This Star Wars Resistance review contains spoilers.
Star Wars Resistance Season 2 Episode 3
There’s a moment in Star Wars Resistance season 2 episode 3 “Live Fire” that caught my attention. During a “live fire” exercise with the First Order, Tam blasts her antagonistic squadmate Rucklin by accident, causing him to spin out of control. She risks finishing the mission to save Rucklin from crashing to his death. When Commander Pyre watches this, he says, “Fascinating, Galick. It would seem your star pupil is quite the hero.”
It’s the tone of how he says this that piqued my interest. Was he annoyed and being sarcastic, calling out his goody-two-shoes, reluctant recruit? Was he throwing a bit of shade towards Lt. Galek? Was he being curiously, cautiously impressed? Did Tierny’s plan to keep Tam in her awkward, indecisive state worm its way into Pyre’s head? There’s a lot of ways to read the moment, and it makes this B-plot intriguing, in how he and Tienry may be manipulating not only Tam, but all the various soldiers underneath them.
Let’s back up a bit. “Live Fire” is an episode that finally looks into exploring the Aces as a unit, specifically through the lens of the overly haughty Hype Fazon. The Aces may be good at racing and fighting the undisciplined pirates, but when they were up against the more organized, militarized First Order tropes, they barely survived. So Doza pushes the team to learn from Yeager, a former Rebel fighter, and gets Kaz to join them.
Kaz has always been a flighty goofball, and he never struck me as a particularly good fighter pilot, but he does have experience as a Resistance pilot, so he naturally has a leg up on the Aces in that regard. Of course, Hype isn’t particularly thrilled learning from this clumsy, non-Ace outsider, and as the episode progresses, his anger and disgruntledness rises.
Good on the episode to play around with some nuances here, regarding Hype’s anger. Sure, on the surface, Hype believes he’s way too good a pilot to have to learn anything, particularly from the likes of Kaz. But it’s clear that his anger is masking a few things. His heart-to-heart with Torra implies that his bluster is mostly masking deep fears and insecurities.
The entire base/ship is dependant on these five, now six, pilots to protect them against a force that’s both deadly and unrelenting, so Hype being deeply scared, not only for himself but for everyone else, is understandable, and it’s a really nice moment to see and hear Torra talk about it with him (Torra is still quite different from her first season incarnation, but I’m digging this more grounded, honest version). But his anger towards Kaz is not only due to the pseudo-shame of having to learn from him. He also believe Kaz was the one who caused Tam to leave, and he’s not exactly wrong. This beat never quite gets as much time to develop as the fear one, especially since we learned way back in “The High Tower” that he and Tam used to be friends and racing teammates. So there’s also a heck of a lot of resentment there, too.
Although getting a bit of insight into Hype is an overall win for the character, the episode itself is lackluster. There’s only so much tension you can put into a training exercise, especially when the exercise fails to thematically utilize any of the conflicts between the characters as part of the action. It has to contrive an ice monster during the third act for death-defying suspense, and of course Hype ultimately humbles himself just enough to work with the Aces (and Kaz) to save Yeager when he finds himself in that monster’s clutches.
It’s also disorienting when we don’t get much real interaction among all the Aces about this. We do hear from some of them (Freya and Griff say their truths, Bo barely speaks), but to call them a team of pilots all functioning together would be overselling it. I get that camaraderie among racers would have a different dynamic than that among soldiers, but it would have been stronger to see that interaction among all the pilots than the scant few that do interact (particularly Griff, who was an Imperial officer in a past life). It doesn’t help that we barely got to know them at all up until this point, and the episode barely develops them further.
The B-story I alluded to is all set-up mostly, moving more pieces to showcase Tam’s push and pull within the ranks of the First Order, the continued manipulations of her emotions, and how the various officers seem to view her. It’s nothing particularly new, but again–Pyre’s comment has enough nuance and heft to suggest a whole lot of intriguing conflicts in the works regarding how the First Order plans to use–or not use–the new recruit. I’m cautiously optimistic that Resistance will make it matter when the First Order and the Colossus crew meets once again.