The Bad Batch is the next Star Wars animated series, a direct sequel to The Clone Wars that brings back the colorful characters of Clone Force 99. The series finds elite clone troopers Hunter, Echo, Tech, Wrecker, and Crosshair struggling to fit into the newly-established Empire in the days after the war. While the mutations that made them unique proved to be a boon for the Clone Army of the Republic, the Empire isn’t so welcoming.
A new trailer for the show teases that the titular heroes, whose squad of clone misfits is literally referred to as “the Bad Batch,” will end up at odds with their new masters, specifically Grand Moff Tarkin, who wants them wiped out. True to form, the Bad Batch aren’t about to just stand there and let it happen. It seems that they’re off on a rip-roaring adventure after their fallout with the Empire.
Along the way, the squad will cross paths with some notable characters from other parts of the Star Wars saga. In fact, this trailer teases quite a few ways in which The Bad Batch ties into other shows and stories set in the galaxy far, far away.
Here’s what we spotted…
The Clone Wars and Order 66
The most obvious connection is, of course, the Clone Wars. We see in the trailer how the majority of the Clone Troopers quickly fall in line with the Empire. Despite once being hailed as the heroes of the Republic, these same troopers have no issue marching into city squares to enforce the will of the Emperor or executing Tarkin’s orders to kill five of their own. The final season of The Clone Wars revealed why the troopers so easily flipped allegiances, slaughtering all of their Jedi commanders in the process: a secret biochip implanted in their heads allowed the Empire to control them.
While even a veteran Clone Commander like Rex was easily manipulated by the biochip, the trailer teases that the same isn’t true of the Bad Batch, who continue to be their wild, rowdy selves, even during Tarkin’s tests. They’ve never really been the marching type, and it doesn’t seem like they’re really anxious to start now just because there’s a new commanding officer.
Is it possible that the Bad Batch were never outfitted with the biochip? Or did their genetic mutations somehow interfere with it? Either way, the Empire seems keen to correct the error.
Grand Moff Tarkin
Grand Moff Tarkin, the villain first played by the late, great Peter Cushing in A New Hope, is front and center in the new trailer, and it looks like he’ll be the series’ main antagonist. Cruel in his methods and incredibly efficient when it comes to wiping out the enemies of the Empire, Tarkin seems hellbent on taking out the Bad Batch. It’s unclear why the Grand Moff wants them killed, but it probably has something to do with their “concerning level of disobedience and disregard for orders.”
“Five enhanced clones more capable than an army.” Tarkin wants to test the Bad Batch to see how good they really are, so he throws a wave of Dark Troopers at them. These look like earlier models though, bulkier and rounder than the ones that caused trouble for Din Djarin and little Grogu on The Mandalorian. They actually look inspired by the Phase III dark troopers that appeared in the now non-canon Legends continuity, specifically in the classic 1995 video game Dark Forces. The nod may be purposeful or just a coincidence. Either way, the tie-in to Disney+ live-action series is awesome, and it isn’t the only one…
The fan-favorite assassin played by Ming-Na Wen on The Mandalorian returns in animated form for The Bad Batch, and judging from the explosive Hunter tosses at her transport at one point in the trailer, it looks she’ll be at odds with Clone Force 99. Has she been hired to bring down the Bad Batch or is she simply looking to collect on a very lucrative bounty?
It’s very cool to see a newer live-action character make the jump to animation, and we’re excited to see how The Bad Batch fleshes out Fennec Shand‘s life before she crossed paths with Mando and Boba Fett.
Rex has been a staple of most of the Star Wars animated series thus far, and it looks like he’ll pop up in The Bad Batch, too. We don’t know much about Rex’s life after he escaped Order 66 with Ahsoka and before he joined the Rebellion, but it looks like he met up with Clone Force 99 at some point. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in the trailer: Rex guides the Bad Batch through what looks like a graveyard of Clone Wars-era Republic cruisers.
Is he revealing to them the truth about what the Empire did to the clones? Or is this a new mission? Whatever the case, it’s very nice to see Rex back after The Clone Wars‘ incredibly somber ending.
Like Rex, controversial freedom fighter Saw Gerrera made his debut on The Clone Wars before showing up in live-action in Rogue One and later as a guest character on Rebels. His methods are viewed as extreme by some but one thing is very clear: this guy has no love for the Empire.
Gerrera pops up briefly in the trailer to impart some wisdom about the Bad Batch’s current predicament: “You can either adapt and survive or die with the past. The choice is yours.” It’s possible the encounter with Gerrera, who is very good a recruiting soldiers to his cause, is one of the reasons Clone Force 99 will eventually turn on the Empire.
We’ll find out for sure when Star Wars: The Bad Batch premieres on May 4 on Disney+.