Disney's latest Star Wars animated television show – Disney Channel's Star Wars Resistance – has gotten positive reviews by critics but a mixed response from viewers. Many fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels have been turned off by the show's much younger target audience. I will admit that I was ambivalent about the show in the beginning, not really getting into it until after the holiday hiatus. But over the past three weeks, the show has started a slow, insidious build toward the public unmasking of The First Order – turning the small Colossus refueling station into a microcosm of an authoritarian takeover.
Main character Kazuda Xiono (Christopher Sean) was placed on the Colossus – a refueling station on the ocean planet Castilon that serves as a haven for the galaxy's best pilots – to search out a First Order spy. What we have come to learn over the course of the season is that the "First Order problem" on the Colossus is much larger than just one spy. In fact, the First Order has made multiple attempts throughout the first half of the season to gain a very public foothold as the protectors of the Colossus.
As of yet, no one really knows why the First Order is so determined to gain a foothold on a largely isolated pilot haven. Maybe they want it to move resources – or to recruit the ace pilots that gravitate to the Colossus? But it quickly becomes evident that the newly-rebuilt organization is not willing to take no for an answer. In order to get what they want, the leaders of the First Order look to its past: the first stirrings of the Empire from which it was reborn.
Over the past three episodes ("Dangerous Business," "The Doza Dilemma," and "The First Order Occupation"), we have seen the successful execution of a very old plan. The First Order's initial attempt to scare Captain Doza (Jason Hightower) into accepting their protection by paying a group of pirates to attack the Colossus results in failure. But rather than give up, they increase the pressure on Captain Doza personally by having the pirates kidnap Doza's daughter Torra (Myrna Velasco). Before Kaz and the aces can save their friend, a First Order shuttle swoops in and saves Torra – returning her to Captain Doza and insisting on remaining on the Colossus to prevent further attacks.
Once the First Order gains access to the Colossus, they begin asserting their presence immediately. While Kaz knows about the evils of the First Order from his covert work with General Organa's (Carolyn Hennesy) Resistance and his spy work for Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), no one else seems to be aware of the First Order's origins, activities, or aims. While Kaz sees the presence of Stormtroopers as a a blight, his friends and the general public seem fine and even grateful for the additional protection.
Watching the events unfold on the Colossus, it is impossible not to see the story as a microcosm of the very founding of the Empire. In the Star Wars prequels, Senator Palpatine/Darth Siddeous (Ian McDiarmid) used the exact same maneuver, just on a much larger scale, to gain power. Through his Sith apprentice Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), he created a separatist threat to the Republic and started a civil war. When all seemed lost, Palpatine stepped in as the reluctant savior. Rather than having to fight for power, it was given to him with raucous applause.
Showrunners have stated that the events in Resistance take place a mere six months prior to the events of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. While we don't know what is happening in the rest of the Republic during Kaz's time on the Colossus, it is curious to me that the First Order seems to be so unknown – almost like a widely accepted but poorly understood secret society.
How do they get from trying to take over a small refueling station to Starkiller Base in only six months?
Are scenes like those on Colossus repeating themselves throughout the galaxy?
The events of the prequel trilogy were grand and epic, with Jedi and clones… senators and ambassadors… droids and generals… while the developments on the Colossus only involve a dozen pilots and a handful of businesses. Yet somehow, the changes that the First Order are bringing to the small refueling station seem just as important as the fall of the Republic. Though to the denizens of the Colossus, they probably are.
Previously skeptical, I am now fully immersed in the story of Resistance and excited to see where it goes next and how it builds into the larger Star Wars galaxy in the months leading to The Force Awakens. It is also heartbreaking to see the rise of a new Empire (much in the way of the old), knowing what is coming for the New Republic, the galaxy… and the people. Feels like watching a train leave the station, knowing it will crash.
Additionally, I cannot help but think of the old addage by George Santayana "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." How will Resistance and the larger Star Wars galaxy break the cycle? We shall see…
The next episode of Star Wars Resistance "The New Trooper" airs on Disney Channel Sunday, February 10, at 10 p.m. EST.
Star Wars Resistance s01e17 "The New Trooper": When Kel and Eila seek out Kaz's help after knocking out a stormtrooper, Kaz dons the trooper's armor to protect the kids and spy on the First Order.