Spoilers for the season one finale of Star Wars: Resistance.
I got a message from a person on my instant reaction for Star Wars: Resistance “No Escape Part Two” saying they don’t like Tam on Resistance (or Kaz for that matter).
That’s totally fine. I’m a super firm believer that people like what they like and don’t like what they don’t like. If we all agreed in fandom, then it would be really boring. You do you, and sometimes shows and characters aren’t for everyone. These are my very core fandom beliefs.
But I have seen on Twitter and stuff people flat out calling Tam a traitor (just to note, this person who wrote me never said that). And other people have also called her a bad person.
I think that’s a bit unfair, because honestly Tam is probably the best written character in the show so far.
We’ve gotten plenty of stories of bad guys defecting to the Rebels or the Resistance. That’s been done time and time again in Star Wars. We don’t always get to see characters go the other way. From a narrative point of view, this is an incredibly fresh step. [As someone who hasn’t had a chance to read the sequel novels so I’m pulling from knowledge of what we only see on the movie and TV screens] we also don’t know that much about the inner workings of the First Order. Think back to Kallus from Star Wars: Rebels. I said in my Rebels Remembered post that through Agent Kallus, we got our first real look at the lower levels of the Empire and how it worked. We, as an audience, now get to experience the First Order from a new person’s point of view. That is very exciting storytelling, and we’ll probably get to see a lot of new things.
Also, there could be a long essay here about how Tam’s character and story can be coded to how our real world radicalization works, because these writers showcased in one season how THAT works. But that’s another essay for another time.
Actually looking at Tam that we get in the series, honestly I don’t really blame her for leaving. She’s a hard worker from day one. She’s been hurt by friends like Hype in the past and has trust issues, telling the kids from Tehar that she has a problem with vagueness. She’s told by Yeager that the Fireball will be hers so she can race again. She’s not an ideally bad person.
If we look at Tam’s past, we can sort of read between the lines of what her story probably was. We know that her grandfather work in an Imperial factory to put food on the table. I highly doubt he was some great bad guy like a Tarkin or a Vader. He was probably some Joe Schmo trying to provide for his family. We saw this precedence in Rebels when farmers on Lothal were forced to work in factories because there were no other jobs. So from this standpoint, the Empire doesn’t seem half bad to Tam. It helped her family survive.
[This next part is all speculation but] I also get the feeling that Tam didn’t go to anything more than a public school if even that! I mean unless it’s the Jedi Temple or military academies, we really don’t know much about how school works in Star Wars lore. How much schooling does an average citizen get? Because I don’t think it’s a lot. My suspicion is she learned her trade from her family and got basic schooling. So there’s a chance she never learned about the real impact of the Empire unlike Kaz who went to a rich academy with vast military history. Yeager pretty much flat out tells her that she doesn’t know what it was like under the Empire.
So she really is a person who believes what’s in front of her, and her world view/galaxy view really isn’t that big. All she has is what’s right in front of her.
Then some kid named Kaz show up one day claiming to be a mechanic and is terrible at his job. Her boss, who she said was like a father to her, keeps letting him off the hook when he skips out on work or messes up. Kaz constantly takes the Fireball, the ship promised to her, not him, and wrecks it more and more. When she asks how it happens, he flat out lies to her face (yes, I understand Kaz was under orders not to tell anyone. This is Tam’s point of view). Kaz says that he’s poor and a nobody. He spins all these stories to her. Tam brings up her concerns to Yeager for him to blow it off as Kaz just being Kaz.
Then it all comes to a head. She finds out that Kaz is a rich senator’s son. He’s a spy. Yeager knew about all of this and lied to her too. They kept damaging her promised ship pushing her dreams to race further and further back. They kept Neeku, her friend, in the dark and possibly endangered all of them. For someone who already has trust issues, in her eyes they stabbed her in the back.
Then enter Agent Tierney from the First Order who listens to Tam and her concerns. Tierney lays out all the pieces for her. And when Tam is in a moment of pain and betrayal, Tierney manipulates her. She offers Tam what’s she’s always wanted: a chance to be a pilot. She gives Tam the best food and offers security and order, something that’s important to Tam.
On that platform when Tam finally confronts Yeager and Kaz, all the men can do is say that the First Order is lying to her. But how can Tam ever believe them when they just spent the entire first season lying to her? She ends up making a split second choice and goes with Tierney who is offering, in Tam’s mind, a way to fulfill her dreams.
Now do I think that Tam will regret this choice? OH YEAH! Because I don’t think that Tam is a bad person at all. She’s a good person. She cares for her team. She loves her family. She is open with Synara and makes friends with her. She’s passionate about her work and racing. Tam is not a bad person at all.
She is a hurt person where the people she trusted lied and betrayed her, and she made a rash choice in the heat of the moment. We as the audience know the First Order are the bad guys. Tam as a character does not know this about them. This does not make her evil or a traitor. She made a choice based on the information that was in front of her at the time.
I’m so excited to see where Tam goes in season two. If you would have told me when the show started that the first season would end with her going to the First Order, I would have thought you were crazy. That just shows what amazing writing they put into this young woman.
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