Review – The Bad Batch: Season 3

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Overview

Directing Saul Ruiz, Nate Villanueva, Steward Lee

Producing Dave Filoni, Athena Yvette Portillo, Jennifer Corbett, Brad Rau, Josh Rimes

Writing Jennifer Corbett, Matt Michnovetz, Matt Michnovetz, Ezra Nachman, Amanda Rose Muñoz, Brad Rau, Matt Michnovetz

Starring Dee Bradley Baker, Michelle Ang, Jimmi Simpson

Genre Animated/Action/Science Fiction

Platforms Disney+

Release Date February 21, 2024 - May 1, 2024

I never got around to reviewing the second season of Bad Batch. I liked it when I watched it last year, and even found it to be an improvement from the first season. The mid-season finale culminating in a brilliant cameo by Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine was the season highlight, both as a fan-service bone and as the dramatic conclusion to the best two episodes.

However, the overall direction of the series was merely continuing at pace. It still covered the same period of the timeline; the transitionary period between the Old Republic and the Empire after Revenge of the Sith. The beginning of Crosshair’s redemption arc was powerful, but the episodic structure left our lead characters hiding in the background of a much more interesting story.

This left The Bad Batch: Season 2 as solid, but somewhat unremarkable. The show has been one of the most consistent projects in the Disney regime, but that isn’t enough with audiences having highly negative reactions to Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka.

Content Guide

Spiritual Content: Themes about a mystical spiritual force that unites and binds the galaxy similar to Taoism or Buddism

Violence: PG-rated action violence, shooting, stabbing, and no gore

Language/Crude Humor: None

Sexual Content: None

Drug/Alcohol Use: Characters casually drink alcohol

Other Negative Themes: Depictions of violence against civilians, oppression, and obeying authoritarian leaders, as well as genetic experimentation and torture

Positive Themes: Themes of brotherhood, choice, loyalty, and fighting authoritarianism

Review

The final season of The Bad Batch has finally concluded, with the latest of Dave Filoni’s animated series reaching its logical conclusion. Following his excellent work on The Clone Wars, Rebels, and his live-action projects, the four-year story arc introduced in the background of Ahsoka and Anakin’s story has reached its conclusion.

While I am hard-pressed to say The Bad Batch reaches the heights of the best Star Wars content available, the conclusion of the series has posited itself as Dave Filoni’s most consistent project to date. The Clone Wars, The Mandalorian, and Rebels suffer from regular depreciation in quality and inconsistent storytelling, as does The Bad Batch. Of these projects, it feels the most well thought-out and cohesive, superficially finishing the story it intended to tell from the outset with a clear ending that doesn’t interfere with the established canon. This does not necessarily make it great, though.

Following the events of Season 2, the surviving members of the Bad Batch are still reeling from the death of their team member Tech, the possible redemption of their former friend Crosshair, and the kidnapping of Omega by the sinister Imperial scientist Hemlock. Desperate to rescue their former teammates, Hunter, Wrecker, and Echo set themselves on a course to find the hidden research facility on Tantiss, where horrific and unethical Imperial experiments are regularly performed on clones and animals.

As with Season 2, this newest season is a gradual improvement from its predecessors. The creators have grown more confident with each passing episode. While they still rely heavily on fan service cameos by Asajj Ventress, Commander Wolffe, and McDiarmid’s Emporer, they are more sparse than in prior seasons. The season’s setting on Tantiss is also catnip for deep-lore fans of Timothy Zahn’s Heir To The Empire, a storyline Ahsoka has set up for the future. Regardless of the fan service, its portrayal here is fully realized, with a thick oppressive atmosphere and a palpable sense of mystery. The return of Midiclorians as an essential plot element is even handled somewhat gracefully.

The fulfillment of Crosshair’s arc, with the slow realization of how cruel the Empire is towards its most loyal defenders and veterans, is among the dramatic highlights of the show. The characters are genuinely tense; their walls are understandably up due to their mutual betrayal.

Unfortunately, things lose a bit of steam by the final episodes. The excellent direction and animation keep the show entertaining and energetic, but the conclusion of the series’ plot becomes a bit anti-climactic. Only one major villain keeps these characters from escaping the Empire’s brutal oppression. Once that conflict is addressed, the characters are ultimately left to fade into the background. The epilogue ultimately points to a hopeful future and a peaceful resolution for these exhausted veterans, with the next generation taking up the fight in their place. However, it shrinks the show’s impact down to extremely personal stakes. It feels tiny and meandering in light of the larger world around it.

Considering Andor has taken the opposite route — taking one anonymous character and watching how his minor acts of transgression against fascism trickle into brutal galaxy-wide consequences — it leaves a story like Bad Batch feeling small and sad. It takes this great set of bombastic characters we met in The Clone Wars and ultimately decides to quietly close the door on their story. That may be appropriate for a story about veterans and their regrets, but the execution feels slightly muddled.

This is not to say The Bad Batch is poorly made. It is passionately well-made, visually beautiful, and filled with great moments. However, like most Filoni-backed projects, it is a show made with heart that needs a more efficient story. It is middling and rushed where it could’ve been great.

The Bottom Line

 

The finale to The Bad Batch feels rushed and anti-climatic, but great animation and moments make it entertaining for fans of prior Dave Filoni projects.

 

7.5

Tyler Hummel

Born into the unexplored residential backwater of Chicago, Tyler Hummel is a graduate of Tribeca Flashpoint College where he studied Sound Design for Film and Interactive Media. When he isn't hosting his public access talk show The Fox Valley Film Critics or collecting DragonBall Z figurines, he enjoys writing and directing short films. As with Rick from Casablanca, "he's a man like any other man, just more so!"

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