Movies Reviews

Star Wars: The Bad Batch Knows How to Tell a Better Story Than The Mandalorian

Star Wars currently has two shows going on Disney+ at the same time, The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch, both with episodes airing on the same days. A lot more attention is given to The Mandalorian, being the flagship series for both Star Wars and Disney+ ever since the beginning of Disney’s entry into the streaming wars, and one of the most popular shows in the world. So The Mandalorian understandably overshadows The Bad Batch every week now, and while both shows are excellent in their own ways, The Bad Batch is shining through as a better show.

The Mandalorian has eight episodes per season to The Bad Batch‘s sixteen-episode seasons, and The Bad Batch is taking full advantage of its longer runtime while The Mandalorian has routinely not used its fewer episodes as well as it could. The Bad Batch is as much filler as The Mandalorian, but it uses its time wisely to develop characters and plot rather than forgetting about them or driving it forward. Here’s how The Bad Batch has surpassed The Mandalorian by using filler.


Filler Episodes Develop Characters

Lucasfilm Animation

In the age of streaming, we’ve become spoiled by serialized television, where we expect every episode to constantly progress the main plot of the show, and filler episodes, which don’t actively develop the show’s plot but usually focus on specific characters, are considered worthless to the story and condemned as non-essential. These “non-essential” episodes used to comprise the vast majority of shows, with entire seasons being composed entirely of filler and averaging at least twenty-two episodes per season. Still, streaming economics have made it possible to make more money on shows with lower episode counts. This is why shows are receiving fewer and fewer episodes, now with an average of eight or less per season, which has created the practice of binge-watching and drastically shortened the patience of viewers.

The Mandalorian is almost entirely filler, where every season so far has shaped up to be essentially a dad-and-son go-for-the-adventure-of-the-week kind of show. Usually, the last two or three episodes are where the important stuff happens. Recently, fans have been disappointed by season three, as the premiere was essentially an expositional recap where nothing significant happened, reminding fans of season two, which took too long to get to the point. Even the whole middle of season one received the filler complaint. And they are; the entire show has revolved around Mando and Grogu traveling from planet to planet for their weekly adventure.

The Bad Batch is also primarily filler, but it has spent each and every episode focusing on specific characters, the best example being Crosshair. Clone Force 99 abandoned the Empire, but Crosshair remained loyal. It’s all Crosshair has ever known; it’s literally what he was born for, to follow orders, so he betrays his squad and his brothers because good soldiers follow orders. But with two whole episodes focused on him, we see Crosshair begin to question his loyalty when he sees the cruelty of the Empire, not to other people, but to his clone brothers. Crosshair quickly learns that he made the wrong choice, that good soldiers don’t follow orders, and droids follow orders and rebel. Crosshair’s arc may seem pointless to what’s happening to the Batch, and it appears that there is no plot throughout most of the season, but The Bad Batch doesn’t focus on plot progression but rather character development, and while it’s all “filler” to us, it’s essential to the characters.

Related: Where Star Wars: The Bad Batch and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Might Crossover

Essential Episodes Develop Plot


The “essential” episodes in The Mandalorian only affect the show for a short while, just for the season’s penultimate and finale, where Mando and Grogu’s suddenly revealed problem is quickly resolved. In The Bad Batch, however, the essential episodes affect the whole show. When Grogu left Mando to train as a Jedi with Luke Skywalker, we were led to think that The Mandalorian would truly focus on its titular character. But one episode later, Grogu is traveling the galaxy again with Mando with absolutely no apparent explanation in the show. Crucial information was for The Book of Boba Fett (which was a storytelling disaster), and the show-changing moment was ultimately meaningless. In The Bad Batch, when Crosshair leaves his squad at the end of season one, he doesn’t come back. Instead, he stays with the Empire, and his decision has affected the entirety of season two and all the characters. Essential episodes only need to develop the plot.

A great example is when Clone Force 99 succeeds in revealing Imperial Admiral Rampart’s conspiracy to replace the clones, they play right into Emperor Palpatine’s hands, and their evidence becomes the final nail in the coffin for the clones. Not every episode must be “essential” and change or move the plot because the best episodes come after the essential when the show takes time to follow the consequences of the essential and how the characters react. All that happened before led to this, affecting everything afterward as The Batch questions everything, leading to Echo leaving The Batch and Crosshair leaving the Empire.

Related: Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 2 Review: The Empire Tightens Its Fascist Grip in a Spectacular Return

Characters and Plot Develop the Show

Lucasfilm Animation

The Bad Batch pulls off a spectacular feat of intertwining the formation of the plot and the character. The character affects the plot, and the plot affects the characters. Clone Force 99 indirectly causes their own defeat, leading all clones to be decommissioned. So Crosshair begins to question the Empire after clones have been made obsolete, and it is a perfect combination of characters and plot development. The Mandalorian actually achieves this when Mando must part with Grogu and reveals his face to say goodbye, a touching and spectacular moment between father and son that took two seasons to create. Still, all development was erased when The Mandalorian backtracked and returned Grogu to Mando with no explanation in season three. The Bad Batch commits to characters and the plot to drive the show forward and tell a complete story, despite complaints that it is just aimless filler.

The Mandalorian revitalized the franchise on the small screen years ago, but now it’s become evident that the lack of compelling storytelling harms Star Wars. By taking its time to develop the characters and plot and merge the two, The Bad Batch has mastered the art of the filler episode, using filler to create a complete story better than even The Mandalorian.

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