The Bad Batch Season 2 Ignites a Spark of Hope

After a dull season of filler The Bad Batch brings a little more blue milk to its cup

The Bad Batch stands in a row

It might be a fool’s hope, but The Bad Batch Season 2 potentializes a grand payoff in an otherwise dull show. Echo, Wrecker, Tech, Hunter (all voiced masterfully by Dee Bradley Baker), and Omega (Michelle Ang) are off on episodic adventures once more. Our heroes take on mercenary work to make due in the galaxy. The range of their missions has more variety compared to Season 1‘s endless regurgitation of the 1977 Star Wars death star infiltration mission. To sound like a South Park Member Berry, “member when Luke Skywalker and Han Solo snuck into the Death Star disguised as stormtroopers? Then they almost died in the trash compactor and had to shoot their way out?” That was the blueprint for what felt like 90% of The Bad Batch Season 1. Thankfully, Season 2 has more variety among the 14 episodes I’ve seen.

In Season 1, The Bad Batch decided to ditch its story for a season focused almost entirely on infiltration missions. Season 2 focuses more on its characters. But that’s not to say a large portion of the show isn’t dedicated to filler content. Yet the essence of filler isn’t entirely a complaint when it comes to a kid’s show. In between the youngling genocide, Star Wars is meant to be episodic swashbuckling fun for children. Unfortunately, the adventure aspect of Star Wars grows old fast. Star Wars works best when it challenges its characters. What does Luke Skywalker do when Darth Vader reveals his lineage? Why does Ahsoka ditch the Jedi council to form a new destiny, and what happens when good soldiers stop following orders? 

Unable to follow the path of the Empire, The Bad Batch uses their skills to aid those in need. The purpose of the Clone Wars was to seize Separatist control. Under the Separatist’s siege, countless civilians were murdered by dumb droids who blindly followed orders to the tune of “roger roger.” When the protection of the civilians of the galaxy shifted to Imperial enforcement, The Bad Batch went their separate ways. Instead of killing the Jedi, they let them go. Something in The Bad Batch’s DNA is off from their clone brothers. Rather than looking or sounding the same, The Bad Batch share the same voice as Dee Bradley Baker; each solider has a variety to their pitch and timbre to separate them as individuals. 

A great deal of credit has to be given to Dave Filoni for fleshing out what seemed to be one-dimensional characters. The Clone Wars in Attack of the Clones was a spectacle that showed off Industrial Light and Magic’s (ILM) muscle over anything of nuance. The Clones were fan service homages to Boba Fett. This was possibly George Lucas’ way of pleasing the fans after comedically sending Boba Fett to the Sarlac pit. The apology didn’t resonate with fans who found the Clone Wars in 2002’s Attack of the Clones to be casualty-less boring bucket heads.

Furthermore, the mystery around Boba Fett (even his face) was unnecessarily revealed. 

The Clone Wars changed all that. Through the lens of a kid’s show, we saw the Trade Federation holding people’s lives in danger. With a simple “roger roger,” a droid could set your town on fire. The Clones were wartime grunts who at their core were good men. To not spoil the show, but there’s a reason the Clones turncoat on the Jedi with the simple words of “execute order 66.”

The Bad Batch Season 2 is an epilogue for the clones that spreads its narrative thin. However, was The Clone Wars different? When Darth Maul isn’t miraculously brought back to rain terror on innocents or Ahsoka hunted by the Clones who once served her, the show bathes in hundreds of battles that don’t serve the narrative with any purpose other than to fill the episode quota. In this respect, The Bad Batch is the perfect successor to The Clone Wars. There’s enough filler to please Jaba the Hutt. 

Stormtroopers holding guns

There’s more to the entree this time around, featuring heists, gold-digging, and homages to Alien and The Matrix. A funny thing to see, given The Phantom Menace trailer was attached to The Matrix in 1999. I thought The Matrix would survive the test of time, yet it’s Star Wars that continues to reign strong where the Matrix sequels have aged like a dusty computer laying in the attic. 21 years later, I never would have guessed I’d still care about the Clones. 

When The Bad Batch show isn’t pure swashbuckling fun, it examines our characters’ complexities. Is there a reason to exist other than fighting? All the Clones were bred to do was to serve in war. The Bad Batch uses the opportunity to be mercenaries where Crosshair chooses to serve the Empire toward the bitter end. To him, good soldiers never stop following orders. Crosshair’s arc in the plot with Season 2 opens the doors to many possibilities in the plot I wished Season 1 had taken. 

If The Clone Wars was an ending, then The Bad Batch is an epilogue. If you’re wondering why the Empire chose clumsy Stormtroopers over millions of Django Fetts, The Bad Batch may have your answer. When the show isn’t on an adventure, it examines fascism in a way the Star Wars cartoons haven’t before. The Empire is openly biased toward the clones accepting Stormtroopers from conscripted participants. They may not be the smartest order of the bunch, but they’ll get the job done with enough numbers. The clones, unlike the stormtroopers, have the spirit of light to counteract the Empire’s darkness. When the atrocious demands of the Empire put people’s lives in danger, good soldiers stop following orders. 

Omega (Michelle Ang) readies for a fight with her clone (Dee Bradley Baker) friends in the Bad Batch Season 2 Poster
Courtesy of Disney+

Season 2 of The Bad Batch does what it should: provide a reason for existing within the canon. Like The Clone Wars and Rebels, we’re introduced to new characters (even if they’re all clones) who help build engaging chapters within a dictionary about a fictional universe. For a cartoon show marketed towards kids, there’s plenty of fun to be had in between the darker episodes.

As an adult watching many of the filler episodes, I get bored, but for a child, it’s all enjoyable. From the 14 episodes I’ve seen, I’m interested to see where the show will go and what will happen to particular characters in peril. If The Bad Batch may end the way I see it ending, audiences will be in for one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. Season 2 sets the pieces together, but I wonder how thin the writers will spread the narrative. The Bad Batch could rely on multiple seasons of adventures that have little to do with the meaty parts of the plot. Or they could have fewer seasons and head toward a tragic ending. Time will tell. Meanwhile, what’s present is a step in the right direction. 

Written by Mike Crowley

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