The Bad Batch was introduced in the final season of The Clone Wars, and while this team of misfit clones certainly grabbed our attention, it's fair to say that many Star Wars fans had some reservations about an entire series revolving around them. Well, if today's 70-minute premiere of Star Wars: The Bad Batch is any indication, it's going to be a lot of fun following this group into action during the aftermath of Order 66 and the rise of Emperor Palpatine's sinister Empire. That fateful moment ends up being a pivotal part of this opening chapter, with a surprise cameo filling in a piece of this Galaxy Far, Far Away's history we've only heard referenced before now (fans of a certain other animated series are going to love it).
From there, it does feel like we move on a little too quickly from the fateful day the Jedi Order fell, though it certainly makes for gripping viewing to see what happened to the clones after they fell under Palpatine's control. As wonderfully action-packed as this premiere may be, it's arguably at its best while exploring how the Empire dealt with the transition from Clone Troopers to Stormtroopers, and the effect that had on those who fought during the Clone Wars (we just hope that concept ends up being a significant part of the series moving forward). Crucially, the Bad Batch prove to be a blast to spend time with, and this lengthy opener gives Lucasfilm the opportunity to better explore their dynamic and what each of them brings to this team. Now they're serving a Galactic Empire, the place of these defective clones has completely changed, and with Grand Moff Tarkin lurking in the background, they face a lot of adversity here, all while the episode successfully lays the groundwork for a new status quo that should take them to some unexpected places.
Dee Bradley Baker returns as the voice of this team (and the rest of the Clones), and is as fantastic as ever. Many of you will probably be surprised that Temuera Morrison hasn't been voicing them on the small screen the entire time, and while Baker is great at creating consistency between his and The Mandalorian star's performances, he still manages to put his own unique spin on the eclectic members of the Bad Batch. His work on them is also different enough to ensure that you'll walk away from this first chapter with a favourite...oh, and the only correct pick is Wrecker! The rest of the voice cast is also solid, with Michelle Ang's Omega a great addition to the Star Wars Universe, and one we're definitely intrigued to see (and hear!) more from.
She's not the only intriguing part of this premiere, though, and it manages to tell an exciting self-contained story, while also dropping the sort of hints that have the potential to expand the franchise in significant ways. There's clearly something strange happening on Kamino, for example, and while the series may look like a spinoff solely focusing on these heroes, we wouldn't be at all surprised if the show winds up adding much more to the mythology (while answering some big unanswered questions) than most fans are expecting.
The animation style is nearly identical to The Clone Wars - not a bad thing - and the series, in general, feels like a lower-stakes continuation of that. That's not necessarily a bad thing because not every story needs to be about saving the Galaxy, but as great as these characters are, it's going to take quite a few more episodes until we're fully invested in the group and where the show is taking them. Unfortunately, it means that as of right now, The Bad Batch, to some extent, feels like more of the same rather than a bold new entry into Star Wars canon. We're definitely anticipating that changing as the series progresses, but will need to see a little more from this one before deciding whether it's going to be appointment viewing. However, for fans of The Clone Wars, this will be a series they cannot afford to miss, especially as anyone who loved the episodes focusing solely on the Clone Troopers will be overjoyed to spend more time with them here.
It's too soon to say whether The Bad Batch will keep us hooked, but the premiere shows a lot of promise, and deftly balances action, humor, and the franchise's rich mythology to deliver a must-see opening episode for Star Wars fans.