Why Resistance Needed Three Seasons Part One: Characters

 

I’ve had some time to muse about Star Wars Resistance since the show ended January. After the finale, I wrote an article called “One Big Question” wondering if the show was supposed to be longer or was it always supposed to be two seasons. I didn’t know at the time of that article that executive producers Athena Portillo, Justin Ridge and Brandon Auman had already answered that question in an interview with CBR stating:

This [second] season is also Resistance‘s last, which the executive producers say was the plan all along. “We developed the roadmap from the very beginning,” Portillo said. “It takes about a year to put the writer’s conference together and into production. Rise of Skywalker is finishing up the saga. So we always meet with the Star Wars story group to make sure we’re still within continuity or making sure we’re not messing with [J.J. Abrams] or [Dave Filoni’s] vision.”

“It just made sense for us, timeline-wise,” Ridge noted,” to end along with Rise of Skywalker

This changes my entire view for show. More than ever, I firmly believe that Star Wars Resistance needed a third season. There are story and character decisions that didn’t have enough time to get fleshed out in the show’s short time frame. As I stated in my One Big Question article, there’s a tone shift mid-season two. From “Into the Unknown” to “Kaz’s Curse,” it feels like the beginning of season two. But from “Station to Station” to the finale, it feels like what should be the end of season three. It’s like there should be an entire season’s worth of stories in between that space that’s not there. So, this is how I’m writing this discussion: What would have been in that chunk of time if we had another season to work with?

In this part one, I’m going to look at character issues of Resistance and how having a third season could have resolved some of these problems. Of course this is all my humble opinion, so please take it with a grain of salt. I criticize out of love for the show.

 

Here’s the biggest issue of the series:

There are too many characters in this show for two seasons.

Which hurts me to say, because I love every single person in this series. This is a show packed to the brim with characters. I’m going to break this down into the main cast and the supporting characters.

Let’s start with the latter.

 

When you have a huge ensemble cast, not everyone gets their time to shine. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power had the same issue in season five with characters like the Horde Trio and Huntara getting sidelined. There’s not enough time for everyone. This is normal for any series. The point of having background and supporting roles is that they support the main cast. It’s normal for them to get a few episodes here and there, but they’re not the main focus of the series. That’s not the issue here.

The problem is when it’s uneven across the board, and when it opens up questions and plot holes that serve no purpose in the bigger narrative. Examples of these two issues are the Aces and Mika Grey.

The focus on the Aces is so uneven. Torra Doza steps up into the main cast towards the end of season one and becomes a mainstay there for the rest of the show. After her, Hype gets the focus of almost every single story that involves the Aces. Griff gets a smidgen of love right at the end with a touch of backstory of why he’s on the Colossus in the first place. But when it comes to the other two, Freya and Bo get nothing. We have no idea who they are as people, why they’re on the Colossus, or anything else. They’re just kind of there. If you cut them out, the narrative and the stories for the other characters don’t change at all. These are choices that are made by the creators. As I said in my review for “The Voxx Vortex 5000,” I would have rather had one of the other Aces know Vranki the Hutt. It could have been Bo or Freya’s backstory. But the writers continued to give Hype all of the Aces’ stories.

There’s nothing wrong with Hype. I like his character. He has a great arc. But when there are only two seasons, why not give more time to Bo and Freya? They were shown to be possibly important in the “Meet the Aces” promo before Resistance came out. They both got their own little feature in that promotion.

And then Hype stole all of their hype for two seasons leaving them nothing (yes, pun intended).

 

Mika Grey has the opposite problem of Bo and Freya. The Aces were introduced in the first episode with only Hype getting most of the spotlight for two seasons (I’m not including Torra as I’m talking support characters at the moment). But Mika was brought in mid-season two as a mysterious figure who seemed to have knowledge of the Force. It felt big and important that she was there. There’s so little Force elements in Resistance that when we do get something like Mika, it feels super important. Force elements really stick out in this series. Kaz and crew brought Mika back to the Colossus. It seemed like they were setting her up to be a mentor of sorts for Eila. Or perhaps with her knowledge of the First Order searching for Force relics, she would be an ally to the Resistance.

And then they didn’t use her. She became a (hilarious) fortune teller/con artist and later fought for the Colossus in the finale. I said in my review for “Relic Raiders” that Mika felt really important. But overall, her introduction did nothing for the show. Again, you could cut her out of the series, and it wouldn’t change anything. Why introduce Force elements and someone who has knowledge of it, and then not use it? I don’t understand this train of thought.

To a lesser extent, the character of Nena has the same problem as Mika. Nena is left with an open ending with hints that she will be back as she wishes Neeku luck. We never see her again. She’s gone.

Why introduce new characters in season two if they don’t even have time to focus on whose already there in season one? If they clearly don’t have time to give all five Aces a place in the story, then why give us characters like Mika and Nena to take even more time away?

 

Some of the supporting characters did have great writing. Everything with Aunt Z was pure gold. While we don’t know everything about her, she fulfilled several roles in the series. She’s a great example of a well written supporting character.

Orka and Flix are well written too, minus them being the first on screen queer couple in Star Wars. That was such a failure on so many fronts. I won’t get into it much here, because I’ve already written a longer piece about them. But basically, Orka and Flix are terrible queer representation. We don’t even know if they’re husbands or boyfriends. It’s never confirmed in show that they are a couple. Meaning, they’re not technically canonically together. The creators could have written a groundbreaking and powerful episode in the Star Wars universe showing a queer couple who clearly love each other. It needed to be very clear and very obvious. Instead, “From Beneath” is a wasted opportunity for them to do something unique. There are no more excuses in 2020 for that lackluster, wink-wink kind of queer storytelling. She-Ra proved how far behind Star Wars is with queer content in animation.

 

Moving away from the supporting characters, let’s look at the main cast.

For the most part, Kaz, Torra, and Tam all had pretty good character arcs. Kaz and Tam more so, but Torra definitely showed a lot of growth. While I do think Tam’s character arc was very rushed in season two, she had an obvious journey. I’ll get more into the rushed plot of her story when my Part Two comes out later this week.

I want to focus on the weird middle ground area for everyone else. Looking back on the show, I honestly don’t know if Yeager, Captain Doza, Neeku, and Synara are supposed to be main or supporting characters.

Neeku is in almost every episode to some capacity, but he doesn’t have a character arc. We get bits and pieces of his past. He plays an important role being the chief mechanic on the Colossus in season two. Neeku’s in full support of Kaz’s journey and helps at every opportunity. That’s all that Neeku is: one big support character. He’s in more episode than Tam or Torra, but he doesn’t have the character journeys either of them get. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Neeku being the same person at the end of the series that he was in episode one. It just leaves him feeling one note at times. It can make him feel very stagnant. Which hurts to write, because I do love Neeku. I want more from him. The best example is we never got to see his reaction about Tam leaving for the First Order. He just moves on like it’s just another day. It would have been so much more interesting watching him coming to terms with that kind of betrayal on top of Kaz’s lying for all of season one. That could have been awesome growth for him.

Yeager and Captain Doza are kind of in the same area for me. They were both incredibly interesting characters in season one. Yeager was the hardened mentor slowly being pulled back into the war. Captain Doza had a mysterious ex-Imperial past while clearly being a red herring for the (dropped) First Order spy story. Then season two comes along, and both of them tread water for the majority of the time. They’re either up on the bridge of the Colossus or in Doza’s office not engaging in the action for the first half of the season. Yes, this is a young adult show where adults are often the support characters for the teenage main characters. But Doza and Yeager aren’t even playing good mentor roles for their young wards. They’re passive for so much of season two. They’re not like Tenzin from Legend of Korra, the Crystal Gems from Steven Universe, or even like Anakin, Obi-Wan, Kanan, Hera, or other adults from previous Star Wars animated shows. Doza and Yeager sit back for a chunk of season two until right around the episode “The Missing Agent.” Then they finally get into the series and step back into their main cast roles.

Synara has a different problem from Neeku, Doza, and Yeager. She actually has a great character arc from villain to ally. She’s interesting with a great backstory. She switches side to join the heroes and stands up against her pirate family. She makes a new life for herself. She’s honestly the best written character on the show with Tam. The issue is after the episode “The Mutiny” they just drop her. She doesn’t do much in the final five episodes. It felt like they wrote her this amazing character arc, capped off her story, and said, “Welp, that’s enough of Synara!” and left her behind! She feels like she needed more to do in the finale. Maybe Synara could have organized and led the Colossus’ ground troops. It could have been a powerful moment to have her screaming the opening battle cry to defend her new home that she earned. Synara’s not even in the final shot of the series with the rest of Team Colossus. But Hugh and Norath, who are the minor-est of minor characters are there? It doesn’t make sense and is disrespectful to the journey they wrote Synara. She should be in the final shot of the series.

 

I’m not including villains in this, because they fulfilled their duties in the series. I wish we got to see what Pyre looked like without his mask, but that’s a tiny gripe. He and Tierny plays their roles well. We see layers of insecurities in Lieutenant Galek which is her motivation. It’s what drives her to act in her very few five episodes. That’s more development than Neeku got in two full season. Sure, there could have been far more work with them, but what we got was fine.

 

If Resistance had a third season, many of these characters could have had these issues smoothed out. Hype could have all of the season two episodes that were focused on him. Season three could have been tailored to Griff, Freya, and Bo, letting them have full arcs. I’m not saying every single one of them needs “A Very Special Episode.” Griff had one episode shared with Kaz, and that was all we needed. Bo and Freya don’t have any kind of story whatsoever other than being warm bodies to shoot at First Order ships. A third season would have given them the opportunity to shine.

A third season could allow Mika to take more of a Force role in the show. It was set up that she could be a mentor to Eila. She could have given more knowledge of the First Order to the Resistance as she’s been fighting them like in “Relic Raiders.” She could be the Chirrut Îmwe of Resistance adding more lore to the Force stories. We know what Jedi and Sith think of the Force. But we haven’t had many characters like Chirrut and Mika, who are everyday people who study and believe in the Force. Season three could have set up a lot of possible storytelling there. Mika could have been used to her full potential.

Having a season three could have given us a powerful queer story with Orka and Flix, one that is clear and obvious. They could have pulled a Steven Universe and given us their wedding or a huge gay kiss like in She-Ra. A season three could allow for the return for Nena. She had great chemistry with Neeku and could be a potential love interest. That would allow for Neeku to have character development for the show. Nena is an interesting character on her own without Neeku. She could have a story about leaving the First Order that would be just as compelling. Yeager and Captain Doza would have more time to grow into their mentor roles as well as face their pasts. Synara might have earned the trust of Kaz, Captain Doza, and the main cast. But in a season three, she could still be viewed as a pirate to the rest of the citizens on the Colossus. Her story could be focused on her gaining the trust of those around her and atone for her mistakes. Then in the end when she’s fighting to protect the Colossus, if feels truly earned as the people follow Synara into battle.

Having a season three could do a lot of good for the villains too. Star Wars animation writes great villains. They are delightfully complicated with detailed backstories like with Thrawn, the Grand Inquisitor, and Governor Pryce. But these backstories are in supporting material with books and comics, something that Resistance desperately lacks. We have never really explored a villain’s backstory in animation with the exception of Anakin in Clone Wars being his fall to Vader. While the villains of Resistance are fine, they could be better. Having a season three could do something fresh and new. They could explore villainy and have episodes dive into Pyre and Tierny. We could have seen their motivations and why they’re with the First Order. They could either become sympathetic villains or have stories which show them to be even more terrible than they already are. But it would give them more meat to their story.

And they could use more of the movie characters too if they had a third season. Poe was in a lot of season one, but is dropped for the most part in season two. Captain Phasma is woefully underused in both Resistance and the Sequel Trilogy. I’m not going to touch the mess that is her story. Of course we see glimpses of Kylo Ren which is a great cameo. These are all fine for the most part.

But there is one movie character that could have had a great story arc in Resistance if he had been given the chance. A third season with General Hux could have been tied in with Tam’s story. We could have an explanation about him becoming the Resistance spy similar to Agent Kallus in Rebels. He could have worked with Tam from the inside of the First Order, and that would have been so compelling. We could see that story and character development on screen. Animation has always added to the movies. It could have provided us with Hux’s narrative of how he became a spy.

 

There’s so much character work that could have been done with Star Wars Resistance if they had more time. I will say that I am biased, because I prize good character work over plot most of the time. When I look at two seasons of Resistance and see all the open ended stories and confusing character choices, I have to wonder why not make this show three seasons? I know they wanted to end it with The Rise of Skywalker, but two seasons just doesn’t work with this many characters.

Also, the two season format really hurts the plot of the show as well. The narrative massively suffers from the shortened time frame. In part two, I’ll discuss how having three seasons could have helped the story of Star Wars Resistance.

Click here to go to part two where I discuss the story of Star Wars Resistance if it had a third season.

 

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