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‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ Returns for a Third and Final Season

EPs Brad Rau and Jennifer Corbett talk about the show’s epic, action-packed Season 3, which tests the limits of the Batch in the fight to reunite with Omega, now streaming its first 3 episodes on Disney+.

With the first three episodes debuting this past Wednesday on Disney+, the third and final season of Lucasfilm's Star Wars: The Bad Batch has arrived. With blasters blasting!

A sequel of sorts to Dave Filoni’s seven-season Star Wars: The Clone Wars series, which premiered in 2008, The Bad Batch spotlights Clone Force 99, also known as the “Bad Batch,” a group of defective but elite clone troopers with genetic mutations – Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Crosshair, and Echo – who take on daring mercenary missions.

In the epic Season 3, the Batch will have their limits tested in the fight to reunite with Omega as she faces challenges of her own inside a remote Imperial science lab. With the group fractured and facing threats from all directions, they will have to seek out unexpected allies, embark on dangerous missions, and muster everything they have learned to free themselves from the Empire. Star Wars fans… talk amongst yourselves!

The Bad Batch features a talented voice cast, including Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad!), Michelle Ang (Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462), Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider), Jimmi Simpson (Westworld), Noshir Dalal (It's Pony) and Wanda Sykes (The Upshaws).

Filoni, Athena Portillo, Brad Rau, Jennifer Corbett, and Carrie Beck executive produce, with Josh Rimes serving as co-executive producer and Alex Spotswood as senior producer. Rau also serves as supervising director with Corbett as head writer.   

Corbett and Rau spoke to AWN a year ago January with the launch of Season 2. Talking to AWN again to discuss their show’s final episodes, the pair noted that knowing the series would conclude with Season 3 gave them an opportunity to finish, so to speak, what they started, something most showrunners aren’t able to do. “Going into Season 3, knowing early on it was going to be our final season, was a unique opportunity in this business,” Rau says. “Looking ahead, we could plot it out just the way we wanted to. We could wrap up the storylines the way we wanted to. It was a rare treat. Doesn't always happen that way. Certainly, although things were unexpected as we were exploring where the show was going to go, we ended it the way we wanted to. We're really happy. We hope the fans are as happy as we are with how the show comes to a conclusion.”

“And in terms of the storytelling, I think fans can expect some classic Star Wars-type adventures, with a lot of heart and emotion,” Corbett adds. “And as we're diving into some very intriguing Star Wars lore, there will be answers to a lot of questions that I know fans have had.”

Asked about the show’s realistic depiction of soldiers, weary from battle, fighting and living as a team, and their humorous banter, Corbett, says we’ll see more of that this season. “100%, because at the core, there’s this odd little family dynamic going on, and their banter is so inherently them. The best part to write about is the interaction between each other. And with the way that the season progresses, as the squad dynamic shifts, we get to explore other characters who haven't spent time together and really show those relationships. But yes, we’ve got a lot of what you're asking and then some.”

The EPs have spoken previously about how they approach the show, like it's live-action rather than animation. This season is no different. “In animation, the scope and scale tend to be bigger than you can do in live-action, but that also that creates more problems,” Rau explains. “So how do we figure out proximity and distance early on before any script is written? Even in the writers’ conference, I'm always bugging Jen about action ideas and we're constantly talking all the way through. If we get the character arcs, if the motivation of what they're doing and why they're doing it is right, that's the hardest part, in my opinion. When it comes to laying out the action, we try to keep it grounded, so that it's like, ‘These are incredible soldiers, but they can't jump as high as Superman.’ That's an extreme example, but we're always trying to keep things grounded, so it feels like it's a real thing that could happen, and if you can do that, then it's more satisfying.”

“It’s really big compliment to say that it feels like live-action because literally, the directive from day one, was, ‘We need to make this as cinematic as we can, so that you feel the emotions and you feel the action as tight as you can,’ he continues. “The cinematic nature of the show is not for nothing. It takes a lot of planning. It's something that Dave Filoni has always put to us and the animation team. Think about it as live-action. Think about where the cameraman is. We have a very specific lens set. Joel Aron, our lighting effects director, is an amazing photographer. Even though he's working on the backend and not directing episodes, we pull him and Keith [Kellogg], our animation director, into meetings with the episodic directors to get that nuance just right. ‘If a camera's moving, why is it moving and how is it moving?’ Really classic Cinema 101 discussions happen every day at Lucasfilm Animation.”

Part of the show’s realism involves grime. And grit. And dirt. Combat is not clean. “Going back to A New Hope, Star Wars looked lived in,” Rau notes. “Dirty and grimy. But that is the starting point for where a lot of the design comes from. Just focusing on say, Hunter's armor, Hunter's helmet, when you see the progression from Season 1 to Season 2, there was a story point that his armor looks different because they want to get off the Empire's radar, so they don't want their logos to be present everywhere. They've also been beat to heck, so everything is scratched up. When you first see Hunter in Season 3, his armor is even more scratched. We even went so far as to talk about the leather clothing underneath the armor. ‘Would it wear out? If so, does he have a new set?’ We talk about every little detail.”

The show’s timeline within the Star Wars universe is both a blessing and a curse. “It’s fun to explore the governmental shift in the galaxy and what that looks like immediately after the fall of the Republic, with the rise of the empire where it’s not at its full potential yet,” Corbett says. “But at the same time, telling the story about these soldiers, we want to have a satisfying conclusion for them. They can't defeat the empire, so that's not the ultimate goal. We can't be destroying a death star because we're way too early. So, what’s a satisfying end mission for them and where do we leave them? Well, we think fans will be satisfied with the way that the story unfolds.”

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.