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At the end of Star Wars Resistance Season 1, the erstwhile crew still aboard the Colossus launched into a new realm of the galaxy — but without a key member of their found family. Instead, an alienated and hurt Tam turned away from her friends and chose to join up with the First Order, a seismic decision that will haunt the rest of the series.
Suzie McGrath, who voices Tam, told SYFY WIRE that she began suspecting something was going on with Tam about halfway through Season 1 because "the character always had the potential to head into trouble, right? But I didn't know that she would join the First Order. I thought maybe she'd get us into trouble, you know, get arrested, who knows." She adds, though, "it makes sense for the character, at the time."
Executive producer Brandon Auman says that Tam's choice was as much a surprise to the writers as it was to the audience. "We didn't plan that from the beginning — it just organically happened," he says. "By the end of the season, we realized, oh, Tam is going to go? It just had to happen. But we were shocked."
One consequence of Tam joining the First Order is that the show now has the opportunity to explore a totally different side of the Star Wars universe. "That's something that hasn't really been done in a Star Wars animated series, or even the movies — where one of the good guys suddenly joins up and becomes like an imperial soldier," Auman says.
Executive producer Justin Ridge adds: "It gives us insight in Season 2 on the First Order side of things — how is she fitting in? What do we see on that side?"
"Some people were devastated — 'I [can't] believe that she did that'!" Auman says. "We were asking the same thing, how could you do that to us!"
"Twitter was lighting up," Ridge adds. "The fans got really excited."
Christopher Sean, who voices the character of Kaz, was also surprised by the twist, but appreciated the fact that it put their two characters on different paths.
"I really do love the idea that we're getting an insight into Kaz who's growing as a character, helping the Rebellion, and then you're getting insight into Tam, who's slowly growing into the dark side," Sean says. "And it's like watching these two stories of light and dark in our series, watching them grow in a definitive line between both stories. It's really interesting."
One thing that excited McGrath was the fact that Tam joining the First Order meant a complete costume change for her character, including her face and hair.
"She'd always had her bandana on and her goggles on her head, and you'd never really seen her profile properly, or her face — you know, like what does the top of my head look like?" McGrath says. Her new look showcases a sleeker hairstyle, as well as a shiny black First Order helmet.
But it also means that her character is no longer referred to by name, instead only called by her new First Order designation DT-533. In addition, McGrath no longer records her voice work with her other cast members, working only with the other actors playing First Order characters. "It all helps to give you that whole feeling of like, 'Oh, this is serious now,'" she says.
McGrath says that from the very beginning, even just reading the script for her initial audition, she connected with the character. "And I still have a very strong emotional connection to her," she says. "And she does feel like a very normal ordinary person that just has these ideals and, you know, wants certain things and she's trying her best."
The choices that led her down this path, McGrath notes, reflected a "very subtle manipulation and grooming, really," on the part of the First Order. "I think all of us could very easily be lured into things, you know, unless you're made of steel," she says. "I just think the things that she's going through, people can relate to."
It's a message that the executive producers felt confident even Resistance's youngest fans would be able to understand.
"Maybe sometimes your friends are the wrong people, like with Tam," Ridge says. "She's thinking that she's gonna have this better life, and that she was kind of kept down a little bit on the Colossus — like, she wasn't allowed to fly. She lost her ship, and she was working for a living and, then you have like, people who are under the guise of being like, you know, the good guys, who want to bring order and justice to the galaxy."
"Tyranny is making it seem like 'oh, the grass is greener with us.' Okay, cool," Auman says.
As Season 2 progresses, Tam's journey won't be an easy one, but it comes from a grounded place thanks to the depth of the character development. As McGrath says, "everything that she's gone through, everything that she's feeling, is valid."