Star Wars Resistance: “Descent” review

Star Wars Resistance is back with another episode in its very strong first season, and this week’s episode, “Descent,” is the best one yet.

Seriously: you don’t want to miss it, and you don’t want to miss this show.  It’s really good, and as we approach the final episodes of the season, I imagine that it’ll only get better.

SUMMARY:

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Picking up after last week’s cliffhanger ending, Team Fireball is cornered by the First Order and under arrest.  Yeager speaks up demanding to know why, and Commander Pyre explains that the Fireball was seen with Resistance ships in a restricted sector.  Tam pleads for Kaz to tell the First Order that it’s a mistake, but all he can say is that it’s complicated.  As Pyre orders for them to be arrested, however, Bucket creates a distraction, releasing smoke that clouds the troopers’ vision.  Yeager springs into action, taking out a few troopers and ordering Neeku to open his office.  Yeager, Kaz, Neeku, and CB-23 escape into the office, but Bucket is shot by Pyre and falls off the platform, while Tam is captured.

Kaz is distraught about Tam’s capture, but Yeager remains the sensible one and maintains that they will rescue Tam but must first contact the Resistance.  Kaz explains to Neeku that he’s actually been a Resistance spy all along, but Neeku doesn’t believe him.  They sneak through the station but are soon spotted by First Order troopers because they’re being too loud, only to be saved at the last moment by Kel and Eila and the chelidae, who open a vent that the heroes drop through.  Safe and sound, Yeager is thrilled to discover that the chelidae rescued Bucket and the two are reunited, and Kaz and Yeager then begin to make a plan.  They realize that to contact the Resistance they’ll need to take down the First Order communications jam at the top of the station.  Kaz then comes up with a crazy plan: sink the station, which would allow them to just swim up to the top.  In order to pull this off without killing the residents of the station, however, they have to get a message to Captain Doza to seal the doors.  They send CB-23 on the mission, and he defeats the First Order BB droid and replaces him as the service droid.  Once in the tower, CB-23 finds Captain Doza and Torra and informs them of the plan, and Doza sends a message back to Kaz and Yeager in support.

Meanwhile, Tam has been taken by the First Order, and Agent Tierny of the First Order security bureau arrives to interrogate.  She treats Tam incredibly well and is down-to-earth, ordering for Tam’s cuffs to be removed and taking Tam to the now empty Aces lounge to talk.  Tierny offers Tam a drink and explains that all the First Order wants is galactic peace through absolute order.  Tam still maintains that this is a misunderstanding, but Tierny then reveals Kaz’s past.  Whereas Tam thought that he was a poor mechanic, Tierny reveals that he’s a wealthy kid hailing from Hosnian Prime who was a part of the New Republic navy and has since joined the Resistance – much to Tam’s shock.

As they talk, Yeager, Kaz, and the others begin to sink the Colossus, taking on water.  The First Order commands Doza to seal the doors, which he is more than happy to do.  Once the station has sunk, Pyre and Tierny are suspicious about the timing with the Resistance spies on the loose.  Kaz, Yeager, and CB-23 jump into the water and swim up to the top of the station, which is now the only part above water, and find the communications jammer.  Yeager disables it, and Kaz records a message for General Leia Organa, which CB-23 sends to the Resistance.  Commander Pyre then arrives, having been alerted to the communications disruption, and Yeager engages Pyre in a firefight, buying time for CB to download the Resistance’s response.  Yeager holds them off long enough, but then pushes Kaz into the water and orders CB to help him as Yeager is captured.

The pirates (including Synara), meanwhile, have intercepted Kaz’s message crying for help.  Back in the lower regions of the station, CB-23 plays General Organa’s message for Kaz while Neeku, Kel, Eila, and the chelidae look on.  Organa tells Kaz that they have no ships to spare, but provides Kaz with their next coordinates in case he can join them.  As Kaz realizes that no help is coming (and as Neeku realizes that Kaz actually is with the Resistance), Kaz explains that they are the Resistance now: they’re going to rescue their friends, and then they’re going to take back the Colossus.

REVIEW:

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This is by far my favorite episode of Resistance, and it’s just brilliant storytelling all coming together in an episode that maintains quite a bit of tension throughout while escalating things significantly and setting up the final two episodes of the season.

Obviously things start off very quickly in the episode, since the encounter with the First Order was actually the ending cliffhanger of last week’s episode.  I loved how the First Order continues to actually seem quite competent, as they noticed that the Fireball was on that mission with Poe Dameron and traced the Fireball to Yeager’s crew.  That’s some really good work by Commander Pyre and the First Order, and it’s important from a storytelling perspective because we realize that those episodes are not just isolated incidents but have consequences later on.  Kaz can’t just jump in the Fireball and go on a mission with Poe Dameron and expect no one to notice.  The First Order certainly notices, and they move to arrest Yeager’s crew.

And speaking of Yeager, in my opinion he really took center stage in this episode, which is great since I’ve found him to be one of my favorite characters.  We see that Yeager has grew, whether by necessity or by choice, and has recently been more actively helping the Resistance.  Whereas early in the season he made it clear to Kaz that he wanted nothing to do with this Resistance mission, in recent episodes he has been helping Kaz decipher the navigational chart, and plotting with Captain Doza in secret.  In this episode, the old war veteran springs into action.  He’s the one who fights off Pyre’s forces – with the help of Bucket and then CB-23 – and leads Kaz, Neeku, and CB-23 through the station to safety.  He’s the one who maintains a clear head throughout, as while Kaz is insistent that they must save Tam, Yeager says they must first send a message to the Resistance.  And then when Kaz comes up with the plan to sink the station, Yeager, Kaz, and CB-23 journey to the top to disable the communication jam.  Yeager is the one who does this, and then he tells Kaz that he’d fight beside the inexperienced kid any day.  Pyre and the stormtroopers soon arrive, and Yeager is the one who engages them by firing back at them and buying enough time for CB-23 to download the message.  I loved seeing Yeager lead the way on the action and in fighting back against the First Order, but then at the end of the episode he is captured.

It actually appeared to me like he didn’t try all that hard to avoid arrest and could have jumped in to the waters with Kaz easily, so I kind of wonder whether he wanted to be caught.  If so, then I have to imagine it’s because he wants to try to get to Tam.  Tam is very confused, as we’ve seen in recent episodes, and she thinks that the First Order is actually good for the galaxy.  She’s a prime example of the dangers of wanting peace at all costs, including the cost of freedom.  Tam sees them as good guys just doing their job, and she can’t understand why Kaz and Yeager seem so opposed to them.  As Yeager tried to tell her a few episodes ago, she just wasn’t around to see the Empire do the same things.  Tam is confused, and that’s why Agent Tierny is such a great character and the perfect one to meet with her.  Tierny is a different kind of First Order agent.  Snoke is mysterious, Kylo Ren is a powerful Force user, Hux is an incompetent General with evil ambition, Captain Phasma is a faceless cold-blooded trooper, and even Commander Pyre and Major Vonreg hide behind their masks.  Tierny doesn’t wear a stormtrooper helmet, and she’s not pure evil (at least not that we’ve seen).  Instead, she’s just a regular citizen who believes in the First Order’s mission.  She’s not cold-hearted and cruel, she’s just aligned with the First Order because she believes it’s best.  She treats Tam very respectfully and reasons honestly with her, which is something Kaz didn’t do.  Tierny explains that the First Order just wants peace, albeit at the cost of total control.

I think all of that is also the reason why Yeager may have actually wanted to be captured; I can see Yeager wanting to get to Tam to tell her the truth about the First Order, since Yeager has already lived it once with the Empire.  Hopefully, Kaz is successful in rescuing Yeager, because I really hope that he isn’t killed by the First Order to inadvertently serve a point to Tam of their evils.  I want Yeager to live very badly.

But I also find Tam’s pending decision to be one of the most interesting things about the show.  Who will she side with?  We know that she has been loyal to her friends, but Tierny showed Tam that Kaz has actually been lying to her about his identity.  He’s not a poor kid but is instead a wealthy kid from Hosnian Prime (which seems like yet another reminder to the audience of that fact before we witness the Hosnian System destroyed through Kaz’s point of view next week).  And Kaz isn’t just a mechanic but is a former New Republic pilot who has joined the Resistance.  Tam can’t believe it, and that’s really the last we see of her in this episode.  So what will she choose?  I can honestly seeing it go either way: I can see Kaz and his friends rescuing Tam, him apologizing to her, and her coming to realize the danger of the First Order through the Hosnian System’s destruction.  But I can equally see her deciding to join the First Order, which would make for a pretty compelling plotline in season two as the friends have become enemies working for different sides.  I’m interested in seeing what Tam chooses.

And back to Kaz, I’m really excited about where this episode leaves him.  Obviously, for him, it’s not that great.  He’s just lost Yeager, who in this episode had really taken charge in many ways and led the fight against the First Order.  He’s also found out that the Resistance is not able to send help, which means that his buddy Poe Dameron isn’t flying in to save the day either.  So in the matter of one episode, it is established that Kaz’s two mentor figures in this show aren’t going to be able to bail him out or lead the way any longer.  Kaz is going to have to lead, as Poe is busy and Yeager is captured.  What a remarkable growth for him from the clumsy spy to now the only one who can lead these gathered forces to liberate the station.  I’m hoping that he’ll be able to reunite with Yeager and fight alongside him again, but for now, it’s up to Kaz to lead.  I love how this episode sets it up for Kaz to lead the fight in the final two episodes.

Star Wars Resistance has been very good this season, but it’s really picked things up recently.  This episode was the strongest one of the show yet, with brilliant storytelling all coming together to make a very exciting episode that sets us up for what figures to be two fantastic episodes to wrap things up in this first season of a show that has been fantastic.

My grade: 9.7/10

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