Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Crosshair, Echo, the boys are back in town! Tomorrow marks the official release of the first episode of The Bad Batch. Also known as Clone Force 99, The Bad Batch is a clone commando special forces squad consisting of four experimentally genetically mutated clones and Echo, a clone trooper with extensive cybernetics. The Bad Batch picks up not long after the critical events of Order 66 and follows the clone commandos as they navigate a rapidly changing galaxy, along the way they’ll meet familiar faces and new ones.

For those who aren’t familiar with them, The Bad Batch was first introduced on-screen in The Clone Wars Season Seven Episode One, “The Bad Batch”. During this final season’s first arc, we meet the members of the team and by the end of the four-episode arc, Echo has joined the group. The clones are lead by Hunter, a clone with enhanced tracking and sensory abilities (a clone Ramo), then there’s Crosshair, a sharpshooter clone, Wrecker, an uber strong and muscular clone, and Tech, a smart and tech-savvy clone.

During a press conference with Dee Bradley Baker (the voice of The Bad Batch), Jennifer Corbett (producer and head writer), and Brad Rau (producer) of the series, Baker, Corbett, and Rau teased what we might see in the upcoming season for Clone Force 99.

the bad batch
Credit: Disney+

Collaborating with Filoni

It’s no secret that Dave Filoni has breathed new life into Star Wars, especially when it comes to their animated show. The Clone Wars final season was a marvel of animated television, with fantastic storytelling and breathtaking animation. Jennifer Corbett, who worked with Filoni on Star Wars: Resistance, is currently the head writer for The Bad Batch and talked about getting to work with Filoni again on another Star Wars story.

“Getting the chance to develop the series with him, it’s kinda like a master class in writing Star Wars.  And with this being a equel series of sorts to The Clone Wars, it was crucial that he be involved in this process.  These are characters that he’s created and it’s the world that he knows, but every script is a learning experience. And it’s so exciting to see this show grow and develop with this team.”

Brad Rau, who served an episodic director for Star Wars: Rebels and worked on Resistence, added, “I couldn’t think of a better mentor, especially for Star Wars. The stuff he tells us every day is fantastic and amazing.  And yeah, just collaborating with him and being able to work with Jen so closely on this show’s been awesome.  It’s been a dream come true.”

Executing Order 66

After raging war for years between the Galactic Republic and the Separatists, the Clone Wars ended abruptly when Emperor Palpatine ordered the execution of Order 66, leading to the execution of nearly all of the Jedi. Order 66 isn’t exactly unfamiliar territory.  We’ve its execution in Revenge of the Sith, in Rebels, in The Clone Wars, we even saw it in the Fallen Order video game.

But, for The Bad Batch, who stand out because they tend to skirt the rules when it comes to being clone soldiers, this shift in power could end up shaking up the group. “This time period is one of the reasons I got so excited about this show,” Corbett said.  “I just found it intriguing and engaging to watch a series where, you know, we’ve seen the Clone Wars where it’s the height of the Clone Troopers doing what they’re meant to do and what they were created for. The question became, ‘What happens after the war is over?  What happens to clones [when] all they know is being soldiers?’  Especially for The Bad Batch who [already] do things differently as it is with the Republic, how [do] they fit in once it becomes the Empire?”

At this point in the timeline, everything is very fluid. The Empire is just coming into power, which leaves room for The Bad Batch to navigate before the regime is set in stone.”It’s the early stages [of the Empire], and I found it kind of interesting to show planets and places that were happy that the war is over, and they don’t really understand the implications of what an Empire actually means.  It’s laying the groundwork for what everyone knows the Empire to be later on.”

the bad batch
Credit: Disney+

Dee Bradley Baker added, “It’s an interesting point you make there, Jen, that in the transition — the sudden, shocking transition from Republic to Empire — it [suddenly] becomes a much more rule-based power structure of the galaxy. Of the universe.  And the Bad Batch are not so much a rule-based unit.” He continued, “They’re very much a team, but they’re not like the Clones are, where it’s more of a top-down command structure.  And it’s very interesting to place them in the middle of this transformational moment and to see how that plays out.”

New Faces

With a new show, comes new faces. The Bad Batch introduces a new character named Omega, voiced by Michelle Ang. Omega quickly becomes an important character to the group, developing a special relationship with The Bad Batch, especially with Hunter. “It’s a fascinating relationship that unfolds,” Baker explained. “Because at first, of course, the team is not — they’re kind of their own sealed unit. And they’re certainly not used to having anybody else along or working with anybody else.  They did bring along Echo,  [but only] after he proved himself to them and they came together on that.”

“But it’s interesting, in terms of the story and the writing, to have this personal relationship with the younger character, and to see how that changes, how they accommodate that, and how that works.  Because it’s more of like an uncle/niece or a father/child dynamic, but not entirely. Because Omega [has] her own interesting  potential,” Baker teased. “But I think it connects you to the story in a personal way.  So it’s not just an action story, as Star Wars never is. There’s a personal story that’s also playing out as well.”

Without giving too much away, Omega quickly becomes an important character of the series, especially during this impactful time in history. Rau said, “To have these clinical, best-of-the-best soldiers as suddenly fish-out-of-water in this changing galaxy and to have this kid that they [raise] in a very parental way… And it’s a two way street, the way that that works. [None] of them are really equipped to go out into the world.” While the clones will have to deal with the major repercussions of the events of the galaxy, they’ll also be without the resources they had before. Where will they go to fix their gear? Where will they go for fuel for their ship? These were questions that Rau posed and conflicts that we might see the Bad Batch faced with.

the bad batch
Credit: Disney+

The Man Behind The Bad Batch

Anyone who’s seen The Clone Wars or Rebels is likely familiar with the voice of Dee Bradley Baker, the voice actor behind every voice of the clones. Baker talked about taking on this new group of clones, who stand out not only physically from the other clones but also sound different. “Clone Force 99 is kind of another step beyond what I’ve been asked to do in The Clone Wars series. The tricky part for [the clones] is that the differentiation is much tighter between characters.  Although it has to be decisive.  It has to be clear.  The Bad Batch are actually much further apart from each other, which oddly makes it a little bit easier to jump from character to character to character.”

“For me, it feels like I’m jumping from rock to rock on a stream. I can see the rock. The writing is clear.  And that’s what I jump to,” he said. The differences in The Bad Batch vocally and in their personalities and moods helped Baker switch between characters. “It comes off looking more as a magic trick then it does maybe with the Clones. But it’s still a really fascinating process as a voice actor to have these scenes where I’m just talking to myself. Just switching from character to character to character as we through the script, which is typically how we do it. We just go straight through it. It’s great that, it’s fantastic fun.”

Both Corbett and Rau praised him, with Corbett adding on, “It’s impressive to watch him do it in the room, because when we first started, I thought he was gonna go a character at a time.  And just watching him act out a scene with himself, with all of these Clones.” She explained, “There’s no pause.  He just goes right into it. I was blown away. Each time we do one of these record sessions, I’m just amazed at Dee’s talent.”

Spiritual Successor

It’s not hard to see that The Bad Batch is very much like a sequel to The Clone Wars. While Rebels and Resistance had their own distinct styles separate from the previous animated series, The Bad Batch is clearly following in the footsteps of The Clone Wars and that was entirely intentional. Rau explained that the series is meant to be like a spiritual successor, honoring the style and legacy of the previous series.

He added that the Lucasfilm team and the CGCG Studios have improved on their craft. “We’ve just tightened everything up. So, the fidelity is tighter. The style is tighter. The rigs are tighter. The way that it’s designed is still the legacy of The Clone Wars, but [with] a little more detail. A little bit more focus. And the work we’re doing, for me, having worked on a lot of these shows with a lot of the same people internally, it’s just the best team. And I think we’re doing our best work ever right now.”

The Bad Batch is a spin-off of the clones, but the tone is markedly different. Corbett, who serves as the head writer for the series, pulled from her experiences in the United State Navy to aid her in building the story. “When I first saw the original story arc for The Bad Batch that was meant for The Clone Wars final season, I immediately responded to it because I got the dynamic between this squad. I understand how people in the military become, like brothers and sisters, very [close] when you’re sent on missions together.”

the bad batch
Credit: Disney+

“[And then] when you’re in close quarters, the camaraderie and also the banter that comes with living with people, so closely, in high stress situations. I think that’s what I try to bring to it, [which] is how this squad, even though they are these elite soldiers, they are this family.  They don’t have to agree all the time, and on all the things.  And all the different perspectives that each of them brings, because they’re all so very different. I think that speaks to the military. No one comes from the same background. Everybody has their different reasons for doing what they’re doing.  And, it is a family dynamic in real life.”

The Bad Batch is set to premiere May 4th at midnight with a 70-minute premiere, followed by new episodes every Friday, starting on May 7th. While it’s unclear how many episodes The Bad Batch will run for, it seems unlikely that it will run concurrently with Loki which premieres June 11th. But, it’s always a treat to return back to during the Clone Wars era, so buckle in, and get ready for the ride!

Stream The Bad Batch on Disney+ Tuesday, May 4th, 2021.

The interview has been edited for clarity.