Star Wars: The Bad Batch season 2 is still struggling to find an identity of its own, and the show sadly still works best as a Clone Wars sequel.
This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch season 2, episode 3.The disappointing truth is that Star Wars: The Bad Batch only really works as a sequel to Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Clone Force 99 made its official debut in Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 7, but nobody really anticipated how important the group of mutant clones would be to the future of Star Wars. Originally introduced as a crack team of clone troopers who excelled at black ops, Clone Force 99’s status quo was naturally destined to change dramatically after the end of the Clone Wars and the rise of the Empire. To viewers’ surprise, Lucasfilm decided to commission an ongoing animated series that continued their story.
The first season of The Bad Batch stood in the shadow of Order 66. Clone Force 99’s mutations meant the inhibitor chips only worked on one of their number, Crosshair, and the rest of the team swiftly went rogue. The conflict escalated over the course of the season, culminating in an Imperial strike at Kamino that ended the Empire’s dependency on clones. Season 2 has now begun; although the themes are unclear at this time, the narrative continues the ongoing story into the Dark Times of the Empire’s reign. Unfortunately, three episodes in, the weaknesses and limitations of Star Wars: The Bad Batch are becoming clear.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch Works Best As A Clone Wars Sequel
To be fair to Lucasfilm, Star Wars: The Bad Batch season 2 has gotten off to a strong start. Episode 3 was the strongest one yet, continuing Crosshair’s story – and setting up a potential redemption. But that very success points to the problems with The Bad Batch, because the episode didn’t even feature Clone Force 99. Lucasfilm’s latest animation works best when it borrows a trick from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, choosing to move away from its stars and instead explore the wider galaxy. Crosshair is strangely compelling, a more complex individual than the rest of the team, who currently feel more like archetypes than fully fleshed-out characters in their own right.
Meanwhile, it’s becoming clear that thematically Star Wars: The Bad Batch has no real ambition to go beyond exploring the ongoing story of the clones. The galaxy’s continued Imperial evolution forms a backdrop, rather than standing at the center of the story. Episode 3 mentions important legislation that will establish the Imperial stormtrooper army now the clone projects have been wrapped up, and yet the politics that proved so captivating in Andor are otherwise ignored. The focus is purely on the clones, leaving everything feeling underdeveloped.
Can Lucasfilm Make The Bad Batch Stand On Its Own?
The question, of course, is whether Lucasfilm can evolve Star Wars: The Bad Batch into a show that stands on its own two feet. That process will be difficult, and will certainly involve introducing more themes and characters that don’t feel as though they are entirely dependent on those explored in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The story needs to matter because it is compelling, not just because it continues a tale that’s already been told.
Ironically, episode 3 may show the way to make Star Wars: The Bad Batch work; it understood there’s something so very interesting about Crosshair’s overarching narrative. The members of Clone Force 99 need their own ongoing stories, characters arc that can sustain interest in them for years. Wrecker needs to be more than a muscle-man, Tech more than a scientific and strategic genius. Clone Force 99 need to become well-rounded characters, allowed to grow beyond their Clone Wars roots.
New episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch release on Wednesdays on Disney+