The First Order invasion of the Star Wars galaxy has been characterized on the big screen as efficient, effective, and merciless. The Force Awakens opens with a brutal First Order attack on a settlement on Jakku. While the movie goes on to depict the destruction of the Galactic Senate on Hosnian Prime by Starkiller Base, the details of the brutal methods utilized by the First Order to exert authority over individual planets are not fully explored on the big screen. The first season of Star Wars Resistance reveals the shocking truth behind the ongoing march of the First Order.
Home, Home on the Colossus
On the edge of Wild Space lies Castilon, the oceanic planet that serves as the setting for the first season of Star Wars Resistance. While the surface of the planet is covered in water, no land is necessary for the Colossus, an old supertanker depot that serves as a final refueling point before the Unknown Regions and also as a hangout for speed-junkie ace pilots. Far from the cosmopolitan Core systems – where planets which serve as the seat of the galaxy’s political and cultural power (like Coruscant and Hosnian Prime) are located – Castilon is, by the admission of Flix the acquisitions clerk, what most people mean when they say “the other side of the galaxy”.
Life on the Edge of Wild Space
The citizens who reside on the Colossus come from many different backgrounds. But while some are ex-Imperials and some are ex-Rebels, they cohabitate in relative harmony. But having a decent relationship with your neighbors isn’t synonymous with easy living, and economic anxiety is widespread on the platform.
Just finding their next meal is an ongoing concern for many who live on the Colossus. In the episode “Children of Tehar”, platform resident Garma is seen bargaining with a marketplace vendor to give her an advance on a bowl of food until payday, and in “Synara’s Score”, after turning his back on his family’s bank accounts by joining up with the Resistance, Kaz mentions he barely has the credits to cover the cost of his lunch.
Hand in hand with these economic anxieties comes resentment toward those in the “High Tower” – the restricted-access command tower for the station, which, in addition to housing the command deck, also contains quarters for Captain Doza and his daughter Torra, as well as a luxurious lounge reserved exclusively for the platform’s Ace pilots.
In spite of resentment toward the privileged denizens of the Colossus (shown by the complaints toward Doza, which the residents don’t hesitate to direct at Torra when they see her in the marketplace), those in the High Tower aren’t without monetary concerns. When Commander Pyre threatens to shut down the Platform races, which generate income through spectator concession sales and fodder for gambling wagers, Doza argues that without the races, the platform’s economy will suffer. But for the First Order, a suffering economy provides an opportunity to appear and offer resources and stability – even when their actions caused the uncertainty in the first place.
March of the First Order
When the First Order arrives, they immediately seize upon the fact that the residents of the Colossus lack personal and economic security. Because the First Order eavesdrops on Colossus commlink conversations to gather intel they possesses disproportionate insight into the situation on the platform, and they exploit this knowledge to leverage authority over the residents, both directly and indirectly.
Techniques utilized by the First Order to assert their authority on the Colossus aren’t limited to listening in on private communications, however. While Castilon is officially under the jurisdiction of the New Republic, the reality of life at the edge of Wild Space can be harsh when compared with the carefully regulated cities located at the galaxy’s core. Without the military protection afforded to planets near the Core, one of the potential consequences is an attack by pirates.
On the Colossus, the Ace pilots double as a security force, but Pyre insists that the non-military pilots lack the training necessary to ensure security. When Doza rebukes Pyre and declares that the Aces are capable of defending the platform, the First Order is not content to take “no” for an answer. In fact, it is revealed that Captain Phasma has provided the pirates who attack the Colossus in “The Triple Dark” with orders to continue their assault on the platform until Captain Doza is desperate for additional protection.
The First Order has created a threat and then presented themselves as the only solution – and making matters worse is the fact that they aren’t above personal extortion and exploitation to achieve their goal. When Doza declares that the New Republic would reject the authority of the First Order on the platform, Pyre counters that he could report Doza’s violations of trade agreements; when Doza continues to resist, the First Order commands the pirates to kidnap Torra.
The methods are varied but the goal is clear: the First Order will gain control of the Colossus one way or another, and if a legitimate avenue proves unsuccessful, they will not hesitate to pursue an extra-legal strategy, instead.
Don’t Let the Wrapper Fool You, Friend
So why not simply repel the First Order in the first place, the same way the platform defends against pirates? When Kaz complains about their presence, Tam tells him that they have “as much right” to be on the Colossus as he does, viewing their philosophy as akin to just another political view.
While the First Order relies on everyone having the right to be on the Colossus to justify their presence, this philosophy of “guaranteed speech for all” goes by the wayside as soon as the First Order has seized control of the platform. Pyre declares that citizens may stay aboard the Colossus, but only so long as they remain sympathetic.
However, the practices in place for dealing with those whose sympathies do not align with the First Order are sinister, indeed. In the episode “The Disappeared”, Aunt Z loudly declares that she won’t display the First Order’s propaganda (she comments that it doesn’t match the décor of her bar, which primarily consists of scavenged panels from Old Republic vessels from the Clone Wars) and voices her conviction that the First Order is responsible for the citizens who have been disappearing from the Colossus. But soon after she uses her voice to speak out about these atrocities, the First Order takes Aunt Z herself into custody.
It might be tempting to believe that Aunt Z would have escaped arrest had she not spoken out about the actions of the First Order. Hype Fazon, one of the Ace pilots, explains in “The High Tower” that he and Doza have an understanding: Hype will not be responsible for flying protective escort missions to defend First Order cargo. However, while he won’t assist the First Order in accomplishing their goals, Hype (who has decorated his matching racing uniform and ship with meaningful symbols such as a Naboo N-1 fighter) doesn’t raise his voice against the actions of the First Order even if he declines to participate in them.
Although Hype doesn’t speak out against the First Order, he is nevertheless ultimately incarcerated alongside those who did. This isn’t the only instance of the First Order attempting to control speech on the Colossus, either. In the episode “The New Trooper”, the increased presence of the First Order on the Colossus causes a spontaneous protest to erupt in the platform marketplace. While the citizens insist they have the right to raise their voices, the stormtroopers declare that it is an “illegal demonstration” and that those who remain will be arrested.
What About Tam?
When Tam is introduced in “The Recruit”, she is immediately suspicious of Kaz’s addition to the team at Yeager’s Repairs. She is concerned with money from the outset, questioning how the repair shop’s already-strained budget can possibly support an additional employee, and reminds Yeager that he’s promised she could fly the Fireball in the platform races once the ship has been sufficiently repaired – a project in which she has personally been investing time and effort. In “Synara’s Score”, Tam shares the fact that her father was a racing pilot, and that Tam herself had a ship that she lost to debt and a bad wager.
In “The New Trooper”, an argument over the First Order erupts over the blue bacon on Yeager’s breakfast table. Yeager says that Tam doesn’t know what life under the Empire was like, and Tam counters that she’s heard stories: her grandfather was able to provide food and shelter for their family thanks to his job in an Imperial factory.
When Agent Tierny arrives on the Colossus in “Descent”, she utilizes this economic anxiety when targeting Tam to join the ranks of the First Order. Tierny highlights Kaz’s upper-class upbringing, thus creating a division (and cultivating resentment) between Tam and her friends. In “No Escape (Part One)”, Tierny takes it a step further, treating Tam to the best meal she can remember. The message sent by Tierny is clear: you are right to resent those around you, who have been keeping their resources for themselves, but the First Order can provide you with the security you desire (and, in an appeal to Tam’s sense of being overlooked, the security she deserves).
Flushing Out the First Order
Where is the outrage against the First Order? In part, it has been silenced. In “The Children from Tehar”, Kaz meets two children who tell him they are refugees from a settlement that was annihilated by Kylo Ren, and in “The Core Problem”, Kaz and Poe discover ruins that bear the same rune as the bracelet worn by one of the children, offering supporting evidence for the validity of their story. The First Order isn’t just prepared to kill in order to keep their secrets, they’re prepared to do so on a planetary scale – and then ruthlessly hunt down any survivors.
Worse still, gathering evidence to reveal the crimes of the First Order seems a futile endeavor. In “Station Theta Black”, General Organa states that the Galactic Senate is unlikely to act despite evidence that the First Order has been mining asteroids for the raw material to produce more blasters: many of the Senators profit from the very same venture, Leia explains. And that’s before the First Order uses Starkiller Base to destroy Hosnian Prime, the seat of the Galactic Senate, at the end of “No Escape (Part One)”.
Into the Unknown
At the end of the season, a majority of the citizens erupt into outright resistance against the First Order. While General Organa is unable to send any troops to Castilon, the local pirates intercept Kaz’s transmission asking for help, and thanks in part to Kaz’s kindness toward Synara, they intervene on behalf of those on board the Colossus. Hype and Aunt Z hear the transmission as well, returning to fight side by side with their friends against the First Order.
The combined efforts of the various factions gathered on board are sufficient to repel the First Order long enough for the Colossus to make the jump to hyperspace and escape the attacking Star Destroyer (whether or not the First Order has them “tied on the end of a string” remains to be seen). However, as Kaz notes, not everyone is on board – instead of remaining with her friends, Tam chooses to accept the First Order’s offer, departing with Tierny to become a pilot for the opposing side.
Tam’s future is uncertain, but all appearances in the season finale suggest her loyalties lie with the First Order. At the end of “The Platform Classic”, Yeager paraphrased Kaz, saying that forgiving your friends was important, because when you don’t, no one wins. Whether or not Tam will forgive her friends remains to be seen, but in “No Escape (Part Two), Yeager bitterly declares that Tam’s made her choice.
When the First Order arrives on the Colossus, it forces every resident to make hard decisions about how they will respond, but the story hasn’t ended yet: there’s still time for Tam to forgive her friends and do what’s right. Otherwise, no one wins.
One thought to “The March of the First Order – How Star Wars Resistance Reveals a New Form of Evil”
Excellent essay. The First Order in Resistance gets its best portrayal as they are a more insidious kind of evil than the ranting goons of the movie. They’re capable of looking entirely harmless or even beneficent: which is why the Republic was so slow to act.
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