Autistic Character Highlight: Kaz and Neeku “Star Wars: Resistance”
As you might have heard, Lucasfilm not only recently dropped a trailer for season two of Resistance, but also the news that this will be the final season of the show. As of now, it is unknown how many episodes will be in the final season or how they will be aired, simply that unlike its predecessor shows Clone Wars and Rebels, it will have the shortest run. For fans such as myself, who began watching only as a way to keep up with the rest of the Star Wars community, and have since been won over, this news is heartbreaking, but not surprising, mainly due to how tied into the main Skywalker saga the show is. With that story ending on the big screen in December, what point is there to continue the Resistance story, that only ends up acting like a loose end? None really. Using the past two trilogies as an example, after Episode IX, it would simply be more of the same, i.e. Empire/First Order/etc…comes in and takes over while rebellion fights back against them. While these characters would be nice to see post Rise of Skywalker, once the movie ends, it’s time to begin moving on and seeing what other possibly amazing stories are waiting to be told both on the big and small screens.
Until then, it’s time to highlight two unique characters that autistics likely gravitated toward and identified the most with, Kazuda “Kaz” Xiono and Neeku Vozo. While the former is a human male, likely in his late teens to early 20s, the latter is a member of the alien species known as Kadas’sa’Nikto or more commonly shortened to Nikto. He also appears to be in his species’ youthful stage. Throughout the course of the show, both have shown various autistic traits without necessarily being such themselves. Starting with Kaz, here is a countdown of times the two exhibit autistic traits; the numbers will trade-off before ending on their most autistic moment together. Just as a note, I feel more than qualified to do this due to my personal diagnosis with Asperger’s Syndrome (aka high functioning autism) over ten years ago now. Thanks to that, I have many personal stories and a whole host of knowledge gained from talking and working with others in similar and more severe situations, from which to draw.
Basically, anytime Kaz has to attempt to act like a spy towards the beginning of the first season. Even coming from the viewpoint of a high functioning autistic it was difficult to watch. Especially growing up in the upper parts of society with all amounts of wealth and luxury, one would think that Kaz would have watched one or more spy movies and at least learned something from them. Hell, if necessary, I likely could have done a better job at the beginning than he did. This is not to complain, simply point out how his naivety demonstrates part of his potential autistic traits. I can speak from personal experience that autistics take longer to mature than their more “average” peers. Even while I was in high school/early college (aka when I was around Kaz’s age), I likely would have been able to keep attention off me and complete my job as a spy to at least average decency aka manage to not get myself captured/killed. When thinking of Kaz, the first thing that comes to mind is how much he struggled not to blow his cover at the beginning of the first season.
Anytime Neeku attempts to understand humor/jokes. Autistics, very much unlike myself, are known to struggle with understanding these things and have been known to take jokes and sarcasm seriously. In other words, if you were to say, “Well, that’s just great!” after getting locked out of somewhere, or something were to fail on you at the exact wrong moment, an autistic, depending on their placement on the spectrum might take you seriously and wonder why and ask you to explain why the dreadful situation is so “great”. This is much like Neeku whenever he tries to understand a joke someone is making. Take episode eight, “The Platform Classic,” for example. After Kaz remarks about how happy his boss (and only person on the station at the time aware of Kaz’s true identity) Jarek Yeager will be after hearing a bit of news, Neeku responds, “…Oh, I get it, you are proposing another joke”, being as Yeager is typically known to be a more serious type of person. In the show, this is simply how his species is, whereas here on earth, such a thing could and likely would be seen as an autistic individual attempting to make sense of something they had just heard.
As for something more subtle, take Kaz and his love of flying. While anyone can love something, autistics go one or more steps further and take whatever measures needed to live their, at times, obsessions. Kaz’s devotion and skill with flying is just one example of this which really appears in the episode titled “Signal From Sector Six.”After practicing a certain maneuver only twice at the beginning of the episode and failing to pull it off perfectly (as just about any pilot would), he finally gets it toward the end of the episode. For a rookie pilot who hasn’t flown these types of flights before, this is amazing and something that typically only seen in those born with innate skills that are honed through life. This is especially so considering how young Kaz is. In the non-autistic world, skills such as these typically take months or years to master, not a few hours or even a few attempts as he had. To brag just a bit, this is similar to me. While apparently both my maternal and paternal grandmothers were writers who simply didn’t pursue it due to life not allowing them to at the time, this was a skill I was apparently born with. For the sake of debate, we will assume a similar situation for Kaz, individuals genetically close to him were great pilots. That established, piloting for Kaz and writing for me, are both skills that were and still are practiced through our years of growth, schooling, and life. If not for my innate skills with this craft practiced over the years, I, like Kaz, would not be where I am now.
Also like an autistic in their element, give Neeku an engine or something mechanical to build/repair and he’s your guy. He can get so sucked into his task that he can forget the world around him. After watching him for an entire season, I can safely say that the chances of him being able to explain the inner workings of a given ship’s engine block, for instance, is incredibly high. Anyone outside of other experts’ chance of understanding it…not so much. Often times, autistic personalities lean toward math, science, technology, or engineering to a point they are able to explain it to a level ordinary people struggle to understand or keep up. While this is not always the case (autistics such as myself can be into the arts, and they are not always super smart), it can and does happen. For me, it’s not so much that I’m smart or knowledgable about writing, so much as it’s something I can do and am good at. Again, I wouldn’t have been able to come this far if I wasn’t.
And the number one moment that highlights both Kaz and Neeku’s autistic traits is……..
Kaz focusing solely on wanting to rescue Tam from the First Order after they arrested her thinking she was a spy along with her co-workers in the episode “Descent,” and prior to that, Neeku being confused by Yeager’s order to open his office and hide in there. While that is normally the man’s personal space that no one enters without his permission, the fact that they are being shot at by stormtroopers and need a place to hide should logically override that. For a typical person, they would hear the order to open the office and simply look for a window in the shooting to dash over and do it, no questions asked. Just open it, jump in and survive, everything else can be figured out and dealt with later. Jumping back to Kaz, his single-minded devotion to saving his friend, while admirable should not be the most important thing at the moment and is definitely an autistic trait much like when I obsess over my favorite show. It is likely due to this autistic trait that I know as much about pop culture as I do, I’m obsessed with it. Obsession/fixation on a single object, idea, etc…is a well known autistic trait.
Even with all that said, I am not mad, angry, upset or any other negative word about Resistance ending after this season. I will say though, that it feels abrupt after the previous two Lucasfilm TV shows having three+ seasons, but not completely unexpected. If anything, that was what I was most shocked by when I watched the trailer for the first time, the abruptness of its end. It makes sense but is still jarring. I love these characters, as evidenced by this over 1400 word post about them, and will completely miss them, but it just makes sense. Once Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker ends in December this would be a loose thread. Doing trilogies seems to be Lucasfilm’s thing and using both the original and prequel trilogies in this franchise, we can pretty much guess what comes after. As a result, it makes sense to end the series here and explore other time periods, situations, and conflicts in the Star Wars universe on the big and small screen.