Rebels, Season 3, Episode 4: Hera’s Heroes
Do you ever ask yourself, “Self: are you, a grown person with many grown-up person things going on in their actual life, really going to recap the entire season of a Space Fantasy cartoon series that airs on a Disney Channel offshoot?” Yeah. I’ve been there, too, my friend. These are questions about 50% of the population asks themselves at one point or another, I think, according to this scientific survey of adults who live in my household (sample size: two).
Well, I will do what I must, I guess. This time, on Rebels, we’re going to focus on the Family and Homeworld of Hera Syndulla, Space Mom Extraordinaire. Star Wars will also thoughtfully throw in some delightful droid hijinks, a TCW tie-in, and yet another example of one of the weirdos from Star Wars having an emotional moment over something sort of preposterous.
Recurring Theme: Cartoon Crossover
We begin on Ryloth, where we find Cham Syndulla, Hera’s father, running from some Imperial forces with Numa — that adorable little girl from the Ryloth episode of TCW where she gets looked after VERY sweetly — and gets very nearly adopted by — Waxer and Boil. She made it! And now here she is, paying it forward by supporting the good guys as a kickass adult.
Hera and the Ghost crew arrive to rescue them, but they have no room to land. Hera tells Cham to turn around and head back in the direction of the bad guys they’re running away from. Don’t worry pops! We’ll take care of the Empire for you. Numa is skeptical: is this lady for real?
So since they can’t totally land, Hera decides to have them — still riding on living animals — board the ship while it’s still flying.
Cham and Numa (and their blurrgs — oh Star Wars) make it safely onboard.
Recurring Theme: Swipe Someone’s Outfit
Along with Cham and Numa, a Stormtrooper sneaks onboard, but as Zeb points out, this was maybe not his best idea:
As it happens, Ezra hasn’t yet collected this version of Stormtrooper getup yet, and so Zeb knocks the guy out and tosses his helmet over to Ezra. Yep, collecting the helmets of your enemies is a totally normal way to spend your teen years. My God, has anyone in this franchise ever had a normal youth?
Recurring Theme: Bad Things Are Bad
Cham thanks Hera for showing up to make this supply run — and save his butt — just in the nick of time. She tells him that it wasn’t easy to get through the Imperial blockade to get here, and he sighs that given how much effort they had to put into this, he wishes he could give her a better update than the one he has:
This is Hera’s home province, and what’s happened is that the Empire, as it does, has just sort of moved in to her family home and stolen everything dear to them — and Cham notes that it seems like the Commander in charge here is getting smarter. Or possibly getting some input and assistance from a certain blue Bond Villain.
Anyways, their home is now the Imperial Party HQ. Creeps.
Recurring Theme: Child Audience Proxy
He tells Hera he wasn’t able to take anything from the house before the Imperials started moving their stuff in. She’s dismayed:
Of course, since none of the viewers know what this is, the characters have to do the setup for us. Ezra’s like HUH?! What’s THAT, Mr. Syndulla? Numa answers:
Sabine gets the honor of delivering this fairly clunky line, made clunkier by the fact that she sounds totally bored:
Recurring Theme: Parental Pathos
Cham notes that Hera would have inherited their family’s Kalikori if it hadn’t been snapped up by EvilCo. Hera, in the grand tradition of EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN STAR WARS HISTORY, has a tragic backstory involving a dead or absent parent, so she is forlorn:
She decides she’s not going to take this bullshit lying down: she’s gonna go get it, damn it!
Recurring Theme: We’ll All Help!
The rest of the gang is eager to pitch in, and she, being the mom, is like no no no guys, I can’t ask you to do that! I’ll just go by myself don’t you kids worry about me I’ll just spend Christmas alone this year I don’t want to be any trouble or anything. Of course, the crew won’t take no for an answer because they love their mom, and they’re Star Wars Rebellion personnel so doing stuff that might get them killed even when it’s not super necessary is required by law. She relents, and they decide that the main group will create a diversion outside the Hera Homestead, while Hera, Chopper and Ezra sneak in to grab the Kalikori. And Ezra’s gonna wear that outfit he stole from that Stormtrooper!
So, hold up: they stole the guy’s entire outfit? So they knocked him out and stripped him? Where is he now? Did they leave him naked somewhere? This scenario happens a LOT in Star Wars. Also, LOL — it always seems to be someone who wears the exact same size as the person who steals it. What were the odds that that trooper was going to wear the same size armor as a 17-year-old boy? All right, Star Wars. If you say so.
Recurring Theme: Fake Prisoner
BONUS Recurring Theme: Person in a Trooper Uniform is Not An Actual Trooper
As the team starts causing a commotion outside to get the baddies’ attention, Ezra and Hera approach the entrance to her family home, with Hera posing as Ezra’s prisoner:
They pass the checkpoint:
Recurring Theme: Literally Everyone Was Traumatized By The Clone Wars
As they make their way in, Chopper hangs back to stare at an old, wrecked Y-wing. Yes, EVEN THE DROIDS STARE WISTFULLY IN STAR WARS. Ezra starts yelling at him to get a move on, and Hera explains that CHOPPER, A DROID, HAS A TRAGIC CLONE WARS BACKSTORY AND IS BASICALLY EXPERIENCING A PTSD EPISODE RIGHT NOW:
A droid. Has “issues” with the ship he crashed in. You guys, I find this touching but at the same time I’m like OH FOR CHRIST’S SAKE because really: can ONE character get a break? Must everyone have Some Truly Terrible Thing in their life that occasionally causes them to gaze sadly onto the horizon? (And if you’re especially lucky, like Obi-Wan, you get to have numerous Terrible Things, too.)
Portrait of The Space Mom As a Young Girl
So Ezra and Hera make their way inside and when they get to the office where the Kalikori is supposed to be, Ezra takes note of a mosaic on the wall. OK, so, I know this show is meant for kids, but even kids could figure this out without Ezra’s doofus questioning here — they are in HERA’S FAMILY’S HOUSE, and that is clearly a portrait of Cham and his wife and daughter, right? Nevertheless, Ezra feels compelled to be like “HUH, Hera, is that your mom?” and she’s like NO SHIT SHERLOCK:
Hera then digs out the Kalikori: success!
…famous last words, Bridger. Famous last words.
Someone Who Sees The Bigger Picture
As they start to leave, we cut to the Commander and Thrawn having a chat. Slavin confirms that he’s increased their troops as Thrawn requested, but he’s not sure why he insisted that they bother with it all the way over here…
Thrawn then gets a swoop-in tight-shot as he senses something’s afoot:
Hera and Ezra spot him and sneak away and Ezra, continuing his line of questions, is like HEY MOM WHO WAS THAT GUY?
Hera doesn’t seem too concerned by all of this — she’s just happy she got her totem and wants to get out. But how are they gonna do that with so many Bad Guys around?
They go to check out the lower level, but it’s a no-go, and as they formulate their next move, they run into Chopper:
So WAIT: Chopper was ruminating on his tragic backstory THIS ENTIRE TIME? Sweet holy Lord, what the hell happened to this poor droid? Even ANAKIN didn’t gaze at the sunset that long while contemplating his Turn to the Dark Side, and that guy actually DID achieve a Master rank in Wistful Staring.
Meanwhile, outside, the team is starting to wonder why they haven’t heard from Hera or Ezra yet…
Recurring Theme: Failed Escape Attempt
Ezra and Hera are making progress towards escaping, headed to a level where Chopper had told them there’d be fewer guards (OK, so I guess he was doing some recon AND ruminating on his tragic backstory. Way to multitask, buddy.) But “fewer” doesn’t mean “none”, so they still need someone to create a diversion so they can slip away:
Chopper’s like I’M YOUR GUY! And LOL, this part is great: Chopper rolls over to the two stormtroopers posted here and just…goes Drama on them. Like, he literally goes up to them and starts flailing his arms around and yelling incoherently. Well, that is what 99% of everyone in Star Wars does best.
The troopers are, amusingly, totally baffled by what’s going on:
Unfortunately, despite Chopper’s inspired performance here, things don’t work out as intended. Thrawn and Slavin appear and Hera more or less walks right into them:
Recurring Theme: The Empire Sucks
The Empire, as Star Wars has worked to show more and more over time, was not only a life-destroying entity in the business of wiping out the Jedi, but they were also super big on slavery and racism. You know, two things Baby Anakin Skywalker of Phantom Menace Fame would have been SUPER psyched to be involved with. (Goddamnit Star Wars, why are you like this.) Slavin snottily says to Hera:
Ugh. OK, so then Thrawn is like “cooooool artifact! Can I see it, hmmmmm? Also, how do you feel about the Empire being here and destroying everything you hold dear?”
Hera, speaking in an accent, is like “oh I’m just a simple peasant, I’m sure I couldn’t tell you anything…” and Thrawn, icily, is like “I doubt that very much. Let’s go into Slavin’s office for a chat, shall weeeee?”
Grand Admiral Thrawn, Giver of Speeches
In Slavin’s office, Hera is asking to be allowed to leave, and Thrawn’s not having it.
Thrawn then asks Slavin if he recognizes the Kalikori, and Slavin does — why, this hunk of crap used to be in my office! SHE STOLE IT OMG! Thrawn then gets all dramatic about Hera, and Slavin’s like dude, she’s just a peasant! But Thrawn — remember, our guy Thrawn here is like one of the only people in the entire Galaxy who has their shit together enough to know what is going on, even a little, at any given time — is like ohhhh no, my friend, she’s no simple peasant:
Then Thrawn figures what the hell: we’re long overdue for an Evil Guy Grandstanding Speech, and so he decides to treat us to his introductory lines from this season’s trailer.
Yes, in order to destroy someone, you must know everything about what makes them tick: what kind of capes they wear, how good they are at a dramatic disrobe, how scared they are of someone dying, whether or not they can be manipulated into thinking the Jedi are actually evil, etc.
Recurring Theme: Grand Admiral Thrawn, Art Museum Patron
Thrawn, being A Man Of Taste, now asks Slavin if he knows what the Kalikori is. Slavin’s all I dunno…
Thrawn throws out that he knows it’s a Kalikori, making Hera deeply uneasy as Thrawn starts pontificating further:
He continues being all Ominous and Important…
Recurring Theme: Dramatic Identity Reveal
Slavin is like DON’T YOU TALK LIKE THAT TO MR. THRAWN! And Thrawn is all creepy and like oh NO, she’s our host, Slavin!
And oh, Thrawn. He’s REALLY taken that seminar on being a Star Wars villain, because not only was this entire scene way dramatic, but he also pronounces her name Sssssssssinnndullaaaaaahhhh. I totally buy that this guy is on board with the guy who rants about Unlimited Powah.
Thrawn and Slavin now see Hera and Ezra off to jail (with Thrawn pointing out, as Ezra gets knocked out, that those Rebels always have some idiot jumping in to try and rescue them, hahahaha):
Recurring Theme: The People of Star Wars Get Upset By Weird Things Sometimes
After they leave, Slavin is like “PFFT, we should just chuck that hideous thing in the Donate pile and then set the Donate pile on FIRE amirite Boss?!” and Thrawn WIGS OUT and is like HOW DARE YOU ART IS MY ACTUAL LIFE OK?!
He collects himself and apologizes, noting that most people are unrefined cretins who cannot possibly understand:
…and please, readers: with this, allow me to recite some things (this is by no means an exhaustive list) that have annoyed, enraged, or otherwise inspired a distressed emotional rant from the People of Star Wars:
- Being hormonally and possibly also existentially tormented by someone’s hot outfit (Anakin)
- Obi-Wan Kenobi being dead (Anakin, Luke, Everyone)
- Obi-Wan Kenobi being alive (Maul, Vader, Tarkin, probably Sheev)
- Someone asking them to be calm (Satine, anyone with a Skywalker gene)
- Someone being a pacifist (Pre Vizsla, Bo-Katan, Most Darksiders)
- Someone not being a pacifist (Satine IN CASE SHE DIDN’T MENTION IT)
- Someone coming to save them from certain death (OBI-WAN NEARLY ALWAYS, Leia, a bunch of people)
- Someone not appreciating a cultural artifact at a level they deem appropriate (Thrawn)
- Someone telling them that they think they found the Chosen One, which would be pretty relevant to the part of their job that does not involve sitting in the dark and gossiping about people (The Jedi High Council)
- Someone suggesting that they should leave before the space station they’re on gets blown up (Grand Moff Tarkin)
- The idea of sand (Anakin, probably Luke, possibly Rey)
- The idea of anyone arming themselves with a blaster (Obi-Wan)
- Being denied the chance to purchase power converters (Luke)
- Someone losing a map (Kylo Ren)
- Jedi Trainee Hair (me)
- Someone not joining the Dark Side (Everyone evil. Normally this would fall under “typical thing a bad guy gets mad about in any franchise”, but this one only gets me in Star Wars because, really: 99% of the time it would do these guys ZERO good to have MORE Darksiders running around. It’s just more people to compete with and have possibly try to murder you later! Guys, think it through. Did NO ONE hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?! FFS.)
God, I love everyone in this entire franchise. They are all kind of a mess.
I’d Lay Down My Life For You
OK! Moving on. So now we’re outside and Slavin is talking to Cham via holo-Skype: give yourself up, and I’ll let Ezra and Hera go. Cham agrees to the terms.
Recurring Theme: The Ladies of Mandalore Speak the Truth
Sabine, channeling me and everyone who has ever watched any Star Wars (or really anything ever), is like uhhhh:
Cham doesn’t care — he’s willing to lay it all on the line if it means there’s a chance the Rebels can get Ezra and Hera to safety. Awww.
Recurring Theme: Hero Droid
In their jail cell, Hera is feeling serious Mom Guilt:
Things sure are looking bad for our heroes now! If only a heroic pet droid rescue was a thing that happened a lot in Star Wars…
Yes, Chopper’s here to set them free. Ezra’s all “great! They can’t do a prisoner exchange without prisoners…” but Hera? She has other ideas.
Did You Have a Plan B?
She gives Chopper some marching orders:
Ezra, starting to put the pieces together, is like WAIT:
And, awwww, did you guys know Home is Where the Heart Is and all that? Cos it is:
Recurring Theme: Grand Admiral Thrawn, Criminal Profiler
Slavin is setting up the prisoner exchange, and as this is happening, Thrawn is talking to himself because he wants us all to know that this is all part of his weird, ongoing psychological profiling of every person he encounters:
Cham walks out to meet his destiny.
Deck the Halls With Heavy Explosives
Chopper, as this is occurring, is merrily decorating Hera’s family home with things that blow up:
Once he’s done, he rolls out to where the prisoner exchange is going down. Just then, Hera looks at her dad, and gingerly apologizes.
Cham is firm: no, Hera, it’s not your fault. I’ve been captured before! It’ll be OK.
She clarifies: no, I didn’t mean I was sorry about that.
And with that, she gives Chopper the signal and the Syndulla Family Manor goes down in flames.
Cham takes it all in, and the Imperials spring into action, trying to stop the Rebels from fleeing. Kanan et al, however, are right on time and show up to pick up our friends and ruin Slavin’s day:
Grand Admiral Thrawn, Is Going to Get You Next Time
Thrawn continues to watch as Slavin frantically yells about how OMG THEY’RE GETTING AWAY!!
Yes, once again, he’s going to let them go because Thrawn’s playing the long game. You know, if this guy likes picking apart people’s psyches, I really suggest he start with his own first- and second-in-command. Thrawn could get a fucking PhD in Evil Psychology by writing up something on Vader and Sidious.
Kanan and Hera, Sitting in A Tree
Space Mom is now doing a wrap-up spiel with her father and her 100% definitely-husband, Kanan. Kanan tells Hera he’s sorry about the Kalikori, but Hera takes heart: she has her family (and she calls out Kanan separately because she loves him and they are absolutely getting Space Married this season,) and as long as she has people she loves with her, her mother’s memory will live on. AWWWW.
Oh my God: did we just end on a relatively warm-and-fuzzy note? This might be one of the cuddliest endings either Star Wars TV series has given me! I mean, sure: the rebellion is still ongoing and there’s a reasonably good chance this series is going to end with everyone dying after a trip to the Alderaan State Fair, but wow! I’ll take it. Let’s savor this moment, guys. Til next time!