The Clone Wars, Season 7, Episode 1: The Boys Are Back In Town

The Clone Wars, Season 7, Episode 1: The Bad Batch

We have waited so long for this moment, I even turned on the Drop Cap for this paragraph to make this entry that much more dramatic. That’s how momentous an occasion this is. A moment that, genuinely, I did not ever expect would actually come to pass, but here we are: it’s 2020, and The Clone Wars is back to finish what it started. But first, permit me, if you will, to get a little sentimental.

TCW is dear to me for many reasons. Without it, I likely would not have ever started this blog, for one thing. It’s also the first bit of Star Wars Content that my oldest child really latched on to, when he was first old enough to start getting into Star Wars. He’d seen and enjoyed the movies, but it’s this show that turned him from “interested” into a fan. (He probably knows more off the top of his head about the plotlines of this show than I do, and that is slightly terrifying when you consider that I write giant recaps of it as a hobby.) Over the years, this show has been a big family bonding thing for my husband, children, and I. For that alone, I am sure it will always have a special place in my heart. The fact that it contains a large amount of Obi-Wan and Anakin being idiots is just icing on the cake.

Before we launch into today’s recap, about which I am full of feels, let us first review — as is tradition — where we last left some of our characters, way back when this series last aired new content:

  • Anakin Skywalker, Yeller of Things, continued to gradually edge closer to losing his cool, his sanity, his hair, and his remaining limbs, throwing repeated tantrums out of jealousy over Padme, angst about his job and the role of the Jedi/Senate/Republic, and being forced to endure looking at Obi-Wan’s beautiful face all the time (I assume.) He’s been dealt a solid blow with the departure of his Padawan Ahsoka from the Jedi Order, and Palpatine is pretty much just constantly hovering around him egging on his mental breakdown. I’m starting to think things aren’t going to turn out so well for this guy!
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi, Sad Space Dad With a Glorious Mane Of Beautiful Scottish Hair I Mean Seriously Have You Seen It Can You Believe Obi-Wan Invented Hair, has been doing his damnedest to dutifully serve the Jedi Order and the Republic and has somehow maintained his composure all this time, despite the fact that this war has required him to fight Undead Darth Maul multiple times, watch his girlfriend get murdered in front of his face, fake his own death, and once spend an entire season getting repeatedly beaten, enslaved, or electrocuted. In his spare time, he’s been doing stuff like visiting Anakin’s dorm room in an attempt to get Anakin to talk about, oh, any of his problems, with no success, because Obi-Wan’s life is terrible and it’s only going to get worse from here.
  • Padme Amidala, Beautiful For A Senator and Also Just For a Human In General, has been dealing with some straight-up bullshit at work, and not of the “some guy keeps stealing my lunch from the office refrigerator” variety: corrupt colleagues, assassination attempts, an idiot husband who blows off his work retreat to bother her while she’s trying to get actual democracy done — you name it, she’s had to put up with it and still try to fit in the 5 hours per day she needs to get a hairstyle. And now it’s starting to look like Kindly Uncle Palpatine, her once-staunch supporter, might not be quite as dedicated to a free universe as he previously indicated! Shocker!
  • Ahsoka Tano, Anakin and Obi-Wan’s Runaway Daughter, got expertly framed for murders that it turned out were actually committed by one of her best friends, Barriss Offee. The Jedi Order had agonized over if and how to assist her given their precarious position in service to the Republic, Stupid Tarkin pushed relentlessly to get her thrown in the slammer, and eventually she had the world’s most dramatic criminal trial, that literally featured a Jumbotron screen AND a last-minute Disruption from Anakin that resulted in her exoneration. Regrettably, however, Ahsoka had decided that all of this nonsense had left a bad taste in her mouth, and had decided to strike out on her own to seek her destiny, which will eventually involve faking her own death, quasi-time-travel, space whales, and Thrawn, and no I am not making that up.
  • The Grand Army of the Republic, Your Favorite Millions of Identical Uncles, had a Mystery on their hands when one of the brothers, Tup, suffered a sort of breakdown while on a mission and murdered a Jedi, something that is not supposed to happen and absolutely never will again. This led to an investigation that ultimately brought us back to Kamino (“Ask About Our Bulk-Order Discounts!“), and brought Fives to the conclusion that Something Was Very Very Not OK About This Whole Thing With The Clone Army’s Control Chips. This breakthrough, one of the literal only times anyone in Star Wars has ever figured out anything, earned Fives the distinction of being one of the smartest people in Star Wars. RIP, Fives. You were a good one.
  • Sheev Palpatine, Not As Easy to Kill As We Thought Evidently, was quietly having the time of his life, because it’s very nearly Party Time.

Right then. We ready for this? No, no we are not. Are we going to survive this season? Again, no. Are we gonna go for it anyways? Yes, yes we are.

OK, Filoni: bring it on. Pull no punches. Drive that steam roller right over my HEART.

I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.

Off we go.

Recurring Theme: This War’s Not Going So Well

The episode gets going with its usual blast-in-your-face fanfare, and before too long we’re getting yelled at by Voiceover Recap Guy. Awww. It’s been a while.

He kicks things off by shouting that we’re in the midst of THE BATTLE FOR ANAXES, which is apparently the location of one of the Republic’s largest shipyards!

The animation/graphics are OUTRAGEOUS. I am so, so, SO glad Disney forked over the cash for them to do this right. FINALLY.

Behind this attack is Separatist Admiral Trench, that guy from the Very Sad Fives Arc who looks like a giant tarantula who is also (of course) partially robotic. I…I’m having one of those passing giggle fits about that scene in A New Hope where Obi-Wan tells Luke he fought in the Clone Wars. I just…who among us sincerely thought ANY of this crazypants series was what The Clone Wars LOOKED LIKE? Did Luke UNDERSTAND THAT IT INVOLVED MORE THAN ONE PERSON WHO COULD BE DESCRIBED AS “PARTIALLY ROBOTIC SPIDER”??! I genuinely cannot even imagine how Obi-Wan dealt with life on Tatooine, because even with all the pirates and Hutts and the fact that it was a lawless wasteland, Tatooine seems like a SLEEPY SUBURBAN TOWN compared to the batshit craziness he was putting up with on a near-constant basis FOR YEARS prior to his exile.

So: Trench and his droids are fucking shit up on Anaxes, which is bad. Anakin and Mace have been leading the Big Giant Space Battle happening in the air, but they continue to face mounting losses, and things aren’t looking so good. Aww, I like it when Anakin and Mace work together! That’s…just fine. I have no feelings about this at all.

Mace predicts that they don’t have long before they lose Anaxes entirely, which will compromise their entire fleet. Anakin looks on with Frustration and Exhaustion. Let us all take a moment to appreciate his longer, floofier hair, which I predict is gonna be just about the only thing in this season about Anakin that isn’t going to fill me with anxiety and dread:

Recurring Theme: It’s Almost As Though There’s More Here Than Meets the Eye

Rex and Cody approach them now (…was Obi-Wan on PTO this week or something? GOD I REALLY HOPE SO; let’s all pretend that that’s what happened and that he’s in Space Aruba right now with sunglasses and shorts on, being waited on by a hot bartender and chatting up the locals), and Cody informs that Rex has got some Ideas:

Well, I know *I* can think of One Big Evil Old Man-Shaped Reason why, but go ahead, Rexy.

Rex explains that the Separatists have been using analytics to learn their tactics — they use a tactic once, and it works, but over time it becomes less and less useful.

…so, the Separatists are taking a page from Silicon Valley’s playbooks, eh? No wonder Anakin keeps getting all kinds of targeted fake news stories about men whose wives suddenly died and whose best friends and coworkers are plotting against them on his Facebook.

As a result of this, Rex notes that they’re always trying to find ways to mix up their approach, to try and throw them off. But now, as Mace notes:

Rex is like you got it! Gold star for you, Master Windu. Because the losses they’re taking are so massive, Rex believes:

Cody jumps in here with this just to make sure I am in a constant state of Feelings:

I mean, I just….??? WHY MUST IT ALL BE THIS WAY. WHY DO THEY ALL HAVE TO LOVE AND ADMIRE EACH OTHER SO MUCH. Also why did we never get Cody Closure in Rebels? Do you UNDERSTAND how PAINFUL it would have been for Rex to track him down and, like, see for himself that Cody’s totally brainwashed and thinks he’s a traitor? Do you UNDERSTAND how much I would both not need and also very MUCH need those Obi-Wan and Anakin Feelings being thrown at me YET AGAIN? I guess since Rex survived through Return of the Jedi, we could theoretically still go there in whatever undoubtedly painful animated series they’re going to use to fill in the years post-ROTJ.

Mace is like “OK, so what do you wanna do about it?” to which Cody requests that they let him and Rex take a small squad behind enemy lines. Evidently there’s some Separatist Data Center that relays info to their command ship and blahblahblah they wanna go hack it.

Recurring Theme: And Now a Word From the Force

Cody says that if they’re going to find anything, it’s likely to be in there. While he’s saying this, Anakin starts making a confused face and not just his usual Background State of Confusion. He’s sensing something:

Mace tells the guys that if they think this plan is gonna help turn the tides here, then by all means, get to it. Rex thanks him, and Anakin interjects, asking with emphasis:

Rex pauses for a second, confused, and then makes a face that’s like “oh shit I forgot my boss is an insanely powerful psychic wizard”, but ultimately denies that there’s anything else on his mind:

Anakin makes a face like he’s not 100% convinced, and the boys leave to begin their mission.

Recurring Theme: Oh Why Star Wars

As they prepare to head out, we find Rex ruminating on his Sadness, as people in Star Wars often do (I mean, what else are they gonna ruminate on? Their happiness? WHAT HAPPINESS):

Cody walks in and is all “put your shoes on and get in the car”, but Rex isn’t done bumming us out yet, reflecting on how Fives, Echo, and Hevy are all gone and definitely dead forever, just like every person who has died in this godforsaken franchise.

Cody sympathetically says that regular people can’t understand what it’s like for them.

This is fine. Let’s just pretend we didn’t see this and that we did not think about literally everyone who’s going to make it out of Revenge of the Sith alive in any capacity.

Recurring Theme: No One’s Ever Really Gone

Rex replies that that’s what he’s afraid of. Cody asks him what he’s talking about, and Rex explains: he didn’t want to say anything around Anakin and Mace because they might have thought he was crazy (LOL, that’d be rich coming from Anakin “Hasn’t Seen the Right Side of Being Entirely Mentally Put Together In At Least 5 Years” Skywalker, but sure.) In fact, Cody himself might think he’s nuts!

LOL. I guffawed when he said this. Well, of course. OF COURSE HE IS. BECAUSE OF COURSE HE IS. You know what? I’m starting to think Yoda wasn’t just being spiritual and reassuring when he told Anakin not to mourn for people who’ve died. Maybe he literally meant that Anakin shouldn’t be upset if someone dies because in this universe, THERE IS ZERO CHANCE THEY ARE ACTUALLY COMPLETELY DEAD. Good LORD.

Cody is like “newp, he totally died at the Citadel”, just like how Darth Maul totally died when he got cut in half. Rex elaborates that all the battle plans the droid army seems to be drawing from lately are battle plans he and Echo came up with together.

Kind of like how no one could have survived that fall on Utapau, eh there, Cody my man? I guess I’ll be grateful that he apparently expects the universe to make sense and for people to not survive clearly fatal trauma since this, in part, allowed Obi-Wan to get away.

Rex somewhat agrees, but insists that Echo’s “fingerprints are all over these strategies”. I love these episodes where Dee Bradley Baker talks to himself for 20 minutes straight, hahaha.

Cody sighs and says that Rex needs to admit that Echo being alive would be a long shot, and adds sadly that it’s more likely it’s just misplaced hope. (Awww.) He very Obi-Wanishly tells Rex he needs him to focus on this mission they’re about to undertake, and Rex agrees. Rex then asks which squad is going to be joining them on this little field trip, and Cody replies:

Recurring Theme: Hilarity Thy Name Is Star Wars

They head outside to meet their new crew, and Jesse frets that he’s heard some mixed things about this squad, to which Kix counters that they have a 100% success rate.

So: Experimental Clone Force Unit 99. These guys are altered clones, so like, they’re supposed to be genetically similar to but not identical to the rest of the clones. Per Cody:

I…OK. First off, just WAIT, because with these guys some classic weapons-grade Star Wars Silliness is once again incoming. Secondly: so…”experimental” unit makes it sound like they were PURPOSELY made this way? But “defective” makes it seem like they just accidentally ended up like this?

The writers have Rex give them a pat on the back for their callbackery here, as the squad is indeed named after a “defective”, heroic clone that appeared in an earlier arc I haven’t gotten around to recapping yet.

After Cody announces that they call themselves “the Bad Batch”, the music gets Very Important-Sounding, and the squad departs their ship, and I just can’t:

OK. So. The Bad Batch is RIDICULOUS. Their “defects” (I guess?) make each one of them like, a totally tropey Great Escape-esque type character. They’ve got their Leader (Hunter), The Tough Guy (Wrecker), The Eeeeevil-Looking Sharpshooter Who Rarely Speaks (Crosshair), and The Nerd (Tech). (I immediately thought of the episode of The Simpsons where Bart and his friends have to break into Shelbyville to get back Springfield’s stolen lemon tree. “I’m the leader, Milhouse is my loyal sidekick, Nelson’s the tough guy, Martin’s the Smart Guy, and Todd’s the Quiet Religious Guy who ends up going crazy.”) They have skulls on their uniforms and look delightfully silly. I FULLY expect some good cosplay of these dudes at Celebration this year, amongst what I presume will be a bunch of Mando Dads carrying human infants dressed as Baby Yoda and at least a few very angsty people aggressively dressed as a Not-Dead Ben Solo.

Hunter explains that they were delayed taking care of some bullshit elsewhere in the galaxy, and they begin to tell a story about a creature they had to take down:

LOL! OK. Well then. Let this show be a lesson to children everywhere about the perils one must face in war.

Recurring Theme: Commander Cody, One of The GFFA’s Few Actual Adults

The gang boards a transport en route to their Secret Mission of Finding Out Who Keeps Copying Rex’s Homework, and the guys get into a tiff with the Bad Batch and Crosshair calls Jesse a “reg” (meaning a “regular clone”, AS IF SUCH A THING EXISTS WHEN THEY ARE ALL EACH VERY SPECIAL IN THEIR OWN WAYS), and as things get testy, Cody has to use his Mom Voice to get everyone to cram it:

Cody gives them all the rundown about how they’re going to break into this Separatist IT Department and steal some info: it’s strictly an information retrieval mission, and nothing else.

No sooner have they arrived past enemy lines, though, when they’re spotted:

Their ship gets fired on repeatedly, and takes a nose dive towards the ground, which Wrecker seems OK with all things considered:

…I feel like the above just sort of summarizes the fandom’s collective feelings towards this season overall: knowledge that nothing good awaits us, followed by unhinged maniacal laughter as we wait for Dave Filoni to stab us.

They crash, and Cody gets trapped in the wreckage. Kix panics, and Rex runs forward towards the ship all I’LL SAVE YOU ALL BY MYSELF RIGHT DAMN NOW CODY, because he and Cody have officially spent WAY TOO MUCH GODDAMN TIME WITH THEIR GENERALS and apparently whatever Anakin and Obi-Wan have, it’s contagious.

Hunter holds Rex back, and sends Wrecker over to retrieve Cody. Kix is like “this is bananas, he can’t do this alone!”, to which Crosshair replies:

Well, That’s One Way to Do It

Sure enough, Wrecker approaches the ship and just…straight-up pushes it off the ground by himself.

Uh, I have questions. Namely, if you CAN make a clone with this kind of super strength, why wouldn’t you give ALL of them this ability? Hell, why is only one guy a super good sharpshooter? Why not make them all Supernerds like that other guy? Or is the implication that these guys are all just total flukes, and the Kaminoans had figured out how to clone millions of men with complexly-programmed control chips in their brains but they don’t know how to make a clone have bigger muscles? WHY NOT GIVE THEM ALL THOSE GENES. Were these OPTIONS when the Forces of Evil placed the order for the Clone Army, and Sidious decided to cheap out? I guess, if they’d made them all TOO powerful that could be a problem for him eventually, but STILL. I’m just trying to picture a conversation where the Kaminoans are like “so anyways we could also make your soldiers insanely strong and unusually good at hitting their mark with a blaster” and Team Sheev just being like “nah we’re good, just a copy of the bounty hunter, please. Wouldn’t want our army to be TOO good”.

…anyways: Cody. They pull him out of the wreckage, and the gunship explodes seconds later.

Cody is also quite hurt. Dr. Kix diagnoses:

He says he can give him something for the pain, but he’s going to need help quickly. Crosshair cuts in: they’re ALL gonna need help, because a gigantic wave of battle droids is coming right for them:

Recurring Theme: Thorough Ass-Kicking

Rex begins to suggest that they hold their position and let the bad guys come to them, but Hunter’s not having it — that’s not exactly their style.

What follows is further support for my “why not just make ALL the clones like this” line of questioning, because these guys? KICK SOME FUCKING ASS, OK. Like, No Jedi Required here, people!

So these FOUR GUYS, alone, take down all the droids. It’s a spectacle:

Rex, who I have to believe is feeling slightly less good at his job than he might have a few hours ago, approaches the victors and is like “wow”:

Hunter is like “aww shucks just doin’ our job!” while Wrecker hilariously acts like a child and waves around a droid head just to be obnoxious:

Recurring Theme: The Hilarious Villains of Star Wars

Later, we see some droids holo-Skyping with Admiral Trench, who is just as ridiculous as he was when we saw him last. Trench, observing the situation, asks the question you’d obviously ask when faced with such badassery and property destruction:

They inform him that, nope: this was just clones, but using tactics they’d never seen before. Trench is intrigued, but is like “well anyways they’re on foot in the middle of God-knows-where, so I guess just lemme know if anything else crazy happens, k bye”.

We cut to the guys, who are all hanging out around a campfire. Hunter is crouching down to the ground, smelling the earth:

Jesse wonders what Hunter’s Special Bad Batch Clone Power is, and Tech explains that he can sense things like the electromagnetic frequency of the cyber center they’re trying to find. When Jesse wisecracks that here they thought they were smart just using a map, Tech counters:

Again: would this not ALSO be a helpful thing for ALL the clones to have? Even if their Superpowers ARE a fluke, don’t you think the Kaminoans would have wanted to isolate and study that gene? OK, OK, Star Wars, I know: stop asking questions. (I will never stop asking about why Han and Leia had to get Space Divorced, or what the absolute fuck was up with those tanks of Snoke Clones, though, buddy. NEVER.)

Cody, meanwhile, continues to be basically dying and Rex continues to worry about him.

Rex tells the group they need to move out: he’s called in evac for Cody, and Kix will stay with him while the rest of them move out. Rex has a plan to break into the Cyber Center, and from now on, since Cody’s internal organs are leaking out of him as they speak, Rex is in charge. Crosshair skeptically asks why Cody called in their squad if Rex has such great ideas, and Jesse FLIPS OUT:

THAT’S RIGHT YOU CAN’T. This devolves into yet another scuffle, but Hunter eventually gets everyone on the same page, and in agreement to move ahead with Rex’s plan. With that, they set off.

Recurring Theme: Why Knock When You Can Just Badass Your Way In

They arrive at an outpost, and Rex decides they’re gonna take a page from the Bad Batch’s playbook and just charge on in there as dramatically as possible. I mean, it’s not like Rex has never seen someone do THAT before.

They fight their way down some hallways, and take an elevator to the top of the structure, where they make very short work of the droids up there — such short work, in fact, that to Wrecker’s great dismay, the party’s already over by the time he gets up there:

Rex looks out the window of this outpost, and he can see their target in sight:

They determine that the center itself isn’t very heavily guarded, but there’s trouble a’brewing: a whole bunch of droids are on their way over. They all quickly split into groups so that they can get into the center and see what might be there to discover.

As their plan proceeds forward (and the droids continue their advance towards them), Admiral Trench is contacted again by a droid at the now-vacant outpost:

Trench connects the dots: they didn’t want the outpost, they want to get to the Cyber Center! Gasp!

Recurring Theme: Comedic Timing

Trench holo-Skypes a droid at the Cyber Center: an attack is coming! The droid is shocked: really? When??

Ha! Well then. Guess it’s already started!

Yet more badass-ing-our-way-in occurs as the attack ensues, and Wrecker decides it’s easier to just kick down the door than wait for Tech to open it carefully:

The Bad Batch (minus Crosshair, who’s lurking in the shadows waiting to strike) makes their way in, basically leaving an enormous path of cybernetic destruction in their wake. They get to the interior room, and set Tech to doing some space hacking (er, “slicing”) while the rest of them go to find Jesse and Rex.

Once they find them, the group realizes they’re running very short on time: all those additional droids they saw coming are now basically here, and so Rex runs into the building to see what Tech’s uncovered while the group tries to hold back the onslaught.

Recurring Theme: Mystery Signal

Tech has gotten into the system, and Rex hands him a chip with the algorithm on it. He tells him to search for a program using the algorithm, and Tech of course immediately turns up something…but…

Yes, it’s not a program — it’s a live signal! From another planet!

Dun dun DUN! Uh oh, looks like Techno Union Shenanigans await us, I guess!

Rex asks to be patched through to the signal, resulting in an indistinct sound.

Rex is in disbelief:

Meanwhile, outside, Crosshair takes out a couple of droids and steals a ship, while the others aren’t faring so well:

Running very short on time, Rex asks Tech to ask who’s sending the signal. After a moment of typing, they get a reply:

Rex stands there in total disbelief as the word is repeated over and over and over, sounding clearer as it repeats. Before he can fully react, though, he’s forced to leave with the others as they try to fight their way to safety.

In grand Star Wars tradition, their getaway vehicle shows up right in the nick of time:

The boys ride off to deal with these Feels.

Recurring Theme: Getting Warmer…

Admiral Trench is informed that the clones have been chased out of the cyber center, and that it doesn’t look like any data was stolen. However…

Trench, who has been doing a pretty good job of keeping his cool thus far, is like WHAT THE FUCK?! complete with Look of Extreme Surprise and a dramatic scene-wipe from his face before we can learn what his next steps are gonna be:

The guys are further back towards the (uh, relative) safety of the Republic, when Tech asks Rex what the deal was with the number they heard in the signal from Skako Minor. Rex tells him that it was Echo’s number. Which means…

Well, MY GOODNESS! A person! The characters all thought! Was dead! Is possibly not! In fact! Dead! All right, folks: what are we thinking here? Robot spider legs, ghost, sentient memory, or zombie-hanging-from-a-giant-mechanical-claw? TAKING ALL BETS! (As it happens, since there’s a lot of info already out there about these last-season arcs, the actual answer is really something, I tell you, and makes a perfect addition to the list of other ways people have reappeared after apparently dying. I can’t wait.)

With this Dramatic Proclamation That Would Probably Have More Oomph If Literally Any Single Person Ever Stayed Completely Dead Around Here, the guys ride off into the horizon, and we’re treated to our very first Iris Wipe of the season, followed by the requisite hat-tip to the nerd who’s responsible for all this nonsense in the first place:

…and thus begins our Final Clone Wars Season Journey! I hope you’re as excited and filled with fear as I am to see what awaits us over the next 12 weeks. I do know that I am not now, nor will I ever be, truly ready, but BOY am I grateful we’re finally getting to see this. I’d love it if you join me for whatever is to come! Thank you for reading; see you next time!

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