Star Wars The Bad Batch: What You Need to Watch Before Starting the Show

From The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith to Rogue One and The Mandalorian, these are the movies and shows you should watch before jumping into Star Wars: The Bad Batch.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch
Photo: Lucasfilm

The Bad Batch is the newest animated chapter in the Star Wars saga. Set immediately after Revenge of the Sith, the show explores the rise of the Empire from the perspective of a group of “genetically mutated” clones who never fit in with their own kind and fit in even less after Order 66. Unlike the rest of the Clone Army, the members of Clone Force 99 (the official designation of the group nicknamed “The Bad Batch”) are unaffected by the secret inhibitor chips implanted in their brains, which quickly puts a target on their back, especially after they refuse to execute Jedi on the battlefield.

Clone Force 99 find themselves in the middle of a sea change they don’t fully understand, as Palpatine declares himself Emperor and the Clone Army turns evil. To make matters worse, Admiral Tarkin (the future Grand Moff of A New Hope) sees the clone forces as obsolete and wants to replace them with a new Imperial army. On the run and without purpose, the Bad Batch will have to carve out a new future for themselves in a much more hostile galaxy.

In many ways, The Bad Batch is really a sequel to The Clone Wars, which spent much more time chronicling the lives of the soldiers than the Prequel Trilogy ever did. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to watch all of The Clone Wars to understand what’s going on in The Bad Batch. In fact, all you need to know about Clone Force 99 is pretty much covered in the series premiere, “Aftermath.” That said, if you’re one of those fans who likes to be really thorough, here are a few other movies and TV episodes you should watch to get the full backstory of what’s going on in The Bad Batch:

Revenge of the Sith

To be completely honest, Revenge of the Sith is the only thing you’ll really need to have watched to understand what’s going on in the first episode of The Bad Batch. In fact, the first half of “Aftermath” takes place around the same time as the third act of the Prequel Trilogy closer, with the Bad Batch witnessing the atrocities of Order 66 with their own eyes.

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Revenge of the Sith shows us Order 66 from the point of view of newly-anointed Sith apprentice Anakin Skywalker as well as the many Jedi who are about to get executed across the galaxy. We watch as Anakin, now known as Darth Vader, massacres his former brethren inside the Jedi Temple on Coruscant (even younglings), while masters like Aayla Secura, Ki-Adi-Mundi, and Plo Koon are slaughtered by their own clone forces.

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The Bad Batch are confused as they watch the other clones turn on their Jedi general, and refuse to partake in the extermination. It’s the scene that truly sets up Clone Force 99 as the heroes of this story.

Later in the episode, fans also get to see another key moment from Revenge of the Sith from the clone perspective. This time, the Bad Batch gather with the rest of the Clone Army on Kamino to watch a hologram of Palpatine declare the formation of the first Galactic Empire. It’s almost a complete word-for-word recreation of the scene in the movie, complete with the voice of Ian McDiarmid.

If you want a better sense of the gravity of Order 66, and how Palpatine’s machinations led to the fall of the Republic and the Jedi, you’ll want to watch this movie.

The Clone Wars Season 7 Episodes 1-4

While I’d even count “The Bad Batch” arc of The Clone Wars as optional, it is technically the first Star Wars adventure starring Clone Force 99. In this season 7 arc, Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, and Crosshair team up with Clone Commander Rex and Anakin to rescue Echo, a clone soldier who was once thought dead but has actually become an involuntary pawn in the Separatist war machine.

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These episodes flesh out how the genetic mutations of each member of the Bad Batch makes them unique, and how these abilities sometimes cause friction with the “normal” clones. Hunter and his team are more individualistic, more prone to breaking the rules, which doesn’t earn them many friends within a society that expects them to follow all orders without question.

The second half of this arc also acts as an origin story for how Echo became the fifth member of the Bad Batch. It’s a pretty gruesome tale, but there’s also plenty of action if you want to see just how efficient Clone Force 99 are when it comes to blowing up droids.

The Clone Wars Season 7 Episodes 9-12

The final four-episode arc of The Clone Wars, titled “Siege of Mandalore,” is also the best of the entire series. While it doesn’t feature the Bad Batch at all, it does give us yet one other perspective on the events of Order 66. This time, we see the massacre from the point of view of the heroic Ahsoka Tano, Commander Rex, and the scheming Maul, who’s declared himself ruler of the Mandalorian home world.

The arc begins as a straightforward mission led by Ahsoka and Rex to capture Maul once and for all, but plans quickly change when Darth Sidious sets Order 66 in motion. While we all know the twist is coming, “Siege of Mandalore” still provides a shocking and exciting conclusion to Ahsoka’s story on The Clone Wars, while also showing the true cost of war.

The events of “Siege of Mandalore” happen somewhat at the same time as the first episode of The Bad Batch so watching this arc should give you a fuller picture of everything going on at the end of the war. We also know that Rex will appear on The Bad Batch, so these episodes are a good primer on who he is, too.

Other Clone Stories

When it comes to a franchise as expansive as Star Wars, I truly believe you should just watch the stuff you enjoy as opposed to sitting through every single episode or movie just to check off boxes. (For example, in my opinion, you can skip most of The Clone Wars in general and just watch these episodes.) But if you’re hellbent on being a completionist, you can also add Attack of the Clones as well as the first four episodes of The Clone Wars season 6 to your watchlist.

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Attack of the Clones covers the start of the Clone Wars as well as the conspiracy behind the creation of the Clone Army. For a chunk of the movie’s runtime, we follow Obi-Wan Kenobi as he tracks a Separatist plot to assassinate Senate Padme Amidala. Once he learns the name of the bounty hunter trying to kill Padme, this leads him to Kamino, a distant planet where scientists are hard at work creating a massive army for a war to come. It’s in this movie that we learn that Jango Fett provided the genetic template for the entire Clone Army, which is why all the soldiers look just like him.

Interestingly enough, The Bad Batch indirectly addresses how that template has been stretched thin in the eyars since the opening salvo of the Clone Wars. It explains why new clones like the mysterious Omega are so different to the original template as well as why the Bad Batch developed genetic mutations.

Recurring Kaminoan characters on the animated series like Lama Su and Taun also made their first appearances in Attack of the Clones. Kaminoan scientist Nala Se recurred on The Clone Wars.

Meanwhile, The Clone Wars season 6 episodes 1-4 focus on a clone named Fives. After a clone trooper slays a Jedi on the battlefield, Fives is thrust into a conspiracy involving a plan to mind control the Clone Army with an inhibitor chip, the same one that will eventually force the clones to execute Order 66. Fives plans to uncover the truth behind the chips and reveal it to the galaxy before it’s too late. You can pretty much guess how that went…

Fennec Shand and Saw Gerrera

These next ones are also optional.

The trailers for The Bad Batch have already revealed that assassin Fennec Shand will appear on the show. This fan-favorite live-action character played by Ming-Na Wen was first introduced in The Mandalorian. Without spoiling anything, Fennec goes through her own kind of transformation on the live-action series that will likely be further explored on The Book of Boba Fett, where she’ll share top billing with Temuera Morrison’s beloved bounty hunter.

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In The Bad Batch, we’ll get to see Fennec decades prior to her adventures on The Mandalorian. What was she up to years before she crossed paths with Din Djarin? We’re excited to find out!

And finally, there’s Saw Gerrera, another character we know will cameo on the show. He was first introduced in The Clone Wars season 5 episodes 2-5 and later appeared in Rogue One, played by Forest Whitaker. When we first meet Saw, he’s leading a rebellion against Separatist invaders on the planet Onderon. But, as Saw will learn on The Bad Batch, the fight for freedom just leads to another system of tyranny when the Empire comes into power. It’s a painful truth all of the heroes of the new animated series will be forced to discover.

Read more about The Bad Batch here.

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