Sometimes at Star Wars Celebration, fans attend a panel where the panelists express their excitement for an upcoming project, but can say very little about the actual story or characters to avoid spoilers and preserve the experience of watching the story unfold onscreen. This year’s Ahsoka panel, for example, could address only the backstories but not the future for Ahsoka, Sabine, and Hera, and revealed only the names of new villains played by Ray Stevenson and Ivanna Sakhno. For the animated series The Bad Batch, however, Season Two aired its two-episode finale on March 29, 2023, ten days before the start of Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023 in London. The timing was very much welcome, because it enabled the panelists to talk freely about the characterization and themes of the entire season. They could even directly confront the (apparent) death of Tech, without having to talk around the issue. Amy Ratcliffe hosted the discussion among lead director Brad Rau, head writer Jennifer Corbett, executive producer Athena Portillo, and voice actors Dee Bradley Baker and Michelle Ang.
After recording three episodes of Hyperspace Theories examining the first ten episodes of The Bad Batch Season Two, we were pleased to hear the panel confirm that our analyses of the character arcs, themes, and plot threads for the season had correctly unpacked the ideas built into the show by its creators. For example, Rau and Baker discussed the motivations of Clone Force 99 during the season, initially seeking to avoid the Empire as much as possible but slowly realizing that they feel compelled to be engaged in galactic events. Similarly, Rau explained that Phee was introduced into the season as a contrast to Cid, enabling the Batch to see another path for themselves while also foreshadowing throughout the season Cid’s ultimate betrayal of the Batch to the Empire. Corbett confirmed that after the fall of Rampart, Doctor Hemlock will be the new principal threat to Clone Force 99 – including in the final Season Three of the series, which she officially announced at the end of the panel.
Corbett also spoke at length about the tragedy of the clones as a theme of the series. In particular, some clones have remained loyal to the Empire, only to realize too late that their loyalty does not go both ways. This slowly becomes Crosshair’s realization, too, and encountering other clones who face the same dilemma is an important part of his character arc. In the episode “The Outpost,” which is Baker’s favorite of the season, Crosshair and Mayday mark a contrast to the Imperial lieutenant, who shows them no respect. Previously, Crosshair viewed the “regs” as lesser individuals, but he ends the episodes carrying Mayday through the snow to try to save his life. Baker noted that one theme of the season has been the shift from “good soldiers follow orders” to Tech’s final line “when did we ever follow orders?”
Check back for an upcoming episode of Hyperspace Theories in which we will analyze episodes 11-16 of Season Two, share audio clips from the Celebration panel for The Bad Batch, and reveal our reactions to the teaser footage from Season Three.
You can watch The Bad Batch panel (not including the teaser footage) as part of the Day Four livestream from Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023. The panel begins at 16:04 in the YouTube archived video of the livestream.
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