This Star Wars Resistance review contains spoilers.
Star Wars Resistance Episode 20
I always love an episode that throws a lot of inconveniently random obstacles at the protagonist. It’s a tricky thing for sure, but with enough care, control, and forethought, storylines in which protagonists barely surmount one danger only for another one (or two!) to suddenly occur usually make for an exciting, fun episode. (It also helps to sell comic bits, too: an exasperated facial expression or a clumsy stumble over yet another thing can keep things propulsive).
I think Star Wars Resistance was trying for that in “No Escape: Part 1.” Kaz is determined to rescue Tam, Yeager, and Captain Doza, but along the way they face Stormtroopers on land, then in the water, then find Torra, then face an enemy ball droid, then go hand-to-hand with another Stormtrooper, and then… the real stuff happens, which I’ll get to in a bit. That’s a lot of obstacles for sure, but, the way the episode lays out those obstacles is so structured. The pacing is so rhythmic. There’s an obstacle. Kaz overcomes it. Cut. There’s another obstacle. Kaz overcomes it. Cut. And so forth.
I know it’s tricky to critique a two-part episode after only watching the first part. The full, cumulative effect of the narrative really needs both parts to establish whether everything works. But, still: “No Escape; Part 1” mostly bides its time with relatively average, kind-of-clumsy narrative beats. Things just happen, and they aren’t bad, but they certainly don’t present the idea of a season-ending end game.
Captain Doza gets captured in one of those “he’s winning the fight until he’s not” battles with the First Order during the cold open. Kaz, Neeku, Elia and Kel wrest control of The Colossus control room, which they use to mess with doors and pressure-flows when Kaz battles some underwater Stormtroopers.
It’s a scene that raises so many questions: if the shellfolk “taught” Elia and Kel about this control room, why was Neeku manning the controls? How is Kaz about to hold his own so well against the Stormtroopers, underwater, when it’s been established that Kaz is far from a fighter? Why is this station not closer to the Tower? This seems like a really important locale. Kaz goes to Orka and Flix for help but they… do not help. He then runs into Bubbles, who leads him to Torra, and then CB-23 and a ball droid gets into a kind of silly scuffle. There’s another little skirmish with a Stormtrooper. Then… that ending.
Before I get to that ending, I do need to point out that Kaz becoming, like, a semi-proficient fighter is really a stretch. I suppose it makes sense that he would have some fighting skills as a Resistance soldier, but we’ve never seen that in action in the show. As I mentioned last week, the show is stretching a lot of Kaz’s characterization to make the endgame more exciting, and I guess that’s fine, but it is jarring.
Tam, elsewhere, has drunk the First Order Kool-Aid, with Tierny all but winning over her by showing how both Kaz and Yeager lied to her and failed to trust her with the truth about their pasts. I feel like the show missed a lot of opportunities to really develop more concrete relationships between, well, all the characters, but specifically Tam and Yeager. So Tam’s sense of betrayal (and actual betrayal) feels justified when she face Yeager as he’s being led to prison, but it lacks the dramatic impact it should have.
But what does have a surprising amount of impact is that final moment, when we see, via a First Order hologram, Starkiller base completely destroy Kaz’s home planet. Personally, I always found it… morbidly humorous how various Star Wars characters react to whole planets being destroyed. So seeing Kaz’s utterly shocked, disillusioned face added to the drama of the moment, a vicious, unexpected twist that up-ends Kaz’s plans about going home to return with help. Again, without hearing anything about Kaz’s backstory, family history, or home since the pilot, the emotional weight of this moment never really hits. But the narrative weight does for sure. Here’s hoping that next week’s season finale can bring all this together, narraStatively and dramatically.