This Star Wars: The Clone Wars article contains spoilers.
Although Ahsoka Tano is the true start of The Clone Wars season 7, the Star Wars animated series returned with a four-episode opening arc starring Clone Force 99, a squad of enhanced clone troopers also known as “the Bad Batch.” Essentially a group of soldiers with special abilities that make them more effective than traditional troopers, the Bad Batch was created by George Lucas, who wanted to play around with the idea that some clones were more unique than others.
The team is made up of Wrecker, who has enhanced strength; Crosshair, whose enhanced eyesight makes him an excellent marksman; Tech, who has enhanced intelligence; and Hunter, who has enhanced senses. Their unique traits also extend to their physical appearance and voices, which further separates them from their clone brethren, who the Bad Batch referred to as “regs.”
In “The Bad Batch” arc of season 7, a story originally conceived for the original run of the show before it was canceled, Clone Force 99 join Commander Rex and Anakin Skywalker on a mission to rescue a trooper named Echo, who’d been captured by the Separatists prior to the start of the season. Infiltrating the Separatist-controlled planet of Skako Minor, the team finds Echo in a surprising state: he’s been turned into a cyborg by the Separatists, who are using his tactical knowledge to gain the upper hand against the Republic.
After a tense fight with the enemy, the clones are able to accomplish their mission, saving Echo, who is invited to join Clone Force 99 at the end of the arc. His cybernetic upgrades will undoubtedly prove useful to the squad, which is now five strong. But we never get to see this new dynamic in action, as the season leaves the Bad Batch behind in episode 5 to continue Ahsoka’s story.
This may leave some fans wondering what happened to the Bad Batch at the end of the Clone Wars. Did they participate in Order 66 like the regular troopers or their unique traits allow them to disregard the control chip in their brains designed to make them obey the order? Did they even have the inhibitor chip implanted in clones at birth?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to know what happened to the Bad Batch as the conclusion of the Clone Wars gave way to the rise of the Empire. According to a panel from Star Wars Celebration 2015, showrunner Dave Filoni had originally planned to include the Bad Batch in another arc during the show’s original run but this story sounds like it would have taken place before Order 66. In this second arc, the Bad Batch would have faced off against Babwa Venomor, a Trandoshan Separatist leader who never actually appeared on the show.
While there’s hope that perhaps these five troopers were able to break away from the rest of the Clone Army as Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor did, we never see them in Rebels, where we learn that the latter three troopers were able to remove their control chips. For the moment, there are no follow-up stories featuring the Bad Batch to draw conclusions from.
Judging from the much darker tone of the bottom half of season 7 and the tragic conclusion of the series and the war itself, it’s much more likely that the Bad Batch got indoctrinated into the Imperial Army, perhaps as a special forces unit akin to the death troopers introduced in Rogue One.
Time will tell whether Disney will ever produce any further Bad Batch stories, whether it’s on another animated series or in the books or comics. We’ll just have to wait and see.