In this new episode of "The Bad Batch," we're introduced to old friends and go on an unexpected adventure. As the brothers of Clone Force 99 and Omega try to deliver a delivery of forgeries to a droid smuggling ring called the Vanguard Axis, they discover something surprising. These droids have captured a young Wookiee that Omega finds and befriends. When they learn the droids were planning on selling the Wookiee, a fight ensues and they realize the young Wookiee is actually a Jedi. They escape with him and agree to take the young Jedi on the run home named Gungi to his home planet of Kashyyyk.
On Kashyyyk, they find the Empire has teamed up with a group of Trandoshans and are terrorizing the Wookiees on the planet. When they discover that Gungi — a Jedi — is on the planet, they hunt for him relentlessly, but the other Wookiees, the Bad Batch, and the trees themselves team up to take on their foes and keep the Wookiees and Gungi safe … At least for the time being.
Unproduced Clone Wars
This episode is actually something we've known about for quite some time but in another form. In a panel at "Star Wars" Celebration many years ago, Dave Filoni outlined a proposed story arc that had made it to the story reel phase before "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" was canceled. Set before the end of the Clone Wars, the Bad Batch would have accompanied Master Yoda to Kashyyyk where they would fight off Separatists that had teamed up with Trandoshans.
At one point, General Tarfull was to have stopped to commune with the trees in order to receive permission to fight their enemies. Chewbacca was to have played a large part in these episodes. A forest fire featured into this arc, as did the kinraths, the arachnid-like creatures that we ended up getting in this episode. This would have been a four-episode arc starring the Bad Batch, but it ended up getting condensed and recycled into this single installment of their own show.
Interestingly enough, it's reported that those unproduced episodes of "The Clone Wars" were written by Matt Michnovetz, who, coincidentally, wrote this particular episode of the show as well.
It just goes to show that no good idea goes wasted in the halls of Lucasfilm.
Details To Watch Out For
The biggest thing to note in this episode is Gungi himself. For those who might not remember, Gungi was one of the younglings who participated in "The Gathering" during that four-episode arc of "The Clone Wars." Under the tutelage of Ahsoka, Master Yoda, and the droid Huyang (voiced by David Tennant), he retrieved his lightsaber crystal on Ilum, built his saber, fought against Hondo Ohnaka, and then ended up working with him. Gungi was an instant-fan favorite — I mean, really, who doesn't love a Wookiee youngling Jedi with a cool wooden-looking lightsaber? But Gungi has clearly been through some bad times, at least based on his reaction to the Bad Batch when he first sees them. It's interesting to note that Omega practically senses him, too, lending more credence to the idea that she's sensitive in the Force.
As we head to the planet Kashyyyk, which was first seen in the "Star Wars Holiday Special," we get a lot of classic things on screen. Most notable among them is the traditional rivalry between the Trandoshans and the Wookiees.
We also get to see the kinraths fully animated now, whereas before we'd only really seen them in story reel format. Interesting to note, though, they originated in the video game "Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic."
And it looks like the droids from the Vanguard Axis had a lot in common with L3-37 from "Solo: A Star Wars Story", at least in head and body shape.
The Final Accounting
This episode was intense and heartwarming, but simultaneously heartbreaking. It ends on that note that's been a common theme with Omega throughout this season that she's not allowed to be a kid because of the war. Neither is Gungi. And the childhood of kids like them is the cost of a war that just keeps going on and on and on.
It's a gentle reminder of why we should avoid wars, even ones in the stars, but especially those at home.
As far as the technical aspects of this episode, this might be the best-looking episode of animation they have done. At night, in the jungles of Kashyyyk, with the light of the raging fire brightening everything, it's stunning. The artistry of this show is spectacular.
I'm reminded of Guillermo Del Toro's recent admonition that animation isn't a genre but a medium, and I think these Lucasfilm animation shows exemplify that. The folks making them are just craft-laborers at the top of their game, creating rich, densely layered stories that serve to provoke thought. As Hunter watches on, lamenting the childhood he can't give Omega, we're all left to wonder how we can prevent that in our own world.
I don't know the answer any more than Hunter does, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
New episodes of "The Bad Batch" air on Wednesdays on Disney+.
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