Star Wars Resistance Episode 15 Review: The First Order Occupation

A fairly straight-forward escape plot is slightly elevated by the details underneath the surface.

Star Wars Resistance Episode 15
Lucasfilm

This Star Wars Resistance review contains spoilers.

Star Wars Resistance Episode 15

There’s a lot of familiar dialogue in the early part of “The First Order Occupation.” Kazuda voices very clear discomfort with the growing and sudden number of Stormtroopers appearing on The Colossus. Tam, however, is okay with it since after all, they did save Torra (so she thinks). And Neeku seems happily ambivalent about the whole thing (to an extent, which I will get to in a bit).

The three witness the Stormtroopers harass a random citizen, asking about their papers. Why they do it seems narratively arbitrary, but the bigger point is they do it because they can, because the cruelty is the point. Kaz interferes because he’s ultimately a good person. His attempts to do so are often clumsy, but it’s enough of a distraction so the citizen can show his papers and Kaz, Tam, and Neeku can dart off before the Stormtroopers get extra suspicious.

Star Wars’ connections to real life have always existed in a broad, yet still relevant, sense. A brutal, unrepentant regime controls large swaths of the universe through fear and violence, and a plucky but determined set of characters battle to resist them. Over the years, the story has become more granular, more detailed, with the tale of how said Empire came to be (the prequel trilogy), and how the remnants of said Empire still wields tremendous power (the current trilogy).

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Throughout it all, even though the technical and narrative nature of a lot of those outings has been inconsistent, the thematic relevance has always felt relevant, especially today. “It’s going to be very bad!” versus “It’s not going to be that bad!” type conversations have been happening a lot in the last two years, and well, we all know how that’s ended up (very bad).

The “Resistance” in this show’s title up until this point mostly referred to Kaz trying to find his place in the world and his struggle against the various roles placed upon him. It now seems like it’s gearing to be a true, honest, grounded definition of resistance, both in the physical, ready-to-fight sense and in the more psychological and mental strain of refusing to be “won over” or “gaslit” by the nonsense rhetoric or actions of “good” Stormtroopers.

A lot of this is in the background at this point, though. The main thrust of this episode is a low-key thriller in which Kaz helps Synara escape The Colossus. The Stormtroopers are looking for a “spy,” and at first Kaz thinks it’s him. But then he discovers they’re looking for Synara, and really, it makes sense. Synara could, theoretically, expose the First Order’s connection to the pirates and that it was their plan to kidnap Torra.

I like that they never explicitly say this, but also that they can couch it all in the search for the pirate spy that was caught near the tower at the time of the kidnapping. The machinations of the First Order in Star Wars Resistance are proving to be the most compelling part of this series, particularly when it’s up against someone as goofy and endearing as Kaz.

Indeed, as Kaz learns about the Stormtroopers’ search, he constantly runs into walls, trips over himself, and knocks boxes and crates onto his head. It’s easy comedy, but here, I think it serves a purpose, a kind of running gag that doubles as a metaphor for how overwhelming the situation is. Kaz is in over his head, but he keeps going, and he does indeed manage to sneak Synara off the base with the help of Neeku.

There’s little complexity to how this is all accomplished. The first attempt to get off the base is thwarted when Synara steps off a shuttle to save Kaz when he gets cornered by a set of Stormtroopers (and why there is a random hallway stacked with crates is ludicrously convenient, to the point that this obstacle is used twice). But they then manage to find an escape pod underneath the base, which allows Synara to escape cleanly.

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While the plot beats are merely okay, the character interactions are the most interesting part, if not necessarily the most logical. The interplay between Kaz and Synara is by far the strongest. Each is aware, to different degrees, that the other is a spy, or at least hiding something significant. But they connect platonically on the nuanced level of being “trapped” between two sides of a fight that they can’t quite wrap their minds around.

It bubbles up as a sympathetic, even possibly romantic relationship (that BB-8 recognizes), which, coupled with the First Order/pirates betrayal, makes for an interesting thread down the line. I’m less sold with Neeku, who seems okay with the First Order at the start of this episode, but then recounts a story from his great-grandmother about their awfulness. Neeku’s ambivalence is played for comedy via his positive ignorance, but like his behavior in ”Bibo,” it’s starting to be more annoying and unclear than character-specific. The episode never explores how Neeku feels about what’s happening now versus what his great-grandmother told him, and it makes his change of heart to help Synara feel arbitrary.

Still, “The First Order Occupation” is an above average episode that sets the stage for something deeper and more complex, concerning how the First Order will affect the dynamics of a base that already has some messed-up socioeconomic hierarchies, and how Kaz will thrive in the midst of it all. (And, just a weird stray observation – did anyone else think for a moment that the pirates left Synara out in the middle of the ocean after she emerged from the escape pod? They didn’t, and it’s a little weird why they would bring her back into their ranks, but that would have been a ballsy beat to end the episode on.)

Kevin Johnson is a writer who loves cartoons and animation. He has written for The AVClub and Topless Robot, and has more content at his own blog here. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Rating:

3.5 out of 5