'Star Wars Resistance' Navigated a Few Missed Opportunities With "The New World" and "No Place Safe"
After fleeing the First Order untold times, the Colossus seems to have found a permanent home on an aqua planet low on the First Order radar—or so Captain Doza (Jason Hightower) assumes—and endowed with freshwater and food sources. Kaz (Christopher Sean) is naturally skeptical about a return to the old relative status quo. First, they have to face the humanoid amphibious natives who are still ailing after a First Order assault and are unhappy about new visitors. And second, the First Order increased their surveillance so that even a planet they already accounted for is still probed.
With “The New World” and “No Place Safe,” Star Wars Resistance grapples with the attempt to return to the status quo while challenging it. Both episodes echo Star Wars Rebels “Mystery on Chopper Base,” a slice-of-slice episode that featured action while meditating on the dramatic stakes.
Kaz ventures on a buddy-buddy adventure with old dog Griff (Stephen Stanton), the ex-Empire Ace who wears his ragged Tie-defender uniform, when they skim the new planet.
We learn that Griff followed the former-Imperial Captain Doza into defecting. His body language and his resigned ease suggest plenty of his been-there-done-that psyche. Like Kaz, he isn’t happy with the Colossus’s settlement either because he knows the First Order will always be after them. Griff’s cynical perspective shapes Kaz—or forces Kaz to ruminate on long-existing disquiet—but he also validates why Doza had to land the Colossus. Kaz learns that the mere concept of walking away and calling quits can be a show of survival.
It’s a juicy moment when the Aeosians identify Griff’s Empire helmet and that further consequences to the Colossus, but Griff doesn’t seem to confront head-on how his old allegiance made victims of vulnerable groups like them—and by extension brought consequences to the Colossus civilians he was hired to protect–especially when you compare him to Doza, who hung up his uniform and more willingly addresses that the Colossus was the invader.
It’s a mixed bag how the show illustrates the indigenous-coded light-spear-wielding Aeosians in “The New World,” who are introduced as ambushers before they shift into allies, and it’s revealed that they once sheltered the Rebellion, who they call “honorable and helpful.” Despite having a potentially meaty setup, the tension between Aeosians and the Colossus goes by pretty hastily—and is blatantly played too safe.
The Aeosians coming around to the Colossus also does not feel earned and Kaz’s attitude reeks of an unexamined “look, we’re only trying to be helpful” patronization. Kaz simply has to apply medicine to a wounded inhabitant—without the natives’ consent—and it works like a charm in time for the Aeosians to see that Kaz fits the good guy mold. What a twist it could have been if, yes the Empire/First Order were threatening, but the Aeosians were genuinely resentful of the Rebel/Resistance or even a neutral territory like the Colossus for magnetizing trouble to their homeworld. But there is little time or consideration to those possibilities.
It’s not a completely unconscious depiction. Even as the Aeosians engage the Colossus, Jared Yeager makes it clear that the Colossus is the trespasser. Doza also apologizes to the Queen, provides her supplies, and readies to depart from the planet until the Aeosian Queen blesses their stay. In writing, the consciousness is there, but it’s not the kind of execution that gives breathing space for the audience to dwell on those implications.
Aside from those shortcomings, Kaz’s internal dilemma and his accumulation of past lessons anchor both episodes. The first act of “No Place Safe” drenches itself in the idyllic, Kaz gazing over the Colossus guarding rail, drinking in the blue skies as if recounting the older carefree days before he announces his intention to join the larger Resistance. Now that the Colossus seemed to have found its haven, Kaz’s purpose seems to have expired.
The ensuing farewell beats hit like a ton of bricks: Kaz bequeathing his crushed trophy to Neeku (Josh Brener) and referencing their “bestest friend” exchange, facing Torra’s (Myrna Velasco) lividness, and saying goodbye to Yeager (Scott Lawrence) who bequeaths him the Fireball. But all is restored when he sights a First Order probe and returns to the Colossus. Kaz is very much sticking with the smaller picture and his community.
But while Kaz’s arc is a high for the two episodes, I wish the show had a sense of why Kaz joined the Resistance, other than, it’s the right thing—scattered dialogue implies he resents his wealthy family’s privileged and uninvolved ways but those are barely fleshed out or sink in.
Tam (Suzie McGrath) deserved a lot more room this entire season. Tam’s story kicks off the idyllic as well in “No Place Safe,” starting with her compatriot Jace (Elijah Wood) teasing her and reassuring that they will make their mark as pilots. Jace imitating their officer and bantering with her is a human moment between the two, reminding the audience of Tam’s (and Jace’s) individuality and insecurities within the First Order as misguided youths.
Tam’s part in the climactic dogfight between the Aces and the First Order hammers in some hard dilemmas as Resistance edges to the finish line. When Kaz reports that he had a feeling Tam was the Tie-pilot tailing him and would have shot him on sight, Yeager warns Kaz that he may have to leave Tam behind and turn on her. It’s a messy situation emotional-wise, but Yeager’s professionalism is pragmatic.
Tam’s surprise promotion to the Second Squadron Commander establishes an intriguing setup for the future. She has reached her desired height despite growing perturbed at the First Order ways. Whatever Tam does with this position, I hope the final three episodes do its darndest with this setup.
How Are Those Civilians Doing?
But for as compelling Kaz and Tam’s stories are, it does lack substantial curiosity about the civilian reaction. Glimpses of the Colossus civilians cheering at the sight of their prospective settlement and Bolza Grool (Fred Tatasciore) the Gorg seller and even the duplicitous Grevel (Dee Bradley Baker) sincerely greeting the natives somehow are surface-level collective civilian shots. “Hunt on Celsor 3” did a better job fleshing out civilian intrigue by taking pause on civilians like Aunt Z, and “The New Trooper” and “The Disappeared” did a meatier job at illustrating civilian reception to shifts in the status quo even if their grievances and unrest were witnessed on the periphery.
Despite the one-hour block, plenty about this week’s double feature “The New World” and “No Place Safe” feels shooed out too quick even if tightly compacted. Loitering in that one location some more might have allowed some risks and breathing space. Considering how idyllic is one of Resistance’s underrated strengths, it could have used one or two more episodes to dwell on the Colossus finding a supposed comfort zone—although another launch sequence would be costly as well as repetitive. But alas, everything rushed out in favor of moving along.
It is not inherently bad that the final season of Resistance doesn’t dwell on clear-cut destinations and idles from one set-piece to the next—I argue that the idling may as well be thematic–but Resistance has been a mixed bag at efficiently mining poignancy and emotional investment along the journey.
– Fun fact: Norath and Kaz’s rendezvous point would have been Batuu.
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