Star Wars: The Bad Batch has now entered the second half of their 16-episode run on Disney+ and if you haven’t been following along, you might want to get going. At current, the Batch (aka Clone Force 99) is on the run from their very own, Crosshairs, who has joined The Galactic Empire to track them down. But there’s also a number of Bounty Hunters on their tail for their youngest squad-mate, Omega, who may or may not be the key to a larger mystery. There’s still a lot of questions that need answering left in the series but before we get any further, we were granted an audience (along with several other members of the press) to have a chat with Supervising Director Brad Rau and Head Writer Jennifer Corbett. Between the two of them, they have contributed to three Star Wars series: Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars Resistance, and the current Star Wars: The Bad Batch.
Questions below are asked by several different outlets and have been edited for clarity. And as always, spoilers ahead through episode 9.
Q: In Cid’s bar we love the nods to classic Star Wars characters. There is an ithorian character that is credited as Bolo. Can you tell us more about him?
Brad: We love Bolo, voiced by the great Liam O’Brien, and when he got to see the design for his character he gasped and said “Hammerhead! In the Kenner style!” and we were like, “yes, Liam, that’s correct, that’s what we’re going with.” So yeah that’s intentional but actually the original Hammerhead I believe his name was “Momaw Nadon”, it’s not actually Hammerhead, so it’s more like, everyone’s got their own name. His name is Bolo.
Q: Is there a significance to Bolo?
Jennifer: It’s more about the disfunctional relationship between Bolo and Ketch that really spawned that name but they’re always getting into trouble and they’re fun characters to have.
Q: Crosshairs exposure to the ion blast makes me curious to see where his story goes next. While developing the series was there a discussion about him following the Empire by choice, or was another Bad Batcher was considered to play that role?
Jen: Early on in the development process we knew that Crosshairs was going to be the one that would be the foil to this group and be our main antagonist. But one of the things we wanted to talk about with this series is that question of choice. With the Inhibitor chips, they really didn’t have a say. They were conditioned to follow orders and with Order 66 we see them executing Jedi without hesitation. What the Regs (standard Clone Troopers) are going through and what Crosshairs is going through is something we continue to explore throughout the season. The discussion of choice is a big topic.
Q: There seems to be similarities between The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch in regards to the reluctant father figure taking on a younger individual that’s wanted for their genetic material… was this intentional?
Brad: You know, there are some similarities for sure. The idea of a found family, especially with grizzled warriors sort of having parenthood forced upon them and learning how to deal with that is just a classic storyline. When we were looking at The Bad Batch it made sense to go that way really quickly. It was not intentional as a symmetrical nod to The Mandalorian necessarily, more so just to create an interesting point of view that could get the audience into the series. Where you might not always identify as a super soldier or a clone but as a family, a big brother or little sister, whatever it might be, it seemed like a natural way to get into the show.
Jennifer: And I think to ground it in real life when you see different families on the surface they all may all have similarities but really when you get into their dynamic and what they’re going through that’s where you see the different shades. That’s kind of true with Star Wars as well.
Q: As much as there’s a focus on the characters of Clone Force 99… there’s also a focus on the world building or era, post-Order 66 time. Was that always a key element to show the state of the galaxy as well as the characters?
Brad: Yeah definitely. It’s something that we’re really excited about in this era that hasn’t been really explored in the Star Wars timeline. There’s so many things going on. There’s so much change. There’s a wild west sensibility and yet the rise of the Empire… how does that look? It gets us really excited 100%.
Jennifer: Especially the change in environment is what starts the show and starts the change in the galaxy. It’s been fun to get to explore that from the Batch’s perspective compared to the Regs and Crosshair’s perspective with the Empire.
Q: What is it like working with the Story Group, within the broader universe? You could potentially be setting up pins for something down the line like in The Book of Boba Fett. How much do they keep you honest as writers?
Jennifer: Very. They keep us very honest. With this timeline we have a bit of wiggle room before we start getting into to Rebels, even Solo, A New Hope. There’s an opportunity for us to explore lots of things but anytime we have a story discussion the story team weighs in on things that could potentially be an issue or things that could potentially be a tie in. If it makes sense creatively, that’s something we discuss and talk about but we’re never really confined by things. It’s just if we like to shoot for the stars and it gets into a specific area we have to be careful about then we have a longer discussion on what we’re trying to accomplish and if it can fit into anything else.
Brad: There’s also a lot of different characters in this era that are bumping around so any time we can see one or two of them we’re super excited about that.
Q: We’ve always been curious about what makes Omega special. Curious now that this reveal has happened that she is more of a daughter than a clone, what are your thoughts on changing the dynamic of the franchise as a whole by giving Boba Fett a sister and how that will play out in the years to come?
Brad: That’s all very exciting. We just had a lot of fun playing the mystery up, to be honest. Just to see there’s something to this kid. And you see something that makes me excited is when we can show this kid, whoever she is, training along with these other guys, and failing and sometimes overcoming. To me that’s the most exciting part of her character. But there are other parts of her story to tell that we are excited for you to see in the future.
Jennifer: There’s a lot about different people’s agenda and what the Empire’s interested in vs what the Kaminoans are interested in, but when it comes to the Bad Batch, their take on Omega, they don’t care what she is or what she isn’t, which is what their family dynamic is. She’s just a team unit and they’re going to train her the best they can.
Q: The Bad Batch is really an ensemble piece. Of all the characters, curious, who’s your favorite character to approach so far?
Brad: I love Cid. Cid is so good. She gives everybody an equal amount of guff and it’s just delightful. And Rhea Perlman is such an outstanding actress. It’s been fun seeing how her voice affected some of the future scripts, some of the way that Cid would talk. And when our animation and lighting dept brought this character to life, it’s just an awesome character. It’s exactly the kind of character I love as a Star Wars fan. She’s a blast.
Jen: I personally love Cad Bane, just being a massive Clone Wars fan and him being so terrifying to watch on screen. And intimadating to see how he interacts with the Batch compared to a different bounty hunter, and what’s changed for him in his life since we last saw him. He was fun to bring back.
Q: You both worked on Star Wars Resistance… which of the older characters would you like to see within the Bad Batch timeframe or would you most like to bring in?
Brad: That might be too loaded of a question actually. But yeah, Resistance was an awesome show with this amazing cast and characters. Our crew is primarily the same here at Lucasfilm and overseas as well. It’s interesting how the production of that show has affected what we do as we continue to push forward in the animation process, as far as specific characters, i’m not going into too many details. There’s definitely a long amount of time from where we are to wehre Resistance was, but it’s an interesting question!
Q: Can you talk about the evolution of bringing Cad Bane into the show?
Jen: We in talking about the first half of the season, the Kaminoans put this bounty to have Omega returned to them, and we knew we wanted to have the batch interact with Fennec Shand just to see how they end up. Because The Batch is still not fully street smart yet, they’re still soldiers, they don’t really know how the galaxy works in different ways. While Fennec is new to the scene, she’s still very dangerous… and to compare that interaction with Cad Bane, which was a completely different experience. It’s a continuation of who this squad is interacting with and how each experience they’re learning something new about other threats that are out there and how it affects them moving forward.
Brad: I want to add that Corey Burton, he’s such an amazing, fantastic, decorated actor. We have such a blast working with him. For the design of Cad Bane, we were looking at some designs that have never fully gone into production that were in progress in clone wars both for his look and also for his ship. It was a lot of fun to go back to those, to take them out of the garage and tinker with it, push it and rework it a little bit so that Cad Bane and his ride felt familar and yet a little bit more nuanced and a little bit more detailed. But Corey, his performance informs all of the animation and a lot of the blocking. He’s phenomenal. He’s so great.
Q: With so many new writers to Star Wars, what’s the key to a successful writers room?
Jennifer: It’s definitely all about collaboration. It’s great to bring in so many ecxcited writers who love Star Wars and want to play in that sandbox and the enthusiasm they bring. And then from story breaking on through the whole script stage, we work closely with each freelancer and then with Brad and his team so that each step along the way, fine tuning, giving it that extra Star Wars ‘zhuzh’, to really make the episode pop… if i can say anything: collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. I owe a lot of that to Brad and the production side because we give them stuff written on a page but seeing how they execute it. They take it from here to there and each time i’m amazed with every script.
Q: One of the great things about The Bad Batch is seeing the part of The Empire forming up for the first time, leaving some in the galaxy confused about how to think. Can you talk more about the creation of this moment in time for The Empire?
Jen: It’s fun to see it through their eyes. The Batch is a military unit and they’re not used to having to think about anything political or anything beyond that. They’re used to getting missions, they go on their missions, they execute them and they get new orders. Now that everything has shifted they have to ask questions about the Empire and they’re unsure about where they fit in and where they’re going. As a writer it’s fun to explore that turmoil in the galaxy because there’s so much the Batch doesn’t know, but it’s still about the daily struggles of once one government falls and a new regime rises, how some planets are happy about it because that means there’s peace, but they don’t know what kind of peace that is. And it’s definitely this storyline and that idea is something that will continue to evolve with the series.
Brad: Yeah and it’s also been interesting just from a design standpoint to take things that are very much Republic like the Regs and their armor and their equipment, and make it all devoid of the interesting individual color now that they’re the face of the bad guy. We did a lot of work to change the way the futzworks out of their helmets, so they sound almost a little bit less like good guys, it’s still Dee Bradley Baker performing a thousands characters, but if you’re looking closely, referencing our second episode, when the Bad Batch make their escape, we were very careful that when Hunter is shooting a clone, he shoots a clone in the arm and knocks a blaster out of his hand. He shoots a clone in the leg, knocks him down, maybe he punches him out. But none of those guys perished. It was all very very intentional. It that’s a small look at how our main characters are dealing with the change in the Empire and seeing their brothers now as the face of the bad guy. Not just Crosshair but all of the regs. We don’t always speak to it but we try to pack it into every shot, into every frame.
Jen: It is the most heartbreaking part, because we’re fans of the Clone Wars, and the prequels, you got to know these clones and the relationship with the Jedi, and how they were a team and now they’re part of the entity of the bad guy and just how striking that is even in the pilot episode when their armor is bleached white, and they’re just this evil side of things, as a fan it’s heartbreaking but it’s part of the show.
Q: How would you tease in the 2nd half of this season in two words?
Jen: Hold on! (laughs) You’re really limiting us with the two words!
Brad: That’s so funny because I was going to say ‘Buckle up.’ We’re having so much fun but it’s great to see the fan reactions to how this show is coming out. I’ll say if you like where we’ve gone, I think you’re really going to like where we’re going.
Jen: How many words was that? (laughs)
Brad: That was like fifty-three words. (laughs)
Star Wars: The Bad Batch is now streaming on Disney+. New episodes debut every Friday.
Thank you so much to the publicity team at Disney+ for this interview.