“Descent” was probably the best episode of Star Wars Resistance thus far. Action-packed, with impressive characterisation (including the introduction of a new antagonist) and quite a few dramatic twists. Not to speak of a cliffhanger ending (and a good cliffhanger, it needs to be said!).
From Tamara’s Point of View
It all started where the last episode ended – the First Order arresting Yeager’s crew, including Tam and Neeku. Especially the former is absolutely shocked and no surprise that she feels betrayed. I think it’s great that the writers didn’t limit Tam’s dissenting voice only to a few casual remarks in the previous episodes, but decided to go all the way. When it comes to action, Tam shows that she actually trusts the First Order and complies with the law right to the end, even if her friends start running away. She still believes it all has to be some sort of misunderstanding.
Such things tend to get glossed over in most stories. Usually, the “dumb, disbelieving sidekick” just follows the hero in the critical moment, even if realistically, one would not expect them to. I keep saying it and I will say it again: realism. Resistance is amazingly realistic when it comes to portraying people’s behaviour.
The scene of Tam’s arrest is remarkable in yet another way: it gives space to Tam’s point of view. She is not merely a passive character that is snatched away, now she has a voice, and so even if she is the captive victim, we can follow the story from her perspective. I consider that even more remarkable than if she were portrayed as a superheroine fighting her way through the jailers. The show is interested in her story, even if she is only a common technician who doesn’t know what’s happening.
The Good Cop
The episode introduces a new character – agent Tierny. She follows the familiar archetypes of agent Kallus and governor Pryce from Rebels. Even aside from that, she certainly makes an impression when she’s introduced.
Her role throughout the episode is mostly being the “good cop” of the First Order – while trying to get the information about Kaz out of Tam. She is clearly very knowledgeable and sharp (she immediately realises what’s going on when Kaz and Yeager take over the signal tower to send a message to the Resistance). We can probably expect her to become a recurring villain, joining the group of Commander Pyre, Major Vonreg and Captain Phasma.
We Are The Resistance
The bulk of action, of course, followed Kaz, Yeager and CB-23. And Neeku (I quite enjoyed the little touch that Neeku decided to finally, for once, not take Kaz’s words literally – just when he was literally confessing to be a spy). CB-23, I must say, is an amazing droid – she nearly did more in one episode than BB-8 had in the whole show!
It was good to see Yeager finally in action. The grumpy old mentor became really efficient once the story focused on him. The story implies that he has been doing much more behind the scenes that we have seen (like in one of the previous episodes when Kaz ran into him talking to Captain Doza) – but the show focuses on the young generation of the protagonists, and I think that’s good, because we only get the hints about the veterans and are left to follow the clumsy beginners.
And that remains the focus also as the curtain falls on “Descent”. In the final showdown to send a message to the Resistance, Yeager gets himself captured to cover Kaz’s escape. (One can’t but reminisce the finale of Season 1 of Rebels, with Kanan being in the very same situation.) Later, Leia informs Kaz that unfortunately, the Resistance has no forces to spare. The theme continues: it’s the fight of this generation, those who are here and now.
But there’s more than that. It isn’t about Kaz being the promising young hero, and Kaz himself acknowledges that: the episode ends with his speech, “we are the Resistance”. This “we” includes all the people of the Colossus – young and old, all species, all the simple workers, the Aces, the Dozas. This is the message the last couple of scenes of The Last Jedi showed, and here it is repeated and made manifest. The Resistance is not an organisation composed of those who wear orange jackets with Rebel symbols, it is the name for all those who rise against the oppression in the Galaxy. I think it’s a very powerful message to weave into the narrative of Resistance and… ah, wait. The name of the series literally is “Resistance”. One shouldn’t really be surprised, right?