On January 4, 2023, The Bad Batch Season 2 premieres on Disney+ with two episodes “The Spoils of War” and “Ruins of War.” For Season 2, FANgirl Blog received screeners through Episode 14 of the sixteen-episode season. Our review will avoid detailed plot spoilers.
Season 1 concluded with the bombardment of Kamino by Admiral Rampart’s fleet, resulting in a Kaminoan genocide and destruction of their cloning technology. The Bad Batch and Omega barely escaped a watery death. Although a temporary truce had been struck with Crosshair while they escaped Tipoca City, they parted ways with their former Clone Force 99 team member. The Bad Batch, now believed dead, fled on the Marauder, while Crosshair hoped for an Imperial rescue from the dangerous Kaminoan sea where he bade farewell to the others.
After those events, Hunter, Echo, Tech, Wrecker, and Omega are at a crossroads, no longer clone troopers and in search of a new purpose. Generally, Season 1 could be considered a high school story. Clone Force 99, a group of outcasts within their own clonetrooper circle, begin to discover the broader world and explore the notion of independence, but they aren’t sure what they want to do when they grow up. Despite their wartime experience, the former soldiers are only ten years old. And Omega, without the accelerated aging and kept isolated and sheltered by Nala Se on Kamino, is a literal youth. Some time has elapsed, and Season 2 is akin to their college years. The reality of bills and questions of life purpose become pressing, but against the backdrop of the newly formed Empire.
Fans who have been curious about the transition from clonetroopers to stormtroopers will have some of their questions answered. The destruction of Kamino wasn’t a random act, but rather a distinct move in some epic political machinations. Much like Andor, the political intrigue is the setting for very personal stories about family and identity. In smaller episodes that step away from the maneuvering on Coruscant, The Bad Batch maintains its unifying thread of how people with power affect the choices the characters make. Clone Force 99 is still very much under the heel of information broker Cid, who dangles her knowledge about the existence of the Bad Batch as leverage to induce them to undertake various missions, many where their survival could be exposed to the Empire.
One of the criticisms of last season was that not all members of Clone Force 99 got the same amount of development. In particular, Tech seemed to have the least growth. In second season, the highly intelligent former clone commando steps into a bigger role regarding Omega and develops as an individual. For the first half of the season, Tech is the big brother to Omega, with Hunter as a father-figure and Echo as a mother-figure. The pivotal seventh and eighth episodes highlight the plights of all the clones and ultimately reshape the Bad Batch family dynamic.
Omega continues to shine as a focal point of the series. The season opening uses classic in media res to show the audience how much she has progressed as a member of the team. She has things to learn, but they trust Omega to do her part when the time comes. Scenes reminiscent of young Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace reinforce how using the perspective of a child can be an effective storytelling tool. Leaving Nala Se’s lab on Kamino in the first season opened Omega’s eyes to the idea of family. As she goes more places and learns more things, the stakes are also getting bigger for the people she cares about. At the same time, characters come into the story to remind us that Omega is still a child and that children should be allowed to be just that.
For fans of The Clone Wars, this season will call back to some fan-favorite moments. Without spoiling anything further, both Count Dooku’s palace on Serreno and the Jedi youngling Gungi have been revealed in the Season 2 trailer. Quite a few more interesting ties to The Clone Wars appear. You don’t necessarily need to have seen the earlier animated series to understand what’s happening in The Bad Batch. I predict a lot of fans will be quite happy for the interconnectivity. Those who have listened to Dave Filoni talk about the tradeoff in animation between asset management and storytelling choices will see that play out, as well. Some smaller focused stories along the way allow for a few bigger stories with more characters and grander set pieces. Don’t let anyone tell you those smaller stories are filler, because things are happening at the character level that matter later on.
A couple of quick shout-outs to new cast member Wanda Sykes, who plays Phee Genoa, and Kevin Kiner’s score. I can’t talk much about either yet because to do so would spoil things mightily. We meet Phee in Episode 1, where she has a minor role, but trust me, it gets better in the back half of the season. In the third episode, everyone will get a taste of Kiner’s mastery of musical storytelling; that’s just a tease for later, harder-hitting moments. So far, “The Outpost” is my singular favorite episode and the music has a lot to do with it.
One final note: the title of almost every episode has a dual meaning, which is very Star Wars. This translates over to the series title, too. At some point, while watching this season, the concept of who and what the Bad Batch is shifts. I look forward to talking about that later this year.
FANgirl Blog was provided advanced screeners for the favor of a fair review.
For more on The Bad Batch, check out Fangirls Going Rogue’s interviews with showrunners Brad Rau and Jennifer Corbett, the voice of the Bad Batch Dee Bradley Baker, and the voice of Omega Michelle Ang.
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