This Star Wars Resistance review contains spoilers.
Star Wars Resistance Episode 16
The most interesting part about “The New Trooper” is the continuation of the dialogue around how everyone feels about the First Order occupation of The Colossus, dialogue that started up in the last episode, “The First Order Occupation.” Kaz is pretty direct about his dislike, although it kind of comes off as a “broad strokes” dislike than anything personal. It makes sense; Kaz has heard about the destructive power of the First Order, and he’s seen the aftermath, but never experienced it himself.
Neeku is the opposite–supportive in the broad strokes, “friends of the military” kind of way (his words!). Tam is supportive too, but not only because she still thinks of them as the people who saved Torra (and therefore make the base seem safer), but has a personal reason, through the connection of her grandfather. This feels like the first time Star Wars tied a direct, personal connection to the Empire to explore a discomforting shade of grey (although I’m sure the comics and/or the books have touched upon this as well).
I’m referring to how Tam’s grandfather apparently worked for the Empire to provide for his family and put food on the table. And it’s very easy to extrapolate from that the idea of people, anyone really, working for some evil, malicious, or problematic government or company just to provide. Of course, as Yeager says, that’s the Empire exploiting and manipulating a desperate and terrified labor force. But Tam storms off, thinking that Yaeger is taking Kaz’s side for inexplicable reasons.
I get why Tam storms off. Yeager’s treatment of Kaz isinexplicable from her perspective. She doesn’t know Kaz is a spy, and all she sees is a lot of support for some random, clumsy kid who keeps screwing things up. Still, I feel like this scene needed more complexity, more clarified discussion between the characters to build to that moment. Yeager knows the evil of the Empire first hand, so hearing his fuller perspective feels necessary. And how about comparing what Tam said her grandparents went through versus what Neeku said his grandparents went through in “The First Order Occupation?” The episode cuts this bit short when it really needed more details, which feels like actively avoiding narrative and thematic context over developing the character tension/conflict the scene is striving for.
I’m spending a lot of words talking about the gist of an opening scene versus the main thrust of the episode because the main thrust is, once again, straight-forward and basic. There’s potential, comic or serious, in both a Weekends at Bernies-in-space scenario, and in the main plot, with Kaz impersonating a Stormtrooper to gather more intel. But it’s all wheel-spinning and table-setting. Neeku, Tam, and the orphan siblings from “The Children from Tehar” keep the unconscious Stormtrooper occupied and, well, unconscious, as Kaz walks around in his uniform to avoid arousing suspicion. It’s kind of… dumb, in how not one single Stormtrooper realizes the ruse, but the show has well-established Kaz’s successes are based on dumb luck. Still, this is stretch.
Also nothing really important is revealed except those eye-rolling vague threats that this show is also fond of cooking up. Anyone could surmise that the First Order is playing the Captain and indeed will be calling for heavy reinforcements at some point (it’s what these type of people do). But also Kaz grabs another random data disk of information to provide the Resistance, and since we don’t know what’s on it, it’s yet another moot point.
While the basic A and B-plots are perfunctory as usual, there are some other outlier developments that seem more interesting than the episode is willing to explore. The main one is when Tam has her belief in the First Order challenged when Kel and Eila tell her about the destruction of their people and family. Tam is clearly conflicted by this reveal, but… that’s it. She is never given any more time to process this information, and we don’t get to see how it percolates in her head. It’s a missed thematic opportunity, especially at a moment where Tam is almost, almost, becoming a fully fleshed out character.
The second notable thing is the clear, growing rebellious spirit the citizens of The Colossus are displaying against the First Order. It’s kind of baffling. It seems like everyone is pretty much against them, which is fine, if there wasn’t also this idea that some people are okay with them, but that sensibility isn’t exactly portrayed. Also–and I know this is more of an animation/graphical limitation–it just seems like The Colossus is suddenly empty. It just kills the sense of scale that an angered base would be under growing occupational force.
There’s also the weird disconnect between the have/have-nots dichotomy of those citizens and the upper-echelon folks of this base (The Captain, the Aces), and the one between the First Order and said citizens. It’s a lot of complexity, and perhaps the remaining episodes will thread that needle, but I don’t have a lot of hope. It seems like Star Wars Resistance will drop those outlier elements to reinforce an “we’re all in this together” approach, regardless of class (which raises the question–what do the Aces think of any of this?). And that’s fine, but ultimately diminishing the potential of this series as a whole.