“Station Theta Black” marks the conclusion of Resistance’s first half-season, and does so on a high mark. The presence of Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron plays no small part in this, especially because Kaz Xiono and Dameron make a surprisingly entertaining odd couple. One might even imagine that Kaz was created by taking Dameron’s attributes and flipping them (outside of piloting skill). In the heat of fire one is cool, collected, and unfazed; the other is panicked, frantic, and prepared to surrender in the face of adversity. “Station Theta Black” also continues the recent effort to pull the First Order into the narrative of Resistance, and for the better.
Picking up from his espionage success in “Secrets and Holograms,” Kaz meets up with Poe above the Colossus’ watery home in the Fireball and quickly docks with the same Corellian Blockade Runner from the season’s first episode. Unlike last time, however, General Leia does not appear by hologram, but in person. Behind the scenes the original voice for Leia, Rachel Butera, was quietly replaced by Carolyn Hennesy, after Butera posted a video of herself mocking Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during her testimony in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Hennesy does a fine job voicing the Resistance leader. Based in part from the information Kaz provided, Leia ends the meeting by sending Poe to investigate a First Order outpost, a mission he invites Kaz to join.
As mentioned above, the two Resistance pilots play off wonderfully against each other. Dameron confidently explores an empty First Order mining operation in the midst of an asteroid field, while Kaz is constantly on the edge of worrying himself to death over what could possibly go wrong next. It’s perhaps the first time that the writers’ decision to infuse Kaz with a sense of worry and giddiness pays off. Which isn’t to say we want it to continue, but in this environment, this setting and story, it definitely is entertaining – especially when the First Order, led by Captain Phasma, shows up to investigate and oversee the destruction of the facility and its secrets. Voiced by Gwendoline Christie, it’s always a pleasure to see Phasma outside of the sequel trilogy films, which have been less than kind to the First Order’s top martinet. Here Phasma is confident and ruthless. When she and several stormtroopers take a tumble due to Kaz’s quick-thinking use of a crane, she lands on her feet like a deadly metal plated cat. The newest generation of Star Wars actors have shown themselves more than willing to lend their time and voices to animated counterparts, and we hope this trend continues.
Beyond simply bringing the First Order into the story, “Station Theta Black” does fans of the sequel trilogy another favor: addressing the political situation in the New Republic. Fans of Claudia Gray’s Bloodline undoubtedly perked their ears when the conversation between Leia, Kaz, and Poe, at the end of the episode referenced how the news that the First Order was mining a material for manufacturing blasters would be unlikely to move the Senate to take action. Kaz throws his own father under the bus on this one, and Leia tosses in a side swipe that many are likely benefiting from the production of said blasters. Even though brief, this moment helped to establish Resistance more firmly into the creative landscape settling into place since The Force Awakens. In Rebels, some of the most enjoyable moments came when the characters of that show tiptoed around larger ideas and stories in the existing canon, such as leaving Lothal and visiting Geonosis. There’s a sense of comfort and reassurance that Resistance, too, is not just a show that exists outside of everything else, but is something more connected. Doing this without isolating fans who should never be required to have seen or read everything is not always easy, but in this case, it was done well.
“Station Theta Black” is one of the best episodes of Resistance this season, an accomplishment that was more easily done by allowing characters from the sequel trilogy to visit and fill the animated space with the same charm and villainy we appreciate on the big screen. Not to mention, it’s awfully hard not to get emotionally vested in an episode where General Leia appears. The animation in the show continues to be top notch, from the living intensity of the resulting fireball from the detonation of the First Order space station to the small decision not just to have an elevated surface in an doorway, but to have BB-8 bounce up and over it as he rolled through. The sound work likewise was wonderful, especially for those who exist to hear the familiar hum of X-wings or, in this episode, the wandering catcall of sensors searching for life signs, the same one heard when snowspeeders zipped across the frozen Hoth landscape hunting for Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Resistance concluded 2018 on firm standing, and hopefully will continue to improve on its success in the new year to come.
For more on Star Wars Resistance‘s “Station Theta Black,” check out the episode guide at StarWars.com!