Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 2 is a step in the right direction for the crew of misfits

Hunter, Echo, Tech, Wrecker and Omega return in the second season of The Bad Batch. We catch back up with the crew, still embarking on dangerous adventures, while the threat of the Empire increases and they continue to distance themselves from the use of Clone troopers.

My relationship with The Bad Batch has certainly had its ups and downs. It’s an animated series that’s targeted predominantly at kids, and as a result it’s filled with inconsequential one-off adventures that are designed as a bit of fun more than anything else. Because of these rather simple “adventure of the week” type episodes, the series has somewhat struggled to build up a sense of excitement in me from week to week. When this season kicked off, I can’t say I was impressed. The first half of the 16-episode run doesn’t have much to offer besides two, maybe three, definitively good episodes. And in that, those few great episodes focused on characters not within our core group, like Crosshair for example. The rest of those episodes in the first half were just fine. There wasn’t anything particularly memorable about them and they all disappear into the background.

Just when the season looked to be heading in the direction of being mediocre overall, the back half arrives to save the day. I’d say five to six of the last eight episodes are fantastic, with the remainder being the usual average and inconsequential sidetracks. There’s a shift away from the structure where the Batch accepts a mission, completes said mission and moves on to the next – a change which was a long time coming. The bulk of these late episodes look at the ruthlessness of the Empire, feature great connections to other corners of the galaxy, and incorporate high levels of tension. When the series delves into darker, more thrilling content like this, and focuses on season-long arcs as opposed to episodic adventures, it’s a genuinely fun ride that makes me want to come back for more. There are ways to appease the kids and make the narrative consistently fun (like Star Wars: Rebels), but The Bad Batch hasn’t quite nailed it.

The one reason I feel it won’t reach the height of shows such as The Clone Wars and Rebels is unfortunately down to the characters. The individual members of the Batch have really grown on me since their introduction in season one (and earlier in The Clone Wars), but they still fall short of being unique and compelling enough to be my favourites. The most interesting, and my favourite character in the series, is Crosshair. Any episode centred around the conflicted clone is guaranteed to be incredible. His journey is just so much more tense than anything the Batch go through, greatly enhancing the opportunities for character growth. Like I said, Hunter, Wrecker, Tech and Echo have grown on me as characters – they exhibit some neat chemistry that makes them feel like a tight-knit group of friends. Omega is the glue that brings them all together, and they have a good dynamic. But despite all that, I love the series more when the focus is on other things within the Star Wars universe, with the Batch being used as a vessel to explore that story.

The fact that Dee Bradley Baker is able to bring a different voice and personality to each member of the Batch, to where you can identify them on their voice alone, is great. His talent shines through every episode regardless of its quality, meaning there’s always something positive to take away, no matter how small. The back and forth between Michelle Ang (Omega) and Dee Bradley Baker makes for some nice character moments, especially late in the season where things get tense. I can’t say I have much of an attachment to the characters, but that’s no fault of the actors.

In the end, there’s fun to be had with this season for all levels of Star Wars fan. It’s a slight step up on the previous season, with the latter half dishing out the goods in the way of tense multi-episode arcs and a slight departure from the “mission of the week” approach. It’s still plagued by its use of one-off episodic adventures, but the focus on characters and plot points outside of the Batch themselves offers plenty of highlights. Theres some great episodes (some that get close to beating the current season of The Mandalorian), so it’s a fun watch for fans of the characters, animated Star Wars fans and of course, kids.



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