Review

The Bad Batch Season 3 Doesn’t Lose Sight of What Matters

Final seasons don’t have to be so final.

Lucasfilm
Inverse Reviews

There’s no better definition of “bittersweet” than a series getting renewed for a final season. While there’s the promise of more adventures to come, the final moments hang over the entire season. For Star Wars animated series The Bad Batch, the final series has a greater legacy than just its three seasons. Because it’s a spinoff of The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch is the end of a narrative that stretches back 15 years.

But despite all the lead-up, The Bad Batch doesn’t get caught in nostalgia. It never loses sight of what made it great: self-contained adventures that build on the unique found-family cast. While there are ties to the greater Star Wars lore, it’s done in a way that’s seamlessly integrated, crafting a series that feels like it’s truly coming to a natural end.

The last we left our intrepid heroes, things looked especially dire. Clone Force 99, aka The Bad Batch, is reeling from two big losses. Hacking dynamo Tech sacrificed himself to save the rest of the squad in Season 2, and unaltered Jango Fett clone Omega was captured by the empire after an ally betrayed the team. Omega is now imprisoned within Mount Tantiss, which reunites her with her clone brother Crosshair.

Crosshair and Omega are finally reunited in captivity.

Lucasfilm

Omega finds herself a new cog in a strange machine, where blood samples are taken for some sort of experimentation. Even though she has a few allies there like Nala Se and her newfound clone sister Emerie, she’s on her own, once again a captive who is valuable purely for her genetics. The series’ three-episode premiere is focused on her time there, setting up a season-long arc and some interpersonal drama that no Star Wars show would be complete without.

The Bad Batch’s greatest strength has always been the ensemble cast, so no time is wasted in getting the gang back together again. While the looming threat of Dr. Hemlock (Jimmi Simpson) and the experimentation remains, the Batch slides back into the groove of episodic adventures, the structure that made the world of The Clone Wars so watchable.

While this season definitely takes big swings (the trailer alone spoils cameos from Emperor Palpatine and Asajj Ventress), they don’t feel like swings, just steps along the journey. There are some major ties to the modern-day Star Wars narrative, but ones that don’t feel shoehorned into this pre-original-trilogy series of the “Mando-verse.” Just like Omega, the show has grown into itself and the role it has in the Star Wars universe.

While The Bad Batch Season 3 does tie into a bigger narrative, it’s definitely earned.

Lucasfilm

The clones have always been the beating heart of Star Wars animation, and this is their moment to shine. With the Empire moving on to bigger and better things, the characters we’ve grown to love over two seasons are now powerful story engines that no longer have to work through their feelings about family: the clones are all siblings, and keeping them alive is what matters.

The Bad Batch Season 3 may be the end of a 15-year-old saga, but it uses every bit of the time it has to create more great moments instead of reliving the old ones. As fantastic as The Clone Wars’ final season was, it couldn’t exactly capture the Season 1 feeling because it’s caught up in Revenge of the Sith’s action. The Rise of Skywalker was the end of the Skywalker Saga, but its greatest flaw was undoubtedly the way it lived in the past. If anything, The Bad Batch is about the present moment — it’s not dreading the finale, just savoring every minute it has.

The first three episodes of The Bad Batch Season 3 premiere February 21 on Disney+.

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