Star Wars: The Bad Batch may not be the post-Clone Wars animated series we expected, but don't let that put you off. The newly announced Disney Plus show has the potential to be something really special that can resonate with fans of the both the Clone Wars and the movies.
The Bad Batch refers to Clone Force 99, a team of clone commandos who are all a bit, erm, wonky. We first met the group in the final season of Clone Wars, when Commander Rex requires some spicier muscle for a rescue mission. The other clones are immediately taken aback by the eclectic group, as they're far from your average clone – quite literally, as they all have genetic mutations.
Put these guys in a post-Clone Wars setting and you have got a powder keg of potential. Already, as revealed in the series announcement, we know they'll be taking on mercenary jobs while struggling to stay afloat, and it's safe to say that, due to their mutations, they weren't affected by Order 66, which turned the other clones on the Jedi.
All the parts are here for a great series: a colorful cast of characters begging to be unpacked further, a post-Clone Wars setting, and the fate of one of our favorite "normal" Clones hanging in the balance...
The motley crew
The Bad Batch is aptly named – five genetically mutated clones with special abilities and rather specific personality tics. Each of them fills a rather cliche character archetype, which initially sounds like a tired trope, but done so blatantly in a Star Wars setting it somehow works perfectly. They are the Goonies of that galaxy far, far away. It's as if Star Wars is an '80s movie, and it's finally leaning wayyyy into that.
Hunter is the leader of Clone Force 99 and he's basically a rip-off of Metal Gear’s Solid Snake (bandana included), with the gruff personality you'd expect from a take-no-nonsense kind of leader. He's a big fan of knife play, and infinitely cooler than most of the other OG clones. Then there's Wrecker, who's basically just a tank with a brain (jury's out on just how much activity goes on up there, but there's something). He's the Wreck-It Ralph of the group: when there's something standing in their way, he'll wreck it – unless heights are involved.
Crosshair is the token asshole of the squadron. He hates "regs" (normal clones) and has a general disdain for authority. His genetic mutations give him exceptional eyesight, so he's the team’s sniper. And then there's Tech, the nerdy one (there always has to be a nerdy one) who is really good with – you guessed it – technology. All the members of Clone Force 99 have the potential to be fleshed out into multi-faceted characters.
Come the end of their appearance in The Clone Wars and the Bad Batch successfully rescues Echo, who was being held prisoner by the Separatists and forced to undergo horrific experiments that left him permanently maimed. As a result, Echo feels like he no longer fits in with his brothers, and decides to leave Rex to join the Bad Batch. And here's where that could get very interesting...
Clones post-Clone Wars
We know the series takes place after Order 66, so we can safely assume that the Bad Batch's genetic mutations and their experimental features mean they don't have a functioning chip in their heads – hence why they were unfazed by Order 66.
But what about Echo? While a lot of the stuff done to him affected his brain, he was definitely equipped with a chip – as was his entire squadron. Will the first episode of the series shock us with the Bad Batch eliminating Echo as he goes on a crazy Jedi-killing spree? It certainly seems unlikely that the rag-tag squad will figure out how to neutralize his chip when you consider how Echo isn't in Star Wars Rebels, the other animated Star Wars show, while fellow clones Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor are. Whatever happens with Echo, it will certainly be interesting, and it will probably happen right out of the gate.
Then there's the role of Clone Force 99 in a post-Clone Wars Galactic Empire. Considering they'll have to take on mercenary missions to stay afloat and alive, it would be great to see the team toe the moral line, doing jobs for both sides of the aisle. Maybe they'll even have an ethical quandary in an episode that pits them up against the rebels as they run spice or provide firepower for the bad guys.
Of course, the big question that lingers is whether or not we'll run into some of our favorite Clone Wars and Rebels characters. As the smoke of Order 66 clears and the looming shadow of the Galactic Empire sharpens into view, will the Bad Batch run into Ahsoka Tano and Rex? Will they cross paths with Ezra and the squad?
It's unclear what Clone Force 99 will get up to in Star Wars: The Bad Batch, but I know for certain I'll be tuning in.
For more Star Wars content, check out our list of all the upcoming Star Wars movies coming our way.