SPOILERS: Colossus Communiques; Star Wars Resistance Season 2 Premier "Into The Unknown" Review.
It’s good to be back! Into the Unknown kicks off Season 2 of Resistance with, well essentially the opposite of a bang, and that’s honestly indicative of this show’s strength. Resistance loves its show burn, as well as building up atmosphere. So spending a full episode just on how our leads are adapting immediately to the damage and trying to cope as best they can with the emotions of the finale is really fitting.
Right away the series informs the watcher of the stakes for both our heroes and villains. Pyre and Tierny are warned by Phasma to capture or destroy the Colossus ASAP, meanwhile just getting to Doza’s office is a tad difficult for Kaz and Neeku. The introduction of the command deck helps shift the show away from espionage and civilian focus, and into Kaz having total access on the station, but more helpless than ever.
Even the gravity is not working, I don’t know if it was intentional, but that perfectly visualizes how directionless and out of control of his surroundings Kaz (and the rest of the station) are right now. They have so much to fix, all the while having a ticking time bomb of the First Order finding them.
By centering this premier on Kaz, Neeku, Torra, and CB fixing the transmitter and gravity; writer Steven Melching has the characters interact without the situation (at first) being high stress. This way, small touches like showing Torra take charge in a leader role, and Kaz’s growing confidence in his abilities as a mechanic can really shine.
In fact, the urgent need to fix everything, paired with the specific less urgent task, helps highlight just how soon after the finale this is. The fact that for them, Tam just abandoned them literally an hour ago really helps add to the characters’ struggles. They have so much to do and the worst part is, they don’t even have a sense of when immediate danger could come. The FO could arrive any second, or they could be perfectly safe right now. That not knowing helps give the episode a sense of urgency, and slow dread.
Which brings us back to Tam, her situation is just as tense for the audience, despite her being perfectly safe, and having little urgency. Tierny continues to be a fantastic villain in just how reasonable and nice she is. Villains like Pyre as scary, but Tierny is bone chilling, and her ability to turn Tam to the FO is not scary cause she is tricking her; it is terrifying because all she has to do is make Tam talk about how she feels.
The conversation between the two really brings out just how rational this seems to Tam, because she doesn’t have to question herself or ask herself if she can still love her friends even when they lie to her and put her at risk. She simply has to continue with her own perception of things, and will remain unchallenged in her convictions with the First Order, because the First Order tells you you are right.
Tamara says she believes the First Order just wants to make the galaxy safe again, but much of that seems to come from the fact that the First Order is reaffirming her beliefs and telling her she is special. As I talked about last season, Yeager overlooked her skill so often, Kaz got off the hook constantly and got to fly the ship she spent so much time working on fixing. Tam’s self worth has been unintentionally derided by Team Fireball, so Tierny telling her she is special, and can be a hero essentially fits right into fascist recruitment tactics.
To use Umberto Eco’s “Ur-Fascism” Tierny is appealing to features 6 and 7; essentially she is playing into Tam’s self esteem, her feeling of lacking a social identity of her own, and to a lesser extent 2 with Tam’s perception of a Resistance’s plot interfering with her home and sense of comfort.
The First Order allows you to think you are the rational one in the room, that you are simply following your reality: “the Resistance lied to me and Kaz pretended to be my friend” therefore “The Resistance are a plot from without, Kaz cannot be trusted, and only Tierny respects my abilities”. Tam brings what she wants to hear, so stuff like her grandfather working for an Imperial factory, she can now justify that and not have to struggle with the fact that her family’s good fortune came at the cost of so many other people’s lives.
As for how Kazudo is dealing with everything: the brief exchange between him and Doza is fantastic. I do hope we get more about Doza having been an Imperial, but for now his point about this being his fault and Kaz having made the only decision he could have was a nice bit of humanity. The two have not really interacted personally with each other before, at least not outside of one lying to the other, or a highly intense situation. This conversation let the audience get a sense that Kaz is trying not to dwell on the loss of Hosnian, and just keep himself distracted with fixing things.
This of course only takes him so far, with him accidentally calling Torra, Tam when doing repairs. Like I said, it has been about an hour since everything went down. So while the plot is more or less low-key, the underlying trauma is being put off by the characters and slowly bubbling to the surface.
Of course that’s not to say there is not an active threat; the First Order BB unit still around and kicking….or should it be rolling? This show really loves it some dark corridors, and director Brad Rau has some really nice shots in here. Most of the shadowy stuff is standard (which is perfectly fine), but the shot of the shattered droid eye in the darkness, and the way he framed CB floating with her head ripped off were really well done.
The fight gave some stakes and a further sense of foreboding, without taking away from the leads interacting with a more standard situation, with a larger threat they are aware of but cannot guess to the urgency of the risk of. When the FO droid (MB-13A apparently) does make itself known, the rush as the station’s state of disrepair makes the risk so much higher, strengthens the larger suspense of the First Order. Even with the droid’s message to the FO stopped, and it being sucked into the middle of space; the fact that a broken droid could nearly ruin everything in a way that could be seemingly stopped if the station was functioning at normal, speaks to the constant danger they are in.
Speaking of MB-13A and CB-23, Neeku getting to show off his mechanical skills a bit when he reactivates CB-23 with just his feet was much appreciated. He is always helping with the mechanical stuff, and has been shown to be smart, but I cannot think of many specific cases when his intelligence shined on its own.
I have talked a lot about the Resistance agents and the station staff, but the civilians and pirates do appear and get a fun sequence. To continue the trend from the previous season, events in Aunt Zs are always tonally the opposite of our leads’ experience. Kaz worries they are scared, nope they are partying in zero-G, the gravity is getting turned on and off quickly as Torra and Kaz struggle to fix it while unknowingly taking longer and longer to realize something is deeply wrong: everyone elsewhere is loving every second of it. The background characters have so much life in this series, and their tonal juxtaposition provides a great bit of levity. I am fine with Kaz’s physical comedy, but given a lot of people still complain about it, perhaps emphasizing the rest of the station as the primary comic relief would help.
On the whole, this was not one of the best episodes of the series, but it is part 1 of a two-parter. If this should have been released all at once, or if this is an adequate season opener on is own: next week will tell. However for now I enjoyed it a lot. Melching nailed the fascism depiction just like he did in his prior outing “The Disappeared”, and Rau nailed the contrasting between out heroes struggling to keep the station working, and Ta, calmly turning to the First Order fully. Rau had previously directed “The Honorable Ones” which explains why he was tasked with this episode, the guy has experience conveying a character changing sides and contemplating their role in a fascist regime all through them standing in their quarters.
The scene with Kallus has him alone, the space is empty and used to make him feel separated and cold. The scene in the end of this episode has Tam in the same situation, contemplating friends, but in her case the large room feels grand, her uniform is worn with pride, and her connection to her friends is rejected, with her putting on her helmet rejecting Kaz’s message to her comm.