This Star Wars Resistance review contains spoilers.
Star Wars Resistance Season 2 Episode 17
There’s a point in “Rebuilding the Resistance” where Tierny calls Tam into her office. She praises Tam in that coy, sly, manipulative way that she’s been doing all season. She then mentions that she wasn’t born into the First Order. It’s an intriguing statement, made more intriguing when she then says she had to “scrape by” for years in the New Republic. “Scrape” does a lot of heavy lifting here. Was she harmed or disillusioned by the New Republic’s “shining beacon” ideology, its false sense of an “American Dream” that left her pinching pennies or worse?
But Tierny never gets into details about her life or upbringing. She just jumps back into the moment and dismisses Tam with more pointedly calculating praise. It’s a lost opportunity to develop this character, even a little bit, but it’s pretty on par for the course for this show at this point. It doesn’t help that this current iteration of Star Wars has muddled what, exactly, the First Order, the Resistance, and the New Republic actually are. Say what you will about the prequels, it put in the work to detail its conflicting factions.
“Rebuilding the Resistance” is a basic “mini-Star Wars” movie in execution. A bunch of Resistance fighters meet up including Tora’s mother Venise, Norath from “The Missing Agent” and “Breakout,” and Hugh Sion – who was in the pilot so you’ll be forgiven if you don’t remember who he is – whose purpose is just to throw shade on Kaz. They exchange pleasantries and ominous warnings. They stand around a hologram of a planet to plan a mission to guide some Resistance fighters off said planet. They fly in. They skirmish a bit. The First Order leadership arrives. They fight some more, but it’s more intense. They escape relatively successfully. That’s about it.
The only new plot points is that one Resistance ship goes down, and one major First Order commander goes down. We never explore these people in any depth, not even a little. But it triggers very specific things at the end of the episode, which I’ll get to in a bit. But otherwise “Rebuilding the Resistance” is content to run through the kind of generic entertaining Star Wars beats that we’ve seen so often, without committing too hard on development or execution. There’s a neat series of shots where Venise performs a pretty sick barrel roll (excuse me, an aileron roll), and takes out a bunch of TIE Fighters. That’s the brightest spot in an overall flat episode.
This episode seeks to track parallel experiences along two different thematic lines: a material/guardian relationship, and the emotional response to loss in relation to the cause. The relationship between Torra and Venise, for example, is rewarding and affecting with the two looking out for each other and even working in symbiosis when taking down some First Order scouts. In contrast, the scene I mentioned above has Tierny working over Tam with a false sense of emotional connection, which in some ways may be why Tierny never delves into anything deeper than a surface explanation of her past–or hell, maybe she’s just lying.
In regard to the second thematic line, one can look to how each side responds to significant death: the Resistance is despondent, grieving, affected by their (semi)failure, but Venise drives in the point about maintaining hope in those you care about, never giving up, and letting such losses never being in vain. In contrast, the First Order provides only a casual side mention of the death of Lt. Galek before pushing Tam into replacing her as squad leader. Rucklin is rightly angry since he did all the work, which I feel like is a richer thread that the episode, and the series, has never bothered to pull.
Each theme really could have been provided its own episode, though – to let the strength (or weaknesses) of relationships breathe, or to explore the cost of war and how to press on, if it’s even possible. The episode fails to commit to either one, and while it’s possible to generate a connective tissue between those themes, “Rebuilding the Resistance” misses the mark. That’s primarily due to having no real connection to the established relationships (aside from Venisa and Torra’s, which is just endearing enough), nor anyone who failed to live. We never even get the names of those downed Resistance fighters, let alone see their face. And Galek’s death is probably welcome to most, since she insults Tam earlier in the episode.
Still, the reunification of his family, the desire to protect them and the cause, and the witness of the unending, committed, Resistance spirit, spurs Captain Doza to stop running and start fighting the First Order once and for all. This suggests that Imanuel himself may have made this connection between the desire to fight for those we love, and to fight for the honor of those they’ve lost, but it feels like a sentiment we never really see, that we fail to witness Doza come to. It’s unfortunate, especially since we know Doza was once a member of the Empire. A great story somewhere is the through-line of a man once-loyal to a cause now fighting against it, but like those above themes, like the series as a whole and the characters within it, it’s never given a chance.
Kaz smiles at the end though. So that’s… something?