Lucasfilm Animation’s Star Wars: The Bad Batch is here, and Clone Force 99's big new adventure on Disney+ opened with a bang. But as the new series began in the final moments of the Star Wars prequel’s darkest hour, the show made some touching connections to the stories that came before it—an important connection Bad Batch’s producers wanted to make.
“Aftermath,” the extended premiere episode of the series opened concurrent with the closing moments of The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith: the last moments of the Clone War, and the impending dread that is the arrival of Order 66. On the planet Kaller, we meet the Bad Batch coming to the aid of a beleaguered Clone Battalion, lead by Jedi Master Depa Billaba (Archie Panjabi). But she is not the connection the series wanted to make to the wider events of the war. It’s who helps bring the Batch to Billaba’s entrenched Clones for aid, a familiar name, with a bit of a twist—the Jedi’s padawan, Caleb Dume. Perhaps better known for the name he takes after the events of “Aftermath,” which sees Billaba killed during Order 66 and Caleb escaping his former allies: Kanan Jarrus of Star Wars Rebels fame.
Master Billaba and Caleb previously made brief, silent holographic cameos in the final arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ seventh season and the story of how Caleb came to be Kanan after surviving Order 66 told in Marvel’s Kanan comic miniseries. But for executive producers Jennifer Corbett and Brad Rau, revisiting Caleb’s “origin story” was a natural fit when they decided to open the show with Order 66. “We knew early on that Order 66 was going to be the opening scene for this show—and the discussions became, ‘Through which Jedi Padawan do we want the team to be interacting with?’,” Corbett told io9 over a recent video call. “And the fact that Caleb is already established—we’ve seen him as Kanan in Rebels—it kind of just seemed to fit with the show, especially given his age.”
Caleb’s position as a young witness to the horror of Order 66, and his confrontation with Hunter and Crosshair in the episode, made him the ideal contrast to Bad Batch’s other young star, Omega (io9 will have more on her later this week!). “It’s a nice parallel to start the show with the Batch interacting with this one child, and then later on rescuing and taking on the responsibilities of caring for another child,” Corbett added.
Although Caleb is a much younger, and in many ways very different person to the man we would eventually meet in Rebels, one thing that Corbett and Rau wanted out of his return was to bring back Freddie Prinze Jr. to deliver a much more youthful performance. “It was the question, that we talked about that a lot,” Rau said of whether or not to bring Prinze Jr back or cast a younger actor. “I remember talking to Dave Filoni about it and when he reached out to Freddie—Freddie’s so awesome—he came in to play Caleb Dume and just... the energy he brings, he’s so intense of an actor there were tears in the booth on both sides.”
“It was really something,” Rau added. “He’s just a wonderful actor. So it was really great we could see this young version of Kanan and get Freddie back to do it. It was a really big deal.”
Star Wars: The Bad Batch is now streaming on Disney+.
For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.