This Star Wars Resistance review contains spoilers.
Star Wars Resistance Season 2 Episode 5
In the rare case that Star Wars Resistance settles down to focus on a basic, specific story, the show genuinely shines, hinting at what it always could have always been. Resistance has tried to be a lot of things, muddying up what it was trying to do or be. So with a season with very clear stakes–being trapped in a heavily disabled ship with agitated people, semi-hostile pirates, and being chased by the First Order–the show now has a specific set of obstacles to deal with.
While many of those obstacles have been utilized in the past four episodes, they felt weirdly secondary, rarely immediate. So “The Engineer” feels like a breath of fresh air, an opportunity where a number of these obstacles to “come together” so to speak, for a pretty grounded, character-focused conflict to carry the episode.
In reality, Nena being revealed as a First Order spy is glaringly obvious. She’s just a little too sweet, too perceptive, and too helpful to be anything but. (Plus, Synara calls out how Nena seems so capable of fixing the Colossus but not her own ship, which is a glaring red flag). Still, “The Engineer” works by allowing Nena to come across as a full-fleshed out character, and by allowing her to make a small but distinct and noticeable connection with Neeku.
Star Wars Resistance has a lot of issues but one thing this show is very good at is establishing warm, endearing, somewhat complex relationships that hover somewhere between platonic and romantic, and watching Neeku and Nena bond not only over their engineering prowess but their unique, tragic upbringings is proof of that.
It’s the subtleties that give this episode its spark, not necessarily the details. The very tenuous alliance the pirates have with the Colossus leaders is palpable enough for Nena to exploit. Nena does exploit this, but not necessarily because she’s cold-blooded and uncaring deep down under a fake facade of sweetness–she genuinely despises them, as she was sold into was was effectively slavery to pirates as a child. Her alliance with the First Order and her actions are motivated by a lifetime of doing whatever was necessary to survive, and she sees the Resistance as a failed cause.
She recognizes in Neeku a kindred spirit, almost admitting her treachery to him early in the episode due to their connection, and even offers to bring him along with her during her final escape. Neeku is too loyal and dedicated to his current life to go, a brief moment that showcases the kind of honest character Neeku is. His quick thinking and commands to Kaz to repair the ship only solidifies that.
The details are really the episode’s most glaring weaknesses. It’s not quite clear what the pirates were doing when siphoning the ship’s power (and so much of it for such a relatively small ship). I love Synara here, who pegged Nena early on, but her admission that she herself attached those cables seems like it required more explanation. But perhaps the strangest thing is how the episode fails to adequately explain how the power in the ship even works. It’s a pretty significant part of the plot, and Neeku tries to explain the issue, what with the First Order now bearing down on them. But it’s just tricky to wrap one’s head around. Nena fixed everything (well, most things) on the ship, but that in itself was the sabotage?
It doesn’t make sense. I think the idea was that the ship had limited core power, and by fixing most things, that limited power was spread to all those components and functions, away from thrusters and communications, leaving them vulnerable when the First Order arrived. But rerouting power is a completely doable in the Star Wars universe, so why Kaz had to disable so many parts of the ship doesn’t make sense. The component that Nena has Neeku install early in the episode is too MacGuffin-y. And wouldn’t the pirates siphoning so much power be an issue prior to Nena’s arrival? It’s a storyline that needed a few more passes to function logically.
Yet even if the specifics of the plot feel undercooked, the pacing, energy, and characters feel perfectly suited to the story being told. Neeku himself is hit or miss as a character, his naïveté coming off more as comic relief than a trait of his character, but here it comes across perfectly. He’s just so earnest.
His rapport with helpful Nena, his broken disappointment with traitor Nena, his friendship reaffirmation with Kaz, even his absolute dedication to fixing and repairing the ship at all times–all of that fits into the character we know without forcing him into forced, reactional comedy. With Nena now on the First Order’s kill-list after failing to fully sabotage the Colossus, there’s a chance we’ll see Nena again. And perhaps the two can come to a bittersweet reconciliation? If they survive the First Order pursuit in the first place.