The primary episode of the 2020 revival of Star Wars: The Clone Wars launched Clone Power 99, a squad of elite clone commandos with experimental mutations that made them stand out among the many clone warriors created to defend the Galactic Republic from the Confederacy of Impartial Methods. Whereas The Clone Wars wrapped up its plotlines and its titular battle between the Jedi and the Separatists led by Rely Dooku and Normal Grievous in its closing season, the unit nicknamed The Unhealthy Batch offered a chance to proceed The Clone Wars’ deal with the lives of troopers in a galaxy gripped by seemingly infinite conflict.
Star Wars: The Unhealthy Batch, which premieres on Disney Plus on Might 4 (aka “Star Wars Day,” as a result of “Might the 4th be with you”), picks up nearly precisely the place The Clone Wars ended, with the execution of Order 66 activating control-chip implants that pressure the clone troopers to activate their Jedi leaders. The members of the Unhealthy Batch are largely unaffected, as a consequence of their distinctive natures, leaving them to query whether or not the destruction of the Jedi Order is justified. As the brand new Galactic Empire begins solidifying its management, the squad begins difficult orders and bucking Imperial management.
The present might probably make a number of extremely related commentary about troopers preventing in unjust wars for an more and more authoritarian state, however the first two episodes of The Unhealthy Batch are principally targeted on making an attempt to make a present a few group of grim, closely armed veterans really feel kid-friendly. The pilot introduces Omega (Michelle Ang), a mysterious, precocious younger woman raised within the cloning facility on the planet Kamino. Omega shortly types a bond with the Unhealthy Batch’s chief Hunter (voiced, like the entire clone troopers by the wildly gifted Dee Bradley Baker) and winds up operating off with the squad to successfully function his adopted daughter and sidekick.
Hopefully, that is simply the newest manifestation of a sample that’s stretched throughout the Star Wars animated reveals helmed by Dave Filoni. Whereas The Clone Wars turned a complicated sequence that delivered war-movie motion, launched beloved new characters, and offered robust growth for the prequels’ heroes and villains, it began out with a way more juvenile tone, similar to Unhealthy Batch.
Anakin Skywalker’s padawan Ahsoka Tano begins The Clone Wars as a 14-year-old who’s simply been despatched out into the sector, and he or she acts as a relatable stand-in for the viewers, letting them study concerning the nature of the galactic battle from the identical perspective as youthful viewers. Most of the first-season episodes contain fairly cutesy plots, like Anakin looking for R2-D2, or Jar Jar Binks being mistaken for a Jedi. The sequence didn’t actually hit its stride till season 2, when the workforce started delivering standout episodes just like the epic motion of “Touchdown at Level Rain,” or the deeply private drama of “The Deserter.”
Star Wars Rebels, which Filoni co-created with Simon Kinberg and Carrie Beck, went by way of an identical development. Within the first season, the forged of primarily teen characters principally have interaction in foolish hijinks and conflicts with one-note villains. However by season 2, Rebels started drawing on a few of The Clone Wars’ finest characters, whereas additionally considerably creating its major forged. It went on to inform difficult tales about sacrifice, the burdens of management, and located household, whereas offering the primary onscreen look of probably the most vital villains in Star Wars canon.
Omega’s presence is comprehensible in that Filoni and head author Jennifer Corbett may need had a tough time promoting a present in 2021 with no single feminine protagonist. In addition they may need thought a cute sidekick would work properly given the recognition of Grogu, aka Child Yoda, in The Mandalorian.
However a non-verbal alien serves a really completely different position than a human tween. Grogu’s hijinks are alternately cute and horrifying, and he periodically makes use of his Power powers to alter the course of a combat, however he doesn’t actively demand the highlight in the identical method Omega does firstly of The Unhealthy Batch. She’s additionally doubtless a Power person who will function a sequence McGuffin, presumably pushing Hunter and the remainder of the Unhealthy Batch to guard her simply as violently as Din Djarin fights for his younger cost on The Mandalorian. However Corbett appears to be bending over backward within the first two episodes to make sure Omega isn’t simply adopted by the squad, however accepted as a helpful member of the workforce. Her moments to shine come on the expense of the present characters, who should make dumb errors so she will be able to bail them out.
It’s significantly irritating that Corbett and Filoni felt the necessity to jam Omega into the present given how inaccessible the remainder of the present is to children, and even informal Star Wars followers. Whereas the heroes of the Unhealthy Batch largely fall into broad 5-Man Band archetypes, the present is deeply invested within the lore of the earlier animated sequence. It’s full of callbacks, references, and cameos that obtain nearly no clarification. It’s actually onerous to think about new, younger viewers being shortly wooed by a sequence that appears to imagine that anybody tuning in has already watched 11 seasons of The Clone Wars and Rebels.
However the lore and characters established in The Clone Wars are additionally featured in The Mandalorian, they usually’ll get further life in Filoni’s Ahsoka Tano sequence. Maybe these reveals, and never The Unhealthy Batch, would be the true successors to The Clone Wars. But if the trajectory of previous sequence can predict something, it’s doubtless too early to write down The Unhealthy Batch off. Omega will develop up, and the present will doubtless develop together with her.
Episodes of Star Wars: The Unhealthy Batch might be launched weekly on Fridays on Disney Plus, beginning Might 7.