I dismissed Star Wars: Resistance when it first aired. After loving The Clone Wars and Rebels, I was eager to check out the next animated Star Wars adventure but I stopped watching after the first episode. Set on the Colossus, a giant refuelling station in the Outer Rim, the series charts the rise of the First Order and a small band of Resistance fighters who, well, resist. It is, also, very much, a kids show. I gave up on the series because of this, finding the pilot far too goofy and childish to enjoy, but I didn’t review bomb it like some other, stupidly angry fans online. Star Wars can have a show for younger kids that isn’t for me, that’s fine. But I could only stay away for so long, the show beckoning to be watched every time I saw the icon on Disney+, so I gave it another go fully expecting to suffer through it. I didn’t. I loved it.
Resistance is certainly the silliest and most kid friendly Star Wars series. As an adult watching the show there’s a level of apparent humour that you have to push through; cut down the layers of slapstick to get to the good drama underneath. Protagonist Kazuda Xiono is a clumsy goofball, there’s no two ways about it. Early in the series he tested my patience but that Jar Jar Binks-esque persona is very much his starting position. Kaz grows over the course of the series and however irritating he may be at the start, there comes a definite point where you start to root for him. It’s the journey of a clumsy idiot taking responsibility and becoming a leader. And even the show knows Kaz can get tiresome running around and falling over constantly so every few episodes it places him back in the cockpit of his fighter or racer to give us a glimpse at how capable he is at a pilot.
Star Wars: Resistance is the first canon animated series not to begin at a time of open warfare or rebellion. This may mean less action, certainly on a large scale, but curiously for a kids’ show there is more political intrigue. The show catches up with The Force Awakens by the end of the first season of its two-season run, but before that happens the series actually offers what feels like vital context for the conflict. I read the novels and stay on top of canon but even so, watching The Force Awakens for the first time left me confused at the state of the galaxy at this time, the film so terrified of the political backlash of the prequels that it just ignored that aspect. Resistance doesn’t. The political stances of both factions are understood, as well as the arrogance of the New Republic. The First Order come across as a much smarter political force, as well as military, when we’re granted insight into the machinations that they use to gain territory in peace time, keeping their numbers hidden and using pirates to do their dirty work. They even persuade Tam, a supporting character, to join their ranks and their argument is surprisingly strong.
Season 1 of Resistance is the contextual prequel to The Force Awakens, offering backstory and further information that improves the film, much like The Clone Wars does with the prequel trilogy, and season 2 is the proxy sequel to The Last Jedi. It may not feature the same characters, other than occasional cameos, but the show explores how a small band of Resistance members on a single ship/station struggle to survive and, eventually, thrive. The Millennium Falcon is simply swapped out for the Colossus. I always found it disappointing that The Rise of Skywalker glossed over this, beginning a year later with a larger Resistance force than when we last saw them, but now that story exists within Resistance. It’s not just plot that flows from the films into the series but themes too. The show is very much a generational tale with the young characters new to the fight stewarded by the old guard, the station run by a former imperial and a former rebel. In the shadow of old legends, a new generation has to rise and take matters into their own hands.
As with each new show, besides The Bad Batch that continued the visual design of The Clone Wars, it takes a while to get used to the animation art style. I remember this being a drawback when I first tried to watch Resistance and the visuals remain a common criticism of the series, but a few episodes in I started to really love the style. The same thing occurred with Rebels: I disliked it until I loved it. The characters look fine but it’s really a visual style designed for ships, which are a key part of show. When it comes to dogfights or races, I think Resistance captures speed better than any of the other animated shows. It’s not the step backwards people think it is. The lighting too is spectacular. The same digital models are used for seasons 1 and 2, the Colossus being the primary setting of both, but it all looks so different because the location changes, from the warm palette of Castilon to dark, cold space.
Kaz isn’t my favourite Star Wars protagonist but thankfully what makes Resistance shine is its fun supporting cast of characters. Because the series is mostly set in a single location, it has a roster of regular side characters, which feels unique compared to the more anthology-style Star Wars shows. It also has no force users among the cast, other than hints about one minor character, and that feels refreshing. It’s a series about the regular people of the galaxy in much the same way as Rogue One. Resistance also expands the characters of this specific era of the galaxy, again like The Clone Wars did. I enjoyed seeing Sidon Ithano from the films and new bounty hunter Ax Tagrin to broaden the criminal element of the sequels, as well as see the Resistance and First Order’s relationship with them.
I refuse to accept “filler” as a criticism towards the first season of Resistance. Whether immediately recognisable or not, every episode adds a necessary piece of character insight or plot that builds towards the finale. The first season has so much momentum by the end and I was shocked at how invested I had become in the story. It might be the best first season of any animated Star Wars show. Then the second season grows the show into something bigger, allowing for higher highs but also lower lows. The Colossus is now fleeing the First Order and the season is clearly inspired by Battlestar Galactica. But it doesn’t feel like it’s building to something like the first did. The last run of episodes is strong and there’s a lot of potential there, but much of it missed.
The show clearly became hamstrung because of the time it was made, affecting the stories it could tell in the second season. The Rise of Skywalker was in production, a rewritten Episode IX, and so Resistance couldn’t tackle much without the danger of contradicting the film. If the series were produced afterwards, now for instance, I think the stories it could tell would be much more important. Mix that issue with the desire to create a new show for the newly launched Disney+, the series was prematurely ended before it had the chance to fully develop like the other shows could. A third season could have explored Luke’s legend after his death, Palpatine’s message, and conclude with the battle of Exegol, but alas, it wasn’t to be.
Star Wars: Resistance may be the weakest of the animated Star Wars shows overall. It may be much more of a kids show making it less accessible for adult fans. It may be full of unfulfilled potential. But! It is massively underrated nonetheless. The level of hate the show gets – just look at the silly IMDB scores – is unjustified and there is still much to love about the series. As the second season wraps up, Kaz wants to find his place in the galaxy, and he finds it on the Colossus, helping his friends and creating his own small band of Resistance fighters rather than setting his sights on galactic stakes. In many ways, the show itself is similar. Resistance is ultimately not trying to be biggest, most important series. It’s content in telling its own smaller narrative and, with the right mindset going in, it’s very enjoyable as such. I was wrong about the show and I’m glad I made the effort to give it another go. I suggest you do to.
What are your thoughts on Star Wars: Resistance? Let me know in the comments and be sure to geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.