“The Platform Classic” provided two things that fans of Resistance may have been waiting for, a return to racing and more background about Yeager’s past. It did so by introducing Marcus Speedstar, Yeager’s brother, and then teased an unforgivable action by said brother, and tossed poor Kazuno into the middle of it with the slight appearance of a fool. Right, so this sounds unduly critical, but like a lot of the time with Star Wars animation, the writing will underwhelm the story and its characters, and regrettably “The Platform Classic” was no exception.
The episode begins with Captain Doza inviting Yeager and garage crew to his quarters to discuss the upcoming Platform Classic, the Colossus’ biggest race of the year and thus also its biggest money maker. It’s the Indy 500 of beautiful wet Castilon, where the best of the best are invited to race a heartbreaking course that sweeps up from the wave tops of the planet’s oceans to the periphery of its atmosphere in outer space. Doza wants Yeager to dust off his flight suit and join in. To further entice him (as well as paying fans), Doza reveals he’s invited Marcus Speedstar, a galactically renowned race. To everyone’s shock, it’s revealed that Marcus’ given name is Yeager. Immediately, it’s apparent that Jarek Yeager holds a deep resentment for his brother over something that happened years earlier. This secret is socked away behind veiled references, be it Yeager growling that he wants nothing to do with Marcus or Marcus lamenting what happened, but viewers are left to wait to learn the exact detail until the end of the episode. This decision feels like something of a cheap tactic to leverage a dramatic event for the climax of the episode, and it ends up making Kaz look fairly insensitive due to the Resistance spy insisting Yeager forgive his brother for this unknown offense throughout the episode. The offense being that Marcus cheated in a race against Yeager and, as a result, crashed and killed Yeager’s wife and child.
An expletive at learning this is appropriate and it totally grounds Yeager’s behavior, why he quit racing and why he wants nothing to do with his brother. Now imagine you lost your spouse and child to the actions of someone else, and one of your employees continually pressures you to forgive them, over and over? That’s pretty insensitive, but it’s the spot the writers chose to put Kaz in through much of the episode. For Kaz’s sake, he was unaware that this happened, but it simply leads to the question of how much thought the writers put into these interactions, especially after the previous episode indicated that Kaz and Yeager were developing a friendship. Arguably, Kaz is one of the worse written protagonists in recent Lucasfilm animation works and this is incredibly unfortunate.
Returning to our brothers in spacecrafts, it is wonderful to see a story focused on two men of color. This should not be undersold, and if Resistance can be praised, it is that it has at least made strides toward inclusiveness in terms of putting people of color at its center. At a glance, we have coded three Black characters, two Latinx characters, and one Asian character. Even live television struggles to meet this type of diversity on screen. We just wish the writing was better; check out Tricia Barr’s breakdown on that from last week.
As the episode advances, Yeager essentially angry-stomps his way into reversing his decision not to race his brother, out of the expectation his brother will quit the race rather than lose. There are hints that that might have been so, but for Marcus’ teammate being kidnapped by the surprise appearance of members of the Guavian Death Gang over Marcus’ outstanding debts. This marks the first time we have seen the red armored hoodlums outside of the gaping maw of illicit rathtars aboard Han Solo’s cargo ship in The Force Awakens, and it helps to further ground the show’s timeline placement.
Pressured to save his friend, Marcus refuses to quit and the brothers end up racing in a fascinating exhibition of what serious spacecraft racing looks like in the galaxy. The race becomes a metaphor for the two brothers, Marcus chasing after Yeager, reflective of his desire over the years to make amends; and Yeager’s subsequent decision to let his brother win, letting go of the lead and his grudge of decades. It’s during the race that the death of Yeager’s family is somewhat inartfully revealed: “Like those people who died when you caused that crash?” Yeager growls at his brother, “My family gone, because of you!” It would take a detached person to first refer to their dead loved ones as “those people.” It falls flat for the emotional gravitas that should have been attached to it, and perhaps because it was setup more of as a shocking revelation for the viewer than something naturally said by one person to another. This decision to leverage the truth about Yeager’s family to a surprise drop of information reduces their value from important characters to Yeager’s background to dramatic prop. Perhaps it may have felt better if the episode had ended with more information about who they were, perhaps reflection by Yeager on missing them, but instead the story moves on to Yeager and Marcus’ reconciliation.
Ultimately, “The Platform Classic” is slightly underwhelming when its aspiration, the character development of Yeager, falls short of the writing intended to support it. It’s a broken record, but Resistance continues to be a show whose promise is its biggest detractor. We know Lucasfilm can do better – the production values alone indicate the love that the studio wants to put into the show – but the writing too often subverts the show’s ability to fully be what it wants to be. It remains fun and entertaining, but the characters, the actors behind them, animators, and everyone, deserve a little better from the writing.