In the "Star Wars" universe, everything is connected. Ever since 2014, when Disney reset the franchise’s continuity, the company line has been that everything counts: movies, TV shows, comic books, video games. Even theme parks. No piece of "Star Wars" media stands alone. It’s all part of one giant story, detailing the adventures that take place in a galaxy far, far away.
That includes the "Star Wars" cartoons, which have become famous for pushing the franchise in new directions while telling stories that appeal to fans of all ages, not just kids. The latest animated series, "Star Wars: The Bad Batch," is no exception. Explicitly building on the foundation laid by "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Star Wars Rebels," "The Bad Batch" chronicles the transformation of the Republic into the Empire by focusing on the experience of four disillusioned soldiers (and one little girl) as they navigate this quickly changing galaxy.
For the most part, "The Bad Batch" stands alone. If you’ve seen the original three "Star Wars" movies, you should be set (although some experience with the controversial prequel trilogy won’t hurt). However, "The Bad Batch" is a love letter to "Star Wars" continuity, and the more you know about the series, the more you’ll get out of it — after all, the show is packed with small details designed to get hardcore fans in a tizzy. Here are a few examples.
Our adventure begins with a very familiar voice
Obviously, "The Bad Batch" owes a huge debt to "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," the Lucasfilm animated series that ran from 2008 to 2014, and which returned in 2020 for a brief, 12-episode finale. Not only were Hunter, Tech, Echo, and the rest introduced in the first arc of "The Clone Wars" revival run, but "The Bad Batch" picks up right where the previous show left off, with the introduction of Order 66 and the Clone Troopers’ execution of the Jedi.
The "Bad Batch" pilot pays tribute to its "Clone Wars" legacy right off the bat, too. First, the "Clone Wars" logo appears onscreen, only to be burned away and replaced by "The Bad Batch" insignia. The first episode of "The Bad Batch" then launches into a Saturday morning serial-inspired recap, just like the ones that kick off every episode of "The Clone Wars" — a touch that later episodes of "The Bad Batch" don’t seem to include.
As on "The Clone Wars," the opening voiceover is performed by actor Tom Kane, who also played Yoda on the older series. However, in late 2020, Kane suffered a stroke, and may have to retire from voice acting. If so, "The Bad Batch" opening isn’t just a nice way to bridge the gap between the two shows. It’s also a wonderful tribute to one of the "Star Wars" animated series’ signature voices, and solidifies Kane’s legacy in a galaxy far, far away.
The Bad Batch’s real name means more than you think
Officially, the Bad Batch isn’t actually called the Bad Batch. In the Republic — and, later, Imperial — records, the group of misfit clones is actually known as Clone Force 99. As "Clone Wars" viewers know, that’s a number loaded with significance.
In the Season 3 "Clone Wars" episode "Clone Cadets," which is, chronologically speaking, the first time that we meet Bad Batch member Echo, we’re introduced to a clone known as 99. Compared to the other clones, he’s a little different. See, something went wrong during 99’s creation, and he was plagued by a number of genetic defects that rendered him unfit for duty. He basically became a glorified janitor on Kamino, home of the Republic’s cloning facilities. 99’s heart, however, worked just fine: Despite staying away from the front lines, 99 considered all clones, particularly those still in training, as his brothers, and ultimately gave up his life to keep them safe.
"Clone Cadets" is actually the first time in "Star Wars" canon that we hear someone use the phrase "bad batch," which is said in reference to Echo and his original team. It also makes sense that the Republic squad made up of divergent clones would name themselves after the most beloved of their number. However, the name Clone Force 99 also has more sinister connotations: If you turn 99 upside down, you get 66, the name of the top secret order that resulted in the Jedi’s extinction at the clones’ hands.
You’ve seen that Padawan before
"The Bad Batch" is about trouble faced by everyday soldiers, not the high and mighty battles fought by the Jedi and the Sith, but you’ll still see a few lightsabers in the latest "Star Wars" cartoon. The series pilot, for example, gives us an up close and personal look at how Clone Force 99 reacted to Palpatine‘s Order 66 by detailing the execution of Jedi Master Depa Billaba and the escape of her Padwan, Caleb Dume.
Of course, if you’re all caught up on your "Star Wars" animated series, you know Caleb by a different name: Kanan Jarrus, which is the identity he uses in "Star Wars Rebels," where he leads the titular group of freedom fighters. As the Galactic Civil War raged, Jarrus would go on to raise a Padawan of his own, Ezra Bridger, and helped strike many blows against the Empire alongside the crew of the Ghost, a ship piloted by his girlfriend (and, eventually, the mother of his child), Hera Syndulla.
Interestingly, this is actually the second time we’ve seen Kanan’s brush with Order 66. The 2015 Marvel comic miniseries "Kanan: The Last Padawan," written by "Rogue One" scribe Gary Whitta and illustrated by Pepe Larraz, shows us a slightly different version of these events. In the comic, Bilaba tells Kanan that she’ll be right behind him as he flees — "It is the first time my master has ever lied to me," Caleb observes — and the Bad Batch itself isn’t seen.
Still, it seems like the "Bad Batch" creative team had the comic in mind while designing the scene. The clones hunting Caleb in "The Last Padawan" have red markings that recall the paint on the Bad Batch’s armor, while one of the Republic soldiers hunting Caleb utters "Good soldiers follow orders," a line repeated by Crosshair in the "Bad Batch" pilot.
The sinister Easter egg lurking in the Bad Batch’s quarters
Once the Bad Batch return to Kamino, but before Crosshair betrays them and they’re forced to go on the run, the defective clones spend a little bit of time unwinding in their quarters. There’s no doubt that the clones have made the room their own. On Tech’s bunk, for example, you can see schematics for some kind of device etched on the wall. Hunter’s is decorated with the Bad Batch’s skull symbol, while printed out targets featuring battle droids hang by Crosshair’s, showing off his prowess as a marksman.
The most curious piece of decorating, however, is right by the front door. As the Bad Batch enters the room, Wrecker assumes the job of updating the team’s successful mission count, which is scratched into the wall. A quick camera pan reveals that the Bad Batch has already finished 55 missions, while Wrecker says he’s adding 11 more. What does that add up to? Why, 66, of course — which, as we already know, is a very ominous number in "Star Wars" canon.
A tribute to the bounty hunter who started it all
If there’s any one clone who’s more famous than all the others, it has to be Boba Fett, who was first introduced in "The Empire Strikes Back." Like the rest of the clone army, Boba was cloned from a bounty hunter named Jango Fett, and inherited Jango’s face, his voice, and many of his abilities. Unlike the other clones, however, Boba didn’t come with any extra changes, like the clone soldiers’ accelerated growth cycle, their behavioral modifications, or their genetic enhancements. After Obi-Wan Kenobi killed Jango on Geonosis, Boba took Jango’s ship and his armor went into business for himself, and it wasn’t long before he became a feared bounty hunter in his own right.
Boba doesn’t appear in "The Bad Batch" — or, at least, he hasn’t yet — but the new cartoon pays tribute to both Boba and his clone-daddy in a very subtle way. When the Bad Batch heads to Kamino’s training room for their evaluation — revisiting a location that played a big role in Echo’s origin story, the "Clone Wars" episode "Clone Cadets," by the way — from certain angles the floating training droids look a lot like Jango and Boba’s ship, the Slave I. It’s not a one-to-one match, but given Clone Force 99’s history, the resemblance probably isn’t an accident, either.
The critter that connects all of the cartoons
Baby Yoda, BB-8, Babu Frik, the Porgs, the Ewoks, D-O, the Jawas, and so many more: The "Star Wars" universe isn’t hurting for unbelievably cute creatures. That goes for the cartoons, too. The Loth-Cat, an adorable little predator native to the planet Lothal, was introduced in the fifth episode of "Star Wars Rebels," titled "Rise of the Old Masters," and has been the animated series’ go-to mascot ever since (a few Loth-Cats have also popped up in "The Mandalorian," which is fitting, since "Clone Wars," "Rebels," and "Bad Batch" co-creator Dave Filoni also produces that series).
While the Bad Batch doesn’t visit Lothal in the pilot, it’s not too surprising that a Loth-Cat makes an appearance anyway. While the clones are getting ready to make their big escape, Omega finds a stuffed animal on the ground. It turns out that the plushie belongs to Wrecker, showing us that the big brute has a softer side. It’s also pretty clearly a Loth-Cat, albeit one decked out in the Bad Batch’s signature red and black. If the giant ears, round eyes, and scowling mouth don’t convince you, the stuffed animal’s name, "Lola," should seal the deal.
Why you may think you’ve seen Omega before
The Bad Batch aren’t the only divergent clones on Kamino. "The Bad Batch" pilot also introduces us to Omega, a young girl who is much more than she seems. For one, she’s the first female clone we’ve seen in the "Star Wars" canon. For another, she’s the protege of Nala Se, Kamino’s chief medical officer — a strange position for a clone. There’s clearly something special about her, and while "The Bad Batch" hasn’t clued us in to what it is just yet, chances are it’s something big.
"The Bad Batch" is the first time we’ve met Omega, but if you’re a longtime "Star Wars" fan, she might look kind of familiar. Squint, and Omega is almost a dead ringer for Cindel Towani, one of the human leads in the Ewoks movies. The wavy blond hair. The stylish headband. The impish grin. In terms of continuity, there’s no obvious link between the two characters, but it’s hard to imagine the "Bad Batch" crew didn’t have Cindel in mind when designing Omega.
In those made-for-TV Ewoks films, Cindel is the youngest daughter of a family of settlers who crash-land on the planet Endor and fall afoul of hungry beasts, marauding warlords, and Force-wielding witches. Thankfully, the Ewoks — particularly Cindel’s friend, Wicket — are always there to lend a hand. From what we’ve seen so far, Omega seems to be fairly different from Cindel, but there aren’t many kids who get the spotlight in "Star Wars," and it’s not a stretch to say that they’re cut from the same cloth.