Star Wars: The Clone Wars returns for its long-awaited Disney+ final season on February 21 to deliver something that once seemed all but impossible: a completed arc all about the "Bad Batch" unit of clones who have their own methods of fighting that don't exactly align with clones like Rex and Cody. Clone Wars fans have known about plans for a Bad Batch mission for years, and the arc was plotted back before George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney in 2012.
Dee Bradley Baker, who voiced all the clones for The Clone Wars, shared how the final season premiere fulfills Lucas' legacy, how it felt to finally complete the "Bad Batch" arc, and more. Speaking with CinemaBlend about the final season, Baker said this about Clone Wars' legacy:
It's notable for humanizing and breathing a lot of specificity into the lives of the clones and really upping the stakes and filling out the stakes of the entire conflict that was the Clone Wars. Ultimately for my money, this is the fulfillment and the last direct involvement of George Lucas with his original brilliant creation. I just find it so remarkable that it still lives and grows as it does far beyond anything it ever even started as. And it started with a boom! I remember it.
A lot of the popularity of The Clone Wars comes from how it managed to bridge the gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, even though it released after Revenge of the Sith. For Dee Bradley Baker, the final season of The Clone Wars fulfills the "last direct involvement" of George Lucas, who of course started it all with A New Hope back in 1977. Baker himself was a fan of Star Wars from the very beginning and experienced that cultural boom firsthand.
While George Lucas was not involved in the final season of The Clone Wars on Disney+ like he was back before Lucasfilm sold to Disney, his influence was still felt. Dee Bradley Baker elaborated on how Clone Wars fulfills Lucas' legacy with "The Bad Batch" in Season 7:
But that it's gone so far and so much further and in so many wonderful ways, and that it's wonderful that George Lucas' direct involvement now comes to final fruition here with The Clone Wars' final season. I don't think he was directly involved with the creation of it, but Dave Filoni was his right hand man, his general if you will. The 'Bad Batch' arc, for instance, that the final season starts with, that was created when George Lucas was still involved directly, hands-on with The Clone Wars.
Dave Filoni was heavily involved in The Clone Wars in its original run with George Lucas, was the driving force behind Star Wars Rebels (which included Dee Bradley Baker as Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor in their later years), and worked to bring The Clone Wars back for one final season. Baker revealed that the "Bad Batch" arc was born back when George Lucas was still involved with The Clone Wars.
While George Lucas is still connected to Star Wars, as proven recently when The Mandalorian's Jon Favreau shared a photo of Lucas with Baby Yoda, Dee Bradley Baker shared that "The Bad Batch" is what brings Lucas' involvement with the franchise "to fruition." Baker went on to comment on Lucas' legacy of creativity and how The Clone Wars allows Star Wars to finish what he started:
So what fans are seeing, what the world is seeing, is this is the final fruition of that direct involvement in his original creation, in George Lucas' original creation and Dave's stewardship with that too. It's a very unique finishing moment, not just to that story but also to the legacy of creativity that George Lucas started and finished with his work on The Clone Wars.
So why is it such a big deal that the final season of The Clone Wars will release a completed "Bad Batch" arc? For that, we have to look back to the original run of the series. The Clone Wars Season 7 was originally intended to follow Season 6 a whole lot sooner than February 2020, with the seventh season premiere kicking off a four-part arc about an unorthodox, elite squad of clone troopers known as the "Bad Batch" working with Rex and Cody to combat Admiral Trench.
Production on Season 7 the first time around was shut down before the arc could be fully animated, and the release in 2015 was only in story reel form. The Clone Wars Season 7 trailer already makes it clear that the animation for the next batch of episodes will be superior even to the original run of the series. Dee Bradley Baker weighed in on how it felt to finally complete the "Bad Batch" story, all these years later:
Well, the 'Bad Batch' arc was always one of my favorite arcs, even in the uncompleted sort of animatic form that it finally emerged online as. It was one of my very favorite story arcs of all of The Clone Wars that we ever did. So I had a great fondness for not just the storyline, but for this small kind of A-Team squad of clones who were a lot of fun and really interesting and just a great dynamic that felt like a nice kind of perpetual fun dynamic. I just wanted to hang out with them. And so I was really floored and quite pleased to hear that they were going to finish The Clone Wars, but even more so to know that part of that was finishing up 'The Bad Batch.'
For Dee Bradley Baker, who has been key to The Clone Wars as the voice of the clones all along, the completion of "The Bad Batch" is something that "floored" him. Not only was the show somehow coming back years after cancellation, but it was completing the original vision (from while George Lucas was involved) for the final season!
While fans have to wait until February 21 to see the first episode of the "Bad Batch" arc, Dee Bradley Baker has some encouraging words about what to expect both visually and regarding the storytelling:
And I'm so happy with how it ends up looking and I cannot wait for the fans and anyone curious at all to see this, because I think whether you've seen Clone Wars before or you're just starting out in the Star Wars universe, it's great fun storytelling that you can watch whether you're a grown-up or whether you're a parent or whether you're a kid. It's just awesome entertainment.
So what exactly is in store with the "Bad Batch" arc in The Clone Wars' final season that can appeal to existing fans and newcomers alike? Well, it should be very heavy on the clone action, with the unconventional group working with clones like Rex and Cody that viewers know and love (ahead of Order 66, anyway).
When I asked Dee Bradley Baker to tease what's in store with "The Bad Batch" in The Clone Wars, he said this:
It's quite interesting to me and I think it will be to fans. This Bad Batch group, they are their own entity and they function with a unique degree of independence in contrast to the entire clone army, and so there's a lot to work out there in terms of who's listening to whom, and how we're actually going to collaborate on winning this particular battle or whether we are going to collaborate or whether we're all going to have some difficulty with all of this. So there's actually a lot to work out because this Bad Batch group, they've got very strong personalities and they're very independent minded, although they work beautifully as a unit. They're quite the unstoppable collaborative force. But they are not used to working so closely with a bunch of 'regs,' as they call the clones, the regular clones. And so there's a fair amount that needs to be worked out among these two parties, that needs to be negotiated, the power-sharing arrangement of the collaboration that is necessary to get this job done. Which is ultimately what they have to come around to do.
The majority of clones are more or less identical, to the point that it can be hard to tell them apart without clues like hair styles and helmet markings. Protocol even dictates that many of them act very much like each other. That won't be the case with the Bad Batch, with "defective" clones accustomed to independence working with regular clones. Basically, even if you already watched the story reel versions of the "Bad Batch" arc, the completed versions on Disney+ should be must-see TV.
See the first episode of the "Bad Batch" arc that completes George Lucas' legacy with Star Wars: The Clone Wars' final season premiere on Friday, February 21 on Disney+. For some additional viewing options now and in the not-too-distant future, check out our 2020 winter and spring premiere schedule.