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Geek Review – Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 3 (Disney+)

This review is based on the first 8 episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 3.

The Star Wars saga frequently toys with the narrative of the defiant stormtrooper, a theme ripe with possibilities yet seldom fully explored. Among these, Finn’s (John Boyega) journey in the sequel trilogy captured fans’ imaginations even if his storyline felt curtailed, leaving the richness of his Force sensitivity barely touched upon by J.J. Abrams in The Rise of Skywalker.

The Bad Batch

Enter The Bad Batch, a compelling spin-off from The Clone Wars that steps into this narrative gap with gusto. Showcasing a squad of genetically distinct clone troopers – Clone Force 99, consisting of Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Echo, and Crosshair (all voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) – who defy convention, the series carves out its niche. Mirroring the intricate storytelling of Disney+’s Andor, The Bad Batch shines a light on the uncharted ‘Dark Times’ era, focusing on the shadowy years following the Empire’s rise. 

While Solo: A Star Wars Story and Rogue One have previously ventured into this timeline, The Bad Batch and Andor argue convincingly for the benefits of serialised storytelling on Disney+ in depicting the Empire’s widespread influence. Whereas Andor reveals the Empire’s tyranny over the galaxy’s denizens, The Bad Batch offers a poignant look at the clone troopers’ exploitation and manipulation.

Omega in a scene from "STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH", season 3 exclusively on Disney+. © 2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

When it comes to the series’ visual presentation, The Bad Batch upholds the high standard set by The Clone Wars, continuing to refine and enhance its distinctive animation style. This approach has solidified its place in Lucasfilm’s animated legacy. The final season of The Bad Batch elevates this animation tradition, offering an experience that new and long-standing Star Wars fans will embrace.

Throughout the first two seasons, Clone Force 99 and Omega (Michelle Ang), a rare female clone created by the Kaminoans, navigate the tumultuous rise of the Empire, grappling with Crosshair’s allegiance to the regime and coping with Tech’s tragic demise. The squad’s quest to reunite their fragmented family propels them into a series of adventures, culminating in Season 2’s climactic events in the finale. Despite their efforts, the squad falls prey to betrayal, leading to Tech’s demise and Omega’s abduction by the Empire’s forces led by the Imperial scientist Doctor Hemlock (Jimmi Simpson), setting the stage for a darker, more intense final season. 

Wrecker in a scene from "STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH", season 3 exclusively on Disney+. © 2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

As the saga’s concluding act commences with a thrilling three-episode premiere, the splintered Clone Force 99, left with only Hunter and Wrecker after the events of Season 2’s finale, embark on a daring mission to rescue Omega from the clutches of a hidden Imperial cloning facility nestled on Mount Tantiss. This season transcends beyond episodic adventures, hinting at ominous developments within the Star Wars universe. 

The narrative shines the spotlight on Project Necromancer, a top-secret initiative that fans may recall, holds the key to… wait for it… somehow, Palpatine returning in The Rise of Skywalker. Yes, that line. Project Necromancer, first introduced in The Mandalorian, is an operation pivotal to the Empire’s legacy and the New Republic era, hinting at dark experiments with cloning technology aimed at ensuring Palpatine’s immortality, and the introduction of new leadership within the Imperial remnants. It’s a road leading straight into retroactive continuity, but hey, someone has to explain the mistakes of Palpatine’s return.

Doctor Royce Hemlock in a scene from "STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH", season 3 exclusively on Disney+. © 2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

Ian McDiarmid’s portrayal of Emperor Palpatine is notably sinister, complementing the menacing new adversaries. Doctor Hemlock, fueled by darker ambitions, plays a threatening, villainous role in the Empire, tasked by Palpatine to leverage the clones on Mount Tantiss for his nefarious experiments.

The Bad Batch ties Omega to Palpatine’s grand cloning ambitions due to her positive midi-chlorian count, spotlighting Omega’s potential in the Force and setting her at the center of the plot. However, the focus on saving Omega, echoing familial themes from The Mandalorian, suggests a repetitive pattern from the previous seasons, albeit without the same charm of Din Djarin saving Grogu during his missions.

Crosshair in a scene from "STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH", season 3 exclusively on Disney+. © 2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

Despite this, the season introduces compelling developments, notably Omega’s daring attempt to escape with Crosshair from the secluded Imperial facility on Mount Tantiss, igniting action-packed sequences. Season 3’s first eight episodes also take a deep dive into the evolving dynamics within the Clone Force 99 after Tech’s death, focusing on the relationship between Omega and Crosshair. Their on-screen chemistry provides numerous entertaining moments, showcasing their ability to navigate challenging missions through improvisation and burgeoning mutual trust, particularly after Crosshair’s earlier betrayal.

However, the season struggles with pacing, with certain filler episodes delaying the unfolding of its core story. Yet, when the narrative concentrates on Crosshair’s ideological transformation, it gains momentum, enriching his complex character arc and journey back to the team. This slow-burn approach to storytelling ultimately lays a foundation for exploring themes of regaining trust, facing personal demons, and eventual redemption.

Asajj Ventress in a scene from "STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH", season 3 exclusively on Disney+. © 2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

Integral to the Star Wars experience, cameos pepper the narrative landscape of Season 3, with appearances from notable characters such as Clone Commander Wolfe, Captain Rex, Fennec Shand, and Emperor Palpatine enriching the plot. Yet, the anticipated arrival of Asajj Ventress, long thought dead but heavily hinted at in promotional materials, remains unrealised in the initial episodes, sparking speculation and anticipation among the fanbase for what surprises the latter half of the season might unveil. Unlike the often superficial nods seen in other Star Wars installments, the cameos in this season serve a purpose within the larger narrative, offering substantial contributions to the unfolding story rather than mere fan service.

With the first eight episodes under its belt, The Bad Batch Season 3 has already delivered on heightened action sequences and improved visuals, alongside a cameo roster that ties directly to broader story arcs. However, the conspicuous absence of fan-favourite Ventress raises questions among viewers about what surprises Lucasfilm may have in store for the remaining seven episodes.

Hunter in a scene from "STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH", season 3 exclusively on Disney+. © 2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

As Season 3 unfolds, The Bad Batch reaffirms its place within the broader Star Wars saga, weaving a tale that is both a fitting continuation of The Clone Wars legacy and a compelling standalone story. With standout action sequences, cameos that serve the narrative, and a focus on the emotional and ethical challenges faced by its characters, the series sets the stage for a riveting conclusion laden with potential, promising revelations that could reshape fans’ understanding of the galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 3 is now streaming on Disney+.

GEEK REVIEW SCORE

Summary

Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 3 is darker, and more intense with Palpatine’s return along with Crosshair’s redemption, but pacing issues and a certain missing fan-favourite leave questions for the remaining episodes.

Overall
7/10
7/10
  • Story - 7/10
    7/10
  • Direction - 7/10
    7/10
  • Characterisation - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 6.5/10
    6.5/10