The Bad Batch encounter some surprising challenges in the Disney Plus show.
Lucasfilm; screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET
The Bad Batch kicks off on Disney Plus this Star Wars Day, May 4, following on from The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith as the Galactic Empire seizes control of the galaxy. The genetically enhanced titular clone squad, introduced in The Clone Wars’ final season, must figure out where they belong after Order 66 saw their Jedi allies suddenly declared enemies.
The CGI animated series was created by Dave Filoni, the Star Wars legend behind The Clone Wars and Rebels, but its writer, Jennifer Corbett, and supervising director, Brad Rau, are responsible for charting the adventure’s course. It isn’t their first trip into a galaxy far, far away though — the pair previously worked on Star Wars Resistance, and Rau directed several episodes of Star Wars Rebels.
Corbett also served in the US Navy, and she noted in a recent virtual press conference that her experience helped her understand the dynamic within the squad. Living in close quarters with people in high-stress situations creates a familial bond, and she wanted the show to reflect that.
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Speaking to me over Zoom ahead of the show’s 70-minute premiere, Corbett and Rau talked about how many episodes we’re getting and filled out the universe and the excellent new characters the show introduces. Here’s an edited transcript of our Zoom conversation.
Q. Can you tell me how many episodes this season will run for? Will we be getting multiple seasons?
Rau: We have 16 episodes in season 1. We can’t confirm any more than that, but we have high hopes. We love these characters. We’d love to keep telling the stories.
Tarkin brings some Imperial tyranny in the show’s first episode.
We see a bunch of the mechanical elements of the changeover from the Republic to the Empire, like the shift from the clones to conscripts, and the chain codes that show up in The Mandalorian. Why was the Bad Batch the ideal place to explore those elements?
Corbett: We haven’t really seen the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Republic and the beginning stages of the Empire on screen. It’s not just that the Republic falls, suddenly, it’s the Empire at the height of their dominance and galactic terror.
It’s postwar, so some planets are happy that the Empire has brought peace, and others are starting to suspect that something strange is going on.
It felt like an opportunity to see it through the Bad Batch’s eyes as they’re reacting to seeing chain code posts and how, as clones who are just numbers until they get nicknames, they react to civilians voluntarily signing up to be given a number. For them, it just seems bananas.
Omega is in awe as she travels through hyperspace.
Lucasfilm; screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET
What was the thinking behind introducing Omega, the mysterious girl who joins the Bad Batch’s adventure?
Corbett: We wanted to challenge these elite soldiers, because they’re so good at what they do. Interacting with this child seemed like a natural way to throw them for a loop, because they’re not equipped to deal with being guardians.
Who she is and why she’s important is definitely something we explore throughout the series. And we are going somewhere with this little family unit.
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I was amazed how she felt like a real kid without being annoying, because a lot of kid characters in shows just get up to silly tomfoolery — it’s a hard balance to strike. How did you manage that?
Rau: Michelle Ang, who plays Omega, is so genuine as a misfit kid that’s never been off Kamino (the water planet where clones are made). Seeing this kid playing with dirt for the first time and being amazed is the right kind of weird.
When you have a character that knows everything and doesn’t have a learning curve, it can feel false. That’s something we really wanted to be careful with — to see her fail sometimes and have to learn from it was key for us.
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Corbett: What Omega and the Bad Batch have in common is that none of them were raised to be kids. When you’re growing up with just Kaminoans and a bunch of clones, there’s no playground, and the concept of being a child is a foreign one. Seeing her grow and the Batch having this new sense of freedom is fun to explore.