viewing guide

Prepare Yourself for Star Wars: The Bad Batch

Star Wars: The Bad Batch premieres on Disney+ on May 4th (naturally), followed by weekly episodes on Fridays. Photo: Lucasfilm

The Lucasfilm/Disney empire is about to expand by one, with this week’s arrival of the new original series Star Wars: The Bad Batch, premiering on May the 4th (of course) with one episode and then weekly starting May 7, following the now-established Friday release schedule of the powerhouse streaming service. Coming off the success of The Mandalorian, viewers may be interested in checking out this new animated adventure from Dave Filoni, one of the creative masterminds behind that show, but, like most products in this universe, The Bad Batch builds on characters and locations established in previous franchise entries. There may not be a Baby Yoda Grogu, but there will be faces and names that ring a bell, and so viewers are probably wondering what they need to know to enjoy this new spin-off. This is the guide you’ve been seeking, young Jedis.

First, the facts. The Bad Batch was created by Filoni, one of the current standard-bearers for this universe, who made his name in the Star Wars franchise with The Clone Wars, the hit animated series that started on the Cartoon Network in 2008 (like all shows and films in this guide, it’s available on Disney+). He then created and executive-produced Star Wars Rebels, which ran on Disney XD from 2014-2018. He also created the show Star Wars Resistance and worked on the web series Star Wars Forces of Destiny. He knows his stuff, which is why he was tapped to be a major force behind The Mandalorian, even directing three episodes, including the series premiere.

Filoni gets the creator credit on The Bad Batch, and he’s working with Jennifer Corbett (a writer from Resistance) as head writer and Brad Rau (director and storyboard artist from Forces of Destiny) as supervising director. Spinning directly out of the Clone Wars arm of this universe, Star Wars: The Bad Batch is about a squad of clone troopers who have genetic modifications that basically give them unique superpowers. Dee Bradley Baker voices all of the members of Clone Force 99, a.k.a. The Bad Batch — Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Crosshair, and Echo — along with Captain Rex. Ming-Na Wen voices Fennec Shan, Stephen Stanton returns as Grand Moff Tarkin, and Andrew Kishino takes on Saw Gerrera. More on all of those names below.

Here’s what you need to watch to prepare:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (season 7, episodes 1-4)

This four-episode run in the 2020 final season essentially serves as a film introduction for The Bad Batch in much the same way the 2008 Clone Wars film set up that original series. The characters of Clone Force 99 are introduced via a four-chapter story that starts when Captain Rex determines that the Separatists are somehow staying one step ahead of their battle plans, almost as if they know what they’re going to do next. Leading the clone troopers behind enemy lines, they discover that the source of their problem is Echo, a trooper last seen at the end of season three. They rescue Echo, who joins the Bad Batch, and will be a part of the new series. This run of episodes is the most essential to the Bad Batch experience, although the show will likely reintroduce the motley crew in some way for potential viewers who didn’t stick with The Clone Wars through its final season, which premiered last year on Disney+, nearly six years after the previous entry.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (other episodes)

The opening of the final season may be most essential, but there are other episodes of the series that will likely be referenced in The Bad Batch. For example, the three-part arc at the end of season three (episodes 18–20), in which Echo is presumed killed, and his origin story at the beginning of that season in the premiere, “Clone Cadets.”

It’s not just about the clone troopers, either: Saw Gerrera was a character originally created by George Lucas himself for a live-action series that never happened, but he found a home in The Clone Wars, and has become a major part of the Lucasverse after premiering in the fifth season of The Clone Wars in a four-episode arc (episodes two–five).

Finally, it probably makes sense to watch the end of The Clone Wars season seven (episodes nine–12) just to see how it lines up with The Bad Batch. These episodes detail the impact of Order 66, which will likely play a role in the new show, as it appears The Bad Batch aren’t heeding it.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

If the Saw Gerrera arc in season five of The Clone Wars isn’t enough, revisit Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, where the character is played by Forest Whitaker, who would go on to voice the role in Star Wars Rebels and the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. (The role returns here to its originator, Andrew Kishino, who filled it on The Clone Wars). In the animated series, Saw is an Onderon rebel leader with his sister Steela who becomes a student of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. In the film, he is the mentor to Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and portrayed as someone who doesn’t always play by the rules.

The Mandalorian

There (probably) won’t be any Grogu sightings in The Bad Batch, but there is at least one direct connection for fans of the series, and it feels like there could be more over time, even if these two stories take place in different eras of this universe. The Mandalorian takes place in 9 ABY, which is only five years after the end of Return of the Jedi. The Bad Batch is set earlier, between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy, not far from the action of Solo: A Star Wars Story. There are even approved Lucasfilm names for these eras: The Mandalorian takes place during The New Republic; The Bad Batch takes place during Reign of the Empire. However, they will definitely share at least one character in the form of Fennec Shand, voiced here by the woman who plays her on The Mandalorian, Ming-Na Wen. An elite sniper, she was introduced in “Chapter 5: The Gunslinger,” but the animated version of her will have to be much younger. Wen is also reprising the role in The Book of Boba Fett later this year.

The Trilogies

Given that The Bad Batch takes place between the prequel trilogy and the original one, there are likely to be references and characters from each of the three-film series. It’s already been revealed that Stephen Stanton will return to voice Grand Moff Tarkin, as he did in The Clone Wars and Rebels. (He also played Admiral Raddus in Rogue One.) Of course, Tarkin was originally played by the legendary Peter Cushing in the first Star Wars. Commander of the Death Star, Tarkin was killed at the end of the film when the battle station went boom, but his ascendance to that position has been a part of the universe of stories that take place before A New Hope, including Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One. The trailer for the show features a shot of Tarkin standing next to Lama Su, who first appeared in Attack of the Clones, and was an architect in the creation of the Clone Troopers. Finally, there’s a name that will almost certainly come up given the show’s timeline: Palpatine. Actually, there may be more. As the season two finale of The Mandalorian proved, nothing is off limits.

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Prepare Yourself for Star Wars: The Bad Batch