Long have we waited. After seven years Star Wars: The Clone Wars returned Friday. Episode 1, entitled The Bad Batch, kicked off the by focusing on one of the CGI animated series' : the clone troopers (all played by .,
Shortly before the galaxy-altering events of Revenge of the Sith, Republic forces are struggling against Separtist Admiral Trench on the planet Anaxes. Clone Captain Rex tells Jedi generals Mace Windu (T.C. Carson) and Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) that he thinks the enemy's droid forces have worked out his strategies. Rex and Cody want to take a small force of their clone brethren behind enemy lines to figure out why, and it turns out that force will include the titular Bad Batch.
This episode and the other three in the arc were released as unfinished story reels back in 2015. Now it's been completed and looks a whole lot better. If you haven't watched previous seasons of The Clone Wars, rest assured that this episode works in isolation, and I'll fill in some of the background. Let's dive into spoiler territory.
The fortune cookie
"Embrace others for their differences, for that makes you whole." As is Clone Wars tradition, each episode opens with a pearl of wisdom linked to the events that follow. This one ties into initial friction between Rex, Cody, Kix and Jesse and the atypical clones they team up with.
After meeting the Jedi, Rex expresses his feelings of remorse over the loss of some fellow clones. Hevy sacrificed himself so his brothers could escape droid forces in season 1 episode Rookies, and Fives was killed while trying to expose Chancellor Palpatine's Order 66 conspiracy to the Jedi in season 6's Orders.
Echo was seemingly killed by a deadly commando droid in season 3 episode Counterattack, but Rex suspects he's alive due to the nature of Separatists' counterattacks.
Clone Force 99
Cody introduces his brothers in Clone Force 99 (aka the Bad Batch), a group of "defective clones with desirable mutations" (aka a bunch of badasses). They're named after maintenance worker 99, a genetically defective clone who died helping Fives and Echo during the Battle of Kamino in season 3 episode ARC Troopers.
The Bad Batch consists of Hunter, who has heightened senses like Marvel's Daredevil, the superhumanly strong Wrecker, the incredibly knowledgeable Tech and deadly sniper Crosshair. This lot absolutely needs to star in a four-player co-op shooting game, it's been way too long.
They also refer to Rex and company as "regs" -- regular clones. The term is an extension of "shinies," which is what battle-hardened clones call their less experienced brethren due to their shiny, unblemished armor. I kinda like a set of sparkling new clone armor... does that make me an Imperial?
Creatures in the dark
In the scene where the clones plan their next move around a campfire, you might spot some yellow eyes shining in the darkness behind them. These belong to fyrnocks -- predators that will attack (and ultimately aid) the Ghost crew when they visit years later in season 1 of followup show.
By that point in the timeline, Anaxes has suffered some kind of cataclysm and the abandoned Republic base is on one of the asteroids that the planet has been reduced to, as noted in the official site's trivia guide for the episode.
The villain ordering the droids around behind the scenes is Admiral Trench (also voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) , a member of the arachnid Harch species. He became a cyborg (because spider-cyborgs are extra creepy) after Anakin blew up his ship in season 2's Cat and Mouse.
A clone survivor
After Tech hacks a Separatist cyber center's computers, he intercepts a signal from Skako Minor. It turns out to be a human voice uttering "CT-1409" -- Echo's birth code. It seems Rex's theory that he survived was right on the money.
I guess it's clear where the second episode of The Clone Wars' seventh season will bring us. That'll hit Disney Plus next Friday, Feb. 28, and I'll have another recap up that day.
First published Feb. 21.
Updated Feb. 25, 4:45 a.m. PT: Adds section about fyrnocks and Clone Wars Download video.