SPOILERS Colossus Communiques: Star Wars Resistance: The Core Problem - Review
This really is the beginning of the end of the beginning for Resistance season 1. Pseudo Smashing Pumpkins references aside, The Core Problem seems to be out last look at direct contact with the Resistance and the outside galaxy. Poe arrives to get BB-8 back and head to Jakku the next day; leaving us the audience, with the knowledge that this is the galaxy and New Republic’s zero hour.
That unspoken horror of knowing what is to come really making this episode a powerhouse. Director Saul Ruiz serves to do a sort of flip-side to his previous directorial outing in Rebels’ “In the Name of the Rebellion: Part 2”. While in both cases the audience knows that our heroes are stumbling upon something so much larger, but there Saw at least has an inkling and the doom to come will not be immediate or as directly affecting the rest of our heroes. However here Poe and Kaz are totally unawares of the true nature of what they find.
Using the data Kaz obtained last episode, the duo go for one last mission to investigate some First Order activity, and end up finding a system with no star and all the planets cored. The audience only slightly knows what is going on, as opposed to the tragic feeling of watching Saw find the kyber crystals, of which the importance of is exactly understood by the audience. This episode provides a different horror, the horror that our heroes will be directly effected by what is just about to come, with said event being literally around 24 hours from then. As well as the destruction of Hosnian more directly affecting Kaz on a personal level.
The Core Problem manages to leave us so helpless as the audience, not only to prevent Poe from getting captured and for the Resistance to discover Starkiller Base; but also leaves us watching with the knowledge that the evidence that our heroes found is already so far past. With Rebels “In the Name of the Rebellion” was heartbreaking cause they got so close to figuring things out when they could have made a difference, but here the evidence is so old and what it reveals is possibly so far back in SKBs development as to make it void.
As for the meat of the episode there is a great deal of impressive flying in ways that we don’t get to see as often in Star Wars as we should. From Kaz using repulsors and light engines to lightly land on a fuel ship with Poe exposed on the wing, to the danger of gravity wells. An ace pilot is not just going to have to be good at dogfighting in high octane situations, but also needs to be a good technical pilot and not fight against gravity.
There is a nice unspoken progression of Kaz earlier falling from the sky and nearly getting Poe killed, to him later learning to keep calm and not fight the gravity well, but just control his direction. It serves as a nice visual metaphor for Kaz’s overzealous and nerves being a possible risk to the mission Poe gave him, but with Poe’s help he has learned to get better and can now get along as a spy without him there.
As most of this episode takes place entirely off the station, Kaz and the audience are likely not going to be out and about again till next season. With this final mission we have to get a continuation of Poe and Kaz bickering while investigating a derelict and spooky location. However this system and the remaining ruins are a lot more intense than the previous investigations.
The abandoned ruins are shown to really cut deep with Kaz, and his rapid distraction and panic over the weight of the larger horror, even in the face of a more overt threat, speaks to how much the seriousness of this mission is sinking in. The First Order’s actual strength and capabilities far eclipse the authoritarians that the galaxy ought to heed more attention over. They are more powerful than even the Resistance thinks, and their firepower and audacity is continuing to surprise Kaz, and with what will happen a mere day after this episode to Kaz’s home - that surprise and gut-wrenching horror will only deepen.
Writers Kevin Burke and Chris Wyatt continued their trend of a more mature and serious Kaz from “Dangerous Business” however this episode sought to put Kaz in a mindset that was more akin to his earlier flighty days, which really serves the building tension well. Kaz is shown to be more and more comfortable and competent, and yet he is missing shots and nearly breaking, not due to that same nervousness from before, but rather due to the very understandable feeling of rising dread.
That is not to say that the entire threat was the vague oncoming storm, Poe and Kaz end up encountering a First Order probe droid in the ruins, which proves to be a formidable foe. The unique and quite convergent design for the droid was a welcome breath of fresh air from the standard “Imperial but bigger and with the main flaw removed” style of most First Order tech.
Upon finally downing the probe, our heroes are accosted by Vonreg again. It is a bit disappointing that Poe does not specifically callback to Vonreg being the entire reason Kaz and him met in the first place. However it is hard to feel sad when the ensuing race to get into their fighters and daring escape into the cored planet was so epic. Once again Vonreg proves to be a better pilot than shot, and slips away as always.
Speaking of those ruins, they are Tehar. Many had speculated as such when we saw them in the trailer, but this pretty firmly confirms that this is Tehar and that the population was killed so SKB could test the levels of its strength. The symbol on one building is exactly the same as the one on the pendant Kel and Eila had.
On a final note; Yeager’s progressively more encouraging interactions with Kaz began to begrudge Tam, opening old wounds over her resentment towards Kaz in the process. This episode nicely has Tam’s growing suspicions and outward projection of her own frustration towards Kaz continues to grow to its natural head. Kaz showing back up on the Colossus after switching droids with Poe, having taken the Fireball out for a ride without her knowing, and not being around for repairs only for Yeager to hand-wave it seems to have been her breaking point.
Yeager’s position is not enviable, he did not want to get involved in the first place and first and foremost has tried to protect his new family. However his sense of duty and now responsibility over another fellow soldier is going to take precedent. On top of that, it is not his secret to tell, it arguably is not even Kaz’s secret to tell. On the flip-side Tam has tried to be appreciative and really was beginning to take a liking to Kaz, only for that prior laziness and incompetence to disappear, and be seemingly replaced with him being competent but only when he feels like it, and being active but not towards his duties to the crew above all else.
As we say goodbye to BB-8 and Poe, begin to face the real weight of what is about to happen, and continue to lose Tam; the show truly is ready to reach its zenith. I cannot stress enough how gorgeous this episode was, and how cool and unique the flying got to be. If the previous episode was one of the best in how it used the station and status quo effectively to indicate the changing tides; this episode excelled at giving one last excursion before the end, all the while moving the plot forward at a clip.