Resistance returned Sunday night for its second and final season with “Into the Unknown,” beginning right where its cliffhanger from last season had left off; with the Colossus dropping out of the hyperspace jump that saved it from First Order annihilation. The situation is dire; the ship is in need of urgent repairs from the battle back on the watery planet of Castilon. It has run out of coaxium, the Solo branded fuel for hyperspace travel, and the threat of the First Order to continue its chase is very real. Rather than use any of these problems to drive an intense season opener, Resistance opted for a much smaller menace, literally, about the size of an astromech ball droid.
Perhaps it was the lack of returning with an hour’s worth of programming, usually the custom of Lucasfilm, but the Resistance writers turned toward the small and personal as the plot vehicles for “Into the Unknown.” On the main story side, Kaz, Torra, and Neeku, are assigned the task of repairing the ship’s communication abilities deep in the bowels of the Colossus where unbeknownst to them, a First Order astromech ball droid is quietly lurking and waiting to strike back at its Resistance enemies. Our heroes have to deal with the First Order astromech which temporarily disposes of CB-23 and Neeku before Kaz manages to blow it out an airlock with Torra’s help. Is it entertaining? Sure. Does it take advantage of the setting that’s immediately established in the first couple minutes of “Into the Unknown,” not at all. And perhaps, when the title is examined, the most interesting and important part of the episode did not take place on the Colossus, but on a First Order star destroyer.
The B-story belongs to Tam Ryvora, who heartbreakingly elected to join the First Order in the emotional climax of Season One’s finale. For as much as the Colossus dropped out of hyperspace in the middle of nowhere, that nowhere is still only a few parsecs away from D’qar. Its Resistance crew know where they are going. There is nothing unknown (outside of their immediate fate), but for Tam, the world of the First Order is an undiscovered country. It’s unfortunate that Tam’s story, arguably the source of the episode’s title, is delegated to second tier status because it is the far more interesting of the two.
It begins on the bridge of the star destroyer with Captain Phasma unhappily receiving the news that the Colossus got away, a potentially prime resource for General Leia and her Resistance should the two come together. That conversation ends with Phasma issuing a death threat to Major Pyre and Agent Tierny should they fail to find the ship (unbeknownst to them, Phasma’s clock is quietly ticking off over the next several days). This immediately leads to Tam and their hope or expectation that her knowledge of the Resistance agents, as well the Colossus, will aid their search for the ship. As in Season One, the best part of this ongoing storyline are the interactions between Tierny and Tam, notably two women passing the Bechdel Test; even more notably, two women of color passing the Bechdel Test – a score for inclusion for the show. Whereas Pyre represents “burn the village” down approach of the First Order, Tierny, at least outwardly represents the true believer approach.
One might draw a line from Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, founder of the First Order, to Agent Tierny, as she asks Tam to express her beliefs of the former Galactic Empire and the First Order. Those beliefs line up with Sloane’s own projection of what the Empire was and should be again. “Into the Unknown” ends with Tam suiting up in a TIE fighter uniform, sealing her transition as one of the First Order’s nameless warriors by obscuring her face behind its helmet and receiving an identification number. This decision is ratified by Tam, as she ignores Kaz’s attempt to send her a discrete apology over her personal com (something that will very likely lead the First Order to the Colossus in a future episode).
The question, “Can there be a good bad guy?” is one that reverberates through the franchise; particularly since 2014. Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars is the standard bearer, the novel following two star-crossed lovers who join the Empire and makes them answer that question, each finding their answers leading them to different paths. In the original trilogy era, the “good” of the Empire rested in the version that Grand Admiral Sloane envisioned, an institution that established order out of chaos, even if at the expense of freedoms. Agent Tierny brought this forward into the sequel era in Resistance in a much more attractive package than General Hux saying something of the same with spit-laden screams prior to the destruction of multiple planets and billions of people. Whether Tam will come to the conclusion from inside the First Order machine that it’s something evil and dark, or alternatively, agree that peace and order acquired at any cost justify the means, may be the most fascinating element of Resistance’s second and final season. It is her story that is most fascinating now and we cannot wait to see it unfold.
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