The Clone Wars Legacy initiative has been bringing out cancelled content from the much beloved show slowly but surely. The latest release is The Bad Batch arc, which originally aired exclusively to Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2015 attendees, a 4 part series of unfinished TCW episodes revolving around a special batch of clones, Clone Force 99, self-nicknamed ‘The Bad Batch,’ on a mission to rescue once thought dead clone trooper Echo. Much like the Utapau arc released last year, these are the story reels you’ve been looking for i.e. another set of highly entertaining entries in TCW saga.
Watching story reel animation can be a little rough, but much like the Crystal Crisis arc released in September, it’s easy to look past the animation once the episode starts rolling. Full voice acting, sound effects, and music are all here in the Bad Batch arc, and they more than make up for a lack of finished animation. But the true strength of this new set of episodes lies with their pacing, story telling, and throw up of 80’s action movie stereotypes with The Dirty Dozen-style ingenuity. The members of Clone Force 99 are: Hunter, their leader who favors using knives; Tech, a genius with technology; Crosshair, the silent and ever so deadly sniper; and last but not least Wrecker, a big ball of destruction.
My favorite aspect of the arc had to be Wrecker, someone I feel a lot of people will enjoy, due to his big dopey demeanor, desire to bring wanton destruction down on his enemies, and a penchant for throwing his allies around to help out in battle. He also gets some of the best moments and lines through all four episodes, but his brethren share an even amount of the spotlight. Wrecker’s contest with Crosshair in the final episode was truly something to behold and while I think Wrecker should’ve won, both of them have impressive feats not to be missed.
If you didn’t think Wat Tambor, leader of the Techno Union, was a bad dude, this arc will certainly make sure you feel that way. He gets fairly hostile fairly quick, laughing off the corrupt Senate (who somehow gave them neutrality), using an (unsubtly named) organic decimator on an innocent primitive to prove his point, and the main perpetrator in making Echo into what he is today. He also has a new type of droid at his disposal, the oddly shaped but uniquely talented D-wing droids. Also on the bad guy side is Admiral Trench, one of my favorite Separatist Generals of all time, who has his usually shrewd mind intact, but he unfortunately joins the ranks of TCW characters not to be heard or seen from again thanks to Anakin Skywalker. Anakin is more unhinged and brash than we’ve seen him before in TCW, especially after his padawan left and we start to come ever closer to Revenge of the Sith.
Echo lives! The now last remaining member of Domino Squadron was teased to still be alive in a post by Dave Filoni on the official Star Wars Blog and his continuing story begins with this arc. It’s a little weird seeing a human jack into a port much like the droids do, but it leads to some cool concepts and intriguing possibilities for future appearances. I’m a little surprised there wasn’t more time spent on clearing Echo to make sure there wasn’t any tampering by Tambor, but as is these episodes were packed to the brim with content and a plot about that wouldn’t be essential to the overall story.
While Clone Force 99 was full of entertaining personalities, they didn’t have much in the way of character arcs. Instead, that rested more on Rex and Echo, who were brilliantly brought to life by Dee Bradley Baker, who as usual the voiced all of the clones. The fiercely loyal Rex is always great to see (can’t wait for his time in Rebels!), while watching Echo slowly regain himself after the experimentation he was put through added something more than just action and one-liners to the proceedings. Particularly interesting was Rex’s mentioning of Fives’ final days, considering he takes his fallen comrade’s advice eventually and bypasses Order 66 to live on as an old man.
Here are a few other things:
- In Star Wars Rebels, Sabine and Hera find themselves stranded on an asteroid near an old, run over Clone Wars base called Fort Anaxes. It kind of looks like the base the Republic has set up on Anaxes, the planet prominently featured in the first and fourth episodes in this arc, but the connection is in name only.
- In case anyone is wondering: the Bad Batch arc is canon. Clone Force 99 would’ve been seen again in another 4 episode arc, this time taking place on Kashyyyk, involving them helping the Wookiees (and their tree gods) face off against a Separatist-backed Trandoshan invasion. You can read more about that in my impressions from The Untold Clone Wars panel at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim and watch the video which contains a quick scene from that second arc.
- Clone Force 99 takes their name from clone 99, a failed clone stuck with maintenance duties on Kamino (first seen in TCW S3, “Clone Cadets”)
- I hope these guys took out their inhibitor chips (a chip inserted into the clone’s brains which caused them to obey Order 66, as seen in S6 episodes of TCW), if they even had them in the first place, because they’d be a force to be reckoned with for any Jedi.
It’s easy to look past the rough animation because the Bad Batch arc is another solid notch in The Clone Wars‘ belt. Here’s hoping we get to see their second appearance in the Kashyyyk arc in the near future as it seems TCW Legacy initiative is certainly far from over.
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