I’ve written before that I found it concerning that there is so little time now to flesh left out the major conflicts of Star Wars Resistance. Which is why “Rebuilding the Resistance,” which can be considered a penultimate chapter before the two-parter series finale, pulls off an impressive feat as it picks up on the slack of more underwhelming developments of the past season.
Right off the bat, this episode sets off the fissure in the status quo. Kaz (Christopher Sean) is perplexed by the arrival of Resistance X-wings lead by Venisa Doza (Tasia Valenza), Torra Doza’s (Myrna Velasco) mother. The notion that Captain Imanuel Doza (Jason Hightower) is directly involving the Colossus in Resistance matters is surprising. Combing the scrappy three-person Resistance squadron and three Aces, they head to Dantooine to escort three shuttles with young Resistance recruits to escape a First Order blockade. Among the First Order ambushing them is Tam Ryvora’s squadron (Suzie McGrath), and she has second thoughts.
The Jennifer Corbett’s tactful writing and Bosco Ng’s sharp direction stage a swift and harrowing dogfight, introspection, and nuggets of humanity throughout. It echoes the themes in The Last Jedi about the preciousness of protecting lives more than attacking the enemy headlong.
Venisa and Imanuel
Venisa has only popped up once before back in “The Rendezvous Point,” but her presence lends multitudes other than being one of the few onscreen living Star Wars mothers being in her child’s life in Star Wars. Her warm mother-daughter relationship with Torra balances the cold mentor-studentship between Tam and Agent Tierny (Sumalee Montano).
Last week’s episodes were pivotal to the change in Imanuel. Venisa’s dynamic with her husband Imanuel Doza lends a juicy examination of their past disagreements. Corbett’s writing, Ng’s direction, and Hightower’s and Valenza’s performances do wonders to establish their chemistry and hint their edgy dynamic despite a clear love and respect. Imanuel walked away from a war that has broken him to stay alive; She chose to fight headlong in the Resistance. Although a holo depicted Dozas’ sweep-clean parting, their marriage also suggests tension over their clashing goals. Doza has always been set on running and running—and then settling—and then running. No wonder Venisa is shocked—“Really, you’re not going to argue about me on this?”—when her husband permits temporary shelter for the Resistance refugees and then eventually revises his statement to let them stay permanently.
She and Doza don’t ignore the difficult question about the Colossus’s collaboration with Resistance interests potentially conflicting with the interest of the Colossus civilians, but they take a step to acknowledge it.
Yeager mourning for Tam
In contrast to Yeager’s (Scott Lawrence) firm “we might have to leave Tam behind,” the private moment between Venisa and Yeager hits hard and speaks to the sorrowful contradiction in Yeager. Whenever he mentors Kaz, he’s insistent about leaving Tam behind if necessary and shooting her down. But he barely opens to Kaz that Tam’s welfare very much haunts his thoughts. It’s somewhat of a relief for him to learn that Tam has shown conflicts about her allegiance to the First Order but he’ll have to wait and see.
Tam and Tierny
Venisa’s idea of the spark also exists in Tam, who is surprised that the First Order is willing to attack unarmed ships. Tam’s soul-searching as a newly inducted First Order leader is just as front-and-center to the plot.
I love how Tam and Agent Tierny’s (Sumalee Montano) office sequence is set up. In the background, the whipping lights of the light-speed route stream out the window while Tam and Tierny have their headmistress-to-student conversation. It accentuates Tierny formulating a messed-up solitary with Tam when she confides, in her professional detached way, that she scraped under the New Republic era but found her purpose with the First Order. It shines a whole new dimension on Tierny’s interest in Tam in the final episodes of season one, and echoes to post-war disillusionment of the New Republic era that permeated Tam’s poverty aboard the Colossus.
Tierny’s “I wasn’t born into the First Order” speaks miles to Tierny’s status and implies how First Order underlings often inherit their positions and allegiance and perhaps prestige. She’s happy for what she has worked for and sees only the betterment of her life, not the destruction of worlds.
During the skirmish to stop the Resistance transport, Tam fully confronts the human cost of the First Order ways. The disregard of causalities, the disregard of their own, the meaningless sacrifice, and the cold pursuit of ladder-climbing at the expense of others, as Tam utters in her TIE-Fighter, “What am I doing [here]?”
You notice that I talk so little about the climactic aerial showdown because the dialogue aboard the Colossus and Tierny’s office stand out the most. Still, the showdown strikes a bittersweet wake up call for Kaz, Tam, and Torra. Even if we don’t see the faces of the anonymous fallen, the human cost is contemplated.
As it flies toward the finishing line, “Rebuilding the Resistance” manages to pack in the stakes and contemplations within 22-minutes. It’s also just as apt to wish all this concentration of introspection was applied earlier in the season. It closes with eloquence: rookie pilots wishing they did more, savoring the light they did save, a resolve to greet the survivors, two older generation veterans from different ends of the spectrum coming together, and those two older generations walking off to greet the younger generation of fighters. Even backgrounded, the Resistance youths emerging from the shuttle are visible. “Rebuilding the Resistance” holds dear to the spark.
– Oh, hai Sam Witwer, playing Kaz’s friend, Hugh Sion.
– It’s also meaningful to have Hype (Donald Faison) tag long and face the weight of what the fight is all about, considering his reluctance to be part of something bigger.
– Consider Kaz’s past brought up in snips of Hype and Hugh’s dialogue. It is discovered that despite allegedly being a top pilot of his class, Kaz had been nearly kicked out of the Academy several times.
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