Star Wars Resistance: “Live Fire” review

With the trailer for The Rise of Skywalker released on Monday, I’m getting to the review of this week’s episode of Star Wars Resistance a bit late, but it was another fantastic episode!

This week, we saw both the Aces and the First Order recruits training to be pilots, respectively, and this show is just so good when focusing on flying. Let’s dive in to this week’s review!

SUMMARY:

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In last week’s episode, the Aces flew in combat against the First Order to protect the Colossus, but they realized they were outmatched. So this episode starts off with the Aces in the lounge bemoaning the fact that they can race, but they’re not combat pilots. Captain Doza arrives and agrees, appointing Jarek Yeager as the squadron commander and Kazuda Xiono as the newest member of the Aces, intending to help these skilled racers become fighters.

Hype Fazon is indignant at this change, but Yeager sends the Aces on a test mission: the Aces against he and Kaz, using weapons set for stun. They do this drill above an ice planet, and although Yeager had urged the Aces to work together as a team, Hype has no intentions of doing so. As a result, the Aces quickly get routed by the skilled teamwork of Yeager and Kaz. Once back on the Colossus, Hype storms away, thinking he doesn’t need this. Kaz heads to talk to him, but it’s actually Torra who convinces him to return to the Aces.

While all of this is going on, Tam Ryvora and Jace Rucklin are among the new First Order pilot recruits who are sent out on a training mission by Lieutenant Galek. They fight against X-Wing drones using live ammunition, and the pilot who destroys the most drones will become the new squadron leader. Tam quickly takes out two drones and is in line to become commander, but Rucklin is hit and begins barreling toward the Star Destroyer, helpless. Tam pursues him and saves his life, preventing him from colliding with the Destroyer. The pilots are then recalled back to the Destroyer, with the exercise over.

Meanwhile, the Aces, head off on a second training mission above the ice planet, this time split into pairs, with a wingman and a leader in each pair. Much to the surprise and dislike of the two pilots, Yeager assigns Kaz and Hype to work together, with Kaz taking the lead. They head to the atmosphere and get off to a rough start working together, but soon a massive creature (which was awaken during the pilots’ first mission) emerges from the ice, threatening the Aces. It winds up grabbing Yeager in its grasp and is attempting to eat him. The rest of the Aces don’t know what to do, as their blasters have no effect on the creature, and they turn to Kaz (the one with actual combat experience). He doesn’t have any ideas, but Hype does: Hype suggests they take out the ice pillars and topple them onto the creature, and the Aces agree. They work together to do this, and it works: the creature momentarily loses its grasp on Yeager, allowing him to escape. Satisfied with their teamwork, Yeager orders the Aces back to the Colossus.

Back on the First Order Star Destroyer, Tam is reprimanded by Galek, who tells her that she lost her chance at being squadron commander by saving an inferior pilot in Rucklin. Galek explains that the First Order way is survival of the fittest, meaning they let the lessor pilots die. Galek orders Tam to follow orders. On the Colossus, the mood is quite different, as the Aces celebrate their success – with Hype, of course, taking most of the credit. But he praises his teammates, and he officially welcomes Kaz to the Aces.

REVIEW:

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I absolutely loved this episode. This show has always been tremendous when it gets in the air and focuses on flying, and that’s no different here. The animation is amazing, the action is awesome, and the storytelling is compelling. Plus, it gave us something that we haven’t often seen in Star Wars: the training of fighter pilots.

There’s an important distinction between being a skilled racer and a skilled fighter, and I’m glad that this show didn’t just skip over that and make it immediately translatable. They have shown that the Aces can manage to hold their own in combat, but they’re clearly outmatched by the First Order. So they need to be trained, and who better to do that than a former Rebellion pilot, right? I love seeing Yeager get involved in training a new generation of pilots, and of course this is why Kaz’s addition to the Aces makes so much sense: he’s a skilled fighter pilot who was trained by the New Republic and flew in their Fleet. That leaves the Aces with three experienced combat pilots: Yeager (the former Rebel pilot who serves as squadron leader for the Aces), Kaz (the former New Republic pilot who is the newest member of the Aces), and Griff Halloran (the former Imperial pilot already entrenched as one of the Aces).

There’s an important distinction with Griff, however: though he was a fighter pilot for the Empire, that doesn’t necessarily make him the one qualified to instruct the others in the way of combat. Why? Because he wasn’t trained to work as a team. Freya Fenris at one point in this episode comments to Griff that she didn’t think Imperial pilots were trained to work as a team, to which he responds: “Yeah, we weren’t – that’s why we lost.” So according to Griff, the Empire lost because they weren’t about working together. That’s something we’e seen before, too, as we’ve seen countless examples of Imperials letting their own ego stand in the way. So that’s why the Rebellion veteran is the far better choice to train these pilots: he knows what it’s like to work together as a squadron, which is what the Aces need to do. At one point, Hype tells Yeager that he never signed up for the Resistance, to which Yeager responds that he can at least sign up for protecting the Colossus.  If they’re going to do that successfully, they’ll need to be unified.

But one of the brilliant things about this episode is that we get the direct contrast to this with the First Order training their pilots. Whereas Yeager is urging the Aces to work together; Galek is urging the First Order pilots to be for themselves. For Yeager, success means accomplishing something together; for the First Order, success means taking out the most drones yourself. But Tam doesn’t embody this; though she’s clearly the most skilled pilots of the new recruits, she abandons the training exercise in order to save Rucklin. This catches the attention of Commander Pyre and infuriates Lieutenant Galek, who explains that the First Order is about following orders, and letting lessor pilots die if need be. Tam isn’t happy about this, but she respectfully acknowledges Galek’s rebuke. I think the first few episodes of this season have made it quite obvious that Tam isn’t at home with the First Order, so I wonder how long they’ll play this angle up.

However long it is, it works beautifully in this episode, as we get to see just how different these two sides are. In many ways, I think it’s another representation of the wise words of Rose Tico; the First Order is about destroying what they hate (and thus they don’t care if they lose some of their own along the way), whereas the Resistance is about saving what they love (and thus they prioritize the lives of one another). Think about it: the Aces work together to save Yeager, and that’s viewed as their huge success; but Tam works to save Rucklin, and that’s viewed as her huge failure. The philosophies of these two organizations can’t be more different.

So anyway, I loved getting a chance to see both sides training their pilots in this episode, and the flying action is simply amazing. The animation rocks, the action is thrilling, and the story is great. This episode nails it. Plus, Hype’s droid steals the show in his one noteworthy scene, and it’s hilarious:

Hype’s droid is awesome and hilarious, and I’m also glad that this episode gave more of a focus on Hype too. I’m sure that will pay off at some point, as he’s beginning to learn that working as a team has its advantages instead of just doing it all for his own ego. To be sure, his ego is still very much there, but he now understands the value of teamwork.

I’m really excited to see where Resistance continues to go this season, and if the last two episodes are any indication, this will be one heck of a season. I loved seeing both sides training, and I can’t wait to see that training put to the test in live combat. This episode was one of my very favorites from Resistance.

My grade: 9.7/10

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