Star Wars: Resistance Is at Its Best When It Stops Worrying About the Resistance

The first season of Star Wars: Resistance was promising if a bit slow, but it typically takes any show a season or two to find its voice. Unfortunately, with the end of the Skywalker Saga upon us, it seems that Disney is hoping to sever any long running media that connects to the third trilogy. So Resistance has to wrap its story in this second and final season, meaning things can feel a bit rushed.

It’s too bad because Resistance is actually best when it chooses to turn its focus away from… the Resistance.

[Spoilers for season 2 so far]

In season two, the Colossus platform has become the Colossus ship, navigating space and trying to find a safe haven for its citizens as they’re now wanted by the First Order. They’ve been running out of all essentials, always desperate to find food or fuel or supplies. Because season two is set just after the events of The Force Awakens, their ties to the Resistance have been cut—they have no idea where Poe Dameron or General Organa have gone off to, now that their base on D’Qar has been destroyed. They’re completely on their own for the time being.

It creates a great survivalist situation, one that Resistance has used to its advantage, and a great deal of this season’s episodes so far have revolved not around Kazudo’s work as the galaxy’s least convincing Resistance spy, but around how to look out for a community once it has been uprooted. The Colossus has folded pirates into their crew, talked friends out of leaving the station, worked to keep their very old ship in some form of repair. Sure, the First Order shows up now and again to give chase, but those episodes are mostly a reminder that they need to keep moving; they’re not interesting adventures in their own right, and take away from the better episodes focused on the Colossus crew.

It’s unfortunate, as it exposes the show’s biggest weakness: the decision to have former Colossus super technician Tam Ryvora join the First Order. While this is clearly supposed to be an emotional crux for the season, Tam’s choice to switch sides comes off like a substantial overreaction (or extreme and thoughtless naïveté) at the end of season one. She may be upset that Kaz lied about being a Resistance spy and annoyed that she’s not given leave to be a pilot on the platform, but translating that into a belief that the First Order is trying to bring peace to the galaxy just doesn’t come across effectively. Even if the show is planning on using Tam to teach kids about the dangers of believing propaganda or being too trustful of authority figures, they needed to plan that narrative more deftly, so that her mistake is easier to understand.

It’s too bad that Tam has been left out because on the other side of this, the real intrigue is centered around the people aboard the Colossus learning to trust each other and work together. Neeku accidentally trusts the wrong person and gets burned, but he keeps getting more open and interesting with every episode. Synara San proves herself to be an excellent comrade and friend, better for her pirating origins due to her healthy suspicions and attention to detail (Kaz is way too trusting to be an effective espionage operative). Torra is growing into her roll as a leader and a fighter pilot, and the super dad combo of Captain Doza and Yeager provides our crew with some much-needed grounding. Episode highlights include a hunt for big game to feed the ship, a dead Star Destroyer raid for fuel, and a gravity mix-up that sees a zero-g party going down at Aunt Z’s.

The show even devoted an entire episode to the now-revealed to be gay interspecies couple duo of Flix and Orka, sending Flix home to get fuel from his miner cousins who don’t exactly see eye to eye with their living-abroad relative. The episode accomplishes a lot, including a message on environmental  activism (his cousins are doing deep core drilling and awaken a bunch of dragons), an allegory for queer family estrangement (Flix’s cousins claim their difficulty with him is over his leaving home and dreams of being a “cantina singer”, which is not at all a subtle metaphor), and a hilarious Jurassic Park rip-off (the dragons can’t see you if you don’t move). And while Flix’s storyline is more allegorical than literal, we get a clear indication that everyone knows about Flix and Orka’s relationship; when he tells Flix’s family off for not treating him like family, the cousins mutter between each other that they can see why Flix likes him: “He takes charge.”

Look, it’s a really great episode. Highly recommend.

The strength of these choices came to a head in their latest episode “The Relic Raiders”. Kaz and company are sent down to a planet in order to fetch supplies, and Kaz follows his stowaway pals Kel and Eila into a Jedi temple—only to accidentally tumble into the Sith temple hiding beneath it. He gets trapped in a secret compartment with a new acquaintance named Mika Grey. A middle-aged woman of color with facial tattoos reminiscent of Maori tā moko, Mika Grey appears to be some kind of archaeologist… who spends her time running ahead of the First Order to steal the Sith artifacts their Supreme Leader is intent on liberating for himself.

So, Star Wars: Resistance has their own version of Indiana Jones now. And she’s amazing. And doesn’t come with the added icky-ness of stealing cultural treasures and selling them to well-funded museums on the other side of the galaxy. Meaning that on top of being an utter reversal of the Indy-figure expectation, there’s nothing ethically crappy about her self-appointed job… okay, she does scare away the villagers who live near the temple by opening it up, and thinks they’re stupid for being frightened of it, so that’s not particularly nice. Point is, Sith artifacts don’t belong anywhere other than out of Sith Lord (or Knights of Ren) hands. So Mika Grey is doing the galaxy a pretty excellent service, provided that she’s not secretly scheming something terrible.

It plays into the series’ overall arc of messing with the First Order, but not in the direct way that the major force of the Resistance itself is bringing the fight. Here we have a woman interrupting the reach of fascism by grabbing hold of every ancient Sith toy she can get her hands on, keeping them out of Snoke’s grasp. Many Sith artifacts are weapons, so that’s certainly an important job to regardless, but as far as we know, Mika Grey is not bound to the chain of command that General Organa is running. Because resistances aren’t just about military operations and building armies—they’re about the little things that everyone can do to resist fascism and galactic domination in their own backyards. Small actions can thwart an enemy more than you know—small actions make way for the bigger ones. Kazuda Xiono wasn’t much use as a Resistance spy, but as a young man keen to help? There’s no telling what he and his friends can do.

Star Wars: Rebels also played with this theme frequently, but it wasn’t long before Hera and her crew got swept up into the larger structural hierarchy of the Rebellion. They were simply too well-organized to keep on the fringes of the fight. But for people who are new to this game, Resistance might become a really lovely teaching tool. What you can manage is your best, and that doesn’t make your resistance less impressive or important. Everything counts toward an ultimate macro goal, and that includes every splinter and bruise the First Order gets.

If Star Wars: Resistance can keep this format going, the second season will be a real treat. It’s just too bad that two seasons is all we’ll ever get of this weird little ragtag community.

Emily Asher-Perrin wants them to give Mika Grey her own damn show, though. You can bug him on Twitter, and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

citation

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