Brandon Auman, Athena Portillo, and Justin Ridge talk Kaz's mission, Tam's choice, and much more.
The Colossus is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else. In its first season, Star Wars Resistance delivered a neighborhood-like setting where the audience spent time with the same group of characters. That was intentional. "Dave Filoni wanted it to be that way. He always talks about the show Cheers," executive producer Athena Portillo tells StarWars.com. "He said, 'I want a show that takes place in one set that you go to constantly. You get to know the patrons, you get to know the people, and you introduce new characters...and it's all about their way of life.'"
Team Fireball toiling away in Yeager's garage. Aunt Z grumpily serving blurrgfires to patrons in her tavern. The Aces hanging out in their luxurious lounge. It's all intimate, comfortable -- until the First Order arrives. Their presence grows until it becomes untenable. And then...well, the Colossus launches off Castilon because it's actually a ship.
Now that the Colossus is in space, things are obviously different. We sat down with Star Wars Resistance executive producer and supervising director Justin Ridge, executive producer and head writer Brandon Auman and executive producer Athena Portillo to look back on the events of the Saturn Award-winning Season One and to see what's ahead in the series’ final season. We discuss Tam's decision, the new day-to-day life aboard the Colossus, Kaz's challenges, and more.
StarWars.com: Star Wars Resistance occupies a unique place in how it explores the everyday lives of citizens trying to make their way. You have the Resistance and the First Order but no Jedi. Looking back at Season One, was it challenging to not bring in elements of the Force?
Justin Ridge: I've worked on The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels where the Force is more at play and to be able to focus on characters that were more everyday people was refreshing. You could have different perspectives and not have to rely on that element. They have to use other means to overcome the First Order and any challenges that come their way.
Brandon Auman: As soon as you have a Jedi character or a Force user, it suddenly becomes about them. We wanted to have a series where the lead doesn't have the Force, and he's just trying to make his way through the galaxy and trying to become this hero without any Force-wielders. Obviously he's got mentors in Poe and Yeager. But yeah, it's refreshing to tell a Star Wars story without the need to have the Force.
Justin Ridge: That limitation makes us have to come up with more creative solutions.
Athena Portillo: And it was interesting, because at the time we're like, "Wait a minute. We're doing a show without Jedi. What's the action going to be?" We came up with starship racers. We've never seen what it's like to be a racer in Star Wars. Why not have racers and put them on a platform?
StarWars.com: As the audience, we know it's bad news when the First Order started to have a presence on the Colossus. But the citizens don't know that. The story explored varying opinions on the First Order. What kind of care did you take in illustrating that?
Brandon Auman: We just didn't know early on when the First Order occupation was going to happen. There was talk about that happening more towards the very end of the season, maybe for just a couple of episodes. Then they showed up a little bit sooner, which we thought was better, ultimately, because it created more tension and more fear.
It's a very divided Colossus. It's interesting to see two different sides and the different truths behind those two sides. It's not necessarily a good versus evil thing. From the beginning, the characters are thinking, "There's better security, and now there's more opportunities for work." But then eventually as that happens, we discover the rest of the Colossus realizes, "Oh, these aren't such great guys. They really do want to take over." Even the ones that were sort of pro-First Order start to realize it's a much more dire situation.
Justin Ridge: It's why it was important for us to have that conversation where Tam expresses how her grandfather worked for the Empire, and she didn't see what the bad thing was. Like, it's just basically the police force and they're helping to protect the platform. What's the big deal? Other people on the platform feel that way, too. We tried to show the perspectives throughout.
StarWars.com: Tam's point of view led her to join the First Order. How did that fit into the picture?
Justin Ridge: We knew there needed to be a complication within Team Fireball that would make things more difficult by the end of the season. It just made sense that it would be Tam. Because Kaz is so secretive and Yeager is in on Kaz’s mission, Tam's left out and all she wants is to have love and support from Yeager and be able to fly and do all things that Kaz is pretty much doing. She's really hurt by that.
StarWars.com How much did Suzie McGrath know about Tam's path, and did you watch social media to see fans' reactions to her choice?
Justin Ridge: With Suzie, we dropped some hints. We try to keep it a surprise for the actors. It's almost like they're the audience as well, and they're witnessing it as they're doing. I think she had a feeling of where it was going, but she didn't know to what extent.
Brandon Auman: She said she was emotional when she discovered that she was going with the First Order at the end. That blew her mind.
Justin Ridge: And on social media.... It was fun watching everyone's reactions on Twitter when they were starting to get the inkling like, "Oh no, don't do it. Don't do it."
Brandon Auman: Then there were others that are like, "Yes! Now we get to see what the First Order's like!” We get to see another side. A character we love joins the bad guys, and now we follow them for an entire season.
StarWars.com: So we'll see more of the First Order life unfold?
Athena Portillo: You will get to see Tam's day-to-day. You'll see her struggling and conflicted like she was at the end of Season One. On one end she's getting the opportunity she's always wanted, which is to be a pilot. And then on the flip side, she has someone whispering in her ear, fueling her feelings about being hurt.
Justin Ridge: It gave us the ability to give a glimpse as to what it's like on the other side of the fence. You'll see her training, her life as a cadet for the First Order.
Brandon Auman: And her friends that she has on the other side. It’ll be interesting.
Justin Ridge: Also who decided to go with her from Colossus. We did drop a hint in the last episode if you look closely. Rewatch the finale to see who's going to be there.
StarWars.com: Meanwhile on the Colossus, you have a bunch of citizens who got pulled into space. Is there unrest? How are they dealing with this massive change?
Athena Portillo: That's one of the things that early on, you hear Flix say, "Now that we're out here in outer space and no one knows where we're at, it kinda sucks for our business."
There's definite frustration and there's definite fear across the board. They talk about running out of fuel or running out of food. They miss daylight.
Justin Ridge: This was not a big group decision. No, this was a spur of the moment, “We have to get out of here." I don't think everyone on the Colossus is happy about it. They had ties to the planet. That's where their business was, that's where food and money was coming through...now they're a moving target in space. So, what does that mean? How are they going to survive?
Brandon Auman: Everything is difficult. And the Colossus is a ship that hasn't been airborne in decades. This is an old rusty ship that can barely survive. It's a miracle that they were able to even make the jump to hyperspace. A lot of Season Two is about just trying to survive.
StarWars.com: Do the Colossus citizens blame Kaz in any way?
Justin Ridge: There might be some resentment, some bitterness that it was Kaz's fault. I'll say that there's a town hall meeting where you do hear more of the voices of the Colossus.
StarWars.com: Well, at least they have the Aces. The pilots helped defend the platform from pirates. Now do they have to become more of combat fighters?
Justin Ridge: They're definitely more in the mix now. They primarily raced and helped out the Colossus here and there when they could. They defended it from pirates and other people trying to do evil things. But now they really need to come to the forefront and help out to protect the Colossus.
Brandon Auman: It was almost like a warm up to something bigger, all the racing and defending from pirates. It was like they were gearing up for something greater, which is defending the Colossus from the First Order and from any other outside forces.
Justin Ridge: Yeah, now that they're off Castilon, they don't know who they're going to run into.
Brandon Auman: It's not always who you would expect. It's not just the First Order; there are all kinds of threats out there.
Athena Portillo: The Aces have to think more about being a team. It ends up being a situation where even Hype -- there’s a lot of character growth in Hype. We've always seen him wanting to be number one, but he ends up being part of the team, helping everybody out.
And they can't just use their race tactics. They have to learn how to fight in the streets. It's like being in martial arts where you will learn kata or sparring, and you could do well in tournaments and win trophies. But wait until you're in the real world. That person coming at you is not going to be telling you if they're throwing a right punch or left punch. In order for you to know which one to block, your instincts have to be ready. The Aces have to prepare for the real world.
StarWars.com: The Colossus also has a shaky alliance with the pirates. They kind of wound up leaving Castilon with them. Does that partnership continue?
Athena Portillo: You'll see throughout Season Two that the pirates are trying their best to either take over the Colossus or get away from them. But because they’re pirates, they're used to stealing. Kaz realizes they can use the pirates' ship or street smarts to help the Colossus get food and other resources.
Brandon Auman: Doza isn't really that keen on them sticking around. But they did defend and help them out during that battle to allow them to escape Castilon. At the same time, they really just don't trust these guys. They think that they have other motivations.
Justin Ridge: I'll drop a little hint that Neeku becomes fascinated with the pirates and their way of living.
StarWars.com: Kaz learned a lot about himself and what he’s capable of in Season One. What new challenges will he face?
Justin Ridge: His biggest challenges are that the challenges they come across now are different from what he experienced in Season One. By the time he's like, "Okay, I got the hang of this," now it's a whole new batch of problems and situations he's never been in before.
Brandon Auman: And he's not a spy anymore, really.
Justin Ridge: Right. Because everyone knows now how the First Order is trying to take over everything.
Brandon Auman: And everyone knows who Kaz is at this point. But it's interesting. He tries to deal with keeping the ship afloat and people fed. He's starting to ascend to more of a leadership position. He's also helping by going on missions to try and achieve certain things or acquire certain things for the Colossus.
StarWars.com: Yeager mentored Kaz in Season One, and though it didn’t seem like he wanted to be pulled back into galactic conflicts, he did. How does Yeager feel of being in the thick of it again?
Athena Portillo: It's almost like the Godfather: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." From the beginning, he told Poe he didn't want to get involved. He has to put himself out there in Season Two to try to gain answers and to try to help his team find the supplies they need to survive. He was a father figure in Season One to Team Fireball, and now he's actually becoming more of a leader and taking an active role.
Brandon Auman: It's like that old school Yeager comes back -- the Yeager that is compelled to help and wants to help the galaxy. He wanted to push that part of himself aside when he went off to the edge of the galaxy, but now they're in the middle of war again and Yeager is never really one to sit still. He still has that desire to want to help and also help his family, which has become the entire Colossus.
StarWars.com: Captain Doza was trying to look out for the Colossus too, and it didn't end well. Is he carrying any guilt?
Athena Portillo: Doza feels really bad and like all of it is his responsibility for inviting the First Order to the platform in Season One. He thought he was protecting everyone from the pirates, specifically Torra. Now they're in space, they have to keep escaping trouble, they're running out of fuel. Everyone's getting frustrated with him. He's taking responsibility for how Torra feels and also for how the Colossus citizens feel.
Both Doza and Yeager feel like they've failed the people they were trying to protect.
Brandon Auman: Doza's a very interesting character, especially with his background coming from the Empire. We'll get more into that as well, Doza's past. We'll get into some really cool, interesting things about him that I think will surprise fans.
Athena Portillo: Maybe we'll get to meet other family members.
StarWars.com: Torra made a path for herself in Season One. She was all-in when it came to helping Kaz fight the First Order. How does she continue to find her way?
Justin Ridge: Torra's gung-ho. Any way she can help out and be part of the action -- she’s all for it. Although I think she, like the other Aces, has to learn and realize some of her limitations now that they're being put into new situations.
Brandon Auman: Which is a big part of their arc in Season Two for sure. Torra’s always ready to defend the Colossus. She wants to essentially grow up and be this killer ace pilot. She still wants to be number one, but now it's a totally different situation. It's not about racing anymore. The stakes are much, much higher.
StarWars.com: Since we are away from Castilon and familiar territory, should we expect to see new creatures or new places?
Brandon Auman: Definitely. More creatures, more monsters, weird aliens, some classic aliens that we haven't seen in a while that you're going to be excited about.
Athena Portillo: What's exciting about Season Two is that since the platform's taken off, we're in space now. We had to figure out, "How are we going to make this exciting?" It means we have to go to new locations. You're now going to explore other locations, meet new characters, come across new creatures, come across new challenges.
Justin Ridge: From a design aspect, our team had a lot of fun creating people and places that we've never seen before that we get to experience.
StarWars.com: Season One took place concurrently with The Force Awakens. Will Season Two happen alongside The Last Jedi?
Justin Ridge: Season One and Season Two go right into each other. But where The Last Jedi ends, we keep going. So at first there is overlap, but then we continue.
StarWars.com: What are you most looking forward to fans seeing in the final season?
Athena Portillo: The sense of family. The sense of working together as a team is how you succeed. I'd like the audience to see that you can have a successful life without having ego or selfishness involved, like our heroes in this show. These stories are pretty much about how, if there's a lack of fear but there's knowledge, that is all you need in order to be successful.
Brandon Auman: I'm excited for them to be out in the galaxy during the middle of war. It's a scary time. They're people trying to survive this insane situation. They're going to try and survive against this massive, insane army that wants to take over the galaxy. It's so different from Season One.
Justin Ridge: They really still are the underdogs in this whole plot. And I have to say, we have some really stunning episodes in Season Two. Our team has put a lot of love into this show and I can't wait for people to see it.
Star Wars Resistance returns for its final season October 6 on Disney Channel and Disney XD.
Amy Ratcliffe is passionate about Star Wars and coffee. She always has her nose stuck in a book. She's the author of Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy and a co-host of the podcast Lattes with Leia. Nerd out with her on Twitter at @amy_geek.
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