Everyone has pieces of Star Wars lore that they love. The Empire Strikes Back holds a deep place in my heart, that perfect and ragged film. I love the Order 66 sequence from Revenge of the Sith and that Darth Vader sequence at the end of Rogue One? Perfection. But my favorite piece of Star Wars lore, at least out of what I have been exposed to, is the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. The animation has become truly stunning over time, the characters have grown into some of the most cherished in all of the franchise, and the series managed to give a significant amount of heft to the thematic richness of the prequels by filling in so many of the gaps those films had left behind.
The Clone Wars was originally tragically truncated by the Disney purchase of LucasFilm. A mini-season entitled “The Lost Missions” aired on Netflix a year later to give the show a presumed close but in 2018, a surprise announcement revealed that the show was coming back for one more shortened season to wrap the series out more on its own terms. And it is finally here – the first episode of the seventh and final season and it’s a doozy.
The animation is spectacular – the glass-like texture of the planet Anaxes in particular is a beautiful construction. The plot is simple enough for the opening episode – with a surprise that beloved clone trooper Echo may still be alive! The action sequences are dynamic, fluid, and the camerawork moves with a coolness and verve. There’s one shot in particular, you won’t miss it, that is one of the best in the entire series and instantly makes you long for another series done in the same style.
The best part about the episode, however, is Dee Bradley Baker. The voice actor behind all of the clones, Baker somehow manages to take each individual clone and make the audience feel that they are their own distinct, unique, whole person. Considering the sheer quantity of clones in the series, that is no easy feat. That he can switch in between Captain Rex, Captain Cody, and the new Bad Batch clones (who arguably have the most distinct voices of any clones) is a tour de force masterclass in acting.
Thematically, the idea that the Republic army includes clones who have grown with “desired mutations” is a rational one. We saw that with Clone Trooper 99, in whose memory this Bad Batch is named. That more and more clones would be grown with mutations makes further sense considering how wide the scale of the conflict. That there would be conflict between what the Bad Batch call “regular clones” and clones who are given special assignments on account of their “desired mutations” follows, as unfortunate as it is considering that they are, after all, on the same side. That underlying thematic unity (more on that to come at the conclusion of this particular story arc) is going to the key driver for this arc, it appears, as the series poignantly pivots towards the disunity and destruction of Revenge of the Sith.
What did you think of the episode?