The Bad Batch Series Finale Review: An Earnest, If Imperfect, Entry in Star Wars Mythos Concludes

Finally, Disney+’s Star Wars: The Bad Batch has its priorities sorted.

The first two seasons’ cameo-heavy Mission of the Week format quickly grew stale, but as creator Dave Filoni, supervising director Brad Rau and head writer Jennifer Corbett disappeared deeper into their Disney-sponsored sandbox, it became clear that this wasn’t merely a graveyard of shameless walk-backs or desperate reinforcements of messy canon. The Bad Batch was always about underdogs, about displaced war heroes struggling to survive in a galaxy that has no need for them.

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Now, with the series finale, we don’t simply see that. We feel it.

The finale, rousingly titled “The Cavalry Has Arrived,” is as action-packed as it reflective, juggling chaos and quiet while keeping its only true constant — the characters — firmly at its center. Yes, this is the grand send-off. A last hurrah for its titular Jango Fett mutants. There are twists, turns and casualties aplenty, but they never feel like the point. Its unwavering focus, coupled with gorgeous animation and an inspired score, elevate this show in ways I thought impossible before the season premiere.

From the get-go, The Bad Batch has sustained a bleakness worthy of its “the sky has already fallen” hellscape. The Emperor tightens his stranglehold on the galaxy, foregoing clones for the conscripted lackeys present throughout the remainder of the Skywalker saga. As Clone Force 99 (all voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) rushes to save their sister Omega (Michelle Ang) from the dastardly Hemlock (Jimmi Simpson), it becomes increasingly clear that loyalty is their only recourse. For Clone Force 99, it isn’t about sticking it to the Emperor or taking some big, gutsy, pointed stand against Imperial oppression. It’s about sticking together, doing what’s right, and staying loyal,  especially when turning on your peeps is proven to be the easier (and safer) thing to do.

“The Cavalry Has Arrived” spends its bloated runtime well. Omega and her fellow captives quickly accomplish the objective teased last week, while Hunter, Wrecker and Crosshair resume their rescue mission. What easily could have been a 15-episode apology for The Rise of Skywalker‘s cloning BS ends up boasting some of the tightest writing Star Wars has seen in years.

The Bad Batch is far from perfect, and likely won’t age with Clone Wars-caliber grace, but its heart is big and its intentions are pure, and that does count for something. “The Cavalry Has Arrived” becomes what The Bad Batch has always wanted to be: a heartfelt survival story about people we couldn’t fathom caring about (at least prior to Clone Wars) showing up and proving they’re far more than they were made to be.

With its series finale, The Bad Batch both honors and subverts post-acquisition Lucasfilm’s perpetually frustrating M.O.: serve up flashy action, lofty stakes and lovable characters, but don’t do too much of those things! Nearly every recent piece of Star Wars media has felt more like the product of an earnings call than a creatively unfettered expansion of a boundless universe. (For instance, what could this season have looked like if it wasn’t trying to explain Palpatine’s cloning? Where might it have gone?) The logic is deeply flawed yet fiercely adhered to: “We need them to want more. If they’re totally satisfied, they won’t come back!” It’s a confounding line of thinking, but it has guided so much of Disney/Lucasfilm’s output that it’s usually pointless to expect better.

Disney Dilution is real, but in its final hour, The Bad Batch cements itself as an earnest, if imperfect, entry in Star Wars mythos.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: A better season finale than it is a series finale, “The Cavalry Has Arrived” finds The Bad Batch at its darkest, bleakest and, somehow, most hopeful. 

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