Star Wars Resistance - Disney's newest animated series set in a galaxy far, far away - is a straightforward adventure with high-flying action, plenty of humor, and charming characters. What it's not is a series that's focused on filling in the gaps within the Star Wars saga or deepening the lore of the Jedi and the Force. Instead, Star Wars Resistance is a small scale story starring even lesser-knowns than the crew of the Ghost from Star Wars Rebels, but it has potential and it could still wind up being an important chapter in the galaxy's fight between the light and the dark.
Set just six months prior to the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the premiere episode, 'The Recruit', sees Kazuda "Kaz" Xiono, a pilot for the New Republic, get recruited by Commander Poe Dameron to become a spy for the Resistance. Kaz is young, naive, and positively star-struck by the Resistance - especially Poe and General Leia Organa. For his covert mission, Poe takes Kaz to the Colossus - a refueling station located on an Outer Rim planet that's completely covered by water - where he's to work as a mechanic and pilot for a starship racing team while secretly gathering intel on the local residents. Namely, Kaz is to learn who on Colossus is loyal to the Resistance and whose allegiance is to the First Order.
Upon arriving at Colossus, Kaz immediately causes a stir when a rumor that he's the best starship pilot in the galaxy spreads like wildfire, and before too long, Kaz is racing against one of the Aces - the premier racing team and defense squadron for Colossus - in a high-speed contest that even the best pilots struggle to survive. But while Kaz is busy proving his mettle as a pilot, the First Order continues to gather strength, awaiting the right moment to make their move. If Kaz is successful in his mission and he learns who on Colossus is loyal the First Order, will it even be enough to stop them from launching a direct attack on the New Republic?
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is about detailing the conflict that would eventually give birth to the Galactic Empire. Star Wars Rebels is about those who stood in opposition to the Empire and started a fight that would grow into a full-scale rebellion. The stakes of Star Wars Resistance don't appear to be anywhere near the scale of those series, and though it may be too early to tell with only this two-part premiere to go by, a story that isn't so tightly wound up in the grander mythos of Star Wars could be a good thing. Without needing to connect to the Star Wars saga in an immensely profound or meaningful way, Resistance can just focus on telling a fun, entertaining story of hotshot pilots and the starships they fly.
And first and foremost, Star Wars Resistance is a show about flying. This is a series that celebrates the freedom a pilot feels when in the cockpit and flying the skies, putting the focus on the thrilling action and aerial acrobatics. And knowing that it was Dave Filoni's love of fighter planes and dogfights - a passion he shares with George Lucas - which gave way to Resistance, it makes a lot of sense for the series to center on starship pilots and the high-risk races they take part in. Though titled Resistance and inspired by the ace pilots of wartime, this isn't exactly a show about fighting a war - at least not yet, but there is the potential for it to become one, and they're already planting the seeds for some spectacular space battles.
The straightforward storytelling of Resistance suits not only the fast-paced action but uncomplicated characters. Kaz, for instance, just wants to fly and a chance to prove he's as good as he thinks he is; Poe is the committed Resistance fighter, giving his all for the cause (though his role is limited, only appearing in part one of 'The Recruit'); and even those who Kaz meets on Colossus - like Neeku, the eager mechanic who takes everything too literally or Torra, the energetic and overly competitive Aces pilot - are the simple to understand archetypes that Star Wars thrives on. This is also indicative of Star Wars Resistance being aimed at a slightly younger audience than either The Clone Wars or Rebels. However, like those shows, there's room for Resistance to mature - especially with the looming threat of the First Order and the knowledge of what happens to the New Republic in just six months time.
The straightforward approach of Star Wars Resistance is even apparent in its animation, which is a more streamlined style bearing an anime-influence not so unlike Avatar: The Last Airbender or Voltron: Legendary Defender. The colors are vibrant, the characters and ships have flashy designs, and the planet setting of Castilon is so bright it dazzles. Resistance has a breezy attitude and the animation reflects that in its smooth movement and fast-paced action. The look of Resistance is a big change from both Clone Wars and Rebels, but this helps to highlight how it's aiming to be something different.
Along those lines, Star Wars Resistance includes more humor and allows more of its character to be downright funny. Whether it's Poe cracking a joke, Kaz accidentally starting a bar fight, or Neeku's wild exaggerations and misunderstandings, there are a lot of laughs to be had in this two-part premiere. Again, it's an effect of Resistance targeting a younger crowd, but having a Star Wars series that's relatively lighthearted doesn't mean it's bad or too sophomoric. Plus, these funny lines are given to funny actors like Silicon Valley's Josh Brener, SNL's Bobby Moynihan, or Community's Jim Rash, so the material is ably-delivered.
As Kaz, Christopher Sean captures just the right mixture of youthful enthusiasm and naivety that is key for a Star Wars protagonist, and though the character's immaturity may grate a bit at first, Kaz clearly has a strong arc ahead that's all about growing up and learning to do things for yourself. Oscar Isaac returns as Poe and only further proves why he's one of the best Star Wars characters, exuding charm and confidence without coming across as entitled or conceited. The core cast is rounded out by Brener's delightfully enthusiastic Neeku as well as Suzie McGrath's Tam Ryvora, a no-nonsense mechanic, and Scott Lawrence's Jarek Yeager - a jaded veteran of the Galactic Civil War who wants no part in this new war he fears is unavoidable. The whole ensemble already demonstrates a strong chemistry in this two-part premiere - especially the budding friendship between Kaz and Neeku - and it's sure to only develop and deepen as the series continues.
Star Wars Resistance is a lighter, breezier Star Wars cartoon that channels pod-racing more than it does rebellions and civil wars. (There are even pit droids and Greg Proops voicing a familiar sounding race announcer.) Still, the First Order looms just out of sight. Knowing that in six months the New Republic will be all but obliterated by Starkiller Base casts a shadow over this relatively peaceful time when thrill-seeking pilots sought adventure instead of combat. As Star Wars Resistance continues, Kaz's role in the Resistance and what it means for the impending conflict is sure to come up more and more, but in the meantime, it's fun watching Kaz and the other pilots just enjoy their passion - flying.
Star Wars Resistance premieres this Sunday, October 7th at 10pm/9c on the Disney Channel, with subsequent episodes airing on Disney XD.