Reel Thoughts: ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ season 2 stumbles at first, but recovers for a memorable finish


Illustration by Emily Lichty

The characters of “The Bad Batch” consistently elevate the show even when its storylines fail to contribute to the overall plot.

Danny O’Grady, Design Editor

Warning: This article contains spoilers.

Following the destruction of Kamino in the season one finale of “Star Wars: The Bad Batch,” series Creator Dave Filoni was left in a unique position. Though most plot points from the first season had already concluded, the show still had to expand for at least one more season and wrap up the story of Clone Force 99, the titular Bad Batch.

The second season’s creative direction was wide open and could have been handled in various ways. But, episodes in the first half felt purposeless and at times, low-stakes. The season only found its footing much later.

A prime example of the season’s lackluster opening is episode four, “Faster,” which has almost no impact on the show’s central plot and feels like a cheap knockoff of the blood-pumping pod racing sequence from “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” It becomes difficult to understand the direction of the series early on, given that plot points in the first half are largely reminiscent of busywork sidequests one would see in a bloated open-world video game.

However, the early filler episodes would not be as egregious if more meaningful character development occurred within them. Omega (Michelle Ang) and Crosshair (Dee Bradley Baker) are the only characters who undergo a noticeable shift throughout the season — which leaves the rest of the cast as likable, but just a tad too predictable.

Thankfully, the plot ramps up in the second half and splits into three core storylines: the Bad Batch cutting ties with Cid (Rhea Pearlman), Crosshair learning of atrocities the Empire has committed and the Senate determining the fate of remaining clones. Each of these story arcs are well-executed and come together to build toward an epic conclusion, a pinnacle for the series. 

The finale was entertaining throughout and delivered memorable moments that promise interesting arcs to come. However, the cliffhanger at the end was unsatisfying and holds the episode back from being something truly special.

Nevertheless, the animation was well-handled throughout and made action scenes more visually striking and impressive overall. The music also complemented the show’s tone well, often raising tensions. With slight changes to this season’s art style, which features a greater emphasis on grays and subdued colors, “The Bad Batch” visually differentiates itself from its more colorful predecessor, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” allowing the more recent show to stand on its own merits.

Because it branches off from “The Clone Wars,” “The Bad Batch” is in an ideal position to provide meaningful additions to the Star Wars canon. For instance, the Bad Batch delves deeper into Emperor Palpatine’s (Ian McDiarmid) cloning research, which will likely explain a massive plot hole created by his resurrection in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Couple this revelation with the show’s thorough explanation of the clones’ disappearance and the rebellion’s rise, and it is easy to understand why “The Bad Batch” remains an important addition to the Star Wars universe. 

Still, “The Bad Batch” does not forget its “The Clone Wars” roots, often providing callbacks and fan service for fans of the older show. It wastes no time in reminding the audience of the Clone Wars’ impact by setting the first two episodes around Count Dooku’s old palace. Notable references continue with appearances by relatively obscure characters from “The Clone Wars” like the Wookie Jedi Gungi and the Zillo Beast sprinkled throughout.

With or without easter eggs, “The Bad Batch” finishes its second season strong, but lacks the consistency present in its opening season. The cliffhanger ending indicates that a third season is a near certainty, but to be successful this spacefaring series must learn a lesson from its predecessor and refrain from adding episodes of trivial filler into its storyline.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @DannyMOGrady04 

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