Through Kaz, Tam, and others, we understand life in the New Republic from very different points of view.
Spoiler warning: This article discusses plot points and details from the entirety of Star Wars Resistance.
On the last day of the New Republic, Kazuda Xiono was far from home, watching helplessly through a holo transmission as his planet was utterly annihilated by the might of the First Order and the aptly-named Starkiller Base. As first seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the brute force of the massive planetary weapon seemed an unconscionable act of cruelty. Seen through Kaz’s eyes, it became an even more significant act of savagery, destroying the place where he had left his parents and his friends to take on a mission to spy for the Resistance.
The struggle between the Resistance and the First Order had a sweeping impact on the average citizens in the galaxy. And in Star Wars Resistance, the animated series now available on Disney+, the battle between the First Order and the Resistance is examined in a way that makes the conflict feel deeply personal. Through the eyes of the people who come to call the Colossus home, we get a greater understanding of how average citizens respond to the war. Caught in the middle were people like Captain Imanuel Doza and his daughter, Torra. As the war raged around them, Torra’s mother Venisa Doza was on the frontlines with the Resistance, only able to see her family each year on Torra’s birthday.
But to some the First Order seemed the more reasonable of the organizations vying for power over the galaxy at the time. On the same day Starkiller Base obliterated his home, Kaz watched as his friend Tam Ryvora took the hand of a First Order agent and willingly climbed aboard her ship. For Tam, in that moment the First Order represented hope and a means of escaping a life she was only just learning had been something of a lie.
Kaz and Tam, a balance
Kaz and Tam were both striving for lofty dreams of becoming pilots and making their mark in the galaxy. But on the path to success, they discovered two very different views of the rise of the First Order, and their journeys put the military organization in a whole new light for those of us watching from afar.
For Kaz, it’s easy to see why he hated the First Order, even before the attack on his homeworld. Over the course of the first season, we watched Kaz go from hotshot New Republic flyboy, dogfighting with the formidable First Order’s Major Baron Vonreg, to Resistance spy and ultimately champion of the Colossus in freeing the ship from its waterlogged state and First Order rule. Kaz forged a new identity for himself, but he was still the son of a New Republic senator, whose wealthy upbringing on the cosmopolitan world of Hosnian Prime hadn’t prepared him for the real hardships and harsh realities of life on Castilon among the average galactic citizens.
We truly got to know Kaz, watching his struggles to fit in and eventually his triumphs as a spy and citizen of the Colossus community, taking on a leadership role to try to help his friends find a new place to call home after they were forced to flee Castilon. And knowing Kaz, the lovable goof who is as likely to save the day as he is to cause a disturbance, makes the terror of Starkiller Base even more palpable. Instead of just seeing the shocked faces of strangers, the glow of Starkiller’s red laser playing across the crowd, we are forced to watch the horror dawn on the face of a character we’ve come to know quite well. Through Kaz, the ghastly reality of Starkiller Base becomes a little more real and a lot more personal.
Through First Order eyes
Despite this truth, Tam’s defection to the First Order makes perfect sense given her circumstances. Right and wrong is never as black and white as we might hope, and she had found herself caught in the middle of a nuanced struggle.
As the granddaughter of an Imperial factory worker, Tam was sympathetic to the idea the First Order, and the Empire before it, represented -- equality and protection of the galactic citizens in ways the New Republic, and the Republic before it, failed. Aboard the Colossus, as the First Order tightened its grip on the platform, Tam was one of the lone voices of dissent over the appearance of stormtroopers. While others on the Colossus struggled with the new rules and curfews inflicted upon them, they actually made Tam feel safer.
So it wasn’t a complete shock when Tam defected. Through the second season, we watched her struggle with falling in with the rank and file, learning to respond to a designation instead of a name, and running into her old friends in the oddest of places. Agent Tierny had shown her compelling evidence that the promises Jarek Yeager had been making had all been lies to cover his involvement as a radical with the Resistance, in league with Kaz as a spy himself. The First Order gave Tam the chance to achieve her dream of becoming a pilot at last, a chance to fly. But at what cost? Tam quickly came to realize that following strict First Order rules didn’t always match up to her own moral compass. When it came down to it, her allegiance to the First Order was really about one young dreamer, trying to find her place in the galaxy.
Venisa Doza and Jade Squadron
The Doza family perfectly encapsulated all sides of the conflict, especially considering that Imanuel and Venisa were at one point on opposite sides of the Galactic Civil War between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire. It was Venisa who convinced her husband to defect, and when the First Order threat began to gain traction, it was Venisa who sacrificed time with her family to do what she felt was right by the galaxy, leaving her husband to care for Torra in the relative safety of the Colossus.
And it was Venisa Doza who, more than anyone, was able to reach Tam when the young cadet began to have doubts about the First Order and its priorities. A mother herself, Venisa told Tam that Jarek Yeager always thought of Tam as a daughter, and probably missed her. She was unable to convince Tam to leave, but her words had the power to keep her fellow pilot thinking long after she made her escape: “Don’t forget who you are.”
And perhaps that’s how Star Wars Resistance ultimately turned a galaxy-wide conflict into a series of very personal episodes featuring the citizens of the Colossus. By focusing on the individual journeys of Kaz, Tam, and others like Torra and her mother, Kel and Eila, the fight no longer seems like something happening in a distant galaxy a long time ago. It’s happening now to characters we’ve come to know.
Through the eyes of Tam and Kaz, we see two opposing views of the First Order. They’re both valid, considering the information they have and the life experiences they’ve known. And by watching the conflict unfold between these two characters, we get a deeper sense of both the inhumanity of the First Order’s raw destructive power and the tantalizing allure of their promise of safety and order in a galaxy at war, and the innocents caught in the balance.
Watch the full series of Star Wars Resistance on Disney+ now!
Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.
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