailers have demonstrated the robust authority of Grand Moff Tarkin. This character played a villainous role in projects like A New Hope, Rogue One, and Star Wars Rebels. Audiences received a younger look at the high-ranking Imperial in The Clone Wars, though he was simply a captain in the Republic then.
As we shift toward a new age with the Empire, it seems Tarkin’s status is already on the rise. The official trailer displays his evaluation of the Bad Batch, of which he does not seem pleased. Ultimately, he gives orders to eliminate the protagonists.
An interesting addition to the cast is none other than Fennec Shand, who made her Star Wars debut in the fifth episode of The Mandalorian and gained a significantly expanded role the following season.
Ming-Na Wen has teased Shand’s “recklessness” and “bravado” in this show, so her early career as a bounty hunter may come into conflict with the Batch’s mercenary missions. Or it could lead to a brief team-up. Either way, fans will hopefully gain some more knowledge about the assassin before her storyline continues in The Book of Boba Fett.
Captain Rex was rumored to cameo from the beginning. But once again, the trailer did not leave the Star Wars community guessing. Years after this show takes place, the highly-acclaimed trooper is found living on Seelos with clone commando Gregor and Commander Wolffe.
Perhaps viewers will witness how they ended up there in the first place. There may also be some development between Rex and Echo about what happened since he’d been captured, including the fate of Fives.
Lastly comes the one surprise of this group, Saw Gerrera. From animation to live-action, this Onderon native has been pushing back the establishment for years.
At this point, he’s still relatively young, but the death of his sister during the Clone War is undoubtedly fresh in his mind. His rebellious and radicalized nature will be on full display for the elite squad as they make their living across the galaxy.
While they may not provide as much astonishment or emotion as last December, these characters are positioned to be major influencers in this action-packed series.
THE RUMOR MILL
With Rex’s future heading toward Seelos, it only seems right that the clones who joined him there accompany him in this show. Kessel Run Transmissions has shared various snippets about The Bad Batch after their scoop was confirmed last summer, the presence of Commander Wolffe being one of them.
If Wolffe, and possibly the Wolf Pack, are in this series, one can speculate that Gregor will pop up somewhere as well. The commando supposedly died on Abafar in The Clone Wars Season 6, but Rebels revealed that he survived the explosion and retired with his fellow clones on Seelos.
Rex could be on a mission to free his brothers from the inhibitor chips, and it would make sense for Clone Force 99 to get involved in some way. Wolffe and Gregor both have their chips removed by the time of Rebels, but a Jedi’s appearance deeply troubled Wolffe. It seemed as though he was suffering from PTSD due to his actions in the war and those associated with Order 66.
If Rex is in a Star Wars project, it's never a bad guess to think Ahsoka Tano will be there too. It’s unknown when they went their separate ways (only to reunite in Rebels), but the pair narrowly escaped death during Order 66.
Because the timelines of these shows intertwine in many ways, it is quite possible the duo is still together and staying hidden. After all, they have to grow accustomed to their new lives as fugitives and relics of a bygone era.
Nonetheless, they still have enemies who would happily take them down if given the opportunity. Could a Darth Vader or Anakin Skywalker cameo be a possibility? According to Matt Lanter, there’s more in store for the animated version of the beloved Jedi.
Commander Cody, who attempted to kill Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode III, has also been rumored as a character in the show. This would be an obvious choice for an antagonist, especially since we have not seen any continuation of his journey beyond that movie.
Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan Kryze was a huge standout last year for being an integral part of The Clone Wars’ final arc, as well as leading Mando and the Child to Ahsoka Tano in The Mandalorian's sophomore season. One report claimed she would star in this post-Clone Wars adventure, but no other specifics were given.
One recruit to the upcoming series is Omega, a young female who knows quite a lot about the lead crew. The Direct has speculated that she may be a clone of Jango Fett herself, and some wonder if her name suggests that she was the last clone ever made from the bounty hunter’s genetic material.
Dee Bradley Baker shared that Omega's relationship with Hunter will be integral to the story of The Bad Batch, comparing it to a "more an uncle-niece or a father-child dynamic, but not entirely."
Most of these rumors probably won’t be confirmed until the show comes out, but that hasn’t stopped other leaks from dripping out of the drain.
LEAKS, SPOILERS, AND SPECULATION
In the awe-inspiring words of The Direct’s exceptional podcast hosts: spoilers, spoilers, spoilers, spoilers, spoilers. If you want a clean slate heading into The Bad Batch, steer clear of this section.
This massive leak began just as a rumor, but now it is all but confirmed: Crosshair joins the Empire. The exact details of how this plays out remain unknown, but the ragtag group is said to defect from Imperial service.
Crosshair, however, remains loyal and will command his own unit. Glimpses at this new, dark-armored squad can be seen in the first trailer for the new series, with the sharpshooter seemingly taking the lead.
Most conjecture points to this new Imperial division being the main antagonist for our unique clones, raising the stakes to a whole new level.
Particular information about individual episodes has also leaked online. The first installment is supposedly titled “Aftermath” and has a whopping 75-minute runtime. The second installment, “Cut and Run.” Running 31 minutes long, this chapter will feature the heroes visiting “an old contact.”
Corey Van Dyke of KRT shared a screenshot via Twitter with details about the third episode entitled “Replacements,” holding a 28-minute runtime as “the Batch get stuck on a desolate moon.”
Soon, all these leaks and rumors will be put to bed. The Bad Batch is set to stream on Disney+, with the first episode dropping on Tuesday, May 4th. Subsequent installments will drop every Friday starting May 7th.