A disappointing finale for an overall disappointing series, episode 16 bookends the first season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch in underwhelming territory.
*Warning: This review contains spoilers for episode 16 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch*
Ok…you probably know my feelings towards Star Wars: The Bad Batch by now, and they haven’t changed one bit with the season finale: a rather dour and horribly anticlimactic ending to an underwhelming show with sparse moments of greatness. A show on Clone Force 99 (Dee Bradley Baker) would’ve absolutely worked, if the creators and writers had focused on building a story with compelling characters instead of putting them in numerous side quests with multiple Glup Shitto characters that slowed down its plot.
Case in point: the destruction and burial at sea of Kamino should have been a dramatic sequence, as the audience sees the wrath of the Empire’s powers for the first time. Yet, there’s no emotional connection to any of it. Everything feels lifeless and completely empty, since the episode never focuses on building this moment up as a highly dramatic one. Maybe it was fun to see Cad Bane, Fennec Shand, and other extended Star Wars characters in the show, but it doesn’t make sense for any of the extended characters (aside from Bane and Hera) to be in a story that should have been contained to the Clones, and the Clones alone.
The Clones were the side characters of The Clone Wars, so it’s only fitting that The Bad Batch should focus only on them and their reaction to the Empire’s rise and control. But the show never focuses on that, and prefers to pander to all types of Star Wars fans that clamor for out-of-place cameos without an ounce of connection to The Bad Batch. Fennec Shand and Cad Bane are bounty hunters, fine, but why on earth did we need a Jedi (or, in this case, a Padawan) show up at the beginning of the series?
I’ve never seen a Star Wars title, so far, that hasn’t referenced the extended universe and moved away from it. The Mandalorian had a Baby Yoda in the first episode, and the animated series can’t help doing the same thing. I’m mostly looking forward to the Leslye Headland created Disney+ show, The Acolyte, as it looks to create a brand-new character and storyline instead of focusing on the Empire, Galactic Republic or The First Order. We need to be able to move away from these properties because I’m sure Star Wars can thrive even more without it.
Relying on past characters shows how truly unconfident Star Wars is at bringing new and exciting storylines for their viewers. They instead recycle arcs we’ve all seen before and expand on things that don’t need expanding. Did we really need to see Kamino getting destroyed? Not really, and it wasn’t that incremental to the story. Since the episodeAs it endsed with a tease for what’s to come in the second season, it becomes clear that The Bad Batch isn’t interested in crafting a well-defined story, but only in referencing athe past, present and future of Star Wars that feels more interesting and urgent than whatever The Bad Batch endsed itself on.
What’s even worse is the lack of a compellingly defined antagonist. In this finale, Crosshair isn’t “bad”, since the Empire left him for dead, but he isn’t “good” either. He operates in that moral conscience of “bad, but good”, or “good, but bad”. Confusing, I know, but take the scenes where he lashes out over Omega (Michelle Ang)’s lack of experience as a child as she’s trying to figure out how to get out of the Kaminoan facility, and the sequence where he rescues her from certain death. Why the sudden change of heart? We spend the entire series with a dark and brooding Crosshair, who never ever flinches over an order and completes his tasks to the letter—and now you’re telling me he’s quasi-changed? What happened? Where was the “click” in his head that made him think he was wrong for trusting the Empire? We never see it, so it feels tonally jarring and inconsistent with what the entire series foreshadowed.
Just when The Bad Batch was beginning to get good, it started to become more unconfident and less important as the episodes went along. While the series undeniably contains beautiful animation, and probably the most detailed animation in a Star Wars TV show yet (some of it looks so real that you may think it’s live-action), the series barely held my attention for the past 15 weeks. After one forgettable episode after another, it’s hard to justify a 16-episode run for a show that should’ve focused more on defining its story and main objectives, alongside exploring its central characters, than on referencing past Star Wars characters. Cameos are cool, but they have to feel earned and justified. There was literally no reason for Luke Skywalker to be at the end of The Mandalorian, and there’s no reason for Caleb Dume to be at the beginning of The Bad Batch either. If Star Wars focused on their individual stories and stopped relying on established characters, their shows would be amazing. Now, onto the anime series next September.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch: “Kamino Lost” (Ep. 16) is now available to watch on Disney+.