One of the things that most defines a hero in a Star Wars film is having faith. Faith in the Force, faith in fate itself, but most of all faith in other people, that they will do the right thing when it matters most. Luke has faith that Anakin Skywalker will not let the Emperor kill his only son. Obi-Wan has faith that Luke will become the Jedi his father never was. Leia has faith that her brother will be found and come back to help save the galaxy.
However, increasingly, we’re seeing deconstructions of that sort of faith. The sequel era especially seems to relish twisting that idea around. Rey is the poster child for this, everyone she has faith in turns away from her (Finn in The Force Awakens, Luke in The Last Jedi), dies (Han), or exploits that faith somehow (Kylo Ren). Her character arc is as much about having faith in herself as anything else. But all of our heroes from this era seem to run into this sort of problem, and Star Wars Resistance has brought another one of these to the forefront beyond the scope of the films: Poe Dameron.
While Poe having faith in his friends and comrades is a fundamental reason why Finn leaves the First Order and joins the Resistance, there is a subtext to Poe’s arc in TLJ that sometimes he can lean too much on this faith and not enough on facts or logic. It’s Poe’s faith in his comrades to do the impossible that lead to the loss of Cobalt Squadron, and his faith in Finn and Rose’s plan that almost destroys the Resistance entirely. And, rewinding the timeline a bit but moving forward in out-of-universe time, we come now to his faith in Kazuda Xiono. » Read more..
In light of there being four episodes’ worth of Star Wars Resistance out and available through some platforms, while others are limited to watching only the two-part pilot or (in the case of our international friends) nothing at all at the time of writing, it’s difficult to know what exactly to write about. I don’t want to overly spoil things for people who have not had the chance to watch all four episodes that I had access to, yet at the same time why read an article explicitly discussing the show if you have not watched any of it?
So here is my compromise: rather than discuss the ins and outs of the plot that has been thus far shown, since the plot itself is still very much a work in progress and will likely burn slowly over the season’s course, let’s talk about the characters. Specifically, let’s talk about a character, the one that is both the most exposed, and most divisive, of the show: Kazuda Xiono. Kaz is our main character, a “gifted but green” pilot who begins the series flying for the New Republic and is recruited into the titular Resistance by Poe Dameron after catching the elder pilot’s eye on a mission in deep space.
He’s also the sort of personality that is pretty much instantly recognizable to devotees of Star Wars animation since he shares traits with the protagonists of every modern series from the franchise thus far. His youth and enthusiasm have echoes of both Ezra Bridger and, to go even further back, Ahsoka Tano. As with Ezra and Ahsoka, Kaz has a very distinct and strong personality which can certainly be off-putting for some people, but I believe that goes for most of the cast of Resistance in general. Especially in the pilot, everyone’s portrayals are dialed up to eleven to make sure we know who they are and what they’re on about, and we’ll start to get more nuanced as time goes on and the story spools out more. Like with Rebels before it, Resistance seems to be embracing a semi-serial form of storytelling, where each episode stands on its own but story elements and character moments bleed over to those before and after, interconnecting the whole series. » Read more..
Remember when Star Wars Rebels was being hyped up, back when all we had was some concept art and character ideas? No one knew what the show was going to be about, or what it would look like, only that the characters seemed fairly diverse and colorful. Then the character shorts started coming out, and immediately there was a backlash from some that derided them as being too “Disney-fied”, about the animation not being as good as The Clone Wars, that the show was too childish and ruining Star Wars forever, and so on.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Four years later, we’re less than a month away from the launch of a new Star Wars 3D-animated show, this one titled Star Wars Resistance in an effort to frustrate and anger those who prefer to use acronyms to classify the different series. Rather than teasing us out with concept art or character-based shorts, Resistance opted instead to wait until only a couple of months before release to begin showing footage via a teaser trailer and behind-the-scenes clips. The reaction was by and large the same as when Rebels was first shown off: a lot of very vocal dislikes in the YouTube comment sections and an otherwise general sense of excitement from the fan community at large.
Make no mistake, Resistance isn’t universally anticipated any more than Rebels was. Whereas Rebels had to contend with accusations that it was somehow replacing The Clone Wars, Resistance is the first major exploration of the universe leading up to the sequel trilogy’s time frame. Even leaving aside the toxicity in the fandom where anything related to the sequel films is concerned, there are plenty of people for whom elements of the show are simply off-putting, whether that’s the time frame, the characters, the animation style, or a combination of these and other factors.
So where am I, personally, regarding this show? As with Rebels before it, I’m holding most of my judgment until at least the first episode of the show is out and available for viewing. Judging a show’s entire worth by its trailer is a mistake in my book, so this isn’t an article proclaiming some sort of judgment of Resistance from the glimpses we’ve gotten. And besides, I’m going to watch it regardless of what the final quality winds up being because it’s Star Wars and an animated show and both of those things are right up my alley. But if I can, let me lay out some more specific hopes and fears for the show overall. » Read more..
Second Look is Eleven-ThirtyEight’s biannual tradition of highlighting some of our most interesting pieces from recent months. Every day this week you’ll find a different older piece back on our front page for another moment in the spotlight. – Mike, EIC
The common parlance (taken, of course, from a line the first film and applied liberally by fans) for the period between the fall of the Republic in Revenge of the Sith and the rise of the Rebellion in A New Hope is “the dark times”. This is when the Empire is at its zenith, with the Jedi long dead and any other opposing forces deep underground to avoid being summarily crushed. For many, especially when Star Wars Rebels was first announced, having a kid-friendly show about the adventures of a precocious teenager set in a time that should be the hallmark of an oppressive authoritarian regime was a perfect example of the “Disney-fication” of Star Wars as a whole. A show like Rebels, with such a light, comedic tone, would never be able to properly show the extent of the Empire’s oppression.
How easy it is to forget that when the Rebels media blitz was getting revved up and the series itself was finding its sea legs, we got a glimpse of the future, of how the show would handle that very subject. Various supplemental sources, like the Servants of the Empire series, hinted that the Empire was going to start to strip-mine Lothal for its natural resources, turning it from its idyllic pastures and rolling hills into yet another cog in the Imperial war machine. As Rebels itself left Lothal in the second season, we lost sight of that vision a bit. On periodic return visits, everything seemed relatively fine aside from the gradually increased Imperial presence, though sources outside of the show like the Thrawn novel touched back on the planet’s mining riches as general background.
Now, though, after the time-skip between the second and third seasons of the show, we’ve finally returned to Lothal proper in “The Occupation”. We go back to familiar locales first glimpsed all the way back in the show’s pilot shorts, now seeing the wind-swept McQuarrie-inspired grassland covered in heavy industrial smoke and dust. We hear that the friendly Ithorian bartender Old Jho, an early ally featured across multiple episodes of the show and even some of the books, was evicted from his establishment and summarily executed by the Empire for treason. The once-friendly locals don’t even dare brave the streets after dark anymore, with all motorized transports impounded and Imperial patrols everywhere. Lothal may have been under Imperial rule before, but now it is under true Imperial occupation, with all efforts being taken to stamp out any further potential rebellion.
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Mike: Recently we ran a fascinating guest piece by Eric Farr that unpacked the suggestion in Solo of a sexual relationship between Lando and L3-37—or at the very least, Elthree’s claim that such a thing is possible. The extent to which any given droid in the Galaxy Far, Far Away is truly conscious and self-aware has always been a little muddled, so the notion of droids consenting to sexual activity (as opposed to simply being programmed for it) is pretty complicated ground for Star Wars to be covering, and any conclusions are bound to be highly debatable.
And debate we did: as with many great pieces, a very interesting conversation unfolded in the comments over the following couple weeks between myself, Eric, and two other ETE regulars, Vincent Cagliuso and John Maurer. The discussion backed up a bit from Eric’s original topic and looked more broadly at whether droid rights are something that should be addressed at all, or if to do so would only unravel the basic premise of the universe—many of our heroes own droids, after all.
At one point Vincent posed a simple question that stuck out to me as a perfect encapsulation of the problem—particularly because it wasn’t about Elthree. There’s a lot going on with her that can be debated in and of itself regardless of how one feels about droid rights as a concept, so I thought I’d pose his question to the rest of the staff as a means of getting at the core issue and avoiding the need to rehash our feelings about Solo specifically.
So here’s the question, guys: Padmé Amidala owns a protocol droid. Said droid is absolutely drowning in personality; if any droid is self-aware, it’s this one. Upon Padmé’s death, Bail Organa takes possession of this droid, decides it knows too much, and promptly gives it a mindwipe. Is Bail Organa, hero of the Rebellion and beloved father of Princess Leia, a monster? » Read more..