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Star Wars Resistance Three Years Later

A look back at the strange journey of the third, and shortest, Star Wars animated series that did not quite connect with fans.

Star Wars Resistance premiered on October 7, 2018, on the Disney Channel and Disney XD and was the third Star Wars animated show and the second one in the Disney era after the well-received RebelsStar Wars Rebels introduced Star Wars fans to new favorites like Kanan Jarrus, Hera, and Sabine, and then canonized one of the most popular Star Wars characters from the Expanded Universe, Thrawn.

Rebels ended its final season in 2018, and a new series was announced in April 2018 that would take its place: Star Wars Resistance. Set in the time before The Force Awakens, the show follows Kazuda Xiono, a young pilot recruited by the Resistance and tasked with a top-secret mission to spy on the growing threat of the First Order. Lucasfilm also promised racing pilots and familiar characters like BB-8, Poe Dameron, and Captain Phasma voiced by their live-action actors. 

Promotional poster for the first season | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

There was excitement in the fan community that the series would show parts of the galaxy that had never been explored. Removed from the day-to-day and focused on people living their lives on a refueling station (the Colossus) on an ocean planet. And, even though Dave Filoni was not involved in the way he was for The Clone Wars and Rebels, the idea from the show came from his appreciation of World War II aircraft and fighter pilots. The show was also going to be in an “anime-inspired style.” The marketing also built up the racing aspect and focused on the pilots and their respective ships.

This is all to say that there were some high expectations put on Resistance, perhaps unfairly, to match the tone and stakes of the first two animated series. So when it premiered on October 7, 2018, it became clear to older Star Wars fans that this was a show more geared for kids. The slapstick humor and clumsiness of the main character Kaz was too much for some.

CNN review for the first episodes of Resistance

While Kaz’s schtick did grate on the nerves, there were interesting characters and story beats in the first season. Poe sets Kaz up on the Colossus with a cover: repair working for a shop owned by Jarek Yeager. Yeager is a former Rebel pilot whose tragic past remains a mystery for most of the first season. But, he is also the only one who knows Kaz’s true identity as a spy, and the two bond. This is to the dismay of another worker, Tam, who does not trust Kaz and is increasingly frustrated with being kept in the dark. Her journey is compelling and one rarely seen outside of the novels as her disillusionment makes her a perfect target for First Order recruitment. Her grandfather also worked for the Empire, and she saw them as a source for stable employment. She wanted to be a pilot but got into too much debt and lost her ship. The First Order will give her a chance to fly. Tam is a good person with a good heart, but it only takes a promise of opportunity to lose someone. 

Yeager and Synara face a bounty hunter in season two | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Amid all that drama, the team also has to deal with pirate Synara who is also conflicted between her life with her crew and the new friends she’s made aboard the Colossus. Oh, and the operator of the Colossus, Captain Doza is a former Imperial Captain who is being courted by the First Order, who has a vested interest in the fueling station.

These plotlines alone could have brought Resistance to par with The Clone Wars and Rebels, but too much of the good stuff was bogged down by the type of humor that might only work for kids (and not even all kids). 

The Ace ships | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Another problem was that the racing, while marketed heavily up to release, faded to the background as we got further into season one. Aside from Torra Doza, Captain Doza’s daughter, we do not get to know much about the Ace pilots. They become important when the Colossus gets attacked by a First Order fleet in the season one finale in a thrilling, top-notch battle that actually has some casualties. Kaz also witnesses the destruction of Hosnian Prime (his home planet) in a chilling scene recreated in animation. The season finale ended on a cliffhanger that saw the entire population of the Colossus trying to rendezvous with the rest of the Resistance, only to get lost in hyperspace. This hinted that the second season could be on a collision course with The Rise of Skywalker. Unfortunately, by this time, a lot of fans had checked out. 

On August 14, 2019, the same day the season two trailer premiered, Lucasfilm announced that the second season would also be the final season. The second season continued a lot of what made the first season worth watching and more: Doza family backstory on their history with the Empire and Rebellion, an episode centered on Sith relics, and the confirmation of the first gay couple in Star Wars (Flix and Orka). 

Promotional poster for the second season | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

The fan base, coming off hot and toxic from The Last Jedi and the box office failure of Solo: A Star Wars Story, had little goodwill towards Resistance. And the toxicity just ended up spilling over. The show did a part of its job and kept the Sequel Trilogy characters top of mind between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. But it also could have worked having very little to do with Poe Dameron, Phasma, or General Leia. There were enough juicy plot points to make a great series around the new characters. Tam ended up getting the least to do once she became a full-fledged First Order Tie Pilot. Her episodes were still a fascinating look into the leadership and motivational differences between the First Order and the Resistance. As Griff Halloran, the former Imperial Tie Pilot now Ace pilot noted, the Empire did not have each other’s backs, which is “why we lost.” Insights like that came more often than fans who only watch the first few episodes of the first season could ever fathom. 

The show did get award recognition (both seasons were nominated for an Emmy for “Outstanding Children’s Programming”). The first season also won a Saturn Award for “Best Animated Television Series.” Looking at Rotten Tomatoes currently, you will see a critical average Tomatometer at 92% versus an average audience score of 58%.

Perhaps Resistance was never meant to exceed a second season, which makes sense considering how little time passes between all three Sequel Trilogy films. Lucasfilm likely would not have continued the canon timeline past The Rise of Skywalker. But Lucasfilm has also never publicly stated whether Resistance was meant to only be two seasons, which fed the narrative that had circulated that the show was a failure. 

Tam joins the First Order | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

The Resistance merchandise released was limited except for LEGO sets and a few 3.75 action figures that did not sell particularly well. And the entire series now sits on Disney Plus alongside The Clone WarsRebels, and now The Bad Batch, which will be heading into its second season soon. As time continues to pass, Star Wars Resistance might find fonder memories in Star Wars fans. After all, time tends to warm hearts for any Star Wars content and Resistance is deserving of some love.

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