Shows like Andor and The Mandalorian might grab the headlines, but there’s another big show currently taking place in a galaxy far, far, away. Star Wars: The Bad Batch returns for season two on January 4, once again following a team of specialized clones fighting back against the Empire that discarded them.
Season one ended with the Empire destroying the Clone home on Kamino; in season two, Hunter, Echo, Wrecker, and Tech, along with their fellow clone Omega, are a team without a home. They must complete dangerous missions just to stay alive, all while Emperor Palpatine and his evil Empire continue to grab hold of the galaxy.
To mark the occasion of season two, io9 spoke with Star Wars: The Bad Batch’s head writer and executive producer Jennifer Corbett as well as executive producer and supervising director Brad Rau about the expectations and goals going into this season. No spoilers here.
Germain Lussier, io9: So when you began planning and prepping season two, what were your big goals and aims right at the start?
Jennifer Corbett: I think the big theme for this season is coming to a crossroads in terms of all the characters, and we explore that in various episodes with various points of view. We wanted to—as the Empire is growing and, as you know, other things are changing throughout the galaxy—see how that affects the Batch and Omega, and both internally and externally.
Brad Rau: Also, we created a poster to give to the fans at Star Wars Celebration and the tagline we put on it was “Long road ahead.” We wanted to see the Batch, all of them, including Omega... they’re not living high on the hog. They’re a little threadbare. They’re a little beat up. They’re trying to stay off the Empire’s radar. They’re living gig to gig. We wanted to start there and show whatever they do, it’s going to be tough travel. There’s definitely a lot more to figure out.
io9: Because you’re an animated show, not every episode is seeped with mythology. There are lots of action-packed, side-mission episodes. Talk about how you balance that over the course of the season—is there any kind of specific ratio episode to episode?
Corbett: I mean, it’s all about building the road, essentially, and having everything build upon the other episodes. And it was all very intentional where we’re going in season two. But we had to make sure that we had episodes that explored some fun and we had some adventure. And also that gave us an opportunity to explore our Batch more and shine a light on Tech and Echo and Wrecker and Hunter and really sort of allow them the opportunity to grow as specific missions sort of relate to them. Whenever you deal with the Empire, it sort of becomes a big thing. So we just wanted to make sure as we were building to a bigger story, we had other episodes that were leading towards that.
io9: Watching a bunch of these new episodes, I picked up what seemed to me like references from a ton of other pop culture—The Dark Tower, Indiana Jones, Godzilla—which is certainly a staple of Star Wars. Are those references deliberate or is it just baked into you as filmmakers?
Corbett: Well, usually before the writer’s conference, we have pre-conference meetings where we’re talking about the next batch of episodes and the themes that we want to hit and what are things we haven’t explored yet. What lessons are they learning? So that’s talked about way in advance. But we pull inspiration from many movies and many TV shows—and it’s also like, how do we make it different? And why is it serving our story?
io9: Obviously this is Star Wars so you can’t and won’t spoil anything—but, at this moment before the season starts for fans, what do you hope they take away at the end of the season?
Rau: You know, one thing that was really fun was to see through the season, our star of the show, Omega—to see her growing and learning, not just automatically, but failing. We did that a lot in season one, but we really dig into how that works in season two. And, if we’re doing it right, we see her arc right in front of your eyes as an audience through the action she does, through the things she says.
Corbett: I think for me, it’s the idea that if you can help someone, you do it. Even though you can’t save everybody, you try to do your best. And I think that’s a hopeful message for this show and just hopefully the world in general.
io9: Last thing. Do you two know, at this moment, where the Bad Batch is during the original trilogy? I’m not asking if we see it, just if you two know.
Corbett: [Laughs] That sounds like a spoilery question.
Rau: We can’t give that away.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch returns for season two on January 4 with a two-episode premiere on Disney+/
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