It’s been a long road waiting for these last twelve episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but now that we have them, it’s time to look at the lore they’ve drawn from or added to. This first episode, “The Bad Batch,” takes place shortly after the beginning of the Outer Rim sieges and I would guess between six and eight months before Revenge of the Sith. So far, this is almost as close to the end of the war as we’ve seen on the show, though that will all change by the end of the season.
Let’s go through some of the history that makes this episode rich in Star Wars.
Clone Force 99
To start, we’ll take a look at Clone Force 99 who are known better as “the bad batch.” They’re a group of clones who were marked as defects from the clone program, but they all had special skills of their own. Hunter is their leader and has enhanced senses. He looks a little like Rambo and when he greets Captain Rex for the first time, it appears to be an homage to Dutch and Dillon’s first embrace in Predator. Tech is the glasses-wearing nerd of the group. Wrecker is the muscle, far bigger and stronger than the average clone. Finally, the sharpshooter in the group is Crosshair, a combination of Kyuzo, the master swordsman in Seven Samurai, and Snake-Eyes from G.I. Joe.
Their designation as Clone Force 99 has a heartbreaking inspiration and long-time fans of The Clone Wars will remember it instantly.
99 was a malformed clone, unfit for regular service. He did, however, serve doing janitorial and maintenance work on Kamino. He inspired many clones with his Gunga Din like story and sacrifice, defending his home from the Separatist attack led by Asajj Ventress about 21 years before the events of A New Hope. You can watch 99’s arc through The Clone Wars by watching the episodes “Clone Cadets” and “ARC Troopers.”
His ending inspired other clones to give their last full measure as well and they were able to repel the Separatists at the Battle of Kamino.
History of Echo
The macguffin of this episode revolves around the battle plans that only a clone named Echo would have known. The Separatists have been able to guess Commander Rex’s battle plans and he thinks his dead friend is somehow responsible for it.
Echo first appeared in an episode called “Rookies,” which is the middle chapter of a trilogy that also contains “Clone Cadets” and “ARC Troopers.” He then featured prominently in the Citadel arc, where he was killed, sacrificing himself for the rest of his clones.
Echo is one of the few clones that audiences have been given an opportunity to watch grow from cadet clone, to rookie, to badass. He was there as 99 gave his sacrifice and learned what it took to be a real clone and he served with distinction through the war. Watching those two arcs of episodes mentioned above will give you a real sense of his history and character and make the loss Rex feels in this episode so acute. It will also give you an understanding of just how terrifying the situation is to Rex. If Echo is alive and feeding information to the Separatists, they could be capable of anything.
The heavy in this arc is spider-like Admiral Trench. Another character long thought dead. He was the heavy in the first chronological episode of The Clone Wars, “Cat and Mouse.” He and Anakin (supported by Yularen and Obi-Wan Kenobi) engage in a tense Star Trek-like cloaked ship standoff ending in Trench’s death.
Yularen offers his assessment of Trench’s abilities with nothing short of terror. Yularen faced off against Trench in a battle early in his career and knew the Republic forces over Christophsis were outmatched. Naturally, Anakin took matters into his own hands and won the day, destroying Trench’s ship with Trench in it. How did Trench survive? Our only clues are the robotic replacements to much of Trench’s face and body, allowing him to live to fight another day.
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