Dave Filoni can do no wrong in the Star Wars universe. His latest television series for Lucasfilm Animation, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, follows up directly after the events of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The premiere episode, "Aftermath", has the elite commando squad of genetic defects grappling with the bloody fallout of the treacherous Order 66. They must prove their loyalty to the new Galactic Empire while facing an unexpected, insidious threat. Star Wars: The Bad Batch gets off to an epic, riveting start. It bridges the lore before Star Wars: Rebels with some familiar faces and a surprising new one.
The story begins on Planet Kaller in the Outer Rim. It's clones versus separatist droids as Jedi Master Depa Billaba (Archie Panjabi) waits for much needed back-up. She's stunned to see five strange clone troopers, Hunter, Wrecker, Crosshair, Tech, and Echo, all voiced by the incredible Dee Bradley Baker, come to their rescue. The Jedi and her young Padawan are impressed by Clone Force 99, or their preferred title, the Bad Batch. Tech receives tremendous news. Master Obi-Wan Kenobi has defeated the droid General Grievous. Tech believes the end of the war is imminent. Their next set of instructions catches them completely off guard.
The Bad Batch returns shaken to the clone base of Kamino. Hunter, Tech, and Echo are greatly disturbed. Wrecker is no thinker, but senses something is wrong. Crosshair never questions orders. They watch as Kamino Prime Minister Lama Su (Bob Bergen), and his deputy, Nala Se (Gwendoline Yeo), welcome an important guest. Admiral Tarkin (Stephen Stanton) has to come to inspect the clone facilities. He's particularly interested to meet the genetic deviants; who have an astonishingly successful battle record. As the squad leader, Hunter struggles to understand the scope of what is happening. He's even more concerned after meeting a mysterious young girl, Omega (Michelle Ang). She delivers a dire warning. The Bad Batch is in great danger.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch jumps into the plot after a brief voiceover exposition. Dave Filoni doesn't waste time catching up. The show assumes the events of the Clone Wars and Order 66 are known. A killer scene has the clone armies watching Emperor Palpatine's (Ian McDiarmid) speech to the senate as he declares the Galactic Empire. This was a pivotal moment in Revenge of the Sith and is seen with a different viewpoint here. While the other clones cheer with undying loyalty for the new tyrannical regime, the Bad Batch senses the staggering betrayal of the Jedi and Republic.
Fans will be pumped to see beloved characters from the films and animated shows. There are a lot of delicious small details to be gobbled up. The return to Kamino offers a new tangent that hasn't been explored. Tarkin's inspection could spell doom for the cloners. They were complicit in Darth Sidious' plans and are keenly aware of his unbridled evil. There's also a classic Star Wars twist that brilliantly sets up the show's trajectory. We know how certain events played out in the future timeline. The fun here is seeing the details in action; especially with the influences of new characters.
The CGI animation is crisper and more refined than the previous series, but stylistically in the vein of Star Wars: Rebels. The interaction between the Bad Batch offers some humor to the dark storyline. Order 66 marks a bloody beginning.
I'll assume the brewing civil war won't be lighthearted as the series plays out. Star Wars: The Bad Batch is already must-see television from a gifted showrunner and producer. Dave Filoni (The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett) could run a marathon doing victory laps. Star Wars: The Bad Batch "Aftermath" launches globally on Star Wars Day aka May the 4th. New episodes premiere every Friday exclusively on Disney Plus.