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Warning: SPOILERS for the Star Wars: The Bad Batch premiere are ahead!
We already knew that Star Wars: The Bad Batch would feature some familiar faces from the Star Wars universe, as evidenced by Grand Moff Tarkin and The Mandalorian’s Fennec Shand being featured in the trailers. However, the first episode of the new animated series that just hit Disney+ gave Star Wars Rebels fans quite the treat, as a young version of Caleb Dume, a.k.a. Kanan Jarrus, appeared, with Freddie Prinze Jr. reprising the role. This will surely rank high on the list of surprise Star Wars appearances, but how, and why, did this cameo come to be?
During my recent interview with Star Wars: The Bad Batch producers Jennifer Corbett and Brad Rau, the latter of whom is also the series’ head writer, I asked about the thought process behind including Caleb Dume in the series’ first episode. Here’s what Corbett had to say:
We knew pretty early on we wanted to start with Order 66, and a lot of the discussions were around who the Batch are with, what Jedi, is there a Padawan? And the more that we were developing the pilot and we saw interaction the Batch was gonna have with Omega, we had this opportunity to sort of do a parallel story, and we get to see Hunter interact with Caleb, and he tries to help him but obviously that doesn’t work out well for him, and he carries that with him throughout the episode. So when he gets the chance to do that again with Omega, it’s sort of him seeing it through. So it sort of felt like a nice bookend for the pilot, but also, personally, when Dave Filoni said that said that it would be cool to have Caleb in this, I think we just jumped at the opportunity because I’m a huge fan of Star Wars Rebels, and getting to see that part of his life and how that affects him was exciting.
Caleb Dume and his master, Depa Billaba, crossed paths with Clone Force 99 in the final minutes of the Clone Wars on the planet Kaller, with the group of elite clone troopers popping in at just the knick of time to bail them out of a sticky situation with the droid army. Unfortunately, this coincided with Order 66, resulting in Depa being gunned down and the understandably terrified Caleb fleeing. Because of their genetic abnormalities, most of Clone Force 99 wasn’t affected by the programming that forced the “regular” clones to turn on their Jedi commanders, but Crosshair, the group’s sniper, could still that pull, leading to him trying to kill Caleb.
While Hunter tried his best to calm down Caleb Dume and figure out what was going on, Crosshair’s actions undid any goodwill the Bad Batch’s leader tried to pass on. So Hunter did the next best thing: he allowed Caleb to escape custody and reported the young Jedi as having died, and that brief dynamic he had with Kanan will now pass on to Omega, the young clone he and the rest of the Batch (excluding Crosshair) befriend on Kamino. This marked our second time seeing Caleb in Star Wars animation, as he previously cameoed in hologram form during The Clone Wars Season 7. His past was also explored in the 12-issue Kanan comic book series.
Of course, Star Wars Rebels fans know where Caleb Dume will go from here. Eventually he renamed himself Kanan Jarrus and kept his Jedi past secret from those he met. But then the day came that he met Hera Syndulla and her droid Chopper, and from there, he started taking the fight to the Empire, with Zeb, Sabine Wren, and Ezra Bridger later joining The Ghost crew. I could spend an entire article talking about everything Kanan went through in Rebels, but I’ll spare you that and instead support those of you who decide to delve back into that series, or perhaps check it out for the first time, after watching The Bad Batch premiere.
With approximately 14 years passing between the beginning of Star Wars: The Bad Batch and the beginning of Star Wars Rebels, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Caleb again in the former series should it run long enough. Whether that happens or not, there’s more than enough to keep Star Wars fans entertained in The Bad Batch, which follows exactly a year after The Clone Wars series finale aired. If you made it this far and still haven’t watched the show’s inaugural episode, make sure you’re subscribed to Disney+ and feel free to stream it now.
The next episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch hits Disney+ this Friday, May 7, and new episodes will continue to premiere on Fridays. Find out what else the franchise set in a galaxy far, far away has coming up with our upcoming Star Wars movies and TV shows guide.