“Star Wars: The Bad Batch” was one of the most pleasant surprises of the “Star Wars” Streaming TV Era.
The Dave Filoni-created show anticipated many of the things that fans came to like so much about “Andor”: its focus on new characters, its more grounded stakes, the way it brings the fascist oppression of the Empire to life in more real-world, less mystical ways. Did it get the buzz of the live-action shows? No. But those looking to scratch that “Star Wars” itch before “The Mandalorian” returns in March would do well to consider giving “The Bad Batch” a try when it returns for Season 2 on January 4. Watch the trailer for the new season below.
“The Bad Batch” is obviously designed more for kids and their parents, and you can detect some broader notes of comedy in the trailer, but otherwise it’s striking how much the show really does serve as a companion piece to “Andor.” There’s a shot in the trailer of the Galactic Senate that seems a direct animated echo of the Tony Gilroy series. It also, for the most part, has avoided the mystical side of “Star Wars” and has avoided much to do with the Jedi. Partly, that’s because the main characters, Clone Force 99, rebelled against the Empire’s decree to kill all Jedi. But they also had a mission of their own making: to protect a fellow clone, a young girl named Omega, whom the Empire wants for its own sinister purposes. Yes, like “The Mandalorian” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” this is a show about gruff men protecting a child who’s in their charge. But it’s also been more provocative than either in its exploration of what it means to be an individual and how the Empire exerted its authority.
With Dave Filoni as its creator, some outside-the-box voice-casting decisions were inevitable, and Rhea Perlman as the reptilian, alien wheeler-and-dealer Clone Force 99 teams up with for odd jobs, while they’re sticking it to the Empire, has been a particular treat. The “Cheers” great has added a spiky edge to that galaxy far, far away, kind of like the way Amy Sedaris did for “The Mandalorian.”
“The Bad Batch” is also unique because it’s something of a sequel series to “The Clone Wars,” the beloved CGI-animated series that first brought Filoni into the Lucasfilm fold. Of particular note, a Wookiee Jedi Padawan from that series named Gungi appears in the trailer for Season 2. So yes, there is at least one Jedi this time around, but one like we’ve never seen before, that’s for certain.
“Star Wars: The Bad Batch” Season 2 streams weekly on Disney+ starting January 4.