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Re: Resistance – The Draw of the Mundane

What makes Star Wars feel like Star Wars? This is a question that’s becoming increasingly important with The Rise of Skywalker looming on the horizon, where some of the most fundamental elements of the franchise that we’re familiar with are going away along with the numbered titles. There’s been a lot of talk about what the X-factor is that makes a story with Star Wars on the label actually “feel” like Star Wars in practice, whether it’s a matter of aesthetics or characters or ideas or something else entirely. Certain stories have been playing with removing some elements, shaving the formula down to see what can go and what needs to stay, but no media in the franchise has gone as far down this road as Star Wars Resistance.

Resistance has taken away things like the Force, lightsabers, and ninety percent of the movie characters, leaving us with a mostly new cast in a new setting that has some shared aesthetics as the films but with a unique art style to change it up in a major way. So what does Resistance have that makes it still feel fitting within the wider universe? Themes. What makes a Star Wars story really feel like Star Wars are its themes; themes of love, friendship, and hope. Resistance carries those themes not only in its heart but on its sleeve, as befitting its nature as a show aimed toward a younger audience. Thus, even with a limited scope and even more limited budget, Resistance is still Star Wars, and probably the best Star Wars of its scale that’s ever been done.

When Resistance ended its first season right smack dab in the middle of the sequel trilogy timeline, with the destruction of Hosnian Prime on one side and the flight from D’Qar on the other, there was a common assumption (including on my part) that this was the show casting itself off into the wider universe and leveling up its sense of scope, similar to how Rebels did at the end of its first season. However, five episodes into its second and final season, Resistance is, well, resisting this assumption. Following the major events of the season premiere, each episode since has been far less concerned with major events and more focused on the characters and their dynamics, showing how well each character knows the others and the blossoming friendships between those now living together aboard the Colossus.

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The Seduction of Tam Ryvora

Hey everyone, Star Wars Resistance is back, and you can watch the premiere of season two right here on their official YouTube page. Please go and do so before reading on, there’s some in-depth discussion (and spoilers) below that require the full context of the episode. Watching the second episode is also recommended, but not essential. With the show’s return it is bringing some big changes and issues for all of the characters under its umbrella, but no one character has been affected more than Tam Ryvora, our favorite mechanic and frustrated pilot who worked hard and still felt slighted by and detached from those around her, so it’s worth doing a bit of a dive into her big decision and the factors surrounding it.

Throughout the first season of the show we saw her grow, softening her tough exterior thanks to blossoming friendships with people like Kazuda Xiono, Neeku and Synara San, ingratiating herself into the main cast of the show. And then at the end of the first season Tam makes an extremely difficult and fateful choice. Rather than escape from the First Order aboard the Colossus with Kaz and Yeager, she instead chooses to go with the First Order, the same people Kaz and Yeager have been working actively against for all this time, leaving both of them dumbfounded.

Tam makes this decision for a variety of reasons, some of which are her own, some of which are more external factors. The most foundational element is her love or at least appreciation for the First Order’s primary influence: the Empire. Tam’s family both lived and thrived under the Empire, and she herself was born after the Empire had fallen, so unlike Kazuda, who likely heard horror stories about the Empire through his childhood on Hosnian Prime and through schooling and training in the New Republic, Tam sees the Republic as an aberration rather than the norm, whereas the Empire was a good, solid government for those it ruled over. Thus, when she sees the First Order wearing the aesthetic of the Empire, she’s less inclined to recoil, and instead admires them for seeking to pick up where the Empire left off. When the First Order took over the Colossus, she didn’t feel oppressed; she felt safe. Even when informed of the actions the First Order took against Tehar, she assumes that there must have been a reason for it, that someone on Tehar must have been doing something wrong.

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Boba Fett and The Mandalorian: A Role Fulfilled

How many of our readers out there remember the show Robot Chicken? It was a sketch comedy show with crude stop motion puppetry, and odds are if you do remember it you mainly remember their various Star Wars segments or specials. I ask because there’s a particular sketch that’s been stuck in my mind ever since it originally aired over a decade ago. It’s a cold open for an episode that has Boba Fett returning from the dead to arrive on Endor’s moon, killing a bunch of Ewoks with blasters, rockets and lightsabers, and winding up with Leia clad in her gold bikini wrapped in his arms. The segment then switches perspective to show that the whole scenario was a fantasy narrated by the show’s stereotypical nerd character, a fantasy his equally nerdy friends fawn over.

It’s meant to be satire and is a pretty biting one at that. And the most biting part about it is that it’s not too far off from a lot of the stories that did involve or star the OG Mandalorian. Boba Fett has been both a role-fulfillment and wish-fulfillment fantasy character for authors and fans of Star Wars since his first appearance, and perhaps more than any other character in the whole saga in terms of what he does in “official” material versus his role onscreen. As time has gone on his character has evolved and developed away from that, but those fantasies haven’t gone away, and the old version of Fett (or a character like him) is still sought after.

Let’s get a couple of definitions really quickly: wish-fulfillment means that a character does things that the author or the author’s intended audience wish they could do in real life but can’t. Role-fulfillment means a character that people want to see within a given fictional universe and haven’t, so they adjust an existing character to fit that bill. And I want to emphasize that neither of these are inherently negative things. They are, like all creative tropes, tools in a creator’s toolbox, and it’s how they’re used that ultimately matters. In the context of this discussion, many people have used Boba Fett both to fill a role that appeals to them that Star Wars otherwise lacks, and to do things in Star Wars that they might like to do. I can illustrate both of these points with an example.

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What Star Wars Resistance Has Learned From Robotech — and What Might Be Left to Learn

During the Star Wars Resistance Season Two Sneak Peek panel at Celebration Chicago, the show’s lead director, Justin Ridge, mentioned that they had drawn influence for the show from anime (or ahnimay as he pronounced it), which is something that had been mentioned before and we’ve discussed in our coverage previously. However, when he did, he namechecked one show specifically: Robotech. I would imagine that there are not many people reading this who know or remember what Robotech is or how it at all relates to Resistance, but don’t worry. Let me begin with a quick synopsis of Robotech and then we’ll discuss the ways that the show influenced Resistance, a show almost forty years its junior. There are some similarities between it and Resistance, as well as a number of differences both subtle and obvious that keep Resistance from being a one-to-one translation or adaptation. And we will also see how Robotech might help inform us of what’s still to come with Resistance’s second season and beyond.

First, a history lesson and some context are important. In the mid-eighties, American media companies were starting to hit their stride in localizing media produced in Japan for Western audiences. One of those companies, Harmony Gold, wanted to license a space opera-style show to help capitalize on the success of franchises like Star Wars, but there wasn’t a single Japanese show meeting their criteria that had the number of episodes they needed to be able to license it for syndication in the United States (which is sixty-five for the curious). So, Harmony Gold decided their next-best option was to license three shows, edit them together into a single Frankenstein’s monster show, then distribute it collectively. This collected show is known as Robotech. Read More

Re: Resistance – How Slow is Too Slow?

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Star Wars Resistance is starting to wind down its first season and is promising all sorts of terrible and incredible things to come, most of which were given glimpses in the show’s midseason trailer. General Hux’s speech! Starkiller Base! Kaz talking with Leia! Tam captured by the First Order! The trailer seemed to be casting out a siren’s song, as most trailers are wont to do. “Come see, come watch, lots of things are going to be happening in the second half of the season, you’ll see!” But the difference with Resistance’s trailer is the emphasis on events. A lot of things are going to happen, things that will set up a lot of character changes and growth, things that we have context for from other places in the universe as a whole. Up until now, the show hasn’t been about those events, it’s been about the characters.

The Clone Wars and Rebels both had large events that prompted character dynamics early on, and fed directly into the characters’ arcs through the early going of the shows. Rebels showed us Ezra’s Jedi training over the course of the first season, illustrating both his personality and his flaws as well as his path for growth. Ahsoka likewise was introduced as a young trainee with much to learn, and as TCW went along we saw the tough lessons she had to learn in the path of being a child thrown into war. Those were relatively small shakeups compared to the monumental ones that would occur later on in their respective shows, but that’s part of what necessitated that initial speed. The big difference between those shows and Resistance is that Resistance introduced us to Kaz, shook him up by switching his allegiance from the New Republic to the Resistance, but that is where the big events stopped for now. We have not seen a lot of growth in Kaz stemming from that event, nor how it has majorly affected his path forward as a character.

Resistance’s first season has been much slower in terms of plot developments or big events than the shows that have come before. The emphasis has been much more on seeing the lives and daily happenings around Kaz, Tam, Neeku and the others on the Colossus. We’ve gotten to know them and see what their status quo is, what their thoughts and feelings are on the state of the galaxy. But the focus has been very local, specific to the characters and their specific foibles and struggles. Kaz’s effort to get to know the other pilots. Yeager and his reluctance to open up to others. Tam’s frustrations with being shut out. Synara’s doubts about her place and her path. These arcs have not been high stakes, and only occasionally has anyone’s life even been at risk. Read More