Star Wars Resistance has a lot of potential, but its wavering tone and wacky antics get the new animated series off to a predictably ropey start.
Dave Filoni is a particularly beloved figure in Star Wars fandom for his unswerving enthusiasm for the portions of a galaxy far, far away that have been underserved by the feature films. His stellar work on The Clone Wars fleshed out a galaxy-spanning conflict that had previously only been idly glossed over, and Rebels shone a light on the helmeted legions of a burgeoning Galactic Empire. His new animation, Star Wars Resistance, follows this trend, set as it is in the earliest days of the First Order, just a few months before The Force Awakens. And as is somewhat typical when his shows are still finding their feet, the first two episodes, “The Recruit” and “The Triple Dark”, offered a mixed bag of conflicting tones and narrative ideas.
The plot concerns continuity newcomer Kazuda Xiono (Christopher Sean), a flashy but talented New Republic pilot who is recruited by Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaacs himself, though clearly not putting in much effort) to spy on the burgeoning First Order. He’s dispatched to the Colossus, a sprawling multi-tiered space station with a weird class hierarchy, where Jarek Yeager (Scott Lawrence) fills the quintessential reluctant hero role, Neeku Vozo (Josh Brener) pulls double duty as the gobby alien and comic relief, and Tam Ryvora (Suzie McGrath) brings some needed oestrogen.
The pretty cell-shaded art style of Star Wars Resistance gets some mileage out of its facial expressions, which helps to characterise what is admittedly a strong enough central cast (it also makes for some slick aerial action sequences), but the show’s writing is what lets it down somewhat, particularly in “The Recruit”, as Kazuda flips back and forth between being a noble hotshot pilot and a bumbling moron almost from one scene to the next. “The Triple Dark” is half the length but better overall, as it settles into a more consistent vibe, with Kaz trying to cut his teeth as a mechanic while also learning the ropes of being a spy, all while foiling a pirate invasion that he inadvertently uncovers.
What works best about Star Wars Resistance is how it slots into the broader continuity, being set at a period in galactic history that is currently quite nebulous and underexplored. Kaz’s information-gathering mission is complicated by the fact that nobody really knows much about what the First Order is or what they’re up to, so the brief flashes we see of them (including a cameo in “The Triple Dark” for Captain Phasma) are intriguing. “The Recruit”, despite the brief presences of Poe and General Leia Organa, doesn’t make the best first impression, so it’s nice to see the second episode give the one-note cast some more personality, and the show undeniably has a flair for action. The tone skewing more towards younger kids will undoubtedly rankle some die-hard fans, but there’s enough quintessentially Star Warsian stuff here that it’ll likely satisfy, and trust in Dave Filoni is rarely misplaced.