Star Wars: The Bad Batch producers explain that surprise cameo
- TV Show
Warning: This article contains spoilers about the series debut of Star Wars: The Bad Batch.
Seeing as how the members of Clone Force 99 now front and center on Star Wars: The Bad Batch were originally introduced in a four-episode arc on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a certain level of crossover was expected between the two animated offerings. And seeing as how the trailer for the new series also featured other notable live-action characters such as Wilhuff Tarkin, Saw Gerrera, and The Mandalorian's Fennec Shand, it seemed as if almost any character from the Star Wars universe was on the table in terms of possibly popping up to make an appearance.
Yet the May 4 Bad Batch premiere on Disney+, titled "Aftermath," still managed to surprise fans with an emotional prequel crossover appearance that nobody saw coming. The episode began with Clone Force 99 being brought in to help in a Republic battle against Separatist droids, and the person who led them to the skirmish was none other than… Padawan Caleb Dume. Yes, the same Caleb Dume (voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr.) who would later turn into Kanan Jarrus on the Disney XD series Star Wars: Rebels.
On Rebels, Kanan emerged as a mentor and leader of the Ghost Crew, eventually sacrificing himself to save the others — a moment made all the more emotional because of his backstory of his old Jedi master sacrificing herself to save him.
In the Bad Batch premiere, we saw that tragic backstory from 14 years prior to the start of Rebels play out on screen, as Caleb's Jedi master Dep Billaba (voiced by Archie Panjabi) engaged the clones-turned-Jedi-assassins to give Caleb time to escape. That event was the catalyst for the rest of the episode (and series) as Clone Force 99 leader Hunter tried to protect young Caleb while fellow Bad Batcher Crosshair took offense that orders were not followed to kill the boy.
Admiral Tarkin then capitalized on that division, augmenting Crosshair's inhibitor chip and turning the marksman against his former crew. It was only due to the help of a precocious young girl named Omega — an enhanced clone herself — that the remaining members of the Bad Batch were able to escape from Kamino.
Where did the decision come from to offer up that Rebels prequel moment by bringing Caleb/Kanan onto The Bad Batch? Why turn one of the Bad Batch members into the show's main antagonist? And did we just see the first hints of Omega's powers? We went to executive producers Jennifer Corbett (also head writer) and Brad Rau (also supervising director) for answers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell me about the decision to have a Star Wars: Rebels prequel moment here by showing us Caleb Dume as Order 66 is being carried out?
JENNIFER CORBETT: Pretty early on in the development, we knew that we wanted to start with Order 66 because it's such a pivotal moment in Star Wars, and especially for the clones. We hadn't seen how the Batch reacts to it, and I know a lot of fans were curious if they even executed it. So we knew we would have a Jedi master and a Padawan that they can interact with.
The more that we started thinking about the development of Omega and the Batch's relationship to her, it felt natural to have Hunter interact with the young Padawan who he's not able to help. He witnesses this kid lose everything, and even though he's not able to help that Padawan, later on that fuels his decision to go back and help Omega because he's kind of righting that wrong.
So that's what we knew we wanted to do. And then when [Bad Batch creator] Dave Filoni suggested Caleb, we were all so excited because fans of Rebels knew his story and kind of just got a glimpse of it. But we just really wanted to explore what Order 66 was like from his perspective to just add to that. It's always fun when we get to play with those kinds of characters, so we were all excited about that.
BRAD RAU: Dave thought it was a good idea to put him in there, and we were so excited. I got to work on Rebels. I love Kanan so much, he's so awesome, and it's so tragic what happens to that guy, and his sacrifice. So to see him when he was young was a challenge. It was a little scary. Where we were in the timeline, he made sense as someone that we knew a little bit about who his Jedi master was, and just a brief bit of what happened around Order 66, and then we don't know much about him after that.
So to put that on film made sense for The Bad Batch, and gave us also this really interesting thing in our premiere episode where Hunter, as he tries to help Caleb, he doesn't know what's going on. He has no idea what's happening, but he wants to help this kid. His instinct, almost more than just as a soldier and a leader, but as a paternal being, is to help this kid. Which is really interesting for him, and then it didn't go the way he wanted it to go.
And it's so tragic. We made sure that our last look of Caleb Dume was from a distance, from Hunter's point of view, seeing him disappear. It hurts every time. But then his experiences there directly correlate to what Hunter and the rest of the team decide to do with young Omega at the end of the episode, and how he starts to own more responsibility for taking care of a younger character that he wants to teach really becomes the through-line to our show.
Will we see Caleb again? Is this someone whose story we'll be tracking throughout the life of The Bad Batch, or was it just a fun way to help launch the series?
CORBETT: I mean, you never know. It's a big galaxy, so I'm sure some people they'll cross paths with, some they won't. But yeah, you never know.
RAU: I can't say too much about that, but I will say that we don't run across familiar faces every single episode, every single time, but when we do, we want to make sure that it's worth it.
Why make Crosshair turn on his unit and become what seems like will be a main antagonist here at the start of the series?
CORBETT: A discussion we had early on was, who is going to be the main antagonist? Who's going to be the villain of The Bad Batch? In talking about it, it was like the most dangerous person is someone who knows you the most. When you have one of your own, when one of their brothers turn against them and can be hunting them down — he knows their strengths and weaknesses. It puts them on this strange playing field because they also care about Crosshair, even though he's made this choice. But then the question becomes, was it his choice? Because when you're talking about Order 66 and the inhibitor chips, we definitely explore that idea. What if Crosshair's still in there? Can we get him back?
It's so hard. I love Crosshair. I know he's a wildcard, but I just love the fact that he is who he is and he just has a completely different perspective. It's just been fascinating to explore what it's like for a clone who becomes a pawn of Tarkin and how that affects him, and then how that affects his relationship with the Batch, who now he kind of views as traitors. But deep down, what's really going on with him?
RAU: Crosshair has got so much going on, just the way that that arc worked at the end of The Clone Wars, he's so contrarian to the rest of his brothers. It just makes it interesting. And brothers butting heads is always good storytelling. As we developed this, it became pretty obvious that his different point of view was going to be hard to rectify going along with this decision that Hunter and the rest of them make. To leave, to go rogue, to take this kid with them, are all things that it's hard to understand why Crosshair would ever want to do that, so there was a natural flow to how that story went.
But really there's just something tragic about these brothers that are such a tight-knit unit and they work so well together, and to take one of those parts of the family and, by his decision, separate them. Super-interesting, dramatic, and gives us a lot of interesting storytelling in this season, for sure.
Omega almost seems to see the future when she tells Crosshair she knows what he's going to do and that he can't help it. And then she later shoots the gun out of Crosshair's hand and says she had never fired a baster before and "got lucky"? Are these nods to special powers that she has?
CORBETT: I love the fact that everyone's curious about her and I know people are going to be theorizing, and we do explore who she is and what her background is and how that relates to this squad. It's really about getting to know her perspective and her point of view versus the Batch's, and then, again, how they kind of grow from each other. So we will go into more throughout the season about Omega, and more about her backstory.
RAU: I think what makes Omega interesting is that she is, just like the rest of the Bad Batch, this reject character that doesn't fit in. She's definitely a misfit. I think that's something that fans can hopefully be interested in. Seeing how these characters try to fit in together and overcome differences, how they deal with other characters on their journey. Seeing a character that doesn't know everything and has to learn as they go is it really something we wanted to highlight with Omega.
This article was consolidated from two separate interviews.