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After six years of waiting, the final season of The Clone Wars finally premiered on Disney+ on Feb. 21. The show was a hit when it aired on Cartoon Network from 2008 through 2013, but was then canceled when Lucasfilm was bought by Disney. After much fan-intervention, it came back, and will finish off the story it planned to tell from the beginning. And even though the episodes are only around 23 minutes long, this first one was able to tug on nostalgia while also making the show feel brand new. 

Spoilers for The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 1 ahead. 

The Bad Batch in Season 7 of 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars.'
The Bad Batch in Season 7 of ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ | Lucasfilm/Disney+

‘The Clone Wars’ is back, but still feels like it never left

After so long, there was a chance that this first episode could feel like a different show. With the long wait and newly revamped animation, it was a valid concern. But instead, it felt like time never passed. 

Sure, the new animation is noticeable, especially with Anakin Skywalker. However, all it does is make facial expressions seem more natural, allowing the characters to be very expressive (again, especially when it comes to Anakin). Plus, it completely makes the action sequences and worlds feel so much more realistic. It still has the iconic The Clone Wars style that was inspired by Thunderbirds, but it continues to transport you to this world with its vibrant action. 

In addition to the aesthetics, the characters all make you feel like they never left. The bond between Anakin and his Clone troopers is still there. Anakin can sense that Rex isn’t telling him all of his suspicions on why the Separatists know their plans so well. But the trust he has in Rex is still there too, so he doesn’t push it in front of Master Windu. 

The troopers are just as humanized and individual as they’ve always been, with Rex and Cody having a great moment before meeting Clone Force 99. Rex’s determined to see if Echo really is alive, but it doesn’t take over their mission. 

And of course, you can’t have The Clone Wars without humor. Droids being confused right before they blow up never gets old.

The episode tackles a new problem for the Clone troopers 

The tagline for this episode — thank god they’re still doing those — is, “Embrace others for their differences for that makes you whole.” The Clones are facing something they’ve never had to deal with before: mutated and vastly different Clones. Clone Force 99, or the Bad Batch as they like to call themselves, is brought in to help Rex, Cody, Jesse, and Kix on Anaxes. They are genetically mutated with special skills that make them superior to regular Clones. Huner has heightened senses, Tech is very intelligent, and so on. 

These Clones are obviously an anomaly to the regular Clone troopers for more than just their mutations. The Clones have never faced troopers that aren’t just like them. Yes, they’re all different in their own ways, but this is the first time where their brothers are completely different. 

They don’t know how to handle it at first and fights break out. One side likes doing things their way, and the other is used to regulations and protocols. Tensions are high, but they do learn to work together pretty fast. Because the Separatists are figuring out every strategy the Republic troops throw at them, their goal is to get behind enemy lines and find out what is behind this highly intelligent play by the Separatists. 

The episode ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, with Rex’s hope that Echo is alive strengthened

Tech and Captain Rex find where the signal is coming from and it sounds an awful lot like Echo. This “Echo” also seems to confirm Rex’s hunch when his call number is given. All the way back at the end of Season 3, Echo was reported dead on a mission to the Citadel. How could Echo be alive and reporting Clone strategies to the enemy? Episode 2 will certainly shed more light on that. 

Overall, this episode was everything fans of the series could have hoped for. Though short in comparison to The Mandalorian, The Clone Wars Season 7 is starting off strong and continuing the streak of great Star Wars television. It also focused only on the Clones, which are the main, overarching theme of The Clone Wars

While the prequel and original trilogies are about Anakin Skywalker’s arc, and the sequels finish the theme of balance in the galaxy, this series is about the Clones. “The Bad Batch” delivered new Clones and old ones, and hits home their bonds with each other and with the Republic. It also leads to the inevitably tragic ending for these soldiers, just over the horizon.