Star Wars: The Clone Wars continues to prove that resurrection was worthwhile with its latest episode, “On the Wings of Keeradaks”. The second to last installment in what is sure to be dubbed as “The Bad Batch” arc is short but deliciously sweet. Fans follow Anakin Skywalker, Captain Rex, and the Bad Batch as they attempt to escape Techno Union forces on Skako Minor with the thought to be dead clone trooper Echo. The extensive period of torture and experimentation at the hands of the notorious Wat Tambor has left Echo half the soldier he used to be. Even if they make it out alive, at what cost would it be to this tormented soul?
The episode is noticeably shorter than the previous two entries by a few minutes. It falls in line with how the show previously operated before cancellation. The richer arcs would usually be four episodes long: introduction, escalation of conflict, conflict ensues, resolution and wrap up. It is admirable how quickly season 7 snapped back into these gears, furthering reminding fans why they fell in love with the show in the first place. This structure is not necessarily groundbreaking for a show such as The Clone Wars, but it gets the job done effectively within the bigger picture.
Although, the downfalls of this structure can be seen with this latest episode. If not engaging to a certain degree, what comes between the beginning and end could fall into feeling like an extension of what is to come or filler. “On the Wings of Keeradaks” slightly slips into this territory, but is elevated by its stellar visuals and action. Since the show’s cancellation in 2013, Lucasfilm has gained new resources and practiced new methods of storytelling within animation. Season 7 utilizes the show’s visual staples and flow, but with tools not previously available. The results are crisp, layered, and vibrant images that cannot be compared to a majority of the show’s past. Whether it is seeing Wat Tambor’s vivid pupils through his goggles or highlighted facial features on Anakin, it is very impressive.
Much credit to this episode’s directive leaders, Bosco Ng and Dave Filoni, for bringing fans back to the prequel era (a time period already extensively explored) while still showcasing plenty of new ideas. The combination of new types of lifeforms and battle droids make for riveting scenarios. This episode even features story beats familiar to previous arcs. Specifically, those of a neutral alien race being forced to choose a side in the war during the most ill-time. Has the show already done this? Undeniably, but thanks to bombastic action and a unique scenario- this story is as riveting as what came before.
Fans and new viewers alike will also greatly appreciate that the show in no way has been filtered or made more “family-friendly” under the Disney era. The same levels of brutal yet honest violence are met for the sake of thematic weight. It follows in line with what the show has done before and continues to add layers to this time period in Star Wars. Even though still seen as a children’s program to many, Lucasfilm continues to prove that there can be a balance between mature themes and wholesomeness in family-oriented content.
Fun, visually gorgeous, and just pure awesome- “On the Wings of Keeradaks” is another great entry in season 7 of The Clone Wars. This arc will wrap next week and the Bad Batch’s time in the spotlight will dim. The next episode has more to prove as these fan-favorite characters bow offstage. These first three episodes definitely indicate that Lucasfilm can pull it off.