Star Wars: Visions season 1, episode 1 recap – “The Duel”

September 22, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Disney+, TV Recaps
4

Summary

“The Duel” evokes classic samurai cinema in a visually striking opening episode.

Previous EpisodeView all
4

Summary

“The Duel” evokes classic samurai cinema in a visually striking opening episode.

This recap of Star Wars: Visions season 1, episode 1, “The Duel”, contains spoilers.


Of all the ways to kick off a Star Wars anime anthology, directly emulating Kurosawa and other giants of classic samurai cinema might well be the best. It’s the most on-brand, anyway, since it not only directly evokes one of the more iconic aspects of Japanese culture and media – the errant swordsman, the masterless ronin – but also literalizes a lot of the most essential themes that Star Wars as a franchise nakedly co-opted from that culture and media. “The Duel” is simplistic in its setup but tremendously rich in visuals and style, with the grainy film quality, and the monochrome punctuated by the green and blue of blaster fire and the fizzing red of a lightsaber blade.

Star Wars: Visions season 1, episode 1 recap

You know the story. Imperial Stormtroopers roll into a no-account little village in the middle of nowhere, bullying the residents. Homegrown resistance is thwarted by the appearance of a female Sith in high heels, wielding an umbrella lightsaber that must be one of the most original designs in the franchise. Here is the occupying force, blithely occupying. It’s an age-old theme. And out of the shadows steps the wanderer, the quiet knight errant, the ronin. It’s fundamental stuff, this, though given a jolt of novelty thanks to the Star Wars trappings – the ronin has a droid pal, the villagers are a hodgepodge of different species – and the fact that, when the ronin draws his own lightsaber, it, too, is red.

At its most fundamental Star Wars is a story of good versus evil. It’s rare to see red clash with red in this franchise, and the woman expresses a similar sentiment. It raises all kinds of questions, few of which “The Duel” bothers to answer, instead settling for ambiguity. The thrill is in the dynamism of the titular duel itself, which takes place across a river and atop a waterfall and logs carried by the fast-moving current. Eventually, the lone swordsman bests the villain, and slips the red Kyber crystal from her destroyed saber inside his cloak, along with many others, all red.

The fusion of a classic aesthetic with Star Wars tropes works like gangbusters in “The Duel”. It’s a striking opening gambit for this new anthology, and it’s pleasure to see classic ideas reworked – where the ronin would typically catch a sword blade between his palms, here the Force keeps it suspended in his hands – with a brand-specific touch. If subsequent episodes of Star Wars: Visions can maintain this same standard, then we might be looking at the best Star Wars content in quite some time.

You can stream Star Wars: Visions season 1, episode 1 exclusively on Disney+.

Previous EpisodeView all

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.