The Clone Wars are back – an event long-awaited by scores of fans whose call for renewal prompted Disney to make the seventh season. Its first episode, “The Bad Batch”, already outlined what we can expect from the season.
Nostalgia Strikes Back
The new series’ idea was clearly to set off with true Clone Wars nostalgia. The plot is clone-centered, Anakin and Mace Windu appear only for a couple of seconds in the beginning. Otherwise, we are looking at an action-heavy episode reminiscent of some early TCW clone-centered classics.
To some, it may be more than familiar: “The Bad Batch” is one of the episodes that had begun production in 2014 and were left unfinished after The Clone Wars was cancelled. The story reel of these episodes has later been released to the public, so many fans have watched them in their unfinished form. The current version differs a little in details like character design, and a couple of scenes have been added. Aside from “The Bad Batch”, we can expect some of the subsequent episodes to be also finished versions of the original drafts.
Clones Are The Focus
I am probably not the only person whose chief problem watching original TCW was keeping track of the different clone characters. The Bad Batch are a bit better in this respect. Hunter, Tech, Wrecker and Crosshair are not only different in personality, but also physically enough from each other and everyone else.
The plot starts with a conflict on the planet of Anaxes. In the middle of it, hints emerge that convince Rex that Echo, a fellow trooper presumed dead after third season episode “Counterattack”, may be alive. The Bad Batch are called to help retrieve the intel, and while their relationship with Rex starts off somewhat on the rough side, mutual respect builds up throughout the mission. The Bad Batch, or Clone Force 99 as their official name goes (an homage to “99”, the defective clone who appeared in Season 3), are special clones that exhibit certain mutations which, however, make them more efficient soldiers. Their skill becomes soon evident when the droid armies come down at the heroes in force.
Rambo In A New Coat
Even on first sight, the animation of Season 7 is clearly higher level than previous seasons. The visual design team and animators have also learned the lessons from last years, such as from the production of Rebels, and used their experience here.
The result is very smooth, visually impressive animation, characters and scenery. This helps to maintain the overall serious, at times almost too grim tone of the story. No fooling around here; all the jokes are the rough military sort. The drop and the entire operation look like something out of a 80s action film. Admiral Trench, who appears in the role of the arch-villain, is not portrayed as a funny spider, but as a dangerous, deadly enemy.
An Intense Start
Season 7 has kicked off in a promising manner. The fact that these episodes have been technically aired before does not lessen the impact, as even fans who have seen them would be interested in “polished” version (not to speak of the changes that were made, which may further be smaller or bigger).
Picking “The Bad Batch” and their story arc for the start was clearly a conscious decision, not only to finalize the old story reels, but to bring back the classic themes of TCW. Clones and the relationships between them as well as the action-centered episodes have always been a big part of TCW. Obviously, as even the trailer has shown, there will be also time to turn to different themes, such as the Jedi, Mandalore and others.