Star Wars fans, rejoice! A year after the finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars comes its descendant: Star Wars: The Bad Batch, now streaming on Disney+
Centring on the group of “defective” clones in Clone Force 99, colloquially known as the Bad Batch, who made their debut in the final season of The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch takes place immediately after the end of the Clone Wars.
The Bad Batch are a group of five clones with amplified skills. Leading the pack is Hunter, who has heightened senses that help him track and gauge the terrain. Tech, true to his name, is the technically savvy one of the group, and is less emotional in nature. Wrecker is incredibly strong, and has a more boisterous personality. Crosshair is the sharpshooter of the group, and in that way stands apart from the rest. Rounding out the Bad Batch is Echo, a late addition to the group. Echo was a normal clone who, after sustaining serious injuries in the Clone Wars, has cybernetic implants that give him the unique ability to interact with computer systems. Fans of The Clone Wars saw Echo’s journey to finding his place among the Bad Batch. Together, the Bad Batch are an elite team.
Each member of the Bad Batch — and all clones, as in The Clone Wars — are voiced by one man, Dee Bradley Baker, who distinguishes these clones with their different personalities. Of that challenge, Baker said, “Clone Force 99 is another step beyond what I've been asked to do in the Clone Wars series...The Bad Batch are actually much further apart from each other [than other clones], which oddly makes it a little bit easier to jump from character to character to character.”
Instead of recording just one character’s dialogue at a time, Dee records the script all the way through. “It's a really fascinating process as a voice actor to have these scenes where I'm just talking to myself,” he laughed. Head writer and executive producer Jennifer Corbett shared, “It's impressive to watch him do it in the room... just watching him act out a scene with himself, with all of these clones. There's no pause. He just goes right into it. And I was blown away. Each time we do one of these record sessions, I'm just amazed at Dee's talent.”
The premiere of The Bad Batch takes place at the close of the Clone Wars, as Order 66 is given to the clones and the Republic transitions into the Empire. But the Bad Batch’s mutations mean that their inhibitor chips — which is what makes clones obey orders without thinking — don’t operate at full functionality, so though the Bad Batch are in many ways super soldiers, they question authority.
When Order 66 goes out, all except Crosshair question the reasoning. Who are the Bad Batch in a post-Republic world? Their differences were strengths during the Republic era, and now those differences make their success in the more rule-oriented Empire difficult. Corbett framed the question of the show: “What happens after the war is over? What happens to clones when all they know 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.” As supervising director and executive producer Brad Rau said, part of the intrigue of the show is “to have these clinical, best of the best soldiers as suddenly fish out of water in this changing galaxy.”
But the schism between the Republic and the Empire has ripple effects on the Bad Batch. In regards to Order 66, Crosshair is insistent with his Bad Batch crew that “Good soldiers follow orders,” and after the group meets another unusual clone — the mysterious Omega, a young girl who gets taken under the Bad Batch’s wing — it appears the differences between Crosshair and the rest of the Bad Batch might be too significant to overcome.
Having Omega onboard shifts the dynamic of the Bad Batch. Rau said of their changing world, “To have this kid that they look to help raise in a very parental way — it's a two-way street, honestly, the way that that works, that none of them are really equipped to go out into the world.” Baker added, “They're certainly not used to having anybody else along or working with anybody else.” Rau and Corbett confirmed both that Omega will be integral to the show’s story and that the producers have a plan for the entirety of the show.
Involved in those plans is Star Wars stalwart Dave Filoni, who came on board the Star Wars galaxy at the beginning of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and went on to executive produce The Mandalorian. Of working with Filoni, Corbett said, “Getting the chance to develop the series with him, it's like a master class in writing Star Wars. And with this being a sequel series of sorts to The Clone Wars, it was crucial that he be involved in this process, because these are characters that he's created and it’s the world that he knows.” Rau shared that he missed an opportunity to work with Filoni on The Clone Wars and always regretted it before finally joining Star Wars Rebels as an episodic director, and is thrilled to be working with Filoni again. “I couldn't think of a better mentor, especially for Star Wars.”
Since The Bad Batch is the spiritual successor to The Clone Wars, the two series share a similar look and visual continuity. But, Rau said “That being said, the whole team at Lucasfilm and our partners at CGCG have 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 little more detail, a little bit more focus.”