THE CLONE WARS (S7E1+2) “The Bad Batch” & “A Distant Echo”: We’re Back!

Before I fell in love with Baby Yoda and the gunslinging world brought to us by The Mandalorian, I was already sold on Disney+. The prospect of being able to watch some of my favorite Disney classics like Sleeping Beauty and Robin Hood whenever I wanted was enough to make me lift my head in interest at the streaming site, but the promise of one of my favorite TV shows was what immediately sold me as a subscriber. And now it’s here. Disney has presented us with the long awaited, long overdue, and action packed final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, the plug was brutally pulled on Clone Wars, much to the dismay of fans all across the galaxy far, far away. The show was in its 6th season, and had evolved from an episodic serial into a show daring to explore the dark corners of the Star Wars universe. It began killing off characters, adding love interests, and challenged its audience with more sophisticate plot lines and themes. It’s a remarkable example of a show growing up with its audience. As the children (though the show is not geared toward them, its original airing on Cartoon Network probably attracted a young audience) became more exposed to the world around them, Clone Wars reflected that through its belief in making a show that was just as thematically rich as the film franchise it was based on.

Faces Old and New

The first two episodes of the new season are here to bring us back where we left off. The galaxy is still at war, the clones are still fighting, and the jedi are still leading. And that’s the way we like it. Rex and his company must infiate an enemy base in episode one, “The Bad Batch”. Like all Clone Wars episodes, the importance of the mission is of little interest to the viewers. The missions are just the canvas on which we get to watch the clones paint their characters. We learn who’s brave and who’s afraid. Who’s good and who’s bad. But Rex and company are joined by the Bad Batch, a group of seemingly modified clones with a specialties in certain areas. The groups clash, but ultimately work well together when the going gets tough.

THE CLONE WARS (S7E1+2) "The Bad Batch" & "A Distant Echo": We're Back!
source: Disney+

In episode two, “A Distant Echo” the group is joined by Anakin Skywalker, who often ends up acting as a mediator between the two groups of clones. The clones track a strange signal to an enemy base and find the pronounced dead clone, Echo, in the base, his body strapped into a strange machine with plugs running from his head to a power source.

New, Improved, But Still The Clone Wars

These two episodes were a wonderful way to ease us back into the show. We’re treading the familiar ground of clones on a mission, but we’re not yet spoiled with fan favorites like Ahsoka and Darth Maul. Still, even though we’re back in the swing of things, there are obvious improvements to the show.

THE CLONE WARS (S7E1+2) "The Bad Batch" & "A Distant Echo": We're Back!
source: Disney+

Most differences are subtle. Some color is bit more vivid, and some edges are sharper. Little touch-ups here and there that come with animation technology advancing in the shows 7 year absence. But these episodes aren’t without ambition. The show is getting heavy use out of beautiful tracking shots for fight sequences. We follow behind the clones as they run into a room full of battle droids. The camera swings to follow the blade of one clone, and leads us to the next in the same shot. It’s the kind of thing you expect from a John Wick fight scene, and we’re treated to it in a TV show.

Emotions And Foreshadow

One of the great aspects of the Clone Wars is that we know the outcome. The show takes place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, so it gets to play in the space, setting up the fall of the jedi order and the poisoning of Anakin Skywalker’s mind. The Clone Wars gives a brilliant amount of weight to the relationship between Anakin and Padme, and “A Distant Echo” gives yet another snippet of that. Anakin briefly speaks to holo-Padme, but is pulled away when he fears being discovered by Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan coolly asks about Padme, and Anakin responds with silence, but we clearly see a shadow cross his face.

Likewise, Rex is dealing with emotions of his own. He feels responsible for the death of Echo, and has always been a passionate leader for his troops. The possibility that his fallen friend could still be alive clearly shakes him to his core, and we get to see him struggle to decide if he wants his friend to be alive or not. Does he want to see is friend? Would he even be able to face him after leaving him to his death? These kind of philosophical questions aren’t running through the minds of the clones we knew in the prequel trilogy, but they’re common in The Clone Wars. It is about the clones after all. And this show finds its heart in its ability to make the clones human, regardless how many of them there are. They struggle and thrive just like anyone else. And we know they have a lot more struggling to do.

What did you think of these episodes? Are you excited to be back? Who are you hoping to see make a return in this final season? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll see you next week!

Star Wars: Clone Wars is currently streaming on Disney+, new episodes premiering on Fridays.

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